Find happiness through following Christ's example

Prayer, forgiveness, compassion, Christ's life and example teach us how to be truly happy.

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  • Children naturally learn by example. As small children we learn to eat, walk and interact with one another by watching and observing. We use examples in school, and at work. If you need to fix something you can almost always find an example online to help you.

  • What if we all had the perfect example in our lives? A perfect living model of the kind of person we need to be. Fortunately we have this example in Jesus Christ. The New Testament documents Jesus's teachings and his perfect example to us. Dallin Oaks, a religious leader, said, "Jesus's teachings were not meant to be theoretical ... Following Christ is not a casual or occasional practice but a continuous commitment and way of life that applies at all times and in all places."

  • This can be difficult. The world, through media, encourages us to be beautiful, smart, fun, politically correct, and often gives us heroes to worship that lack integrity. While talking to a grandmother, who is in her 70s, we asked how she felt about her life. She replied, "I don't remember what I wore, or who was my friend, or the cars I drove. I do remember how I treated people and the kind of person I was. I think if I had to do it all over, I would stop worrying what the world thought of me."

  • Christ taught that we should not be "of the world" or seek the praise of others. This will lead to unhappiness and heartache. Any mother with more than one child knows you can't please everyone all the time. Christ taught, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (KJV John 15:19). Following Christ is not always an easy road, but it is the most rewarding destination.

  • Here are some examples Christ gave us. He has promised us innumerable blessings if we follow his example.

  • Prayer

  • Christ taught us to pray always. He set the example when he "Continued all night in prayer to God" (KJV Luke 6:12). Oaks taught, "We should have frequent personal prayers and daily kneeling prayers as a family." We have tested this practice and found that it brought a spirit into our homes of peace. Even strangers comment on the peaceful feeling in our homes. Oaks' ideas encourage families to create a sort of haven where peace can calm and uplift your family.

  • Love one another

  • Jesus taught, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." (John 13:34) As Christ has loved us, we should love one another. Christ healed lepers, when no one else would come near them; he forgave freely, and atoned for everyone’s sins even if they denied Him. While on the cross He pled with God to forgive the men who were crucifying him, He knew they didn't fully understand what they were doing.

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  • Chris Williams, lost his wife and two of his children in a tragic car accident caused by a drunken driver. Just two days after the loss he openly forgave the driver of the other car he said, "As a disciple of Christ, I had no other choice." He drew on his faith to follow the teachings of Christ to forgive and love everyone. Who can you love? Who have you been denying forgiveness to? Now is the time to let go.

  • Perfection

  • Christ taught on the Sermon on the Mount to, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (KJV Matthew 5:48). Oaks teaches, "The purpose of this teaching and purpose of following our Savior is to come to the Father." We will not obtain perfection in this life, but by following the Savior's example we can come steadily forward to eternal happiness.

  • Service

  • There are so many needs in this world. Daily acts of service can not only help those around us, but they teach us compassion and empathy. One Christmas day Shannon’s family received new coats; she packed all 6 children in a humble van with their old coats and drove into Salt Lake. Stopping at a homeless shelter, she had the children take their old coats and give them to someone in need. This had a profound effect on our family. It instilled a desire to always look for the need around us.

  • When Erin, Shannon’s daughter, was a young mother she stood in line with her children on a frigid December day to see Santa Clause with her two young children. They were bundled in coats and blankets. There was a man and his two children behind her. One of the boys whispered to his father, "Did we get enough newspapers to stay warm tonight?" Erin gave the family her blankets, and realized people in need were not always obvious. Now every year at Christmas her family takes their coats, gloves, hats, blankets and as many as they can obtain from their neighbors to shelters and parks around her home. Service teaches children unconditional love for people outside their immediate family and friends.

  • Take the examples that Christ has given to everyone, and choose a higher path. Choose to follow His example of love, forgiveness, prayer and service. Teach these examples to your family and you will be amazed at the feeling of peace in your home.

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Shannon and Erin are a mother and daughter with lots of children and Utah and Oregon roots.

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