The adventure that is life often leads us to reflect on our past--be it with remorse, joy, regret, longing,or everything in between. As I travailed through another week of missionary life, my mind was inexplicably caught up in certain corridors of my mind where the lights have been off for quite some time. As I walked these vast hallways, turning the switches on and off as I walked through, and as I began to "feel" those environments again, I recalled a simple yet profound conclusion stated in Alma 41:10 "Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness."
Why is wickedness never happiness? The very next verse gives an equally correct declaration and a response: "And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness." God, as he did with the apostate Nephites towards the sad end of their existence, will not always "suffer [us] to take happiness in sin" (Mormon 2:13). Elder Eccles, an assistant to the president in the California Santa Rosa Mission, wrote this week's mission letter. In it he recalled a recent experience where he and his companion joked around about their way of being in high school. In the process of conversing, they both came to a quick realization that they did not ever want to be those people again. I share in their seeming disgust of our past-selves and at the same time am grateful that I have learned this important lesson in my life. Wickedness never was happiness. Happiness has come into my life as a direct result of repentance and keeping the Lord's commandments, whatever the effort, price, or self-control required. "Consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness" (Mosiah 2:41). A popular youth speaker, John Bytheway once said "There are two kinds of pain in life: the pain of discipline, and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces, while regret weighs tons." I know these things are true from personal experience and I know that as we strive to change our lives to be more aligned with God's commandments, he will bless us and we will feel joy. Jesus Christ invites all men to come unto him with full purpose of heart and to be healed by his atonement and his love. May we choose to do so is my prayer.
Here is a talk by Elder D. Todd Christofferson that will shed perhaps more light on the above subject.