I’ve been on the Church magazines staff for about seven and a half years now. Over the years I’ve heard my fair share of feedback from readers, and while most of the feedback about the articles we publish is positive, there’s one general idea that we hear over and over again: there are just too many “happy endings.”
You might be thinking: What’s wrong with happy endings? Well, nothing really. But if that’s all you’re seeing, it can sure get depressing and discouraging to read about others sailing through their trials as (seemingly) easy as can be. So the idea that the Church magazines focus on publishing only those stories and experiences that can be wrapped up nice and neat in a perfect little happy bow can make us seem really out of touch with the reality of life.
A simple explanation is that many of the articles that members submit to the Church magazines fall under the “happy ending” category. When something miraculous or inspiring or especially life-changing or faith-inspiring happens to someone, it seems only natural that they would want to share it with a broader audience—hence our seemingly never-ending influx of happy endings.
The deeper reason that we share so many happy endings is probably a bit more complex than that. (Although we really do try to seek out and share stories and experiences that go beyond—or before—the “happy ending”!)
Now, working primarily with a young adult audience, I am all about being real—being authentic about the fact that life is hard and doesn’t always go the way we want or plan. We don’t always get our ideal happy endings. I definitely understand that: when I started working at the Church magazines, I was a single 26-year-old and feeling like the oldest intern ever. As was my tendency back then (and let’s be honest, I still have my days), I often bemoaned my situation, thinking that I was maybe the only person on staff who knew what it felt like to be single—to be on the “outside,” in our Church where getting married is such a high priority.
One day during a staff meeting, something prompted this line of thinking once again. True, I was the only single person in the room, but as I looked around, I realized that everyone at the table had gone through a lot of trials. Collectively, there were those in that meeting—many who’d worked for the Church magazines for several decades—who had:
Gotten married past 30.
Married someone who had gone through a divorce.
Gone through a divorce themselves.
Struggled through years of infertility.
Had amazing experiences with adoption.
Had horrible experiences with adoption.
Had family members struggle with drug addiction.
Battled challenging health issues.
Experienced mental health struggles.
Had children pass away, both newborns and grown children.
I was kind of shocked by how much of my coworkers’ life experiences I’d overlooked in my self-centeredness. No one’s life had gone perfectly. No one had been free of some real tests of faith—trials that I’m sure none of us would’ve asked for or wished upon anyone else.
Just like you, we’ve all had moments in our trials when we thought that nothing would work out, that we’d never get through our struggles or be happy again.
And yet, here we all were, joyfully plugging away at our jobs and trying to share messages with the world that say, “Yes, life is hard. Yes, we all have trials. Yes, we have been wounded. But truly, because of Christ and the joy and peace that comes from living His gospel, we can all have our own promised happy endings.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles pointed out how even the Savior, “on … the night of the greatest suffering that has ever taken place in the world or that ever will take place,” said, “‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. … Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid’ (John 14:27).
“What a stunning view of life in the most agonizing of hours! How can He possibly say that, facing what He knows He is facing? He can say that because His is the Church and the gospel of the happy endings! For us, the victory is already won.”1
So if all you’re seeing is other people’s happy endings, with no hope for your own, take a look outside yourself at those around you. None of us are immune to the trials of mortality, and you never know what someone else might be going through or how long it took them to reach that happy ending that you see. Instead of comparing journeys, we can try to reach out and lift others’ burdens.
And if you’ve ever read the Church magazines and thought that there were too many happy endings, know that the articles, stories, and experiences shared are not meant to be unrealistic or dishearten those who are down and struggling through trials! They are meant to share the truth that living the gospel of Jesus Christ gives us hope—that whether in this life or the next, we will all have a happy ending.
As Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles once said, “No matter how bleak the chapter of our lives may look today, because of the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we may hope and be assured that the ending of the book of our lives will exceed our grandest expectations.”2
Thanks to our Savior, there is hope despite heartache, joy despite sorrow, beauty despite betrayal, and goodness despite even the hardest of adversities.
Because of the good news of forgiveness, of comfort, of healing, of resurrection, of peace, this is the gospel of happy endings.
And your happy ending awaits.