BLOG: (Feb 7-13) Genesis 12-17, Abraham 1-2, "At the Crossroads"
Nate Bagley, a podcaster and marriage researcher, shared this advice related to marriage: “If you want to be happy, your goal should be growth, not happiness” (source). This is not only great marriage advice; it is a true principle for life itself. The prophet Joseph Smith put it this way: "Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God” (source).
Happiness is a righteous desire, but we don’t find it by chasing it directly; if we do, it will always elude us. We find happiness through following the path of growth, through becoming more like our Father in Heaven. Happiness is the natural result of holiness. Abraham knew this principle very well. He had seen his father walk a road of wickedness, and that road ultimately led him to idolatry and attempted murder. Abraham knew the path his father had followed did not lead to happiness. Abraham desired something different for himself. He chose to seek after knowledge and righteousness - growth - and in doing so, found happiness and eternal blessings.
Each person who comes to earth will also have this choice to make. Will we take the path of least resistance, seeking comfort, pleasure, ease, or vain ambition? Or will we seek to follow the path of growth? At the crossroads of these two paths, it isn’t always easy to discern which path leads to happiness. The path of growth - the Covenant Path - is a steep, rocky path that leads up the mountain to the exhilarating peak. It requires effort and hard work - lots of it! The other path - the path labeled “happiness” (by the father of lies himself) - winds comfortably down through a gentle meadow…at first. But when we consider the end of each path, we know which one we must choose if we are ever to be truly happy. Choosing not to choose will always lead downward. Choosing the harder right will lead to unforeseen blessings and help. We find Christ on the Covenant Path, and He walks with us there.
President Thomas S. Monson stated this concept beautifully:
It has been said that the door of history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives. The choices we make determine our destiny.
When we left our premortal existence and entered mortality, we brought with us the gift of agency. Our goal is to obtain celestial glory, and the choices we make will, in large part, determine whether or not we reach our goal.
May we maintain the courage to defy the consensus. May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.
As we contemplate the decisions we make in our lives each day—whether to make this choice or that choice—if we choose Christ, we will have made the correct choice.
President Thomas S. Monson, Choices, April 2016
The central question of every life is, “What will I do with my agency?” When we use our agency to seek our own happiness, we find selfishness and, ultimately, misery. When we choose, instead, to seek growth, to follow Christ, to become more like our Father in Heaven, like Abraham did - we find greater opportunity, greater power to do and to be good, and ultimately, we find happiness there: true, lasting, eternal happiness. We find JOY.
May we all choose to follow the path that leads to true joy. We will have to choose it again and again, throughout our lives…but it will be worth it, every time.