When I began to read through 2 Nephi 6-10 for the Come Follow Me lesson, I thought, oh dear! Big problem, this is all from Isaiah! All I could see as I read through it was apocalyptic doom and gloom. But, as I repeatedly read through it, I began to see with new eyes, I also saw the hope and joy that is the actual predominant message! 2 Nephi 8:11 “…and they shall obtain gladness and joy; sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” verse 12, “I am he; yea I am he that comforteth you…” and so much more.
How did I not see this before? Why did I only see the doom and gloom? That led me to ponder why do we tend to see life that way too? Why do we tend to focus on the negative and not see the beauty of joy around us? Why do we often think those verses of hope and joy refer to someday when we die and not now? These questions caused me to remember a literally eye-opening experience I had 2 years ago.
I’m colorblind, which, by the way, is very rare, only .5% of females are colorblind, and 8% of males. Also, when the mother is colorblind, all of her sons will be also… so all four of my sons are colorblind.
Almost two years ago, I and my son Spencer, went to visit my oldest son, Austin, in San Francisco, where he and his wife Missie and two little sons lived, with a beautiful view of the ocean and just 2 blocks from Golden Gate Park. Austin handed us his sunglasses, once we reached his house and told us to take a walk down through the park to the beach, wearing the sunglasses.
Our eyes were opened to a whole new world! The glasses were Enchroma colorblind glasses, which enabled us to discern a whole new range of colors! Get this! The ocean is blue, not gray! And it turns out that all of those mostly beige and gray houses on Austin’s street are not beige and gray! They are green, blue, pink and purple! Speaking of purple, purple flowers made us both cry! Spencer looked at them first and told me “Mom! You have got to look at these flowers!”
I already thought they looked pretty, whitish with bluish edges. Then, I put the glasses on…and wow! They were so much more beautiful. We stood there, taking turns with the glasses and marveling at how amazing purple is. People started to slow down to see what we were gazing at so raptly, with tears running down our cheeks. And get this, the asphalt was even beautiful with those glasses on. It wasn’t just a bumpy gray and black. It had flecks of different colors and shine in it. It took us over an hour to walk less than a mile down to the ocean because everything was so new. We were seeing things with completely new eyes, because of those glorious colorblind glasses.
I couldn’t help but begin to wonder what “spiritual blindness” I might have and how much more joy there is to see if I were to put on some “spiritual glasses.”
I think spiritual glasses can help us see or discern all the varying shades and colors of joy in all aspects of our lives. So often we trudge along enduring to the end, looking forward to all the joy and happiness we will have someday, when we are in the next life. Or when we graduate and finally get out of high school or college, or when we get married and have children, or when we have the perfect job or retire, or when we lose weight or, or, or, and and, and.
So How? How can we possibly see or feel joy throughout the often dreary journey of our lives? In 2 Nephi 2:25, we are told, “Man is that he might have joy.” Does that mean we will have joy someday, but now we should be content to trudge along enduring right now? No, it says “Man IS that he might have joy.” Not “Man is that he might someday, in the hereafter, once he finishes this life of misery, have joy!” And what about 2 Nephi 8:11 where Isaiah says, “and they shall obtain gladness and joy; sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” That is for now, not just someday!
Again, How? Well, let’s talk some more about asphalt. The asphalt Spencer and I were looking at was still the same asphalt it had been for its whole life. It didn’t change, but because we put those glasses on, our ability to see actual beauty, a variety of colors and shine in it changed. Asphalt!
Think of the asphalt of unhappiness in your life–difficult relationships, poor decisions, loneliness, depression. How can you ever see joy in all that asphalt of life?
For now, and maybe always, it is what it is, but if you put on your spiritual glasses and ask the Lord to help you find joy, to see differently, you begin to see flecks of color.
You see things you have learned about yourself and how to deal with difficult relationships. You begin to discern flecks of shine when you see how you learned from your poor decisions and how to avoid them in the future. You realize that loneliness can turn you to the Lord and help you see what you need to do to change your situation and that your experience has helped you to have more compassion toward others.
