My Search for Happiness

By Ellyn Christensen

The search for happiness has always been a struggle for me. When I was a child and adolescent, I thought happiness could be found in things. My junior and senior years of high school I transferred my search for happiness from acquiring things to being wanted – not loved, mind you: though I had several boyfriends in high school, I always felt wanted, but not necessarily loved. But the feeling of being wanted brought me happiness. When I got to college, I initially thought that my happiness in my younger years was held back somehow by my family, and now that I was on my own I would be able to explore and find true happiness. I began finding happiness in things, friends, feeling wanted, new-found freedom, new experiences, and taking care of myself. However, this happiness was short-lived. By my sophomore year at Michigan State University (MSU), I again started questioning whether I was happy. I loved my roommates, my sorority sisters, my friends. I did not love my classes, after changing my major about a dozen times. I did not love our weekend extracurricular activities and thought many times, “There has to be more to life than this.” So, I determined that my school was really the problem. I just needed to transfer to a different school, and all would be well.

Early in my sophomore year, I applied to Brigham Young University (BYU), a private university in Utah that one of my high school boyfriends attended. I went to visit him for spring break my freshman year and again in October of my sophomore year. On the way home from the second trip, I realized something I had never thought of before. At the time, my plan was to major in International Law. I suddenly thought to myself, “How will I be able to be an international lawyer and raise children at home?” This insight flooded my head with the idea that I had to immediately change my major yet again. When I returned to MSU, I also started meeting with the missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I told them at the first meeting that I was not going to be baptized, so they shouldn’t even ask me. They were very patient with me. I knew that if the relationship I had with my boyfriend was ever to become more serious, I had to know what his church was all about. After all, I had heard all of the weird things about Mormons – polygamy, no drinking alcohol, no drinking coffee. But, at the same time, my boyfriend and his family were kind, good people – not weird. There was only one mom and she was definitely not subservient to her husband.

I listened to the missionaries and learned how to pray. I read not only what the missionaries asked me to read, but anti-Mormon material as well. Though I was searching for happiness, I was pretty content with how I was living my life. I was a good person, with many friends, academic potential, and much family support. I didn’t really want to change who I was. Several things happened to me while I was meeting with the missionaries for six months. I learned that happiness can’t come from outside sources.  True and real happiness for me came when I realized that being baptized was something I had to do. I didn’t know everything about the Mormon Church when I told the missionaries I was going to be baptized. And, to be honest, I didn’t really want to be baptized, but I felt that I knew I was supposed to, and I knew that God knew it as well.

A great learning experience had begun. I have learned a great many things since I was baptized twenty years ago.  I am still learning. I still don’t know everything. But, I know this: my life has changed in a multitude of ways. As I began to make better decisions for myself (including a husband, a major, a career, and lack thereof when I chose to stay home to raise my children), amazing things happened. I found confidence in my choices. I found a greater understanding of who I was, what my purpose has been here on earth, and what truly makes me happy. When I am in accordance with what my Heavenly Father wishes for me, I am happier. When I appreciate my life as the gift that it is, I am happier. When I see my children as God sees them, it makes my job easier, which makes me happier. Of course, I cannot say that every moment since I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been bliss; it hasn’t. I have had trials I would not wish on anyone. But the strength I’ve gained from having gone through those trials has prepared me for what was to come next. I would not trade those trials because of the perspective they have given me. I thank my Heavenly Father every day for the knowledge and perspective I’ve gained and the type of person they have helped me to become: in one word – happy.

 

One thought on “My Search for Happiness

  1. Bella

    Thank you for this insightful information of your religion. It’s always best to get data from people with first hand knowledge and in your case, a long term relationship with your Mormon church. Much appreciated.

    Reply

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