by Rebecca Talley
When I was a child, I didn’t have the gospel. I found it after my parents both passed away and I went to live with my grandparents. Even then, we didn’t read scriptures, have family home evening, or pray except to bless the food. I did not have the blessings of the priesthood in my home.
I had a choice to make as I became an adult. I could continue to live as I’d been taught or choose to fully embrace the gospel. I chose the latter. Though my testimony was like the tiniest of mustard seeds, I had to desire to learn more and live better.
As I’ve lived my life, I’ve come to learn the fundamental truth that true happiness comes from keeping the commandments. We’ve all been endowed with the ability to make our own choices, right or wrong. We can choose to follow the Savior or not. We can choose to go to church, read our scriptures, and say our prayers. We can choose if we want to follow the Word of Wisdom or the Law of Chastity. We can decide for ourselves if we want to attend the temple or not. No one compels us to do any of this; it is up to us to each make our own individual choices.
I’ve lived without the gospel and I’ve lived with it. I’ve broken commandments and I’ve kept commandments. I’ve lived without the priesthood and with it. I’ve seen the effects of living without the gospel and the effects of living with it. I choose to live with it because I know it’s what brings peace and joy.
I’ve chosen my life on purpose. I didn’t fall into Mormonism by accident nor do I feel obligated to live its teachings. I, with full knowledge and purpose, choose to live this way. I wish I did it better. I wish I were a better example of a disciple of Christ. I wish I didn’t make mistakes, say the wrong thing, or offend people. I wish I constantly had the Spirit with me 24 hours a day. But, this I know, when I break the commandments, I am unhappy and when I keep them I am happy.
I can’t prove that God exists. I can’t prove that keeping the commandments makes people happy, I can only see the effects of doing so. To me it’s like the principle of gravity. I can’t see gravity or hold it in my hands. I can only see the effects of it on objects. I can clearly see that a car doesn’t float up into the sky because gravity holds it to earth. When I let go of a plate, it doesn’t stay suspended in the air, it drops to the ground. Again, it’s the effect of gravity.
The effect of keeping the commandments, or rather the desire to keep the commandments, is happiness. It is not freedom from trial and tribulation. Commitment to keeping the commandments does not prevent us from experiencing heartache, but even during dark times, we can have the peace and happiness that comes from keeping the commandments. We can still find joy even when we are dealing with tragedy. We can still feel the love and comfort of the Savior as we traverse the tumultuous waves of life and know that as we put our faith and trust in Him and keep His commandments, He will be there to steady us.
I have no doubt that keeping the commandments brings happiness.