Jodi is one of my friend’s in-laws and I really love the things that she shares and posts on Facebook so I asked her if she’d write something for me. I love her perspective on life and that she has chosen happiness, despite the hardships she’s gone through.
“Hi, I’m Jodi! To be honest, I’m just winging this. I am no writing expert. My expertise is in parenting blunders and how to make the perfect s’more. I’m an advocate for getting out of one’s comfort zone and doing hard things, because I know that our failures can pave the way to our success. I love my family and Savior Jesus Christ with my whole heart and am extremely grateful them. I’m a firm believer that life doesn’t happen to us, it happens for us and for our benefit. I’m a strong and equal “red/yellow” personality (if you know the Color Code, then you know what I’m talking about), so I refer to myself as “sunshine mixed with a little hurricane.” I love to work hard and stay busy, but mostly love finding joy/fun in my life journey. Life was meant to be lived, difficult at times, loved, enjoyed, and mixed with lots of vacations and dance parties! This is me, my story — raw and real.”
Oh To Be Happy And Loved
Please note: I use the word “happiness” throughout this article. To me, it’s an all-encompassing word with how I want to feel. Some might refer to this as joy, peaceful, lively, etc. f the word “happiness” doesn’t work for you, choose a word that does.
One thing I’ve learned the hard way is that when things go wrong, don’t go with them. These past few years have been a roller coaster ride. A lot of happiness and growth mixed with devastation and complete loneliness, and then feeling the power of love and how it can transform and heal anything, even during the darkest and hardest of times.
For those that follow me on Instagram (@treatinyourmacros) you know I try and promote health and happiness. I’m not afraid to be vulnerable. For some reason, when Allyson asked me to write this article, I was stumped. One of my life goals is to be a motivational speaker — inspire women, help them learn that they are not alone, that God is fully aware of them and that they are loved unconditionally. If this is what I have been working towards, and someone was offering me the chance to share my words, thoughts, and feelings, why couldn’t I think of anything to say? Instead of trying to come up with “words of wisdom,” I went back to the drawing board, prayed, and concluded that the following is what I am going to share with you: My story. You may be able to relate, you may not, but this is what I feel needs to be written. This is me, imperfect Jodi, searching for answers, truth, love, acceptance, guidance, and purpose, and this is how I found it.
It started about three and a half years ago. Well, if I’m being honest, it actually started about 8 years ago, the day that I was married. I was on cloud nine. I found the perfect man to share the rest of my life with. We were going to school, working several jobs, and despite how busy we were, life seemed to be perfect. Our first year of marriage was complete bliss. I remember thinking, “People think this is hard?” I wasn’t sure how anyone could feel that way…. Then our second year hit, and it was a lot rockier. Looking back, there wasn’t anything life changing (that I can remember) that made it hard, it was just hard! I wasn’t my usual happy self. I remember thinking, “I have to be happy.” It’s part of the “checklist”, ya know, that imaginary checklist people seem to create in order to be happy. “Get married in the temple, CHECK! Go to school and get an education, CHECK. Have kids, CHECK!” (Well, we were expecting our first at the time.) Maybe I am the only one that has created this happiness checklist, but I doubt it. After reviewing that “checklist” I knew I was suppose to be happy, but in truth… I just wasn’t. I would see these people that appeared truly happy, and I wanted that happy feeling. I wanted fun, adventure, and true happiness. However, I felt like I was just going through the everyday motions, living, but not really living.
Life seemed to get better and things started to turn around. We had our first baby, Leo, and life seemed to be wonderful. I had this beautiful baby boy who I couldn’t love more. Our marriage was much better, but I still continued to feel like I was just going through the motions. I worked hard and tried to stay busy. I even started my own photography business — but I’m not sure how to explain it, I just felt “meh.” Content (I guess), but not TRULY happy. If I haven’t lost you yet in this confusing story, hold on for a little longer, it gets better. Promise.
Fast forward a couple years to when something happened that completely rocked my family’s world. My oldest sister Stephanie, my example, best friend, therapist, supporter, and everything a big sister is, unexpectedly passed away while giving birth to her fifth child. Even though it’s been three and a half years, I remember everything about that night, every detail.
Of course I had felt sadness before, depression even (post-partum depression is a real thing), but nothing had dropped me this low before. It was a scary low. I remember crying out so loud because the pain cut so deep that I didn’t think I could make it through. Deep down in my heart I knew our Heavenly Father didn’t make mistakes, but it was really hard to wrap my head around this. “How could she be needed more in Heaven than with her five children and husband?” It just didn’t make sense. I tried to not be angry. I will say, I thought I did a pretty good job about not blaming God, but on the flip side, I now realize I did start to doubt Him. The hurt, frustration, and confusion were all too real.
So when I say “When things go wrong, don’t go with them,” that is exactly what I mean. Life is all about choices. Everyone has hard things, some things being harder than others. I will definitely take my hardships over those that that I’ve witnessed others experience. The trials I have had to deal with, including personal health problems, loss of a loved one, and others, have turned into million-dollar experiences. I wouldn’t pay even one dollar to experience them again, but I wouldn’t trade them either. ANWAY… Sorry, we are getting off track… Life is about choices, right? I allowed myself to go down the wrong path. I started doubting my faith, saying I still believed in Christ but wasn’t so sure about the whole church thing anymore. I was at my unhappiest of times, pretending to be happy and have it all figured out, justifying my thoughts and actions.
