"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
January 30, 2016
by Janae Stubbs

It is remarkably difficult to begin the end of something.

I think I've started five or six different columns just now, and then one by one I scrapped them all. I know that at one point, each idea started somewhere inside of me and then I planted it to see what would happen. Some of these ideas have had months to sprout and stretch, others just a few weeks, but at the moment they all feel too small, too young, and a bit too green.

Instead I'd like to go with something I often consider myself, which is: how do we live "after the manner of happiness" when we are anything but happy? (If there was ever a question that made me feel like I was too small, too young, and a bit too green to answer...that was probably it.)

There isn't any one particular reason I ask this question, though recently I have had many friends and family members dealing with different types of "endings." Even the Nauvoo Times, after the passing of our own Kathryn Kidd, has come to its close. Endings often bring great sadness with them. How am I supposed to be happy when I would much rather curl up in a warm blanket and cry?

For starters, I go ahead and cry; I cry with others--I cry to the Lord. Sometimes when the tears run out I feel better. Other times, not so much. I haven't noticed any patterns when it comes to grieving, which is, come to think of it, quite comforting--no one can hand me a prescription which will clear up that pesky tremor in my voice or keep my mind from wandering down the sorrowful paths. My grief is my own. It is my personal way of dealing with an ending and I must let it run its course.

But why are endings so hard to handle? Every physical thing on this earth has to end at some point, and that's a good thing, really. Imagine trying to read a book that never actually ended or waiting for the loaf of bread that never finished baking. It might be frustrating for a favorite series to come to an end, but there, right there on the last page, is the gratifying sense of having finished something. It feels good to see a project to its end. We make checklists that we plan to see through. In a sense, we long for the sweetness of completion.

But I'm not really talking about last pages and baking times, I'm talking about human life. And those endings are, at best, difficult to accept--especially for us divine seedlings wrapped in fleshy mortality. Death is on a mortal to-do list for each of us but it can still come unexpectedly, like that thief in the night, and we resist it.

President Uchtdorf said it much better than I ever could. "In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings. Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny." [Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Grateful in Any Circumstances" Ensign. May, 2014.]

There is a part of us that has always existed and always will exist. That everlasting part of us knows that death is an integral part of the plan of happiness, and that endings are not our destiny.

However. We can know all of this--we can feel the truth stirring our souls within us--and still wonder if we will ever be happy again.

It's heartbreaking when you fast and pray for a miracle of healing, but are given miracles of comfort instead. One minute you feel strong and the next minute you're on your knees praying, "It hurts, Lord."

It comes down to the big question: how do we live "after the manner of happiness" when we are sad? We're already doing it. We can live through our sadness and accept it for what it is. Enoch found out that even God weeps sometimes, so why not us?

Despite the mortal endings that threaten to destroy our peace, there is one tool available to us that will turn the scale in our favor and change our night of misery into a day of gladness. Happiness is possible for everyone because of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

How could we ever live a life of happiness without truly coming to know our Savior and feel the awesome power of His infinite atonement? After taking our grief to the Lord we are transformed, and in this sense, sadness is what makes happiness real. And so, through the endings of mortality, we can still hold onto our eternal roots and look forward to the day when we no longer have to say goodbye to our friends and family.

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About Janae Stubbs

Janae and her husband were an inseparable, delightful pair before the coming of their children. Now they are just as delightful and inseparable but with quite a bit more mass—mass that won't go to bed on time and asks so many questions that Janae often wonders if college was enough preparation for motherhood (it's not).

Janae currently serves as a senior primary teacher, a temporary sunbeam teacher, an assistant ward organist, an assistant primary pianist, and the choir pianist. And maybe some others. If you're bored on Sundays you should move to her ward.

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