A while back, I had an opportunity to sit in on some religious discussions that were being presented to my sister-in-law. Having grown up in the same religion, she had some very real concerns over some of the things we believe. We believe that we all lived in heaven before we were born to this earth. Once we arrived on earth, a veil of forgetfulness was placed over our minds so we couldn’t remember the previous life. It is our purpose in life to find God and find happiness. However, sometimes, due to our forgetfulness, we make mistakes and struggle. And most of the time, this life isn’t easy. But we believe that this course back to heaven, one in which we have to rediscover God and our purpose, is the one that will bring the most happiness.
My sister-in-law questioned why this was so. Why, if God truly loved us, didn’t he just tell us how things are and what things we should do? Why did it all have to be a mystery and why couldn’t we just have the path set before us? If we were to be truly happy, why didn’t God just allow us to be happy without having to work for it?
I didn’t have a good answer. I explained that this is the way we believe will bring the most happiness, but I couldn’t tell her why. I felt unsatisfied in my answer to her. I knew there was more to it, but I couldn’t articulate what I meant.
A few months later, after all memory of this conversation drained from my mind, I sat with my husband discussing our oldest son. He has struggled with the terrifying grip of depression. While he is a good kid with an honest heart, he seemed to be surrendering to the negative effects of depression. He began to defy household rules and resigned his life to his bed, where he would sleep for 16-18 hour a day. He wasn’t doing drugs. He wasn’t making severely bad choices. He was just giving in to this horrible disease and we would do anything to help him free himself from its grip. We would do anything to ensure his happiness.
In discussing his situation, my husband and came to the conclusion that in order for our son to be entirely happy, he would first have to heal. And in order for him to completely heal, he would first have to have his heart completely broken.
There it was. The answer to my sister-in-law’s question.
I love my son so much. I want him to be happy. But I can not just give it to him. I can’t just tell him the things he needs to do to be happy; he needs to find it on his own. And though it pains me to see his heart broken, I know that in it breaking, he will have the opportunity to find happiness. On a very limited level, I came to understand our Father in Heaven.
He wants us to be truly and completely happy. He wants us to be at peace and to heal from any distress we may feel. However, if it is to happen, we must find and travel that path on our own. When we do, we will find God, we will find true joy.
It doesn’t make life any easier. But, for the first time, on a very small scale, I understand why we can’t just have the answers given to us. I understand why we can’t just have life be easy.
It is because it is the journey that enables happiness. And God loves us enough to allow us the journey.