I enjoy early morning walks and bike rides. Aside from the exercise, I enjoy the time spent in nature and the renewal and clarity it provides. At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, I began to notice kindness rocks (painted rocks with inspirational messages) placed along some of my favorite walking routes. I enjoyed reading the optimistic and uplifting messages during that challenging period.
Fast forward to a few months ago when I was walking on a familiar path and noticed a newly placed kindness rock. It was a fairly large, round rock that contained a simple but profound message: Love, Peace and Joy. That simple message deeply resonated with me.
One of my favorite scriptures in the Bible is found in John 13: 34-35. As Jesus Christ was providing instructions to his disciples, he said this: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
While we may have different opinions and distinct beliefs, we should always strive to love one another. Loving one another can be as simple as showing kindness, providing service or handling differences with tolerance and respect.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ said, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” We need more peace and less contention in our homes, community, nation and world right now.
Russell M. Nelson, the president and prophet of our church, said this in April: “Contention drives away the Spirit—every time. Contention reinforces the false notion that confrontation is the way to resolve differences; but it never is. Contention is a choice. Peacemaking is a choice. You have your agency to choose contention or reconciliation. I urge you to choose to be a peacemaker, now and always.”
Last of all, I believe that joy is central to God’s plan for us. Despite our challenges and difficulties, we can experience joy in this life. We are not on the earth to eek out a miserable existence, but instead to do good and experience joy.
Joy comes in many forms. The other morning I experienced a wonderful bike ride up Dunne Avenue to Henry Coe State Park headquarters. As I began my descent I paused to take in the beautiful natural landscape, the sun shining on my face and the ever-present wind along the ridgetop. I was grateful to be there. I experienced joy.
A wise mentor to me, Blair Pincock, once counseled me to let my joy be seeing others have joy. That counsel was given to me almost 30 years ago but still rings true. Helping others find joy can bring you joy. There’s no better place to begin helping others find joy than within our own home and community.
It is my prayer that you will choose to have more love, peace and joy in your life.
Matt Deakin is the Bishop of the Morgan Hill Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is a member of the Interfaith Clergy Alliance of South County. Bishop Deakin can be reached at [email protected].