Do you Find Joy in your Journey?

On a trip to Vermont, I found myself asking, “Am I having joy in this journey?” Do you ever find yourself frustrated because life is not working out the way YOU want, or maybe the path you are on seems TOO hard? Sometimes the questions might lead us to wonder why.  While reflecting on my trip to Vermont, I discovered some interesting things about my “why.”

We had signed up for tandem bike tour almost a year prior. We love to travel and were excited for the first trip with our tandem. For months we prepared for the anticipated 238 miles and 14,450 feet of elevation over the five-day trip.  Our training consisted of long bike rides, monitoring our diet, and collecting the gear needed for extended rides.

The Hills of Vermont

Anyone familiar with the Vermont landscape knows they have hills. Steep, rolling hills. Beautiful, but steep.  As the week passed, climbing any one of the 12%+ grade roads became more and more of a chore for my sore and tired muscles.  I noticed the pull of gravity in a whole new way. Realizing if we were to stop pushing up some of these hills, our bike would naturally start to roll back down. Sometimes all we could do was look ahead and focus on the next road sign to keep our motion moving forward.


On our second day of riding, we had a significant ascent of almost 1,200 feet of elevation spanning over 5 miles. To put that into perspective the Empire State Building is 1,250 feet tall (not including the spire).

At first, my focus was on the pain – in my quads, my chest, my back.  We pulled over to stop, catch our breath, and get a drink; but to start up again, we had to traverse across the road instead of continuing at the same degree  – kind of a running start that ended up exerting more energy than if we had just kept our same slow pace. After several stops, my husband started directing my focus to the next road sign ahead.

“Let’s pedal to the next sign before we stop again.”

By the time we reached that sign I felt like I could keep going, so we did. By shifting my focus away from the pain, I was feeling, and toward what was ahead on the road I felt myself tap into an inner strength.  I felt motivated to keep moving.

Keep Swimming

My experience pushing our way through the hills of Vermont reminded me of an article I read years ago entitled “Enduring Well” by J. Christopher Lansing.  In it, Lansing refers to the animated film Finding Nemo, and the loveable character Dory whose message to her friend is to “Keep Swimming.”

This idiom became his family’s catchphrase to help as they faced difficult obstacles in their journey.  I loved this idea so much I quickly adopted it as my reminder to my kids for times when life seemed a little hard.  At the time my daughters were in high school and entering college, and it became one of the last things I called out to them as they left for school in the morning; eventually, it became part of my email signature line too: “Love you TONS and Keep Swimming.”

My problems with facing each new hill in Vermont was no different from the struggles of my children. We all face difficult times in our life.  Much like our uphill push on our bike we have to keep moving forward to get past them to where we need to go.  Sometimes it seems like it might just be easier to stop where we are, but life’s laws of gravity do not work that way. If we are not moving forward, we start rolling back.

Tapping Into Inner Strength

A catchy little phrase is a great reminder to keep putting one foot in front of the other, but what does it mean to keep swimming – or pedaling – up the monumental hill of life? Within each of us is an inner strength, and tapping into that power is key to pushing through life’s trials. As I searched for strength to push the pedal another rotation, I found my focus was what motivated me to keep moving.

Where is our focus when the obstacles of life seem almost too much to bear?

The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”  -Russell M. Nelson

The circumstances in which we find ourselves can be overwhelming if we are only thinking about the negative.  In my darkest times of terrible turmoil, my focus has been on what is wrong with my situation. This type of perspective can be crushing.

Do you Find Joy in your Journey? 1

Our Focus, Our Joy, Our Journey

Christ is referred to as a light to the world. He can illuminate the deepest pit of despair, but only if we turn to him for help. Interestingly, a synonym for the word dark is joyless. When my focus is on the Savior, I feel joy. When I am striving to be the best I can be, despite what might be wrong in my life, I feel empowered with an increased ability to endure.

And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.” (Mosiah 2:4, emphasis added)


Holding out means pushing up the hill. It means to keep swimming. We are here not to endure life’s challenges but to endure them well, to find joy in the face of difficult challenges. But what about the times we endure and still don’t get what we want.  What about our plan, our timeline, and our wants?

