Today I Learned that I’m Living the Gospel Wrong

happiness.jpg

At 11:30 today, I was sitting in a packed cultural hall at the Logan LDS Institute, waiting for Al Fox Carraway to speak. A blank notebook sat on my lap and my eyes were riveted on the pulpit. I’d been waiting weeks to hear her, and I didn’t know if I could wait much longer.

As she stood up and began to talk with us, I began to write, feeling little tidbits of inspiration just flow through me. I was absorbed and engaged and really enjoying myself, when suddenly, from seemingly out of nowhere, a thought slammed into my mind.

You’re living the Gospel wrong. 

What. I mean, really. What?

I’m not perfect, but I’m not breaking commandments with reckless abandon, I thought. I’m not rebelling against authority, skipping church every week, or treating my covenants lackadaisically, I thought. Really, I’m doing quite well. I thought.

But as I watched Al on the stage, watched the way her eyes lit up and her hands moved and her body bounced up and down on her heels, I realized what I was missing, what I was failing to do. It wasn’t something overwhelming, it wasn’t something that jeopardizes my worthiness, but it was something I’ve stopped doing consciously for awhile now. Something meaningful. 

I’ve been living the Gospel wrong by not loving it and being excited about it every. Single. Day. And today I learned that Heavenly Father hasn’t been too happy with me about it.

I’m really good at living my life as if I don’t know the greatest truth that the world can know. I live my life as if I don’t have the answers to life’s hardest questions, as if I haven’t been atoned for, as if I don’t realize my family can be together forever, and as if I don’t have a creator of a universe for a father. Sometimes, I walk around and forget that I am part of a Plan of Happiness and that my prayers are answered. So many don’t have what I have, and yet, I forget to be excited and grateful about it.

How can I? Knowing what I know, how can I not be ecstatic every single day of my life?

It’s because I forget.

When the Sacrament is being passed and my covenants are renewed, I forget to raise my head and rejoice. When I open my hymnbook and the song is marked with the words cheerfully or with enthusiasm, I forget what those things mean. When I’m sitting in a meeting, listening to someone speak, I forget to be excited, to recognize that the truths they teach guarantee my eternal happiness if I allow them.

I have the greatest gift anyone could ever be given, and I don’t wake up every morning excited about it. In that way, I’m failing.

Today, watching Al speak, I noticed the way she smiled, the way she glowed, the way she punctuated everything she said with “and I love it.” Joy radiated from her, and I felt so embarrassed. How could I have lived my whole life knowing the things that I know and not be as happy as she is? And not want to share it every single day?

This thing, this big thing we call life, is part of a divine plan. It was created for us to teach us, strengthen us, and save us. It was designed in a way to allow us to be saved and saved at the side of our family members. No one is left behind, and no one is left out. Every one of us has been carried in the arms of a Savior who came here, not for himself, but for every individual who has ever lived. You are living and breathing and changing because of him. Isn’t it incredible? Isn’t it joyous?

Of all of the bad and depressing news, this is the best and happiest news. And it’s eternal. Unchanging.

I know Heavenly Father wants us to be happy about His plan, to wake up every single day and be excited to be a part of it. This is no mediocre, meh journey. It’s salvation, eternity, happiness, and adventure. It’s the Gospel.

And sometimes, no matter how good we are at living it, we forget to do what matters just as much: love it.

You may also like

81 comments

  1. The church is so false it's sad how anyone can actually be stupid enough to believe it. Joseph banged 14 year old children and other men's wives all in the name of religion.

  2. Totes felt the same way as I watched her speak that day as well! She is amazing to say the least. I know why God told her to come Utah and I'm so glad He did :) We needed her!

  3. I'm a different Anonymous (because I don't have time to do a profile) and as a convert, I relate to her enthusiasm for the Gospel. It was the best news!!! I was so excited for years to know the Plan of Happiness! To live in the dark and then to be able to live in the light – it is so joyful!!
    Now as a convert of almost 40 years I have toned down the happiness and excitement only because others around me don't always understand it. I'm now attending a ward with a very large Philippine population and they sing the hymns like they were the MoTab! They teach with such power and grace – they are happy even though many of them are suffering! They have motivated me to live the gospel the "right" way. Thanks for sharing your story because we all need to re-evaluate our efforts and how we are living.

  4. Thank you for sharing that! Your comment actually makes me think about true conversion. If we're all truly converted, and converted every day, that happiness is something we might find and maintain every day. It's food for thought. :) Also: I'd love to visit your ward! I love wards that love singing the hymns. They're great.

