A Letter to my Friends

Lately I’ve realized there have been a lot of things where my first reaction has been to bawl my eyes out. To keep this from happening, I just smile like a goon. It’s been things like: receiving a letter from your best friend for the first time in months, then just a few short hours later breaking the Scentsy warmer that said best friend gave to you before he left for two years. Ya know – the one that symbolizes the warmth, light, and good smelling-ness of him? That he so lovingly handed over to you for safe keeping? Yeah. That one. Shattered! Smiled like a goon.

It’s also been a reaction to things at work. When people don’t show up for their shifts, when people are sick, when the phone won’t stop ringing… Smiled like a goon.

Or when I realized how long my mission call COULD take to come. Will it come in two days? Or nine? The anticipation is slowly killing me. But here I am – smiling like a goon.

Most of all, however, are the day to day moments of pure joy and happiness that make me smile the goofiest. They’re also the moments that make me want to bust out in tears because I feel so genuinely happy. As I reflect, these moments are related to the gospel of Jesus Christ. When someone asks me, “What’s a mission?” I grin from ear to ear. Or when I attend institute, my whole face is in pain from the constant upward curvature of my lips. Best of all, when I get so giddy driving on the freeway knowing that I’m going to have to pass the temple, then taking a detour off the freeway so I can drive right NEXT to the temple, is the best grin I’ve worn in a long time.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the truest gospel on this earth today. This week has been going on for 3 days. In just 3 days I feel so much overwhelming happiness that I’d feel like a selfish brat for not sharing what I’ve come to know and realize! Some of this is deep, some of it clean cut and to the point. So if you don’t understand what the heck I’m talking about, don’t hesitate to ask me! I love to talk about the gospel. It’s the best news there is!

First of all – Charity is the pure love of Christ. But if charity had a first cousin, it would be friendship. Just as “Charity never faileth” so does, “Friendship never faileth”. And I think that is the best thing ever! Charity – loving others. Friendship – caring for others. AH! Showing the pure love of Christ to those closest to you? What could be better than that!? I love this idea.

Second – I’m about to quote Elder Marvin J. Ashton from a talk he gave in the Ensign magazine back in 1973. It’s long, but it’s the best! (At least you didn’t have to type it, right?) Elder Ashton says,

“Someone has said that ‘A friend is someone who is willing to take me the way I am’. Accepting this as one definition of the word, may i quickly suggest that we are something less than a real friend if we leave a person the same way we find him.

There seems to be a misunderstanding on the part of some men today as to what it means to be a friend. Acts of a friend should result in self-improvement, better attitudes, self-reliance, comfort, consolation, self-respect, and better welfare. Certainly the word friend is misused if it is identified with a person who contributes to our delinquency, misery, and heartaches. When we make a man feel he is wanted, his whole attitude changes. our friendship will be recognizable if our actions and attitudes result in improvement and independence.

It takes courage to be a real friend. Some of us endanger the valued classification of friend because of our willingness to be one under all circumstances. Fear can deprive us of friendship. Some of us identify our closest friends as those with the courage to remain and share themselves with us under all circumstances. A friend is a person who will suggest and render the best for us regardless of the immediate consequences. Sir Winston Churchill became Great Britain’s greatest friend in his country’s darkest hour because he was courageous enough to call for ‘blood, toil, tears, and sweat’ when some would have accepted him more readily as a friend had he advocated peaceful surrender.”

I honestly couldn’t agree with this more. It takes guts to stand up to someone and say, “Hey – ya know what? I think you need to work some things out.” But isn’t that what a friend is? If we constantly sugarcoat things and say, “Oh, they’ll grow out of this”, chances are they won’t and bad habits will be instilled in their minds. Friends need to protect each other! They need to show that love of Christ.

Third – In this dispensation we have the fullness of the gospel. We are the birthright generation! If you take the word ‘dispensation’ and break it down with the understanding that we are the generation with the fullness of the gospel, you start to realize that you have to be the one to DISPENSE the gospel to your friends and neighbors! MISSIONARY WORK! Isn’t that incredible?! We are the last dispensation – it’s time to dispense what we know and share it with everyone. Ya know – share what Christ sacrificed himself for? It gets me so excited and fired up knowing I can be there for my friends in such a huge way; even if they don’t recognize it.

Fourth (and I’ll try to make this the last) – This one is actually not from this week, but two weeks ago. It’s been stuck in my brain though! It’s really latched onto my heart. I spoke out at the South Idaho Correctional Institution – aka: the prison. It was one of the most incredible and humbling experiences I have ever encountered in my life! Our topic was, “Developing a Positive Attitude”. We first spoke to the women (and by ‘women’, I mean, ‘woman’… Only one showed up). Honestly – I felt very unprepared even though I had pages of notes. I just didn’t feel like the Spirit was with me and I had no idea if my talk was prepared well enough. I had to speak first and it went okay. I wasn’t thrilled, but I was done. When my friend Bryce C. spoke, he shared one of his favorite scriptures in Alma 7. On the same page was a glue-in quote from my seminary days of high school. Speaking on the atonement Christ bore for us, and how great and eternal happiness can be drawn from this, my eyes fell to the glue-in by Elder Jeffery R. Holland (one heck of an apostle – am I right?!) from his Ensign talk, “Teaching, Preaching, Healing” in January 2003. Underlined on this very long quote was this,

“…In spite of life’s tribulations, there is help for all of us on this journey… He knows where the sharp stones and the stumbling blocks lie and where the thorns and the thistles are the most severe… He knows that because He has suffered ‘pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind… that He may know… how to succor his people according to their infirmities’ (Alma 7:12). To succor means to ‘run to’. I testify that Christ will run to us, and is running even now, if we but receive the extended arm of his mercy.”

My dear friends, I hope you know that I love you. I hope you know that I’m striving to be a better friend. I wasn’t a great friend in high school. Looking back I realize how pride plagued my heart and how unwilling and unopened I was to the kindness of those around me. I’m trying not to cry as I think about all these pieces of the gospel that make me appreciate you now; more than I really have before. The gospel has been there for me through the good times and the bad which is why I hope to share it with you now! It’s incredible. Christ our Savior lives! He lives! He lives, and He loves us. He is running to our aid as we struggle with school, relationships, parents, and heaven knows what else… I hope you will extend your hand to him so He can pull and lift you higher. I love you guys! I’m so excited to serve my mission and want you to know that it’s right for me! I’m smiling like a goon (:

I’ll be seeing you,

— Moe Joy


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