Depression, deep dark ugly depression. Once, when I was in the middle of it, I sat looking out at a deep dark storm outside, praying for help with the storm in my head. The Lord gave me spiritual glasses to see, that like the storm, it would pass and that my life would be even brighter and more nourished because of the storm.
He enabled me to see that for my particular storm to pass, I needed to seek help. I was able to see and have great gratitude for the beauty and miracle of modern-day medical technology. He helped me see that even if I felt dark inside, I could still think about and see the light.
As you put on those spiritual blindness glasses, you will feel and see the joy of overcoming obstacles as you walk along on that asphalt of life. In John 12:46, Christ said, “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.”
In 2 Nephi 10:23, Isaiah says, “Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves-to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.”
Gospel Topics defines Eternal Life as the quality of life that our Eternal Father lives. Given all the turmoil amongst we children of our Eternal Father, His life is not without sorrow, but He is a God of peace and joy. We are free to choose to SEE and live the way of eternal joyful life now, because Christ gives us spiritual glasses to see the light and joy in all, and I mean all things. Even asphalt.
Now let’s talk some more about purple flowers. Those purple flowers were already beautiful to me–they were very pretty lightish blue and whitish.
However, there was so much more, overwhelmingly more, tears of joy causing more joyful beauty for me to see. Perhaps that is like being happy already, but then finding that happiness can be deepened and enriched by joy. What are the purple flowers in your life?
Let’s say you have a happy relationship with your family. Add spiritual glasses and you see it with the joy of deeper gratitude, joy of how to deepen your relationship by seeing needs of family members, and seeing their great strengths more than their annoying quirks.
Put on your spiritual glasses, and you can see the beauty that fun and humor has added to many of your relationships.
Put on your glasses and see and joyfully appreciate, even more, all the fun purple flowers of your relationships. You will cry with joy! Look at all that is good and beautiful in your life and ask to see it with new eyes and you will be humbly amazed.
Another thing that changed for Spencer and me on that walk was the color of the drab brown hills that surrounded the beach in March. Through the glasses, they became a vibrant green. It was breathtaking. Trees that looked all the same color and drab suddenly offered a huge variety in shades of green that we had no conception of before.
Likewise, as I read Isaiah’s words in 2 Nephi 8 again, verse 3 leapt out at me. “For the Lord shall comfort Zion, he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.”
I have learned that when I see and acknowledge and give my wildernesses and deserts to the Lord, he comforts me and makes them into Eden. My drab browns become vibrantly green.
It often doesn’t mean that things around me actually change, sometimes it does, but not often. Instead, just like my perception of the doom and gloom of Isaiah and those drab brown hills changed, and I saw with new eyes, so has my perception of my particular wildernesses, and I am able to see beauty and joy.
The Lord is as deeply aware and concerned about our small deserts, as well as our personal Saharas. A simple example in my life- I have loved to run since I was 12 years old. I’m no amazing athlete, but I love it.
I love to run early in the morning on the asphalt and trails of my home town in Alpine. And one of my very favorite things to do when visiting anywhere is to run, from Sunset Beach in San Francisco to the hills of Idaho and the streets of London.
Last May, I injured myself and, until yesterday, have only been able to walk since then. At first, I felt very sorry for myself. But, as I turned my little sorrow, my drab brown deserty hills over to the Lord, I began to see with new eyes.
When walking instead of running, I have been able to notice and see things along the streets of Alpine that I have never noticed and seen before- cute houses, roses along a fence that I hadn’t noticed. I’ve had time to walk and talk with dear friends.
The Lord helped me to put on my spiritual glasses and comforted me and turned my little desert to Eden and my sorrow to joy. The Lord cares for and helps us with our little tiny deserts, as well as our personal Sahara.
I promise you that there is so much more joy in the world than what we are seeing right now. The Ocean is blue. Even asphalt has beauty. Purple is breathtaking. The Lord can turn your drab wilderness to a vibrant Eden. Put on your spiritual glasses and see joy now. There is no need to wait for someday. May the Lord be able to say to you the same thing he tells his disciples in Luke 10:23, “And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see.”