  5. Anonymous #3 :) Thank you so much for this post of yours. Needed it ! Reminded me who I was, and need to go back, so I can again regain that glow whenever I speak of something I live, love and know. xoxo from the other side of the world!

  6. I think that many of us, whether life-long or convert members, fall into the idea that we belong to "the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" and fail to ponder the significance of the official name, which includes the capitalization of that first word…"The", meaning "ONE & ONLY".

  7. This lack of overall general enthusiasm and an overall blah feeling/attitude (mainly coming from livelong members but not always) has always kind of 'bothered' me during my six years as a convert. How could somebody have served a mission for 2 years, been sealed in the temple, and is now currently an active member of the Church not have a smile on their face and be bursting with joy?!? I have always chalked it up to a cultural thing since I personally know that these members are really full of joy and the love of Christ, etc. Thanks to you for putting it into words how we can all improve.

  8. Sooooooooooooooooo needed this reminder.
    Being Joyful about the gospel of Jesus Christ makes EVERYTHING easier even when others do not understand.
    "Become as a little child" takes on new significance to me as THEY live joyfully in Christ!!! THANK YOU!!!

  9. You are so right! Considering the knowledge we have been blessed with, should be the happiest people in the world. When we take our eyes off of the big picture, it is easy to lose those exhilarating thoughts of the gifts we have been given. As a convert of many years, I still remember the overwhelming joy we had when we first joined the church. As time goes by and life happens, sometimes that joy gets dampened. Your insight has given me even more reason to keep my eye on the big picture and share that joy with all. Thanks for sharing your thoughts; you are marvelous. May you continue to be blessed throughout your life.

  10. This is so very true. Being close to the Savior makes one feel full of joy and excitement! It occurred to me the other day that we have such a great blessing to actually have – and can really hold in our hands – books with messages for us personally, right from God Himself! What a great and marvelous blessing! Why should we not be reading them all the time? We can read God's messages that He wants each of us to have as our Father.; He who knows each of us so well. It is really amazing to have all we do. It is exciting, when you consider it!

  11. I think that many of us, whether life-long or convert members, fall into the idea that we belong to "the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" and fail to ponder the significance of the official name, which includes the capitalization of that first word…"The", meaning "ONE & ONLY".

  12. Great article. It made my heart full. I'm glad that the Spirit revealed this to you so you could share it with the world. The way you describe the gospel inspires me to be more excited and joyful about it all the time – which I'll work on. Thanks!

  13. (I wish this had an edit button. Re-commenting but spelling things right. lol.) Wake up call for all of us. Thanks from Canada, for sharing your personal revelation. I raised my children in Logan. It is easier to be complacent when surrounded by almost all LDS people. Out here where we are the minority, your words have even more impact.

    ReplyDelete

  14. Thank you for your comment! I think culture has a big thing to do with it, but also losing that bold, excited conversion that we've all had in our lives. I think we can be guilty of going through the motions so often that we forget to enjoy it, which is pretty sad. My goal is to find ways to be excited every day.

  15. Thank you for your comment! I was just thinking about the idea of "becoming as a little child" the other day, in fact. I was walking through one of the fields I used to play in and I suddenly remembered how big and thrilling it used to be when I was a kid running across it. I was pretty sad to realize that I'd lost that wonder, so you are very right. Becoming as a child is a great way to be joyful about the gospel.

  16. Thank you so much for your thoughts and sweet words! It's funny, isn't it? Sometimes we're so focused on little things that we completely miss that big picture, even though it's always there and around us. And how great it is!

  17. Complacency can be easy to fall into when you're surrounded by members. That's very true. I hope Canada is treating you well! I know some good people from Canada. :)

  18. Beautiful. I always think that when I hear newish converts talk about the gospel: it's so obvious that they're on fire about it. Makes me realize the same thing. And I'm a convert myself! (Just an oldish one.)

  19. Today.. I had the day from hades. Nothing went right.. ok.. most nothing went right. I felt anger most of the day and though I know that my face didn't always show what I was feeling at the time.. it sure was not emanating eternal joy! Really.. I had no joy all day. And what is so sad is that I could only feel the gloom. I talked with my Father in Heaven on the way home and noted that if today was a test.. I failed miserably! It was my wake up call. But I was even thinking.. I don't know what to do. Pride can get in the way of feeling joy sometimes. It is easier to wallow in the mud once you've fallen into it. And sometimes hard to get out and get clean again. This article made me realize that even though I knew I was doing it wrong.. sometimes you can not be the passenger along for the ride… but have to be the driver. Have to take control. To be happy.. I have to act happy.. think happy.. almost project it as being in a play on Broadway. And then joy will catch up. What I realized by reading this article is that I was not alone… and that.. gave me a twinge of joy. Thank you.

