The Plan of Happiness: And why it isn’t always happy

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.

Ha.

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?

at grave

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.” 

grandma, harold, and 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.

20140104_194508

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.

jesus

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.

Always joy.

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25 thoughts on “The Plan of Happiness: And why it isn’t always happy

  1. Excellent explanation…thanks! I always breathe a sigh of sadness when someone expresses anger at God for their trials….when they feel, if there was a God then why would He do this to me? But I do know that people have to be at a certain point in their life, ready for additional truth and knowledge, to accept it when it comes, because when one is angry they can’t see it.

  2. I have read this many times, it helps me to know his plan:) has plan is the only plan! With all the heart ache I need to remember this daily.. there is peace in heaven:)

  3. I wanted to share this beautiful little essay but found that on the same page is a video advertisement extolling the “virtues” of Sauza Marguritas. I didn’t think that was the kind of association I wanted to send with the fine essay to my non-member friend. Why the ad?!

  4. Thanks Kayla! Wonderfully written! We are hoping your grandma (my wonderful sister) makes it over this hump with her heart, but I’m not sure about that this time! Her 79th birthday is September 14th. Lord bless you and Matt! uncle Larry

  5. As one of those people who is in continual pain (for 18 years now), I know that you make your life happy or sad or angry. I always laugh and wonder what I said to Heavenly Father in the pre-existance. “Sure, Father, I will suffer pain. How many years? No sweat!” After all what was pain then. Then I remember all my blessings. And lastly I remember the promise of eternal life…a happy life. The Plan of Happiness isn’t that I will have happiness now, but it is the route to the place of happiness. I know what I have to do. Yes I have pain. But I chose to be happy.

  6. Thank you so very much for sharing this message with us. I have been through alot in my life and the struggles continue. I have a strong testimony and know that our Father in Heaven has a reason and plan for everything that goes on. However, once in a while I wonder why, and feel terrible for having that thought, but now the times that thought comes to my mind I will ever be reminded of this post.

  7. Last night I shared this article with my 13 yo daughter. I watched as she scrolled down to read, her head get lower and lower. I just knew this is how she felt at times. I know because I do too. It sparked hours of snuggling together and watching movies. I wanted to her to notice how many people feel the same especially at this point in time. There is always a purpose. This little exercise was to also show her there are other places to visit online that are more fulfilling than her normal stops. Today she learned to look at others feelings and know where to help but most importantly she would know how to help herself first. F.Y.I to all new parents, that little thing you hand off to your children to pacify them, it’s not as friendly as you might think!

    Thank you for the article Kayla!

  8. It never use to be call The plan of happiness. It was always called The plan of salvation. This life is a test to prepare us for the here after. Do not wonder about the happiness. Some have been promised if they are good they will have bad times. Just look at the life of Christ. No man has been as low as he. How can we be like him if we never suffer? It is the way to know the good from the bad that we might chose the good and find happiness. That is the plan of salvation!

  9. I came across your message purely by accident, at least that’s what I thought at first. This was a message I so needed to hear at this moment in my life. Thank you for this wonderful reminder of what the Plan of Happiness truly means!

  10. Thank you Kayla, at a time in my married life with sooo muCh pain & yet stiL no children really needed to hear this message 🙂
    Thank you Ralph for ur comment too!

  11. I have literally been on the verge of suicide for the past 2 weeks. I want you to know how much your message meant to me. It was EXACTLY what I needed to hear at this time. Thank you for sharing and giving me a small amount of hope to hold on to.

    • Cindy, you are so welcome. Thank you for being strong, courageous, and faithful. Please don’t hesitate getting help either, beyond this blog post. There are so many people who would love to help you and extend a hand. You have my prayers! Always remember that you are loved. You are valued. And you are a beautiful daughter of God.

  12. Your thoughtful post brought me so much hope today. Thank you for sharing the realities of life in such a hopeful, wonderful way! God bless you. I hope you will keep writing for many years to come!

  13. Pingback: Why God sent a rainbow: Lessons from the Marysville school shooting | all our lemmony things

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