Choosing Joy

By Jenny Harris

“[M]en are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25)

Some people are born with a vision. They are called, by God or by privilege, to do specific things.

I am not part of this group.

I envied my friends who knew exactly what they would study in school. I changed majors three times and still wish I could go back for more degrees. Every semester, I asked my Dad for a father’s blessing. And almost every semester, the advice was the same: “Listen to your heart, and do what you love.

The choice is yours.

When I considered serving a religious mission, I expected God to provide a definitive sense of direction. He did not. Rather, I He spoke through my Dad in saying: “If you choose to serve a mission, you will serve God and meet people and learn things that you couldn’t in any other way. And if you choose to do something else, you will serve God and meet people and learn things that you couldn’t in any other way.”

The choice is yours.

It was paralyzing! Agonizing! I felt trapped by the largeness of opportunity, and so unsure myself. I don’t think I knew what I desired, let alone how to pursue it.

But gradually, I started to listen to my heart. I took anthropology classes to satiate a hunger for social theory. I went on a mission because Isaiah’s poetry tugged me in that direction. I took a job in the mountains because, mountains. I took a job as a nanny because, children. I read excellent books. I found kindred souls.

As I became more discerning about my heart, sometimes I could acknowledge a divine grin—a sense that my satisfaction is God’s satisfaction. As a Father, he delights to see me exploring good things. He is tickled when I find new means of expression and connection. He loves my journey because I love my journey.

The choice is mine.

This has been the unremitting message of life transitions. In everything from the man I married to the jobs I’ve turned down, spiritual guidance often came down to personal choice. Yes, I pray. I study, seek counsel, and list pros and cons. But often times,  

The choice is mine.

I used to think that a truly loving God—one that really KNEW me—would have created a hand-crafted mortal journey for me. Like maybe if I was spiritual enough, I would know the precise who’s and where’s and how’s of my life. I felt spiritually out of touch because I rarely felt “guided” toward any particular job or location or major or soulmate or …anything, really.

Today I believe that a truly loving God—one that KNOWS me—lets me choose. He gave me guidelines to preserve an abundant life, but beyond the commandments, a lot of what the Spirit teaches me is the stuff of the heart.

He lets me pursue the desires of my heart because He is invested in my JOY.

THAT is the God I worship.

 “Ye shall … have according to your desires, for ye … joy in that which ye have desired.”

Doctrine & Covenants 7:8
Jenny Harris

Jenny Harris

Jenny is a star-gazing, book-clubbing mother of two. She has a Master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies, which is mildly comical (but also a boon in parenting and relationships). Her kids will attest that she's crazy about reading aloud, time out of doors, and creative play. Her family's goal is the “abundant life,” as prescribed by Jesus. You can read more posts by Jenny here.
Jenny Harris

Jenny Harris

Jenny is a star-gazing, book-clubbing mother of two. She has a Master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies, which is mildly comical (but also a boon in parenting and relationships). Her kids will attest that she's crazy about reading aloud, time out of doors, and creative play. Her family's goal is the “abundant life,” as prescribed by Jesus. You can read more posts by Jenny here.

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