  20. This is just what i needed to hear and read right now in my life. You have put it so beautifully and thoughtfully. Thank you for doing what you are doing – and sharing your message with the world. Thanks. Amy from Australia

  21. You are so welcome. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I'm sorry that your day didn't go the way you wanted it to. Honestly, I've found that what we choose to remember dictates the rate at which we find that joy again. If I keep remembering about bad experiences and how badly I messed up, for example, I'll always feel awful. But if I choose to take care of my mind and my emotions and force those things out and choose, instead, to remember good things, I heal more quickly. It's hard to get negativity out sometimes, but dwelling on good things, even if you don't feel good, does help. I hope today is a better day for you!

  22. It is easy to take things for granted. That is the natural state of our mind when something is good, it likes to assume that is the norm and start looking at something else. One thing that can help not take things for granted is to spend 15 to 20 minutes a day just clearing your mind and thinking about all the things you are grateful for. This practice had helped me a lot. Basically i get into a peaceful state where i speak with heavenly father with a heart of gratitude. I also will try to listen, to see what he wants me to do. I have been doing this practice for a month or so now and it completely changes my attitude. It brings back the newness to life and the gospel. I recommend it to anyone!

  23. This is a beautiful article. It took me many years to actually be completely converted. I always "knew" the church was true, but it took some life changing events to help me to really know that it is true. It is such a joy to attend church and partake of the sacrament each Sunday. What a great reminder of the love of our Savior. While the sacrament is being passed, I look up the scriptures that are associated with the hymn we just sang and then re-read the words of the hymn. This helps me become more in tune with the spirit and I gain much more from the meeting.
    Most recently, I have been working in the temple. As we perform the ordinances there, I learn every day I serve how beautiful the plan of salvation is, although I can't completely comprehend it. I believe as we strive to live with joy and share the love of our Savior, we receive tender mercies that help us cope with the world and the challenges that we face. Isn't it great that "Man (or woman) is that he (she) might have joy"? With all the things in life that can distract us, we need to remember the reason we are here, and find joy in all we do.

  24. I live the Gospel wrong as well…I live it spending too much time on my couch and not enough time out in the community helping the poor and the beaten down. The Gospel is not a self-serving thing, sisters and brothers. We have to take our beliefs out into the community, and not just in ways that are designed to bring in converts. Do we?

  25. Great post! Your words "slapped" me upside the head and made me realize that I, too, am doing exactly what you were doing! I have to admit that the main reason I was excited for General Conference next week was because I don't have to go to church! You've given me a lot to think about and a new appreciation for just what it REALLY means to live this Gospel and be a daughter of God. Thank you!

  26. I tried to share your article on Facebook, but the thumbnail came up with your smile and the first sentence from the first Anonymous comment about Joseph. Ugh! I want to share the article but not that. Help?

  27. I found a workaround. I can't use the thumbnail with your smile. Just using either of the other thumbnails (the script pictures) works. Sad that that comment has become permanently attached to your radiant smile, which is the illustration for this joy-encouraging article.

  28. I like your article and it goes in tune with Elder Causse's talk (Is it still wonderful to you?) in GC April 2015. I used this talk for a FHE lesson and it reminded us that we need to discover the joy of the gospel every day from small and simple things. Keep up your good work!

  29. The reason the living the "gospel" usually inspires doldrums rather than joy is because the "gospel" Mormons live is usually not the gospel taught in the Bible. The Bible says that if you take upon yourself a law, you are obligated to live the entirety of that law, or you are condemned. The law is a curse, the Bible says. And in the temple, you take upon yourself by solemn covenant a law. And Satan says in the temple that if you don't live up to all you covenant, you will be in his power. In short, you will be condemned.

    See the problem? The temple condemns you, because no one can live up to God's standard. The temple places you back under the curse of the law.

    This is not the true gospel, and therefore it inspires a hopelessness. You see this in Mormonism. It is a lifetime of striving striving striving, hoping that at the end of your life you'll have done enough to be exalted so you can live with your family.

    The true gospel of Christ is this: You are redeemed. Christ already did it for you. Accept this free gift, and you will be out from under the condemnation of the law. John says in his first epistle, 5th chapter, that if you HAVE the Son, you HAVE eternal life. This is not a future event. It is present tense. If you have the Son, you HAVE eternal life.

