Once when reading in Alma 27, I came across this verse about exceeding joy and how no one except the penitent and humble seekers of happiness could receive it.
This struck me wrong and to be honest it made me kind of mad.. I was thinking ok so I'm already discouraged, depressed, and insecure and in order to find happiness I'm being called to repentance?! Lol it makes me kind of laugh looking back, but truly in that moment I was not happy with this plan.
Not long after, though, I read this Elder Holland quote that set me straight.
Repentance is a divine invitation ..to grow and renew and progress. It's semantics, really, but it impacted me profoundly! That description of repentance felt loving and hopeful and it was something I desired and wanted to get on board with! Suddenly I was able to offer a penitent heart and become a humble seeker of happiness! And once I offered my heart to the Lord, THEN He was able to start teaching and helping me.
One of the first things I learned went back to the scripture in Alma 27: the exceeding joy described there is RECEIVED. When we give up what needs to be changed in us, we carve out a space that can be the receptacle of this joy. Then if we ask, we can receive joy from Him. It is a gift I have learned He desires to give to us in abundance, but like the scripture teaches, we must be penitent and we must humbly seek it. Another thing about this joy.. as you go on to chapter 28, you read about horrific battles, death, mourning, suffering, sorrow, afflictions, AND their incomprehensible JOY! In other words, this type of joy RECEIVED from above and terrible heartache because of circumstances in the fallen world are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they go hand in hand. Do you desire to receive the type of joy described in the scriptures? Are you going to accept the sacred invitation to grow, progress, improve, and be renewed? Are you willing to become a humble seeker of happiness?