Sunday, June 28, 2009

I See... Living Happily Ever After

“And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness.”
2nd Nephi 5:27

What does it mean to live happily ever after? That phrase almost involuntarily invokes storybook scenarios of a handsome prince on a noble white steed, falling hopelessly in love with a beautiful young princess. They begin a life of wedded bliss as they ride off in the sunset together, hearts entwined in the strands of immortal love. The LDS version would be something like a handsome young return missionary on BYU campus arriving to the library wearing noble white sneakers locks eyes in instant love with a beautiful fair maiden across the shelves studying for her history final. After a whirlwind courtship they head off in the sunset via a temple marriage living happily ever after, looking forward to eons of wedded bliss with 10 children and a garden where they grow all their own food. Technically, in LDS doctrine, “ever after” is not just an amorphous fairy tale phrase; eternal marraiges are available to those who keep their covenants and endure to the end.

What I find amazing is that so many of the stereotypical happily ever after stories leave out the most important element that makes happily ever after possible- the obstacles and challenges of life. In this context, fairy tales more resemble real life than our own unrealistic expectations. Have we forgotten about the wicked witches, the poisoned apples and the fire-breathing dragons that our heroes had to conquer before winning the hand and heart of a fair maiden? Can we really expect a carefree life with no challenges or difficulties to climb over when even our fairy tales focus on hardships that must be mastered?

The record of Nephite nations proclaims that their happiest times were also their most challenging (see 2nd Nephi 5:27, Alma 50:23). So if life is easy for you now, and you expect no difficulties in your future, I'd be worried about living happily ever after!

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