We have heard this phrase a million times, so many times that it has become easily ignored and definitely doubted.
Life is hard.
Life can be unfair.
Life can be heartbreaking, painful, frustrating.
Where is JOY in all of that?
Being a writer, words, and how to play on words, is a big part of my life. So the meaning of individual words, and their order, become points of focus whenever I read or hear a statement like, “Men [and women] are that they might have joy.”
There are some key words in this sentence that deserve specific attention.
To exist or live
To take place or happen, occur
To occupy a place or position
To continue or remain as before
To belong, attend, befall
That as an adverb:
To a great extent or degree
As a conjunction:
Expressing cause or reason, purpose or aim, result or consequence.
Ability or power
Synonyms of might:
To possess, own, hold for use, contain.
To get, receive
To cause to, by command or invitation
To permit or allow
To know, understand, or be skilled in
The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying
A state of happiness or felicity
Synonyms of joy:
If we take these definitions and really look at this sentence some amazing things should begin to stand out.
First, Men and Women are. In the bible it says that God created man and men are that they might have joy. The word are indicates that we exist, and belong to joy. It means that we were specifically created to experience joy.
Second, Men and Women are that. Men and women exist for the purpose of experiencing joy.
You might be thinking, well that’s all fine and dandy, so we were created for the purpose of joy, but I still struggle finding joy.
Enter the clause. Might. We were created for the purpose of joy, but we were also given agency. I often find myself, when I’m struggling to find joy, thinking of the quote by Abraham Lincoln, “Happiness is a choice, not an obligation.”
Look at the definitions for the word might. We are capable, able, have the capacity for, are qualified for, and hold the power within us to have joy, but joy (happiness) is a choice, not an obligation.
This is further explained when we look at the definition for have. To possess, own, hold for use, to get or receive, to experience, to permit by invitation, to know or understand. To have something is not an absolute. You can have something and then lose it, or stuff it out of sight and never use it. We have to take joy for our own, invite it, accept it as a gift, and value and appreciate it once we have it.
Then how do we find joy and keep it for our own? By first making the choice to have joy in our lives. Then do all it takes to find it, even if it means you have to fight for it. As someone who battles with General Anxiety and depression I’m not just blowing hot air when I say fight for it. At certain points in my life I’ve had to decide that happiness was worth fighting for, no matter what it took.
A key way to have and keep joy in your life comes from some advice an amazing young woman once passed along to me.
We find joy when our lives follow a certain priority order:
Jesus Christ. When we seek first to try to pattern our lives after the Savior of the world we more naturally see the good around us, we have a greater desire to do good, and invite good into our lives.
Others. When we seek to lift others we ultimately lift ourselves. I read a phrase once, “The only time you should be looking down at someone is when you’re reaching down to lift them up.” How often do we forget our own struggles and shortcomings when we are in the service of someone else, whether that be a family member, friend, or perfect stranger. I love the advice of President Gordon B. Hinckley’s father when he wanted to give up, “Gordon, forget yourself and get to work.” Sometimes the easiest way to bring joy into our lives is to bring it to the life of someone else. Joy given is reflective. It will always reflect back on the giver.
Yourself. Take the time to do those things that bring you joy. Focus harder on the positive things. Choose joy. Fight for happiness. Choose things of light over darkness. Look in the mirror and accept the incredible person God created and that he or she was created to exist in a state of joy. Accept that there will be dark days, hard times, frustration, pain, and fear. But you were not created to look down, you were created to look up.
Jesus Christ. Others. Yourself. JOY
Life is beautiful.
Life is exhilarating.
Life is precious.
There is joy to be found in everything and it is yours to have. You are that you might have joy.