For one thing, that's just him. He's always been a happy ray of sunshine. He was an easy baby and a cheerful toddler and an exuberant teenager. It's just who he is. He is happy on a cellular level. There were many occasions while he was growing up when I wasn't happy...at all...and he would cheer me up. He would make an excellent court jester.
I think there's more to it than that though.
When I read his letters, I can see that he is just downright joyful right now. At first glance it doesn't make perfect sense. If you look at his life in terms of what most Americans view as a happy life, he's not living it. He doesn't live in a fancy house. He's living in a trailer park. He doesn't have a nice car--until recently, he only biked. Now he has access to a car but with limited miles. He doesn't have a girlfriend nor is he surrounded by friends and family. He's not earning lots of money. (He's earning zero money.) He's not getting accolades for his success. In fact, he is mostly rejected in his efforts to share his message about Jesus Christ.
But that kid is the happiest I've ever seen him.
And that's saying something.
In his email this week, he wrote:
...the best part of the week has been being able to feel closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ...
Living the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the way that we can have complete happiness in this life and joy and hope in the life to come. I know that Christ lives and His Gospel is the way to happiness.So if my son, living far away from everything he knows, is the happiest he's ever been, can I have that too?
I think so.
We had stake conference last Sunday and our stake president said, "There is no room for discouragement."
I thought, really? Because I feel discouraged sometimes. How can there be no room for it?
Then I remembered Braeden and his effervescent joy and I thought, maybe he's right.
Maybe knowing who you are and Whose you are, really knowing, edges out discouragement.
Maybe when you know your purpose and you fully believe it's a worthwhile purpose (which Braeden does), it's easier to stay happy.
Just this morning I read in the January Ensign an article entitled "We Believe in Being Positive". I love this:
Being of good cheer does not mean being ignorant or naive to life’s challenges. Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described cheerfulness as “a deep trust in God’s unfolding purposes—not only for all of mankind, but for each of us as individuals.” Challenges will certainly come, for they are a natural part of mortality, but we don’t have to be weighed down by discouragement and sadness. We can put our trust in the Lord and be positive.So I'm going to try to remember this. I'm going to hold a picture of my good-humored son in my mind.
What kind of lucky day was it when I gave birth to Braeden? He blesses my life even when he's on the other side of the country.