We might have been happy…

There’s a story in the Book of Mormon about a family who leaves everything the have and know because of a revelation from God. The father learns that the city they live in will be destroyed. It is not safe. If they stay, they will die or be taken into slavery. It is that serious. But could you even imagine doing this? Pack only what you need and hightail it into the desert. Leave behind everyone and everything you know. Many things happen while they are in the desert, but after a while some members of the family get discouraged. After all, they are in the desert and by this time the sons have families of their own. Women have given birth. They have been gone for years. In the middle of recounting their hardships to Nephi, one of the brothers, they say,

“Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy.” (1 Nephi 17:21)

We might have been happy, but we are not. It reminds me about how many times I allow my circumstances to rob me of my happiness. If x happened, I would have had a good day. If only I didn’t have to go to school, I would be a better mom. I would be happier. My baby would be happier.

But this isn’t how life works. We can’t lay out our lives like colored tiles, each one fitting perfectly into the one beside it, forming a predictable tessellation. Life is more like being handed irregular pieces of shattered glass and asked to create something beautiful. Life takes creativity, patience, and an eye for the unexpected. It takes ears that can listen to the master artist’s hints and suggestions.

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, spake unto them, saying: Do ye believe that our fathers, who were the children of Israel, would have been led away out of the hands of the Egyptians if they had not hearkened unto the words of the Lord?” (1 Nephi 17:23)

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