This weekend I was able to cross something amazing off of my bucket list. In Southern California this time of year, there can be seen occasional occurrences of bioluminescent waves that occur due to the microscopic phytoplankton that, when put in motion, create a beautiful glow in the water. It was truly breathtaking to see the almost otherworldly glow emanating from the ocean waves.
What was amazing to discover was that these microscopic organisms work much like a solar device. The more sun that they are exposed to, the brighter and more luminescent they appear. One night we drove out on a particularly cloudy day and the waves really didn’t glow like we were hoping they would. To the disappointment of all of us we were dissatisfied with the promised light show and left feeling unfulfilled. The next time we went, however, the sun had been shining all day and the brilliance of the phytoplankton glow was a direct result of that light.
I had a thought while watching the brilliant waves dance in front of me: during this current pandemic where there is too much time on our hands and too little commitments to fulfill, I find that putting light into my life is often replaced by a desire to do nothing of significance. It is easy to fill our lives with little nothings that pass the time, but don’t fulfill or satisfy our innate desire to feel God’s light. When we feel His light, we find peace. When we actively reach towards that light, we find joy.
In one of my favorite conference talks, given by Elder L. Todd Budge of the Quorum of the Seventy, he talks about the phenomenon he calls being “consistently and resiliently happy.” When we take the time to focus on the things that matter most in our lives, we can be consistently happy. When we put the Savior’s light in our lives at all times and in all places, even when life is hard, we can be resiliently happy.
I believe being consistently and resiliently happy goes hand in hand with how much time we take putting Christ’s light into our lives. Taking time to ponder, to pray, to study the scriptures, to choose gratitude and to lift one another’s burdens are sure ways to add more light in our lives.
There are times in life, however when doing these actions just doesn’t seem to chase away the darkness like we are praying for. Sometimes we simply cannot feel His light. Elder Budge said it this way: “Have you ever poured out your soul to God in such a way? When striving to live as the Lord commands and righteous expectations are not met, have you ever wondered if you must go through this life in darkness? Have the difficulties of life ever made it hard for you to breathe and caused you to wonder how you can make it through the day, let alone make it back to your heavenly home?”
I think most of us can say that we have had thoughts and feelings like these. When these times come, it is vital to remember that the only source of light and the only way to find our way home is by trusting Jesus. Can we trust Jesus even when life is excruciatingly hard? Is there a way to see past the difficulties of today and find the strength to pray for the beauties of tomorrow?
Elder Budge continues, “In a paradoxical way, afflictions and sorrow prepare us to experience joy if we will trust in the Lord and His plan for us. This truth is beautifully expressed by a 13th-century poet: ‘Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.’”
President Russell M. Nelson taught, “The joy the Savior offers us is constant, assuring us that our ‘afflictions shall be but a small moment’ and be consecrated to our gain.” Our trials and afflictions can make space for greater joy.
Perfect and lasting joy can be found only through the light that the Savior offers us. We can feel that light when we trust that it is always there, even when the clouds of darkness cover us in a way that we can’t see the light very clearly. Consistently offering gratitude for the light when we feel it is a pivotal part of opening ourselves up to seeing more light. The Savior of the world wants to give us light. He wants to create a glow in us that will cause others to feel His light.
As we reach toward the light, acknowledge the source of that light and consistently work to keep it in our lives, we will have an ‘otherworldly’ glow about us that will permeate to those around us and make our lives full of meaning, happiness, and hope.
Janette Beverley is a lover of life, family, music, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy, and has five amazing children and one equally amazing husband. Janette is excited to be writing for LDS Blogs and sharing her love and passion for finding the miraculous among the mundane, the awe-inspiring among the obvious, and the uplifting among the underestimated. To read more of her work, you can visit Janette's personal blog here.