    Embrace the true Gospel. Embrace the true Christ. And you'll experience the liberty that is spoken of in the New Testament.

    I try not to post anonymously. But something is messed up and I can't make this thing work. My name is John. I have written extensively about the Biblical message of salvation on my blog. If anyone is interested, I'll post a link.

  30. I recall a former bishop relating a comment Elder Oaks had made to him (or in a gathering he was present at) to this effect:

    It's possible to be active in the church and not be active in the Gospel.

    Enjoying your focus on the spirit of things and the warning of things pharisaic on this blog.

  31. Wow! So glad that there are people like you still on earth. Love your article and your sincerity. Your enlightenment enlightens others. Great writing! Great testimony!

  32. To Arianna Rees,

    I hope you can see this…

    I'm putting together another video on my BoMwarrior YouTube channel (see @ https://www.youtube.com/user/BomWarrior/), and had saved a article you wrote awhile back titled "Today I Learned That I'm Living The Gospel Wrong". I thought it would be good to put into this video I'm making about Prayer. I was wondering if you might be able to not only let me have permission to use your article, but maybe even record audio (or video?) of yourself reading/summarizing/(or both) the article.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this! Have a great day! =)

    Sincerely,
    CK Stratford

  33. Sorry, I meant to say "I thought it would be good to put into this video I'm making about Awesomeness Of Christ's Gospel." I'm already currently editing one about Prayer and just got mixed up when I typed you that. 😉

  34. Ari: I think your intention to seek the joy of the gospel and your newly renewed desire to share that joy is admirable. I went to the same ward as Al for about a year. She is a wonderful, caring and very excitable person who does, indeed, love the gospel. I just want to caution you not to feel the need to express your love for the gospel in the exact same manner as Al, unless that is authentic to you. Al's excitement and style have brought many people closer to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    However, sometimes the Lord needs, and appreciates, quiet, diligent, dedicated people too. It's about getting your heart in the place where you are willing to do what the Lord asks of you, without grumbling and contention. There are people, like myself, who suffer from depression. The Lord doesn't need me to constantly film videos or write blogs about my life. I love the gospel, but at times I am not jumping up and down about it. That is okay, because many people have seen my very real desire to continually turn to Christ throughout my struggles and it has helped them see the love of Christ in their own lives. Here are two examples: https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2010-07-048-a-man-without-eloquence?lang=eng
    https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/you-are-not-alone-in-the-work?lang=eng
    If Al's style is a good fit for you-by all means, go for it. If not, know that the Lord loves you for your talents and willingness to help-whether you jump up and down about it or not. Love comes in many forms.

  35. When I first saw this article on facebook, the subtitle was set to this anonymous post… I'm not sure whether it's the same for everyone else, but I figured you'd want to know :)

  36. I saw the same subtitle on Facebook and knew it didn't match Ari's words. I loved this article! Thank you for encouraging me to SHOW that I LOVE what I live :) "Have we not reason to rejoice?" I love your writing Ari!

  37. Same for me, it has this comment as the subtitle. But, I really appreciated the actual article. Men are that they might have JOY, right?

  38. Actually, we totally believe that we are redeemed through Christ for free. But, we also believe that there is more. More to try for, more to hope for, more to commit to. There isn't restriction or condemnation, there is freedom and hope. I am already saved because of Christ's atonement and I can strive to become like Him by living His laws and doing my best. He makes up the difference, so it's ok if my striving and striving doesn't hit the mark. God knew I couldn't hit the mark alone. I don't think it's the gospel that inspires doldrums, I think it is the challenge of living life every day and being separated from God. The gospel of good news tells me that this condition is only temporary. I will return home and I will be welcomed back and the next journey will begin. Thank you, though, for extending your invitation.

  39. Thank you for sharing this thought…Whenever I'm asked to share a favorite scripture, I share this one: Mosiah 18:11; "And now when the people had heard these words, they clapped their hands for joy and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts." I then explain how we need to have this excitement and joy everyday in having the blessings of the gospel in our lives.

  40. Thank you for this comment. I also have depression and I and striving to live the Gospel in my life and I can see that I can feel the Atonement helping me to feel Happiness.

  41. While I love the sentiment of this article, I think it is important to recognize that sometimes those empty feelings are there, not for lack of trying, not because of sin or ingratitude, but rather because a person has a genetic, biological propensity towards clinical depression. (Check out research on vitamin B12 and gene variants. As science and gene mappibg progresses, we will learn about additional variants likely the cause of vitamin D deficiencies) both B and D vitamins are crucial in combating depression.

