There are many things that I wish I would have known when I was younger, most importantly, the simple truth that I was a child of God. However, life being the adventure that it is, that was one of the lessons I learned the hard way. Which is why, in hopes of passing on some of what I have learned, I want to share my journey with you as to how I came to know this.
While in high school, I began suffering with low self esteem. My childhood was so great, I was always so happy and didn’t have a care in the world… but then why was I sitting here, now in my teenage years, so miserable and unhappy?! I remember feeling so depressed about my looks and weight that I tried controlling certain aspects of my life in hopes of relieving some of my suffering.
I was so hung up on self doubt and the endless stream of contradicting thoughts in my head that I felt like a broken record stuck on repeat. My mind was constantly rerunning thoughts about how I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, and so on. This was the crummy record that I was stuck listening to for years and it’s product was nothing far from a life of misery!
It wasn’t until college, at an all time low, that I really started to get sick of all of my unhappiness and I knew that I was finally ready to make a drastic change.
I began looking at all of the thoughts in my head and started to realize something crucial: all of the negative thoughts I had about myself were untrue! On top of that, they were all focused on finding happiness externally instead of on my spiritual being. I knew that in order to live a joyful life, I needed to let go of all of my negative, self-criticizing beliefs and replace them with words of truth. I remember hearing a song that I had sung all throughout my primary years, “I Am a Child of God.” It’s words were so sweet and simple, yet did I really understand the meaning of them in my life?
These words couldn’t just be a song that I sing – I needed to really understand and implement them in my life. A recent conference talk, “Am I a Child of God?” by Elder Brian K. Taylor, discusses the journey of a young woman named Jen. She had caused a serious car accident and because of the grief and sorrow she felt, she was seeking to know of Heavenly Father’s love for her. She wrote the words “I Am a Child of God” and said them ten times daily. She “poured out her whole soul” unto God until her desire to know that she was a child of God became her belief.
Similarly, I began implementing daily rituals in my life that would improve my self worth and help me to know I was a child of God. A scripture that I practiced living by was “…God created man after his own image…” (Alma 22:12). Because, if this was true, than the more I learned about God and Christ, the more I would truly understand myself. I started writing lists of attributes that I admired in both God and Christ, and then would say them about myself.
I am pure love.
I am a light unto others.
I forgive myself and others.
I am a creator and can create my life experience.
These were some of the statements that I would say to myself, whether I was saying them in the mirror or shouting them while I was walking around the house! Initially, in implementing this practice, I felt really awkward and silly! But as I continued to say these things, I began to feel their truth and the connection that I had to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I called this my “self talk,” and made sure that only good vibes were being felt when I thought or talked about myself.
I then started to search out others I knew who were the happiest of the happy. Those people who could teach me how they found joy in their lives and help me find my own path to happiness. I also started reading any book I could find on happiness, everything from conference talks to scriptures to books by different spiritual gurus! In doing so, I began learning another lesson: when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. It was amazing to me that all of this great information suddenly manifest itself in my life once I was ready to find it, as if waiting all along for me to have my “ah-ha moment!”
What I ultimately learned in my search through all of the books, discussion with teachers, personal prayer and practice was that we all have a special connection with God, and that connection is what will not only lead us to happiness, but is happiness. So the next questions was: How do I develop and strengthen this connection I have with God?!
Here are some of the things that I began putting into practice in my life (and continue to practice more than 6 years later!):
God’s love exists in the present moment. When I am searching to feel God’s love, I need to look no further than this moment, the now. My fears, worries, problems, and doubts all existed in thinking of either past or future events. When I looked solely at the present moment, all of that washed away. I was left only with peace. So, when I am having feelings of doubt and discouragement, I acknowledge them and that they are problems only in my mind of the past and future events, and then let them go. There is so much peace and joy that comes when you let go of the heavy burden of those thoughts and recognize that in the present moment, there are no problems. There is only peace.
Build a killer “self talk!” As I mentioned before, I practiced talking about myself as if I was the queen of the world! It was so freeing to finally realize that it didn’t matter what anyone else thought about me (you can never please everyone) but that the only persons opinion that mattered was mine.
Keep a line open for God at all times. God is always willing and ready to give us knowledge, abundance, and personal revelation. It is us who sometimes forget to “keep a line open for him.” We send him signals like: “I got it on my own this time,” or “I’m a little busy at the moment.” We forget that he is our father and that he wants to bless us as much as we allow him to. As I began keeping an open communication with God throughout my day, I was amazed to see all of the blessings in my life that I had never recognized!
Be grateful. I began to practice starting and ending my day with thoughts and prayers of gratitude. As I did this, I not only started to recognize all of the blessings that had been in my life all along, but also opened myself up to receive more blessings.
As the days of practicing these habits turned into weeks, months, and now years, God’s love for me has become undeniable. I am now able to look back at my years of suffering with feelings of gratitude. Because without that suffering I wouldn’t have the sure knowledge that I am a child of God.
This is something that we can all know for ourselves. No matter what our journey has been leading to this point, there is always room for God’s love in our lives. As I picture a father, I imagine my dad, with open arms and smile on his face as he shouts, “It’s a great day!” Likewise, God’s love for us is infinite. As we seek to learn more about him and to pattern our life after his son Jesus Christ, we will feel the love that he has for each of us and that we are his daughters.
GUEST POST BY: Bri Da Silva
It’s a GREAT day!
Hi girls! I’m Bri Da Silva and I’m a wife, mom, and spirit junkie! I have worked in the hospital as a cancer nurse for four years and have recently started life coaching and spreading the message of the happiness found in living in the present moment!
Facebook: Bri Da Silva https://www.facebook.com/bri.markle