Bishop Caussé: “We Are the Architects of Our Own Happiness”
By Marianne Holman, Church News staff writer
Individuals are the architects of their own happiness, Bishop Gérald Caussé, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, said during a Church Educational System devotional for young adults on November 4. Thousands attended the devotional—filling the Tabernacle—while many others around the world listened via broadcast and the Internet.
“Your happiness depends a lot more on the principles that you choose to follow than the external circumstances of your life,” he said. “Be faithful to these principles. God knows you and loves you. If you live in harmony with His eternal plan and if you have faith in His promises, then your future will shine!”
Life is full of uncertainty with surprises popping up along life’s path, he said.
“The uncertainty of life creates in some a lack of confidence, a fear of the future that manifests itself in different ways. … My message for you today is that there is a different path than ones of fear and doubt or self-indulgence—a path that brings peace, confidence, and serenity in life. You can’t control all of the circumstances of your life. Things, both good and challenging, will happen to you that you never expected. However, I declare that you have control of your own happiness. You are the architects of it.”
Happiness is not the result of the circumstances in life; rather, it is more the result of spiritual vision and the principles upon which one bases life, he said.
“These principles will bring you happiness regardless of the unexpected challenges and surprises you will inevitably face during your journey here on earth.“
Bishop Caussé shared three essential principles of happiness for individuals to follow.
First, recognizing personal worth.
“The universe is immense and infinite, yet, at the same time, each of us has unique worth, glorious and infinite in the eyes of our Creator,” he said. “My physical presence is infinitesimal, yet my personal worth is of immeasurable importance to my Heavenly Father.”
Knowing that God knows and loves each individual personally is like a light that illuminates one’s life and gives it meaning, he said.
“How can we know God loves us?” he asked. “Often the feeling we have of our personal worth is based on the love and interest we receive from those around us. Yet this love is sometimes lacking. The love of men is often imperfect, incomplete, or selfish.”
However, the love of God is perfect, complete, and selfless, he said.
“Whoever I am, whether I have friends or not, whether I’m popular or not, and even if I feel rejected or persecuted by others, I have an absolute assurance that my Heavenly Father loves me,” he said. “He knows my needs; He understands my concerns; He is anxious to bless me.”
The greatest expression of that love is shown through Heavenly Father allowing His Only Begotten Son to atone for the world.
It is through seeking God—through studying, praying, and asking—that individuals will be able to see the tangible signs of His existence and know of His love for them.
“Imagine what it would mean to you if you could see yourself as God sees you,” he said. “What if you looked at yourself with the same benevolence, love, and confidence that God does? Imagine the impact it would have on your life to understand your eternal potential as God understands it. If you could view yourself through His eyes, what influence would that have on your life? …
“It might be through an answer to a prayer; it might be the soft influence of the Holy Ghost consoling or comforting you; it might be a sudden inspiration or a new strength that you know didn’t come from you; it might be a family member, friend, or priesthood leader who happens to be in the right place at the right time to bless your life. In one way or another, as you reach out to Him He will let you know He is there.”
Second, “become who you are.”
“My dear friends, if you were to now receive a letter from your past, what would it say?” Bishop Caussé asked. “What would be contained in a letter you might have written to yourself on the day of your baptism when you were eight years old?”
Bishop Caussé asked, if it were possible for someone to receive a letter from his or her pre-earth life, what would it say, what impact would such a letter from a forgotten but very real world have on someone if they were to receive it today?
“One of the great adventures of life is that of finding out who we really are, where we came from, and then living consistently in harmony with our identity and the purpose of our existence,” he said.
Drawing from the film The Lion King, Bishop Caussé spoke of the when the main character, Simba, fled far from his kingdom after his father’s death in an effort to escape his responsibility as heir to the throne. His father appears to him and warns him that he has forgotten who he is and so has forgotten his father. He encouraged his son to look inside himself and to take his place in the “circle of life.”
“We can all take—or take back—our place in the circle of life. Become who you really are. Your happiness and ability to find balance in your life will occur as you find, recognize, and accept your true identity as a child of our Heavenly Father and then live in accordance with this knowledge.”
Third, trust in God’s promises.
“Our success and our happiness in life depend in great part on the faith and trust we have that the Lord will lead and guide us to fulfill our destiny,” he said. “I have noticed that the men and women who accomplish remarkable feats in life often have great confidence in their future from the earliest years of their youth. … I believe that each one of you young members of the Church of Jesus Christ have far more than a star in the sky to guide you. God is watching over you and has made promises to you.”
Bishop Caussé encouraged young people to reread their patriarchal blessing, because in that blessing the Lord confirms that an individual is an heir to the immense blessings promised to the faithful.
“In reading your patriarchal blessing, pay particular attention to the promises the Lord has made to you personally. Reflect on each one of them. What do they mean for you?”
The promises are tangible, and if individuals do their part, God will do His, Bishop Caussé said. It is through obedience to the laws attached to God’s promises.
“These promises do not ensure that everything that happens in our lives will be in accordance with our expectations and desires,” he said. “Rather, God’s promises guarantee that what happens to us will be in accordance with His will. Sometimes unexpected trials will present themselves that we must overcome; sometimes, promised blessings will be long delayed. But the time will come when we will know that these trials and these delays were for our good and our eternal progression. What more can we ask?”
The greatest thing people can desire in life is to align their will to the will of the Lord, to accept His agenda for their lives, Bishop Caussé taught. “He knows everything from the beginning, has a perspective that we don’t have, and loves us with an infinite love.”
“My brothers and sisters, after you have done all in your power, if things don’t turn out the way you hoped or expected, be ready to accept the will of your Heavenly Father. We know that He will not inflict upon us anything that is not ultimately for our good.”
The promises of the Lord assure individuals of their final destination—that of the kingdom of heaven, said Bishop Caussé. The itinerary for each person varies according to the foreknowledge of God; circumstances may change, unexpected events may occur, challenges may arise, but the promises of God are assured through one’s faithfulness.
“The circumstances of my life today are very different from what I had planned when I was your age,” he said. “However, I don’t believe I’ve ever been so happy. If one had given me, when I was 20 years old, the account of my life up to the present, I think I would have signed without any hesitation on the dotted line!”
“I testify, with President Monson, that your ‘future is as bright as your faith,’” he said. “Work with all your heart to accomplish [your dreams and goals]. Then let the Lord do the rest. He will lead you where you cannot lead yourself; He will make you into what you cannot make of yourself.
“At all times, accept His will. Be ready to go where He asks you to go, to do what He asks you to do. Become the man or woman He is nurturing you to become.”