Of the 15 times he used the words repent or repentance, President Nelson also used the word daily with five of those references. Go back and look if you don’t believe me. One out of every three occurrences is not insignificant. This use of the word daily caught my attention. And in my subsequent pondering, I’ve gained a new understanding and appreciation of repentance. I’ve come to see we really do need to do it daily.
Set the stage
I confess a part of my pondering includes a book from my Sunday afternoon reading — The Infinite Atonement by Tad Callister. As I started reading the book, it became very clear to me Elder Callister didn’t write this book quickly. His final product obviously evidences extensive research, consultation with others, and much revision.
Combining this text with President Nelson’s remarks has proved powerful for me. Elder Callister presents repentance as God’s plan for our self-improvement. The Atonement is not just about making us clean from impurity but also about improving us into something more than we were before, and repentance is how we access that power.
If repentance is how we walk God’s road to self-improvement, how we become more than what we are now, then why would we not want that every day? In that regard, President Nelson’s use of the word daily in connection with repentance seems very natural. Said he,
Let’s all follow the Prophet by doing and being a little better every day.
President Nelson spoke of specific areas in which priesthood holders can seek to improve. These included how we dress and groom our bodies and “how we honor the women in our lives.”
But President Nelson said in that regard, “Take an inventory of how you spend your time and where you devote your energy. That will tell you where your heart is.” Although the Prophet applied this idea to a specific application, I think we could apply it equally to any area of improvement we need in our lives.
Do you remember what we discussed a month ago directly following Conference? We focused on Sister Craven’s remarks about being careful as opposed to being casual. Sister Craven spoke principally of our covenants and the spiritual aspect of our lives. I expanded that focus to include every part of our lives. We get from anything what we give to it. We can’t expect quality results when we give casual attention. To get quality, we must give careful attention.
That’s where President Nelson’s remarks take center stage. We don’t need to be perfect all at once. We just need to do a little better today than we did yesterday. And it’s imperative that we do so, because President Nelson declared,
The good news is that we can all start today to turn our lives around. We each can identify one thing we will do today to be a little better than we were yesterday. It’s in doing the small but appropriate things consistently every day that we achieve tremendous results in anything.
Then at the end of the day, we can ask ourselves, “Did I do a little better today than I did yesterday? Am I a little better today than I was yesterday?” If we can answer “Yes” to those questions, we are on the road of repentance. And that road leads to the covenant path that will take us to our heavenly home.
Let us all follow the Prophet. Let each one of us repent and do it daily. As we do better the little things we need to improve, we will be better in whatever role we have in our lives. We’ll be happier people, and our influence for good in the lives of others will be more effective. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
We need a new culture
Like it or not, many Latter-day Saints consider being married with kids as the definition of acceptance within their culture. And since we all want to belong, many LDS singles strive to obtain that mark of belonging. So if you define motherhood to require the bearing of children, then you’re limiting your window within which you will feel accepted.
Clearly, the results observed respecting this issue go back to how people think. If only we could all adopt a new culture that grants acceptance from doing one’s best to make and keep every sacred covenant that one can, we wouldn’t be hearing from the single ladies who are really complaining about how they don’t fit in under the guise of complaining about whatever presentation they saw in church.
That’s easier said than done, but no single woman need wait for the culture to change in order to change the way she thinks about what it means to be a mother. In fact, we should all change how we think about that because we are biologically hardwired to get our sense of normal from the people around us. Single women can more easily adopt a more effective definition of mother when everyone around them does the same.
We need a new definition
And what is this new definition of motherhood everyone should adopt? Being a mother simply means consistently recognizing and then meeting needs in others. That’s something every woman can do, whether single or married.
Think about it in terms of your own mother. If you’re like me and were blessed to have a mother who loved you and always worked every day to show she cared, isn’t that what we best remember about our mothers? Isn’t that what we most treasure about the memories of our mothers, that this woman consistently recognized our needs and worked to satisfy them?
