The Plan of Happiness.
I thought over this phrase as I listened to the heart monitor beside me, beeping with each rise and fall of my chest. My eyes were pinned to the ceiling and the pain medication turned the tiles a sickly green.
Sometimes the plan is anything but.
That day–just a few days ago–I spent the day pinned to an I.V., waiting to hear the diagnosis that my Endometriosis is getting worse *hence, more painful* and surgery is the only option if I ever want to live a pain-free life or have a chance at children. I laid there wondering, why in Heaven’s name do we call the Plan of Salvation the Plan of Happiness? How is that synonymous whatsoever? Because goodness gracious! Life has its moments. Some of those moments extend to weeks or months or years. Some of those moments just don’t end.
There were rooms–hundreds of rooms–lined next to mine where I heard babies crying, old men yelling for medication, and the squeak of wheelchairs. There are young women–just like me–who are getting more dire diagnoses. Who have been diagnosed with cancer. Who sit at the grave of a child. There are families ripped apart by divorce and bankruptcy and loss. There are the homeless lining the streets and mouths going unfed in countries I’ve never visited. There are wars.
How is that kind of a plan a happy one?
The thought process has literally taken me to my knees. Life has such great joy, of course. The birth of a baby, summer evenings on the porch, little moments of peace or laughter. But when life is unbearable and when time seems to stretch out misery, it’s natural to wonder, right? Such a perfect, all-knowing God called it the Plan of Happiness for a reason. He must have.
And then the phone rang–and I got the answer.
Grandma isn’t doing well again, my husband said to me. It probably won’t be too long now.
My heart suddenly tugged in memory. It’s funny how your brain retraces the odds and ends of memory stowed away somewhere in your mind when something life-changing occurs.
The thought was simply a sympathy card my Grandma sent to my mom after my Dad died 8 months ago. She wrote to him in it. “I love you, my son-in-law,” she had said within the letter. “I’m glad you’re in such a happy place. Save a place for me.”
I had forgotten that part until now. But now is when I needed to remember it.
Happy place… Save a place for me…
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment where that all made more sense. You see, happiness–true, eternal happiness that doesn’t rise and fall with circumstance–isn’t attained within the blink of an eye. But a blink of an eye is all mortality really is.
True happiness–the kind of joy where families can be together forever, where goodbye isn’t necessary, where bodies don’t bleed or age or die, where bad news doesn’t exist and children never go hungry–is the happiness we’re being shaped for. It’s the happiness that will be ours without end once we journey through a fallen world that promises opposition. It’s the joy that will be our rest once we work hard to become faithful without it.
It’s the kind of happiness that will bring hope and faith to our hearts during this life when we believe in it despite it all.
Because the plan is happiness.
“Frustrations are only temporary,” Dallin H. Oaks once said. “The Lord has promised that in the eternities no blessing will be denied his sons and daughters who keep the commandments, are true to their covenants, and desire what is right.”
I think of the blessings so many crave–to have family members back, to be out of pain, to live a life where paying the bills isn’t a heartache every week. Blessings that make so many of us wonder, “How is this in a plan of happiness?” And that’s when I’m reminded that if we lived a life free of opposition and trouble, we truly would never know joy. And we’d never have a need for Him. After all, happiness isn’t the lack of misery–it’s knowing misery and then arriving at a place where that is overcome.
This won’t be the last beep of a heart monitor I hear and in days to come there will be more funerals and bad news delivered over the phone. We will all try to make ends meet and we’ll all see the lost sheep of our family wander. We will have days where we lose faith. And days where that faith is restored. We will all wonder, at some point in our lives on bended knees, “Why is this called a plan of happiness, God?”
Even Christ himself wondered that when He said in anguish, “Take this cup from me”.
But in those times we must remember: Sunday came. He saw the light of eternal life. He rose again. And he urged us to do the same.
We glimpse–every so often–that little reminder of a broader, more eternal plan. That break in the clouds. That little something that begs you to remember that this isn’t the final stop.
It’s just a heartbeat in a life unending.
Just like my Grandma reminded us in a letter read long ago–we have a place saved in an eternal plan.
And there’s joy in that plan.