It was Friday. Payday! A day we all looked forward to like Christmas, twice a month. Most of us would go out at lunchtime to cash our checks, pay some bills, maybe do a little shopping and take a break from boring sack lunches.
As the checks were brought around, I happened to be passing the desk of one of the secretaries. Shauna was a single woman in her late twenties. She lived with her parents, and apparently they still provided a lot for her. Because when she opened her pay envelope she stopped and looked thoughtful for a minute.
“You know,” she said to no one in particular, “now I can’t remember if I cashed my last check or not.”
The rest of us looked at each other with amusement and maybe a little disbelief. Then Shauna went on to tell us how she had come across several uncashed checks in a drawer at home about six months before. That really blew us away. Those of us who had gathered at Shauna’s desk just walked away, shaking our heads.
Now, if you have trouble relating to Shauna’s attitude, just imagine this: For two weeks you have worked hard. Now you are cashing your paycheck. But when the teller puts the money on the counter, you just take some of it and leave the rest behind. That doesn’t make much more sense than Shauna’s attitude, does it?
So how about this scenario? You go to your church meetings even when you are tired or when you have too much homework or the Super Bowl is on TV. You go to seminary (early-morning, even), you pay your tithing, work on service projects, keep the Word of Wisdom, and stay morally clean despite temptations. You plug along, trying to do what’s right, keeping your parents and your bishop and your teachers happy.
But, are you happy? What are you getting out of it? Yes, you are getting blessings. But some of your less active LDS friends, and even your nonmember friends, seem to be enjoying many of those same blessings. They have loving families, good health, food and clothing, etc. So what are the blessings you are enjoying as a result of “doing the right things”? Do you think they are future blessings that will come when you get married or when you die and are judged?
Being happy NOW
If you are not happy now because you are trying to do what is right, you may be missing the full paycheck. Because living the gospel should be more than gritting your teeth and abstaining, more than doing your duty with grim determination. There’s joy and happiness to be found in it right now, at this time of your life.
How can you be happy living the gospel now? Here are some important keys.
Develop your testimony now. If you don’t feel that you have one, work at it. Study and fast and pray. Read the Book of Mormon. If you have a testimony or the beginnings of one, continue to develop it.
When you have a testimony, you have the Lord’s personal witness that the gospel principles you try to live are true. Then you are not just doing them for others. And when you open the line of communication with the Spirit, the Lord can bless you with the feelings of satisfaction and self-worth and joy that he alone can give.
If there is something you need to repent of, do it now! True repentance is unbelievably sweet. Your whole soul opens up to the joyous influence of the Spirit when you repent. When you delay repentance, you delay the joy that you could otherwise be experiencing right now.
Think about what you are doing. When you pay your tithing, do it with a prayer in your heart that says you are grateful to offer it to the Lord. When you go to sacrament meeting, think about what you are doing when you take the sacrament. When you work on a service project, remember the Lord’s commandments to love and serve others.
Don’t try to be two people—one person on Sunday and someone else the other six days of the week. Don’t walk the edge, toying with temptation, seeing how close you can come to the brink without falling off the edge. For example, it is difficult enough to remain pure. If you watch the wrong movies and read the wrong books, if you look with longing at what others are doing in the world while you wish and imagine, then the Spirit cannot give you the rewarding feelings of peace and joy and approval that could be yours through controlling your desires. There will not be room in your heart and mind.
Above all, remember that “men are, that they might have joy” (2 Ne. 2:25)—joy in this life as well as the life to come, and this is the best pay of all. Your Father in Heaven loves you. And as you keep his commandments willingly, and thoughtfully, and prayerfully, he stands ready to bless you now with the sweet, joyful reassurance of the Spirit. You will still experience the sorrows that are part of life, but you will also discover the joys that are equally a part of life.
Enjoy rewards as you earn them.
Keep the commandments—willingly
Face life with a happy heart.