Finally, the unhappiness got to me. I knew that I couldn’t live like that anymore. There was a legitimate dark cloud around me, feeding me negative energy. I knew that I wasn’t me, and I was desperate to find me again. I wanted true happiness. The first thing I committed to doing in my quest for true happiness was praying again. They were simple prayers at first. I prayed for clarity and help to tear down the walls I had put around my heart so that I could start feeling the spirit and love again. For any of you that have felt that same way, it wasn’t a one-and-done type of deal. I did this for a while. Then finally one day, while my family and I were sitting in church during Sacrament meeting on a Fast Sunday, I just kept praying in my heart for me to be happy, to feel love, and to have peace. The congregation started singing “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” (which happens to be my favorite hymn) and my whole being seemed to fill with love, unconditional and pure love. I have never felt anything so strong, and I cannot deny that my Heavenly Father was wrapping His arms around me at that moment. The tears came quickly, uncontrollably. It was the first time I had felt peace, love, content, forgiveness, and what I was searching for: happiness. Those feelings lasted through the whole hymn. I determined right there and then that I was going to change. I needed to stop playing a victim (yes, I see now that I was playing the victim). My mentality was, “Poor me, I’m so confused, I don’t know what to do, I tried that and it didn’t work,” and a lot of other nonsense and multiple excuses. The problem that we have with having a victim mentality is that we forget to see the blessings of the day. When we have this mindset, our spirits are poisoned instead of nourished. We need to stop looking at the negative things and focus on the positive. There may not be anything that you can do to change those things anyway, so why use your energy to focus on what you can’t change? Find the positive. Happiness is a choice, and to feel loved is a choice
So now that we have all that out of the way, how did I overcome all of this? If you were to ask me now, “Are you TRULY happy? Do you feel love?” The answer is 100% YES! I feel more grateful for my Savior than I ever have. I feel so grateful for life that there are days where I feel I cannot contain it. Here’s my secret (that isn’t really a secret)…. Learn to love yourself. Learn to be happy with yourself. Learn to congratulate yourself on your successes, and don’t be afraid to fail.
Another sister of mine (and my dearest friend) pointed out to me one of the Lord’s commandments: Love thy neighbor as thyself. She asked me, “Do you love yourself?” At the time I didn’t feel that I could answer, because the answer was no. I was too embarrassed admit it. Let me ask, how can we fully give ourselves to God’s work and learn to love others unconditionally as we have been commanded, if we do not love ourselves?
We can learn to love ourselves, accept ourselves, improve ourselves, taking small and large steps to make these things happen, and true happiness will come. True love will come too, and you will start seeing more good than bad, even through the most difficult of times.
Everyone is different on how they may go about this. I am going to share what worked for me and what made the biggest difference. I had tried to work from the inside-out to heal myself. After a while I started to see that that wasn’t working. I stopped doing what wasn’t working and found a new path. I hired a personal trainer and started working on myself, giving myself “Me time”. It soon became clear that I had to work from the outside-in. Many women I know (I’ll throw myself in here as well) including mothers, sisters, friends, and grandmothers, give of ourselves all the time, but do we take time to build ourselves up? That to me is the most important because you cannot fully help someone else when you yourself aren’t in a good state. You have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror. How you appear to others can be important, but how you appear to YOU is also of great importance.
I started with my trainer, knowing that I was in for a long, difficult journey. I made a promise to myself however, to finish what I had started and to give it 100%. (Remember, WE CAN DO HARD THINGS!) While words have power, our actions are what will truly change and shape our lives. I committed to change, and I followed through, even when it was painful.
I started what I thought was a fitness journey (it turned into my spiritual journey) back in 2017. My life will never be the same. As I pushed myself physically, I got stronger mentally. While getting stronger mentally, I started tearing down emotional walls that I had put up. There were several times where I cried while running on the treadmill and let the emotions flow. Talk about embarrassing… Sometimes I knew why I was emotional, but the majority of the time I had no idea, the tears just came. As those walls started coming down, I felt more connected to the Savior. It was through this experience that I created a love for myself. I created happiness. I realize now looking back on the harder times in my marriage, my personal health struggles, my sister’s passing, and life struggles in general, that it was ME. I wasn’t progressing in life, and when one isn’t progressing, they are regressing. Regression gives feelings of regret, unhappiness, discontent, and leads us to just go through the motions without satisfaction.
No one is responsible for your happiness except for you. Throw that imaginary checklist away and start doing the difficult things that allow changes needed in your life, especially those things that allow Christ to be a part of it. When He is the focus, life is better. Know that when you feel that He has left you, we are actually the ones that have strayed from Him. Make the commitment to get back on track. We all stray to a degree now and then, either physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. It’s OK. Just choose to not continue to do so. Choose to learn from your trials.
With that being said, while I miss my sister dearly and would love to see and talk to her, I have learned so many things that I never would have if her passing never happened. Life is working for you, not against you. Your choices do affect your happiness. Don’t allow anyone to feed your energy if they aren’t serving you in a positive way. Choose to maximize the potential Heavenly Father gave you; create an extraordinary life filled with happiness, love, and purpose. Then pass it on.