Now if you didn’t have a mother like I had, I’m sorry, but you should still be able to see the point. You don’t need to give birth to children to recognize a need within them and then work to satisfy it. And women are uniquely endowed with a natural ability to do just that, whether or not they’ve given birth to children or not.
We need a new approach
It’s high time we all embraced a broader approach to motherhood. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Your focus determines your reality. When you focus on what you lack, your reality becomes filled with lack. That breeds discouragement and despair. But when you focus on what you have and on what you can do, your reality becomes filled with possibility and opportunity. That breeds optimism and hope.
Let’s help single women everywhere by defining motherhood in terms of what all women can do and not just those who have given birth to children or even those who are legally responsible for raising children. Let’s define motherhood as consistently recognizing and meeting needs in others. This is a definition that fits all women based on what they can control (their actions) and not what they can’t (their life circumstances).
When we adopt a broader view of motherhood, we make every woman a mother who strives to serve others in ways that meet their needs. We show greater sensitivity towards those whose life circumstances aren’t what they desire. And we better support them in feeling loved and supported themselves. And that will bring us all more joy in our journey.
Take a lesson from a farmer
Many don’t believe that. They assume life is the collection of circumstances outside their control. But that’s why many people aren’t all that happy.
Your focus determines your reality. Because you can choose what you focus on, you can choose your reality. True, most don’t choose their circumstances, but that never stopped anyone who lived joyfully from living joyfully. These people lived their best life because they made different choices with the same circumstances.
Some of us should take a lesson from a farmer. Farmers don’t choose their circumstances. They have the soil and the water that’s available. Their seeds for planting are whatever they are. The weather will be whatever it will be. So much of what’s needful for the harvest is outside their control. Yet with hard work in what they can control, they produce bountiful harvests year after year.
In like manner, we haven’t chosen many of the circumstances of our lives. What we have is what we have, and it’s often all we have. But if we work hard in what we can control, we can produce harvests of truly joyful living year after year. This is what I call your best life.
Embrace what you control
I can hear many of you now. What exactly can we control? Here’s my answer: Standards, attitude, approach.
It starts with standards. You’ll never design your best life without knowing what’s acceptable and what’s not. The best delineations between what you’ll tolerate and what you won’t are made after partnering with the Lord to get good with you. Once you know and accept who you really are and what your personal ministry should be, you can best draw that line between what you’ll accept in your life and what you won’t. The more clear you make that definition, the more able you’ll be to live the life you intend.
Once you know exactly what you want, you need resolve to do whatever it takes to get it (within the realm of covenant living, of course). You need the attitude of the victor and not the victim. That attitude will fire your imagination to design a life you’ll truly enjoy and pull you through to that fulfilling end when the road there gets tough.
Of course, attitude without action will never bring you achievement. To live a life you design, you must take action. Working smart as well as working hard requires attention to one’s approach. Too often we think what we seek must come in one specific way. But much of life is not path-dependent; there’s often more than one road leading to the top of the mountain. And sometimes the road that’s best for us to travel is not the one we expect.
Get clear and get going
With these three elements in place — standards, attitude, and approach — you can decide what you want your life to be and feel the joy that comes from working to make it happen. Usually that means taking small steps every single day to inch yourself closer to the life you dream.
That’s where many of us fall short. We don’t do the little things everyday that can near us to our best life. Then, after a larger block of time has passed, we can’t help but notice we’re left standing on the pier because our ship has long since sailed.
That’s where being clear about your standards, attitude, and approach holds its best value. Once you’re crystal clear on those elements, what you need to do everyday will be obvious. Performing those seemingly small and insignificant actions everyday will collect to create the very significant life you design for yourself.
So what are you waiting for? Get clear, and then get going. None of this happens overnight. But as you move closer to the life you design for yourself, you’ll feel the joy that comes from making progress. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Put your pieces together
As I reflect back on my life, I can’t accurately pinpoint any one trigger that brought me a phenomenal attitude. The change seems more a process than an event. That said, I can identify some key elements in my transformation.
