“The way a book is read — which is to say, the qualities a reader brings to a book — can have as much to do with its worth as anything the author puts into it…. Anyone who can read can learn how to read deeply and thus live more fully.”
~Norman Cousins

Writing is where we truly learn. Join the Journey.

I read from my scriptures (book), but you can find scripture reference here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

It's about JOY : 2 Nephi 2

Family is a place where we learn to work and find joy. 

It’s about joy: where to find it, how recognize and then cultivate it. It’s about a father’s love. And as such it is written with the power and feeling that only a father’s perspective words to his son could offer.

As I read and reread this second chapter of Second Nephi, I began to realize how difficult it was to comprehend. I did a google search and discovered my perplexity had company. Lehi’s use of syntax and seemingly disconnection of ideas lead me to sift through the truths that stand out and use them as best as I could.  It was only when I stepped back and saw Lehi’s message as a, “a dying father’s letter of inheritance to his young impressionable son” that I began to understand a deeper purpose and the greater whole of Lehi’s message.

This father's blessing is a deep and abiding plea for his son to not only understand the joy that he carries within him but to appreciate and cultivate it. And because Joy is unmistakably connected to and associated with the correctness of law, Lehi chooses to leave his son with a discourse on the power of our Savior’s love and the role it plays in our finding and accepting something greater than "the will of the flesh", something greater than happiness – joy.

When I think about joy it is always connected with me doing something right, or overcoming a challenge, or learning a new task. It's been a long time but I still remember when I mastered tying my shoes, or caught my first fish - without help. Joy is undeniably connected to our experience of overcoming self. Happiness comes from many things: smiles, good food, comfort, gifts, friendships etc, but Joy… comes from a heart that has learned to understand the laws of heaven that govern self.

As a parent I want nothing more than for my child to have all of his needs met. The marrow of my existence works to secure my children’s safety, happiness, and longevity of life. I want to pass on lessons that will help my child’s life be better than my own. In my efforts to protect and provide for my child I sometimes fail to understand that while man is able to pass on temporal knowledge that improves the quality of life and brings a greater sense of happiness,(fire, wheel, computer etc) joy can only be found from choosing to live correct principals that lead us along a path of spiritual and emotional growth. Joy cannot be passed on, it must be both earned (by overcoming the law) and received (by acceptance of the Savior’s mercy and grace).

My own mortality makes me sorrowful for what I cannot give my children. Like Lehi I might from time to time look back on my children and say, “thou hast suffered afflictions” that I could not protect you from. I might feel sorrowful for not being able to always give you the basic needs in life, for not always protecting you from affliction, sorrow, or "rudeness of they brethren"(v 1) or whatever it was I could not see or understand.  But when I reach above my mortal state and recognize the power God’s love has given to each of us, I am able to stand back like Lehi and say, “thou knowest the Greatness of God and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” (v.2)

It's not that I want my children to have affliction, I don't. But I know that through the process of selection and choice my children have experience. Experience will teach them what I cannot. A smart child will usually on put their finger into a hot flame but once. And thus they have learned how to gain from their affliction. But it is more than that. It is the power of God to help us accept our mistakes and move forward on our own journey of self discovery. 

Each one of our children has helped us along our journey of discovering truth. Recently while visiting my eldest daughter I was impressed with the amount of peace and security that was present in her home. Upon asking her about it she showed me how she had adapted Lehi’s principles of self independence in her young children. Through using a token system that uses a child's need and want to help create an environment of self motivation, she had taught them the value of work. I was impressed at how they were caring, kind, loving and selfless towards one another. Work instills confidence, dependability, obedience, responsibility, thriftiness, courtesy, independence, kindness, and bonding. 

In today's world where children are whist away from us at an early age, where commercialism is instilled in them through many kinds of media, where selfish gain is taught over selflessness, it is easy for a parent to want to give their children what the world offers. It is easy to fall into the trap that we must do for a child with the child's only requirement that they give us the pleasure of their smile. The problem is that smiles come from happy children and children are happy because of how they feel about themselves and who they are becoming, not because of what they have been given. 

Gifts have a place. They are for celebrations, for times when we cannot provide for ourselves, but they should never replace the child's ability to provide and do for himself what his maturity allows him to do. It is the parents responsibility to give the child the gift of self-reliance and self- actualization. For this is the greatest gift of all. And it is where true and lasting joy not only comes from, but grows and flourishes not just for this life, but for all of eternity. 

When you read the entire chapter with the perspective that Lehi is trying to impart the lesson of Joy on his son Jacob you might realize:

Vs1 –Joy through Sorrow - Lehi is remiss for what he could not protect his child from – affliction, sorrow, rudeness of his brethren but this remembrance brings him to the realization from where Joy comes.
Vs. 2. Affirmation- Joy comes to those who “know the greatness of God.”
Afflictions work with the law to help us overcome ourselves and find Joy.
3 – Joy through Redemption- Service  brings joy. Joy comes when we realize that we are not alone but have the “righteousness of thy Redeemer”
4- Joy through Remembrance – Remember the Joy when you “beheld in thy youth his glory”.  Inspiration, revelation, understanding bring joy through learning how to receive the spirit that prepares our way and  brings us salvation.
5- Joy through the Law- In order for a law to have impact it must be taught. The law brings us the possibility of Joy by giving us opportunity to use it to help us find joy. However. The law will is exact. It will cut off. It will not justify. There cannot be joy by the law alone.
6-10 Joy through the Messiah – We find joy when we do all we follow the truth of the law and receive the gift of grace from the Lord, Jesus Christ. 
11-15Joy through Opposition- Joy comes through righteousness. Righteousness comes through having the opportunity to choose and seeking the “wisdom of God and his eternal purpose”
16- Joy through self actualization  - we must learn to act for ourselves through choice that comes through oppostion
17-24 Joy through Repentance -  Adam fell that man might have family and given probation. That we might make choice and repent
25- Joy - Adam feel that men might be and men are that they might have joy
26-27 Joy through knowledge – Joy through knowing good from evil – Joy through using that knowledge to act for yourself – Joy through using that knowledge to overcome the punishment of the law – Joy through the freedom to choose  - Joy through overcoming the “power of the devil.”
29-30 Joy through the “welfare of your soul” -  Joy is found when we understand the concept of the game of life that the power has been given to us to control our own lives.

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