Real vs. False Joy

(Originally posted April 15, 2018)

We live in a fast paced world. Sometimes it feels like were drowning, other times it feels like we’re on top of the world. One thing we all strive for in the midst of it all is that feeling of joy.
But not all joy is the same.
What do I mean by that? It’s simple. In times of despair or hard ship we turn to things that give us immediate satisfaction. Whether that be shopping. alcohol, drugs, chocolate, fancy cars, expensive trips, whatever it is that can distract you from the moment. But that is all that it is, a distraction, nothing more. Maybe it gives you that feeling of joy, but it’s temporary. This is what I call false joy.
Real joy is more than the temporal, worldly things. It’s that feeling that helps carry you through the hard times. The joy that you can’t fully describe but hope it  never leaves. This joy comes with a bigger price though. It’s not as easily obtained, it takes effort and sacrifice, Building your life to obtain your highest dream job,  creating a family that has love at the center of it, living your life around whichever religion you believe in, none of these things are easy but the joy that comes from them is priceless.
Lately, I’ve had a hard time feeling that real joy. I’ve tried to find comfort through food, clothes, shoes, whatever I could buy to try and forget whatever trial I was in. I’ve tried to escape and feel joy. No matter what I did, it didn’t last long and reality soon came knocking on my door.
I couldn’t help but recall the last time I felt true joy for an extended amount of time-my time at the Missionary Training Center. I was living a religion I loved day in and out, surrounded by people who loved the same thing, people who would soon become friends and even family to me.
While growing up, I read a story about a returned missionary who no longer felt the same joy, peace, and Spirit they did on their mission. A church leader proceeded to ask them how many times a day he prayed on his mission, the young man answered 50 times a day, at least. The church leader then asked how many times a day he prayed now that he was home, the young man said maybe 2-3 times.
The young man didn’t have the same joy in his life, because he didn’t have the same Spirit. I have definitely felt the withdrawal of the Spirit since being home, and this past week hit a new low. I turned to prayer and made a commitment to realign my life. While I haven’t made a full 180 in feeling joy again, I felt better than before, and am on the road to get there.

That’s just my journey to try and find real lasting joy. What’s yours?

Much love and support,
Maria Jo Stephens

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