Without question, developing a more solid relationship with God has been pivotal. You can’t have true joy in your life if you’re not good with you, which means you must know who you are. And that requires knowing who your Heavenly Father is.
When you come to understand who you really are as His child, you’ll realize your power to choose your reality. We do that when we select our thoughts, our self-talk, and our focus, because these produce our reality. When I realized how these elements worked in me, I felt empowered to take control. I could stop settling for mediocrity and start insisting on phenomenal.
Get some attitude
That’s when a new attitude emerged within me. I’ll no longer settle for anything less than a phenomenal life. I won’t settle for giving anything less than my absolute best. No longer will I accept failure or unhappiness or anything less than my best as my normal, and I’ll never give up on myself ever again.
I want phenomenal success. I want phenomenal fulfillment, phenomenal results, and phenomenal relationships. I want phenomenal for myself!
I can’t settle for anything less, because that’s giving up, and giving up is just plain flat out wrong. God gave me my gifts and talents not only to better myself but to better the world. When I refuse to let my light shine, others won’t have the improvement they might have had in their lives.
That’s why I insist on phenomenal in my life. It’s not about me. Giving up on myself and failing to achieve my potential means giving up on those who stand to benefit from that achievement. But when I strive to move closer towards my greatness, I automatically provide positive influence to everyone around me.
And so I can’t accept mediocrity. I’ll never be perfect, I’ll always fall flat on my face, but to quit trying to live my purpose, to fulfill my personal ministry, and to achieve greatness in my life is unacceptable. There are just too many people who would suffer, most of whom I’ve never met and likely never will. But it’s because of them I can’t accept anything less than my absolute best as my normal. I will never settle for anything other than phenomenal.
Make it happen
I have only one life to live. This is it for me. I’ll never get another opportunity to live this life. God gave my unique combination of gifts, opportunities, and personality to me and me only. So this is it. It’s do or die, greatness or bust, phenomenal or nothing. I must make it happen.
And that’s another key element in my transformation. The day I realized my life wouldn’t improve until I owned it was life changing. All the energy I’d wasted wishing my circumstances were better I should have spent wishing I were better. Instead of wishing for less problems, I should have wished for more skills. Instead of wishing the result I wanted would just come to me, I should have been working to make it happen.
Of course, I struggle where everyone else struggles — with the natural man. We’re all our own worst enemy. But working hard is the cost of entry to anything worthwhile. And so I put my shoulder to this wheel because I know people’s lives will suffer if I stop.
The best part is I’m not the only one. What’s possible for me is possible for you. If you want this transformation for you, you can have it. Embrace true foundational principles, do the work you need to do, and you’ll improve your life. And when you truly surrender yourself to that process, you too will have phenomenal. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Here we find foundational principles local leaders can leverage to help LDS singles find their way.
Walk beside singles
We all understand others better when we step outside ourselves and view the world through their eyes. That increased understanding can open your eyes to what many LDS singles need — true friendship.
My last ward was absolutely awful. Usually no one talked to me or even greeted me. They didn’t seem at all interested in having me there. So when the storms of life beat against my door, no one was there to support me. I felt not just alone and unloved but spiritually stinted, like I was trapped in a sort of prison. What a nightmare!
If nothing else, that experience makes me very thankful for my current ward. Ward members greet me, shake my hand, and sincerely ask after my well-being. They’ve responded when I needed help and support. I feel the warmth of their simple love and sincere friendship. What a blessing!
It doesn’t take much to help LDS singles feel loved and supported. When local leaders — whether married or single — walk beside singles in true friendship, those simple acts can readily meet many needs.
Shore up faith
True friends always increase faith in others. Our Heavenly Father wants LDS singles to marry in the temple and raise righteous families who will promote His work on the earth. That won’t happen if singles don’t believe it will. Local leaders can portray faith and confidence in singles’ ability to achieve a righteous marriage.
