Last night I had the opportunity to visit with an old roommate from college who I hadn't seen in a few years, and who has been going through some difficult things lately and is up here in our tiny little town getting away from it all for a while.
I was being empathetic with some of the things she is going through, and acknowledging my testimony of the fact that Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us to be happy, even if that plan includes things we don't want in the moment.
At this point, she interrupted me, and asked simply, "Yeah, but you're happy, right?"
A little taken aback, I answered, "Well, yes, but..."
I struggled with filling in the rest. How do you answer that question without giving the misleading impression that your life is a bed of roses while still acknowledging that you have been blessed beyond any right you have to claim?
"Well, yes, but my husband and I are so busy that the only time we really have to talk is at 11:30 at night when he has to leave at work at 5:00 the next morning."
"Yes, but my toddler has had a horrible heat rash over the past week and has cried for a large part of each day because of how miserable he is."
"Yes, but we've been trying for another baby for a while now (measurable in months and not years, but still longer than ever before), and still aren't pregnant."
"Yes, but I have four kids and two dogs and six chickens and a yard and a garden and a trashed house and no idea how to muster up the energy to keep up with all that I'm expected to do."
"Yes, but I often, almost constantly, feel overwhelmed and incapable of what is asked of me on a daily basis."
The thing is, the "buts" don't matter. When I look back on time after we've passed through it, the difficulties are incidental, but the joy and the progress and the learning that comes because of them are eternal.
Yes, I am happy.
"Yes, my husband and I are serving and busy and productive and constantly trying to improve ourselves and our community through his work, his schooling, the stake show we are helping to put on, and our children."
"Yes, my toddler has a heat rash right now, but he is normally healthy, cheerful, positive, and a joy to those around him."
"Yes, we've been trying unsuccessfully for another baby, but we have hope that we will eventually get pregnant. And if not, we have four joyful children who we adore and opportunities to add others to our lives through means other than pregnancy."
"Yes, I have 4 children and 2 dogs and 6 chickens and a yard and a garden and a home that are loved and lived in and maybe not as efficiently cared for as they could be, but I am happy and blessed."
"Yes, I feel overwhelmed and inadequate on a daily basis, but those feelings remind me to turn to my Savior and rely on His Atoning Grace to make me what and who I need to be in order to fulfill my duties."
Yes, I am happy.