I've had some rough times over the last few days. And, as usual, the rough spots in life give me the chance to turn to God and seek His guidance. Often when I ask for help, He helps me identify things that I can change... and ways that I need to improve in order to feel greater peace and joy. But these last few days have been different. Maybe it's just a calm before the storm, but I feel like I'm on the right path, and that I simply need to keep moving forward. Every answer to my prayers held the message of God's love and esteem for me, and I feel like I am doing enough.

Those of you who've read over the last few months probably realize how singular this feeling is in my life. I'm a perfectionist. I'm super-zealous in fulfilling my duties and trying to do what is right. And yet, through each step of my life I carry the powerful sense that I could, and should, be doing more to build the kingdom. Meeting with good friends and mentors and talking about this blog and my efforts to share the gospel hasn't helped. Talking with other friends and trying to lift them hasn't helped. And spending every spare moment trying to improve my talents and give back to the world hasn't helped, either... The peace and joy didn't come from any of those; it came, unexpectedly, as a gift from God - proof of His grace when I still lack the essential characteristics of perfection.

I think I've taught people that joy doesn't come from what we do. I taught it on my mission, and it shapes the lessons I teach and the things I write and say. But, somewhere in my heart, I guess I've always believed that happiness came inherently from doing more good things - that the more good I could accomplish in life, the happier I would end up becoming. That's only partially true. In reality, my ability to feel joy is based on my relationship with God and who I am, not what I do. Yes, wickedness never was happiness, and men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause and bring to pass many good things of their own accord. But when life is hard, and the pain of living in an imperfect world seems too great to bear, true happiness comes from God... as a gift. Reading King Benjamin's sermon yesterday reminded me of that, and now I realize it completely.

This is probably one of the most stressful Christmas seasons I've ever encountered. Everything in my life is up in the air, and the Lord asks me to do more and more things I have no clue how to do. But, I can honestly say that this Christmas season is also the happiest I can ever remember, because of who I am. I'm not perfect by any means. But looking back, and seeing the gifts of faith, love, and diligence that I've given to Christ, this Christmas comes with peace and joy. I have no idea what trials tomorrow holds, or what painful experiences the future holds. But it doesn't matter. I'm happy - amazingly, truthfully, and awesomely happy... and no mortal power can ever take that away.
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