How are LDS singles supposed to believe those blessings can be theirs when leaders respond quickly with trite expressions like “Well, it’s OK because there’s always the next life.” That’s true, but have you stopped to consider what living that really means? You’re saying it’s OK the experience singles have already had being single continue for another 40 or 50 years, and then they die, and then sometime after that they get their blessing. That’s not a very enticing prospect, even if it is true.
It’s far more enticing to fix one’s sights on examples like Abraham. His promised covenant child came when Abraham and Sarah were both around a century old. Or how about Jacob’s wife Rachel, who for the longest time was barren? I love Genesis 30:22 — “And God remembered Rachel ....” Local leaders who shore up singles’ faith in themselves and their ability to achieve eternal blessings now and not just in the next life provide greatly needed support.
Promote the next essential ordinance
Of course, securing that next essential ordinance of temple marriage takes more than belief or a motivational pep talk. The lives of many LDS singles stagnant in a lack of accountability. Local leaders are well positioned to provide that accountability.
Life has a way of beating us all into routines. We are, after all, hardwired to have habits. That can be helpful but also dangerous, especially if we’re lulled away from progressing towards eternal goals. The longer singles remain single, the more comfortable they can become being single. And with that comes less likelihood they’ll progress towards their next essential ordinance.
Local leaders can stem that tide of indolence with some gentle accountability. If they’ve paid the price to be a true friend, local leaders — and in particular ministering brothers and sisters — can guide singles towards their next essential ordinance with effective questions. “What’s in your way?” is a good example. As they repeatedly ask questions, simply listen, and then stand ready to help as requested, local leaders extend accountability for progression as singles decide for themselves how they will progress.
When they support singles by being a true friend, local leaders can minister more effectively to LDS singles. That will increase the love we all have for one another. That will build bridges of understanding between marrieds and singles. That will develop a stronger unity of the faith. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Sister Craven begins by describing a sign she once saw advertising happiness for only $15. Of course, the sign was deceptive. The trinkets and souvenirs offered in exchange for that $15 could never bring the true happiness each of us yearns to have.
Sister Craven’s experience describes how many of us are similarly deceived. A casual approach to spirituality may seem inviting and even appropriate. But only by being careful with our covenants and obeying them with exactness can we hope to yield the true joy we seek.
Sister Craven explains,
What a magnificent insight! Sister Craven continues,
The amount of joy we receive from covenant living is in direct proportion to the care and attention we give in living those covenants with exactness. We can unleash true power in our spiritual lives when we reject a casual approach for a careful one.
I remember on my mission hearing my leaders advocate obedience with exactness. What fascinated me as I heard Sister Craven repeat that idea was the thought of expanding that attention to every aspect of our lives. If being careful with our spiritual lives can yield great power, how much more power would being that careful with every aspect of our lives bring?
What would happen if we were just as careful with those who matter most to us? Think for a minute about the people who mean the most to you. Of course, others will always have their own agency, but how much more enjoyable would those relationships be if we exercised great care in the details of those relationships?
And what would happen if we exercised great care with our mind? If we were more insistent on having certain standards for the books we read, the music we listen to, the movies we watch, and the other forms of media that we consume, how much more pure, powerful joy would sweep into our lives? What if we were more careful with improving ourselves — taking a class, learning a new skill, or improving some aspect of our character? What increase in joy would come from that?
How much more power could we procure if we were truly careful with our body? Too many of us are quite casual when it comes to diet and exercise. Too many of us aren’t very careful with personal finances. Too many of us take a casual approach to our careers by allowing the here and now demands of our job to overwhelm any notion of career direction. How much better would we feel about ourselves and our lives if we exercised greater care towards our body?
Act with order and diligence
If you stop to think about all this for a moment, you may conclude as I did. Exercising great care in any one area is work. When you extend that work to every area of your life, the task can quickly feel overwhelming.
The Apostle Paul counseled, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). King Benjamin taught his people similarly. “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order” (Mosiah 4:27).
