When my husband and I first got married, he worked a job that required him to be at the office for some pretty crazy hours. This left me home alone for long periods of time, with no TV, almost every day.
With this much time on my hands I spent a lot of it thinking about my life circumstances: my wonderful husband, my quaint house, my great job, my educational opportunities, etc. Although these things are such blessings, for some reason I still felt stuck on the inside. I generally felt like I was a happy person on the outside, but I often found myself with doubtful, harsh and judgmental thoughts about myself and others on the inside.
Why do I compare myself? Why do I worry? Why do I doubt? Why do I fight with myself and spend so much energy putting myself down?
These type of thoughts built up over the next couple of months and I began more and more to feel the negative feelings that came with them. One day after dropping my husband off at work, I reached my breaking point. After a couple of miles of crying on the freeway, I started praying aloud in my car and asked Heavenly Father what on earth I was doing.
Why was I so consumed with my “problems?” And why could none of them be “normal?”
Heavenly Father told me that day, through the voice of the Holy Ghost, that I needed to focus on being happy on the inside. Being happy on the inside looks different for everybody, but for me it meant that I needed to stop comparing, doubting, worrying, and fighting with myself.
So I started doing some research.
What I found is that being happy on the outside is easy. Being happy ON THE INSIDE is what takes some work. To some extent we all have these feelings. We all at one time or another experience doubt, hopelessness, and judgments about ourselves. These thoughts and feelings are normal, and are all part of the human experience.
In John Hargraves book “Mind-Hacking” he explains that just as the digital world is as real as the physical world, what goes on inside our mind, is just as relevant as what is going on around us. It is just as important to create a happy internal self (in your mind and heart), as it is to create a happy external life (such as by getting an education and pursuing your dreams).
The problem is this. Satan knows just as well as we do the struggles that we face, and you know what he does? He capitalizes on every mean thought and sad feeling, and he enlarges them and uses them to keep us from finding happiness and closeness with God.
Nephi (quoting Isaiah) had it right when he said that “the devil will rage in the hearts of the children of men.” For a lot of us, the adversary doesn’t hurt us by sending physical attackers, he attacks us through our thoughts and feelings. He knows that negativity will keep us from some amazing things.
Now, I wish I could say I have all the answers, some formula to stop the negativity and to help you be authentically happy, peaceful, and content on the inside, but I don’t. These thoughts will always come, and Satan will always try and try to use them against us.
But. I do believe in God and I do believe in the power of Jesus Christ. And this means there’s hope.
And here’s why.
Zeezrom, the incredible (but wicked) lawyer in the book of Alma was hit with some pretty intense inner-battles throughout his conversion story. After contending with Alma and Amulek but wanting to believe in what they taught and being kicked out of his city for vocalizing the truth, he finally completely breaks down mentally in chapter 15. In verse 3 it says, “Zeezrom lay sick at Sidom with a burning fever, which was caused by the great tribulations of his mind,” his mind “did harrow up until it had become exceedingly sore, having no deliverance.” Do you know what this means? Zeezrom fought battles, inner- battles, and not only did they keep him from being happy, they kept him from functioning physically. He calls for Alma and Amulek and what do they do? They heal him. Through the power of Jesus Christ, they heal him, and he becomes a powerful force for good.
One of my scripture heroine’s, Mary Magdalene was sick with seven devils before she became one of the most faithful followers of Christ. In Mark 16 it says that “Jesus Christ first appeared to Mary after his resurrection, out of whom he cast out seven devils.” Seven! Not only did she struggle with one thing, she struggled with seven. For all we know, these devils could easily have been doubt, worry, self-consciousness, depression, anxiety, etc. Things that you and I struggle with today, but like Zeezrom, she was healed and converted.
In Mark 5 when the woman who had an issue with blood for twelve years touched the hem of Jesus’ garment it says in verse 29 that “straightway her blood was dried up and she was healed.” In that moment of faith, she was healed. But it doesn’t stop there. After this, Jesus spends a special moment with her by turning to her, and telling her to go in peace. Sometimes I wonder if Jesus not only healed her physically, but also through his power, healed her spiritually. Christ allowed her to go in peace, allowing her to let go of the frustration, hurt, and depression that often comes with life-long trials such as disease.
The commonalities among all these scripture stories is that each one of these individuals went through very similar inner-battles, possibly the same ones that we face today. Not only did they all face these battles, they were all healed through Jesus Christ. Ultimately, I believe that Jesus Christ is the secret formula for lasting happiness on the inside. He simply requires that we are humble and have faith enough to ask.
Now this is not to say that I don’t believe in pursuing happiness. I believe that it is the very act of pursuing happiness we show God that it is something we desire. Gratitude practices, long walks, affirmations, prayer, and meditation can all help us to show God that we want to be happy but deep down there is no substitute to letting Jesus Christ help and heal us from the frustrations of our mind and heart.
I know because I struggle with my own inner-battles, just like those in the scriptures, and it is ONLY when I turn to the power of Jesus Christ that I feel immediate and lasting peace and contentment in my life. Jesus Christ truly is the source of peace and it is through Him that we can experience actual happiness on the outside and be the real kind of happy on the inside.
Brooke Stevens lives in Murray, Utah with her brand new husband of almost one year, Spencer. She works a full-time job while exploring a lot of new hobbies, and recently started a small blog where she writes about her adventures and the things she learns about life along the way. She loves hiking, biking, and any other adventure she can squeeze from the simple things in life. She loves learning and any day you can find her lost in her latest podcast series or audiobook. She loves the Lord and hopes her message will touch someone’s heart.
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