The beautiful thing about our bike journey is we didn’t know where it would lead us. We had to trust in the ability of our guides and their perspective. They had carefully planned the best routes, with the most breathtaking scenery.   We signed up for the tour knowing it would be hard but worth it.

Similarly, we choose to come to earth for an incredible journey. We didn’t know where it would lead, or how we would grow, but we trusted God’s ability and perspective. Knowing he had carefully planned the best routes, with the most spectacular opportunities to flourish. We committed to coming because we trusted it would be worth it.

To those who are questioning whether they can trust God’s promise, consider this:

What would it hurt if you kept moving forward as if you DID trust God? How would it feel to give up “control” to sit back and find joy in the ride? I’ve found trusting is better than trying to do it on my own. Sure, there is a little fear in what we don’t know, but trusting in my abilities alone is limiting. So instead of asking WHY trust God when I can’t see any of the immediate rewards, I ask myself, Why not?

God didn’t design us to be sad. He created us to have JOY!” -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

After ascending the steepest hill of my short biking career, we were able to enjoy the sheer pleasure of the ride down. The reward for holding out faithful will be greater than any downhill incentive. Never-ending happiness and joy are promised to those that keep swimming and push through this mortal life with a determined focus on our Savior – Jesus Christ.

How do you find joy in your journey?

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Do you Find Joy in your Journey? 2

Lansing, J. Christopher. “Enduring Well.” Ensign, January 2014.
Nelson, Russel M. “Joy and Spiritual Survival.” Conference Report, October 2016.

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16 thoughts on “Do you Find Joy in your Journey?”

  1. Trust is such an integral part of faith which offers us much joy but it is so hard to trust. Maybe one of these days I can figure how to develop the kind of trust that allows an abundance of joy instead of glimpses.

    1. I think we are all on a journey to figure that out, Tracy. The beautiful part is it only takes desire to start. Thanks for the comment!

  2. I love this bike riding story because you know if you keep pushing forward, you will reach your destination. Getting to the next sign reminds me of getting through another day.

  3. Yes! I’ve often used the ‘just to the next sign’ idea to keep going on a run or bike, I love the idea of applying that to day to day struggles to take your focus forward instead of on the current pain. Thank you for your words today!

  4. Rhonda | Small Things Over Time

    Thank you for your words of wisdom to trust God and His promises on our journeys. As a family we’re facing a big scary unknown transition and I appreciate the reminder to keep focused on Christ and just keep swimming. #WanderingWednesday

    1. Scary and unknown transitions are always some of the hardest times to trust those promises. I’m so glad the reminder was helpful to you!

  5. I think your question about not being sure if you can trust God is an important one–along with the answer. The truth is that you don’t know until you do. Try trusting him and then giving Him lots of time, giving yourself lots of time to see the outcome, and then you’ll know you can trust him. I love your thoughts on that. And the Nelson quote has become one of my favorites.

    1. On Sunday we were talking with the kid about the word prove. How God wants you to prove him. An interesting conversation ensued about what that really means. Just like a dare or challenge – God is daring us to prove he is right. That means trusting and moving forward as you know how he will respond. The patience side is another part of it. How long do we keep moving forward trusting he has our best interests in mind? Sometimes our limited perspective seems like he isn’t fulfilling his end of the bargain. Again it takes time and recognizing the small tender mercies he shows us along our way. Thanks for the comment, Jennifer. I always love your insights!

  6. Patrick weseman

    Very nice. I always say that the journey is the best part of anything. Thanks for this. #WanderingWednesdays

  7. Love this, Lori! I recently made a big decision that changed directions in my business because what I was doing wasn’t bringing me joy. It was huge and felt a little scary, but I know I can still reach my goals and ENJOY myself along the way. 🙂

    1. This is great! I already have thoughts planned for a council discussion on a similar topic as this, for June in R.S.
      I’d love to share these quotes by Utchdorf and Nelson. It would be great if you could be in for this discussion
      but knowing you have other responsibilities, it might not make it possible. 😉 Thanks!

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