Mom loved red. She loved polka dots. She also loved having options. So, I bought two dresses for her funeral.
I wore the blue dress with white polka dots at her service.
This is the other dress. I am wearing it today, exactly two weeks after the day she passed, and I am smiling.
My eyes are tired. My heart hurts, but I’m smiling because I know she would have liked it. I’m smiling because I love her.
I’m smiling because I’m choosing to not let grief make me feel guilty for being happy even if she’s not with me anymore.
So, today, the red dress is for her. But it’s also for me.
And it’s for you.
I want you to have joy.
Guilt is a thief that would rob you do all peace and joy. It would tell you that you should not feel happy when you’re grieving. It would tell you that you should not feel joy when others aren’t.
Its logic is faulty and false. If we wait for conditions in our lives and the lives of others are perfect (whatever that means) to embrace joy, we never would because there will never be a time when everything is right in the world.
It’s not possible. It’s not meant to be that way.
Joy isn’t meant to only come when all the boxes are checked, when there’s nothing to grieve, when all resistance to our expectations is gone.
Joy isn’t a result of our circumstances.
Joy is what helps us through our circumstances.
Joy is a gift from a loving God for us to feel today. Now. Regardless of what our circumstances are.
Men and women are that they might HAVE joy. This is what Lehi taught his son in 2 Nephi2:25.
I find it interesting that he says "have joy" not "feel joy."
To have somethings connotes that joy is something that we can possess, that can be a part of us.
This elevates joy from something external that we feel the effects of, like when we feel the sun on our faces, to something that is internal, a part of us. Something that can always be with us, on sunny or cloudy days.
A few years ago President Nelson spoke of joy. He said,
"My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives. When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation . . . and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy."
My friends, this is so true.
This is how I can have joy--not just feel joy, but have joy without my mother here. I don't have joy because of her absence, but through my Savior, I can and do have joy in spite of her absence.
Whatever you're experiencing in your life right now, whether it's a loss of a loved one, illness, financial struggles, fear in an uncertain world, you can have joy in your life right now.
It's okay to smile with tears in your eyes and an ache in your heart.
And it's also okay if you can't smile right now. Smiling and joy are not mutually exclusive.
Today, I'm able to smile. And I am because of Him. I am because of Mom.
And I am because of me.
We are that we might have joy. And I am claiming mine.
Now go and claim yours.