Conference weekend gets me really excited. I always love what the prophets and apostles have to say, and I'm especially grateful when I hear messages I know are perfect my life right now. I've been thinking today about something that I'm not really sure what to make of...
I've always thought it was important to be constantly changing--growing, developing, becoming something better that what you were before. And I feel like General Conference is always a time of rethinking our state of being and setting goals to become something better. Unfortunately, I am not good at becoming something better. I think I've actually sunk far below where I used to be. It's a horrible thought, to be honest, when I realize again and again that I'm just not nearly as refined as I thought I would be by this time. And knowing it is my fault is what really kills.
I think I've always been good at changing things, starting a new routine, moving forward, giving myself a new surrounding, yadda yadda. I'm pretty good at recognizing when things have just gotten stagnant for me--when I'm not growing and when other people and circumstances around me are just dragging me down. So I get myself out. But really, I think things get better just because I have an outward change--not an inward, repentant change. I'm starting to realize that even leaving a hard situation or changing my surroundings is not enough. I have to do something from the inside...but I don't always know what. I mean, the problem is never with me anyway, right? (*Don't worry, I'm not that blind.)
Considering my "ability" to leave situations where I am not happy, I've always thought I was pretty good at setting and reaching goals. I see that an opportunity is available and it can "make me better," so I strike out and take it. And I pat myself on the back for being such a goal-oriented person who is clearly moving forward in life.
Enter: my husband, who kindly reminds me that if I'm not happy where I am now, I never will be happy.
*This is the part where you log off this rant if you're the kind of person who doesn't want to actually know what I'm thinking. If you want flowers and sunshine, I'm not sure you're going to get it today...*
So here's my predicament: how do I find happiness when I honestly am so unhappy with a million things around me? I know the standard church answers--read your scriptures, pray, go to church, go to the temple, serve people. I got it. But what if the problem is not just with feeling unhappy to feel unhappy? What if the problem is more like I can't figure out the purpose of all this, the part where I'm supposed to have something good to offer and it becomes my whole life mission?
I have always thought that in order to be happy, we have to be constantly setting goals and constantly trying to improve ourselves and the world around us. Is this a false assumption? I'm wondering if all this changing and goal-setting and striving to do something more is just sinking me and making me feel more and more like I'm never going to find IT. What that IT is, I'm not really sure. But it's like I'm constantly searching for it--hence the goals. Should I really be letting myself stay put in one place for a long time just so that I can make it a wonderful place to be and I can force myself to be happy there?
Is this really all a problem with my heart?
This is sort of how my train of thought just went:
1. If I don't change anything on the outside, I have to change something on the inside. That's how life works. Something has to always be moving. "If you're not moving forward, you're moving backward."--haven't we all heard that a million times?
2. What needs to be moving on the inside must be that part of us that motivates us. For some people, that's probably the brain. For me, though, it's my heart. I have to FEEL driven, FEEL motivated...not just convince myself to be so because it makes logical sense.
3. My heart has to go through a change. Dictionary definition for REPENTANCE.
4. Stop: hold it right there. What in the world am I supposed to "repent" for? Did I do something WRONG by moving to Spanish Fork? By involving myself with the cheer squad? By pulling myself away from people I knew were bringing me down? By throwing myself into work so that I could help my students get the best education possible? By accepting a calling where I feel little support and lots of pressure and stress? By getting married and doing what I thought was best to strengthen that marriage? By trying to change my daily routines so that I was living a healthier (and "happier") life? I mean seriously! These are not BAD things! They could never be considered sins--and not even things that have been pulling me away from my Heavenly Father or things that are important in life. So what am I supposed to be repenting for?
5. Is something wrong with me because I can't see an obvious answer that must be glaring at me right here?
6. What's wrong with my heart?
7. Conference for me was all about changing my heart and looking to the Lord--to godliness. I equate that with physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual godliness. That's a lot of stuff, yes, but it's how we get to be well-balanced people who really are ready to live with God again one day.
8. I'm never going to get there.
9. I can't even figure out how to get out of my predicament, let alone get back to where and who I used to be...or beyond that, like I expected myself to be.
10. What's wrong with my heart?
I have no solution. I'm still left with that question. I just don't know.
I do think I've concluded that maybe my way of looking at change and growth is just really different from other people's. I don't really care what's going on on the outside if nothing is happening on the inside. So am I wrong to set goals and to try changing things up as often as I do? Maybe so--because lots of those goals are outwardly focused. But how--and where--do I start to fix the inside?