In other words, we don’t need to be perfect today. But we do need to exercise care by doing something every day to move towards personal improvement. As we exchange our casual approaches to every aspect of life for more careful ones, we will reap a harvest of joy and power from the seeds we have sown daily. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Our LDS culture hands each of us a life plan describing how life is supposed to go. We go on a mission, do college, start the career, and somewhere in that mix get married. Then we live happily ever after with our eternal companion.
But the lives of many LDS singles differ greatly from that story. Some haven’t married, others divorce, and still others lose a spouse to death. Whatever the reason, those who find themselves single when they don’t want to be consider that happily-ever-after story nothing more than a fairy tale.
And LDS singles deal with the shock of that unexpected life chapter in multiple ways. Some enter paralysis, unable to move outside of their newly found rut. Some despair, thinking all hope is lost for them. Others question themselves, wondering what sin they committed to deserve losing the blessings they were promised. Other responses run the spectrum of possibilities.
Yet no matter the reason or the response, one truth continues to shine brightly. Just because your life hasn’t turned out the way you anticipated doesn’t mean all is lost. There is always hope because there is always Christ. And we take the first step to grasping that hope when we ditch the plan our culture has been feeding us.
Get a better map
Whatever your destination, you need an accurate map. A map that doesn’t match your current landscape will do nothing more than obstruct and frustrate you. It’ll never help you find your way. And that won’t change until you get a better map.
That’s why most LDS singles need to ditch the life plan our culture feeds us. It doesn’t represent their current landscape. Perhaps it was fine for where they were, but it’s not a good map for where they are right now. Want to move forward with your life? Get a better map!
That better map will one you create after you partner with the Lord. President Ezra Taft Benson taught that Christ can make more out of our lives than we can on our own. He has the better map we need. When we turn to Him, He’ll guide the next steps of our journey.
Let go of the past
Still, some among us insist on keeping that defunct life plan despite its mismatch with their current landscape. Accordingly, they feel stuck, unable to move, because they can never live that plan. Try as they might, they can’t travel back in time to make different choices. We all must play the hand we’re dealt.
While in college, I had the possibility of conforming to the life plan. But that ship has long since sailed. So any insistence on my part to hold on to this life plan is insanity. I’d be grasping at lost opportunities that’ll never be anywhere but in the past. And no one can move forward until they let go of the past.
Why would any of us fight against reason and keep ourselves immobile by holding on to the past? Reasons will vary with the individual, but many singles associate belonging with conforming to that cultural life plan. The need to belong is a basic human need, and so they don’t want to accept the possibility that need won’t ever be met.
Follow His plan
And that’s the lie from our culture that we shouldn’t believe. When the mark of belonging is being married with kids, you’ll never feel like you belong while you’re single. Singles by definition aren’t married, which means by definition they don’t belong.
But you don’t have to believe that. You don’t have to believe what’s handed to you. You can adopt your own mark of belonging, one centered on Christ and your desire to be true to the covenants you’ve made with Him. And adopting a personal ministry can help you do just that.
When you partner with the Lord and surrender yourself completely to the personal ministry He shows you, you’ll look forward to the goodness you can contribute into the lives of others. The better map you need for your journey involves a personal ministry. And the Lord can use your focus on others through the vehicle of a personal ministry to help you let go of the past, embrace the joy to be found in facing forward, and make more out of your life than you can alone.
So ditch the plan our LDS culture feeds us about life and partner with the Lord. He’ll heal you and help you to move forward. He’ll show you the next steps you need to take. And He’ll guide you in your personal ministry as you focus on contributing goodness into the lives of others. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
I’ve been thinking recently about what I do here — this program, the blog, and everything connected to it. I’ve had such hopes and plans for helping LDS singles everywhere live better, more joyful lives. I still do.
Bit by bit, it’s all coming together. I’ve come so far since that very first blog post on 12/12/12. I’ve come so far from that first blog post on this website, the post in which I declared my desire for real in my life. I’ve come so far from providing audio clip readings of my posts. And I’ve got farther yet to go before I’m done.
