PROVO, Utah — If she could go back in time, what advice would Sister Michelle D. Craig of the Young Women general presidency give to her 16-year-old self?
“I would tell her that there are times in all of our lives that are difficult, that life isn’t always easy,” said Sister Craig in a May 3 breakout session of BYU Women's Conference. “I would tell her she will have heartaches and heart-breaks — both physical and spiritual challenges — but that she can and will find joy in every season.”
The first bit of advice the first counselor in the Young Women general presidency shared was to discover and live true to divine assignments.
Each person has a divine nature, purpose and errand uniquely suited to him or her. Sister Craig taught, “With Christ as our example, each of us needs to find, and then finish, the work which our Heavenly Father has given us to do — not what He has given my neighbor across the street to do.”
When each person does his or her imperfect best to “prayerfully discover and live true to the divine assignments that we have been given, all things will work together for our good,” she said.
Second, is to “find joy in our circumstances.”
Joy in the journey comes not only from anticipating a reunion with loving Heavenly Parents, but also when one has “eyes to see and ears to hear the beauty and goodness of our everyday circumstances,” even when those circumstances might be challenging, she said.
When one turns to God in difficult and trying circumstances instead of away from Him, using those opportunities to pray more fervently and look to God more diligently, he or she can have an increase of the Spirit, Sister Craig taught.
“And the fruits of the Spirit are ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness and faith’ ” (Galatians 5:22).
Some have been diagnosed with depressive disorders which require medical treatment. They might struggle to experience the fruits of the Spirit “through no fault of their own,” Sister Craig said. “For these individuals, I would plead with you to hold on. With treatment and time, surely better days are ahead.”
The third bit of advice is that joy multiplies.
Every interaction with another person is an opportunity to spread joy and build character, faith and testimony, Sister Craig said.
“Perhaps we can be more intentional about smiling at the cashier at the grocery store who is in training, biting our tongue when someone cuts us off in traffic, or putting an arm around a young woman at Church and telling her that she’s just wonderful.”
Fourth, look for God in the ordinary and simple.
Peter encouraged all to “love life, and see good days” (1 Peter 3:10).
“I love that Peter is encouraging us to see good days — not to have good days,” Sister Craig said. “He is teaching us that to learn to love life, (those) who find joy in the difficult journey are those who are intentional (and) go about looking for it.”
She then shared a list of “little packets of light” anyone can do to bring joy and help someone see good days. It included welcoming each day no matter how it looks, diligently serving, staying on the covenant path, repenting and focusing on Jesus Christ.
Her final advice: “Understand that Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness is not just for the next life. It is for the here and now.”
Joy and peace can be felt as one comes to understand his or her place in God’s plan “and come to know soul deep that we are children of Heavenly Parents Who love us,” she said.
Through repentance and forgiveness made possible by Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice, everyone can progress and find joy and peace through their imperfect but best efforts.
“In this life, and in the next,” she said, “I believe that the Lord will pour out His blessings upon us that will more than make up for every pain, every heartache and every sacrifice that we are asked to make.”