    You can have a strong testimony, be in good standing in the Lord's eyes, and still not feel the joy commonly associated with living the gospel. If that's the case, its bilogical. There are things which can be gone with mucronutrition (more intense than simply eating well) to fix it, but until the brain is balanced, that joy will never surface, regardless of how devout or grateful for the gospel a person may be.

  42. You may want to ask someone like Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business Professor and top 2 Management Thinker for 2015. He also has a firm and publicly shared testimony of Jesus Christ and the truthfulness of the LDS faith. I wonder how someone that smart does not share your view?

  43. Arianna,

    Thank you for writing this. It was a breath of fresh air to read something that is positive and uplifting. You are a good writer, and I could feel your enthusiasm come through your message.

    However, I respectfully disagree.

    Life is wonderful, but it is also hard. Living the gospel is a blessing, but sometimes it can be hard.

    I strongly believe that overcoming the challenges in life that almost make you want to give up is something that God allows so we can all grow. They are opportunities to exercise the Atonement and move closer to him. They help us learn. They help remind us of our connection with our Heavenly Father, with Jesus Christ being our beloved brother and redeemer.

    My fear is that if you actually do believe that enduring day-by-day without a large smile on your face is the only way to correctly live the gospel, you are going to wake up one morning and realize the excitement isn't there. Mind you, this doesn't make the gospel less true. You'll have two choices, and that is either fake it or doubt its authenticity. Or both.

    I'm not saying that being excited is bad, but that isn't paramount to living the gospel. Trying to be like Christ, faith, exercising the atonement, charity, hope, service, living worthy of divine inspiration from the holy ghost, regular repentance, enduring to the end, temple work, and love… those are several ways to live the gospel.

    If you are also excited, that is awesome and I'm happy for you. I know many people with that quality, and I love being around them. However, I know many people who do fake it. They tell everybody how excited they are for the gospel, but their actions say otherwise. They are putting on appearances, and everybody sees it. They have forced smiles on their faces, but they lack that special aura that those who truly are living the gospel seem to have around them.

    In other words, be yourself. If you're excited and happy, rejoice!! More power to you. But if your're having a bad day and not ready to tell the world how excited you are to be part of the gospel, then you are human. You aren't bad. God still loves you. He won't love you any less.

    Sorry, I don't know if I'm explaining this properly. The translation from my head to my fingers while typing this out seems to be off a bit. I hope you somehow understand what I'm trying to express.

    My best,
    James

  44. Thank you John (Anonymous) for your true comments. One of them "to be exalted so you can live with your family" is such a terrible scare tactic that tormented me for 20 years, I'm glad I'm free of that now.

  45. Thank you for posting your enthusiasm about this subject.

    It is great to strive to always be overwhelmed with joy about life, however it is also important to recognize that we are human and we do have emotions. And sometimes you will experience sadness and fears and those emotions are OKAY to experience. It is OKAY to feel all kinds of emotions.

    Please use caution about expressing statements such as "how can someone know this truth and feel/not feel____________________" because those are that person's emotions and he/she has a right experience his or her emotions as well…..just as you do. You have not experienced that walk of life, and instead of shaming that person for their emotions, we can try to relate to those feelings and let our fellow brothers and sisters know that we too have had similar feelings, and show compassion, and that we are not perfect.

    May we all also try to acknowledge that what "truth" or "belief" may make one person happy, may not make the next person happy. We should all be respectful of each persons individuality and spirituality and love each other, instead of trying to prove why one belief is right for every person in the world.

  46. Anon, Nothing makes someone discredit information faster than attacking them and using words like "banged". I would recommend you use softer language and sources or questions if you want to provoke thought concerning church history. It might not work, but at least you can't be written off as mean. There's a person behind every blog post!
    Also, Norman, one smart person believing the church isn't reason to believe it. (I realize that's probably not your reason, I'm just saying it's not a persuasive argument so maybe offer a different one.) Considerably more super smart people don't believe it. (There are letters from the Smithsonian talking about archeology, comments by Mark Twain about the language of the BOM, Egyptologists who have looked at the BOA papyri etc.) You can't belittle someone for not believing something ONE genius believes when plenty of other geniuses don't. We can all make decisions regardless of if we're brilliant.

    Just felt like jumping in on those comments. Hope you don't mind, Ari!

  47. Wow! Well done reminder of how Al's testimony (and our own testimonies!) should have us acting. I'm going be a little braver and real'r. Thanks. (And cool use of the words lackadaisical and meh, by the way!)