If you were to ask the average Latter-day Saint about the effects of gospel living, most would use some or all of these positive words.
Joy. Peace. Happiness.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is meant to bring joy into our lives. We learn it from the scriptures, we hear it from modern-day prophets, and many people testify of it from our pulpits. However, what do you do when you feel anything but joyful as you strive to live the gospel?
Maybe the promises of God seem empty and your efforts in vain. Maybe the answers haven’t come and you feel alone. Maybe you are asked to give more, more, more, and you’re empty and exhausted. Whatever the reason, you may feel like the gospel isn’t bringing you joy, peace, or happiness. Instead of renewing and fulfilling worship, it is draining and weary work.
What is to be done at such times? Here are a few things to consider.
It is Normal to Be Weary
In today’s world, we seem to have an obsession with appearances. Whether we are watching people at church or looking through our social media feeds, we often get the idea that everyone around us is leading a perfect, happy life. This is rarely true. Everyone experiences struggles and we all get overwhelmed as we face the realities of living in a fallen world. We also live in a culture where people feel like they need showcase perfection, making it hard to honestly open up about what they’re going through.
So, don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeling frazzled, weary, or just ready to give up. It happens to everyone! The important thing to focus on is how we react and the steps we take when these times come.
Accept the Grace of Jesus Christ
The best way to react is to let the Atonement of Jesus Christ work in your life. We cannot do everything. We will not be perfect. We will not resist every temptation, we will not face every trial with grace, and we will simply fall short. It is guaranteed.
Christ’s grace is also guaranteed. With it, we have the enabling power to move forward. Accept grace. Don’t feel ashamed. Don’t push yourself harder. We often think, “If I was just more faithful…” or “I just need to do more…”, but this only exacerbates the problem. God knows you need him. Do you act like you need him? Place everything at his feet and let him truly have it. Rely on him.
Don’t Fulfill a Contract, Build a Relationship
We can rely more on God when we recognize who he is. He is our loving Heavenly Father and he wants us to draw close to him. He desires our eternal exaltation.
Often, we look at covenants and commandments like a contract. If we fulfill our terms, God will fulfill his. While this is true on some levels, this simplistic explanation can distract us from the deeper purpose of our lives. We are meant to love God and become more like him. Each covenant, each commandment, is meant to bring us closer together.
When you feel weary from praying, reading your scriptures, temple attendance, or fulfilling your callings, try to put these things in the context of building a relationship.
Evaluate Priorities…and Your Motivations
“If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most.”
This quote from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf reminds us to prioritize. There is a lot to do, both in a gospel sense and when it comes to the daily necessities of life. Take a moment to look at how you’re spending your time and determine if it is spend on the things that matter most.
It is also important to evaluate your motives. Ideally, we act of love and a commitment to our covenants. However, we can by swayed by a desire to be seen of men. Are your motives for taking on so much, doing so much, always saying yes, good ones?
Slow Down and Rest a Bit
Mosiah 4:27 reminds us to rest and take care of ourselves:
“And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.”
We can do our best when we are feeling our best! If you’re having a hard time, turn to the Lord for how you can simplify your life and slow down. D&C 75:11 is another great scripture:
“Praying always that they faint not; and inasmuch as they do this, I will be with them even unto the end.”