“A Bitter Taste of ‘the Good Life’” Ensign, Mar. 1990, 65
All my life I have searched to find the happiness that the scriptures promise we can enjoy on this earth. I always expected happiness to come from an outside source. I mistakenly felt that when I lost a few pounds, or got married, or had children, or owned my own home, I would then be happy.
As the years passed, I felt that I was missing out on the abundant life the Savior promised us. I continued to search for a magic formula that would make me happy.
Not long ago, I was introduced to a private self-improvement seminar that promised to expand my consciousness and help me achieve all my goals in life. The classes were initially organized and taught by people who professed to be members of the Church, so I felt comfortable and safe enrolling in them.
The first course consisted of nearly fifty hours of instruction packed into a single, intense week. All my expectations seemed to be fulfilled. Gospel truths were used to help us see ourselves in a better, more complete light. Emotional pain seemed to melt away through the instruction, group role-playing, and psychological tactics employed.
I was so elated by the “progress” I was making that I enrolled in the second phase of the course. But then the direction and focus of the course subtly changed. I was taught concepts that seemed contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. I was led to believe that it was my own lack of understanding that caused me to question these strange new ideas.
One of the falsehoods subtly interjected was that there is no need to strive for perfection or even to be concerned about our own destiny. We were taught that everyone is on his or her perfect path and that, no matter what he did in mortality, we would all achieve the celestial kingdom. Even Satan and his followers, we were told, would be there.
Perhaps most disturbing was that I was specifically counseled not to tell my husband what I had learned. Spouses could never understand the new concepts being taught, the instructor said, until they had taken the first course.
I had always shared my feelings with my husband, and I told him about what I had learned. He tried to show me how the courses had programmed me to accept false teachings—they had the effect of brainwashing.
I thought I could prove him wrong. My husband prayed and fasted, then asked me to go to the temple with him. I agreed to go. We sat in the celestial room and talked, and the spirit of the Lord let me know how wrong I was.
When we returned home, I could feel the adversary’s presence. He had nearly misdirected me, and he knew he was losing me. I read the scriptures until I finally felt his presence leave.
Though the experience of having my testimony challenged was very painful for me, it also initiated great personal growth. I have come to realize more fully that, as Nephi taught, I must not put my trust in the arm of flesh (see 2 Ne. 4:34), but must rely instead on the teachings of the Savior.
I now understand that there are no quick remedies to life’s problems and frustrations. True and lasting happiness comes only by following the teachings of the Savior and his servants, the prophets.
“For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.” (Moro. 7:16.)