Joy at Graduation
Dallin H. Oaks
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
From an address given at Brigham Young University commencement August 13, 2015
Painting: Clark Kelley Price, Zion in Her Heart
Father Lehi taught that the children of God exist that they might have joy (see 2 Nephi 2:25). That great truth is fundamental to our philosophy of life. The kind of joy referred to in the scriptures is not the happiness we experience in temporary rushes of pleasure such as we enjoy in today’s recognitions. The joy that is the purpose of our existence is intense and enduring. We may properly say it is eternal.
Where do we find our greatest joy? I suggest that it is in creativity—the process and feeling of creating something.
Creativity in business or in the professions is the same for men and for women. I am not qualified to speak of the joys of creativity in establishing a business or in the practice of medicine or musicianship, but I have some idea of creativity in the practice of law. Much of the practice of law is repetitive drudgery, but there are moments of joy in a new insights or in producing a good piece of legal work, like a letter of opinion. I have also experienced joy in various kinds of English composition as I have tried to express a thought or explain a principle as clearly and persuasively as possible.
You will recognize similar examples of the joy of creativity in other lines of work. Surely the process of cultivating living things and seeing them come to maturity and harvest creates joy in farmers and teachers. There is also joy in writing or creating a work of art or in performance that brings one of these to life for an audience.
But all of these illustrations are only mortal or temporary examples of the joy of creativity. We have no assurance that most of the things that brings us joy in mortality will continue in the next life.
I believe that our greatest joy is found through the gospel of Jesus Christ, which explains our origin as spirits, the creation of the world, our purpose in mortality, and our destiny in eternity. Explanations of the plan of salvation often use the word joy. When the foundations of the world were laid, we spirits “shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). The announcement of the Savior’s birth was a message “of great joy” (Luke 2:10). His Atonement and Resurrection “filled [us] with great joy” (Alma 4:14). The love of God is described as “the most desirable above all things” and “the most joyous to the soul” (1 Nephi 11:22-23). Finally, the Savior Himself described the experience of returning to dwell with God as a “fulness of joy” (3 Nephi 28:10; also see D&C 93:33).
The gospel’s assurance of a continued, embodied existence after this life illuminates our understanding of the ultimate joy of creativity. A favorite illustration of that truth is the Lord’s great explanation that His work and His glory is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Surely our greatest eternal joy will be in the creativity that lives beyond this mortal life and gives joy after the resurrection and throughout all eternity. That is why, as God has revealed, “eternal life … is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7).
For the complete address click here: Joy at Graduation
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