These accomplishments and dreams inspire me. Yet my mind turns to those who could have such accomplishments and dreams but don’t. They don’t believe they’re meant for anything extraordinary. They don’t see how anything approaching greatness could ever involve them. The future they see holds no promise, no hope, and no joy.
If that describes you, I hope you listen closely to the program today. I have a special message just for you. And it’s this: Don’t you dare give up on yourself.
Choose your joy
I know the depths of depression, the darkness that can envelope a soul in despair so devoid of hope that one wonders how life could ever be joyful for any but the luckiest among us. But I also know that vision doesn’t have to represent anyone’s reality. You can choose your joy.
Once, my sense of “logic” would find such statements repugnant, not to mention incomprehensible. What I see now that I didn’t see then are the faulty assumptions underneath that thinking. Just because others believe something doesn’t make it true. Nor does it mean you have to believe it. You can believe what you want to believe.
And you can believe that what you believe and how you think will ultimately determine your reality. That’s how our brains are biologically hardwired. You can choose to think more effectively, to give yourself messages filled with positive energy, to put controls around your emotions, to choose your joy. You can choose your reality.
Let your light shine
Because you can choose your reality, you can choose to be a victim, or you can choose to be a victor. You can choose to wallow within your own self-absorption. Or you can choose to look outside yourself to how you can bless the lives of others.
Think of what that means. We all posses the awesome potential for bringing goodness into the world, for making a real difference in the lives of others. That means you have that potential. You can inspire others to shine their lights bringing goodness into the lives of others when you shine your light bringing goodness into their lives.
But what would happen if you choose not to shine your light, not to make your contribution of goodness into the world? Would others falter because they never had the light you could shine? Would someone surrender to negativity because he or she didn’t have quite enough reserves to resist, reserves that would have been sufficient with your contribution?
The Master taught, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). What distance between God and individual men and women will not be shortened when you choose not to make your contribution?
Partner with Him
That’s why you should never dare to give up on yourself. It’s not about you; it’s about all of us. So when you give up on yourself, you’re giving up on the people who stand to benefit from the contribution you could make, a contribution only you can make. When you give up on yourself, you give up on all of the rest of us.
When many of us look our meager offerings, we wonder how so much could ever hang in the balance. How could our contribution ever be so important? The Lord’s disciples thought this way when they saw they had only five loaves and two fishes (see Matthew 14:17). How could so little feed so many? And yet in the hands of the Master it did. Likewise, the Master can work miracles in the lives of others as you follow His direction to give your contribution.
Don’t you dare give up on yourself! When life looks bleak, partner with the Lord. He will heal you so you believe in yourself and your contribution. He will lead you to those who need your contribution. And His hands will transform your contribution into miracles in their lives. You can bask in their love for you and for the Lord when you make that contribution you can make. And that will bring more joy in your journey.
Some things never change as we get older. There will always be death and taxes. The coolest toys always come out after you grow up. And the grass is always greener on the other side.
At least that how it appears. So many of us look at others and think their lives are much better than our own because they don’t appear to have our problems. If only we could be like them, we think, our own lives would be so much better.
But that’s a lie we should never heed. The truth is everyone has challenges. When you solve one problem, you’ll find a completely new problem just around the corner. Or you’ll merely swap your old problem for a new one. Life wasn’t meant to be problem-free for anyone.
And that’s good. We’ll never grow as we need to grow and learn what we need to learn without opposition. To become what we’re meant to become, we must overcome our challenges. So you shouldn’t want what the other half of the world has. Just keep your half because it’s what you need.
Don’t run away
The longing after what appears to be greener grass on the other side of the fence is often just a desire to escape from our current challenges rather than overcome them. If we simply ran away from those challenges, we’d certainly not progress towards becoming what we’re meant to become.
I know I wouldn’t be the man I am today if I’d decided to run away. For example, on my mission in Guatemala, I constantly battled illness. Had I agreed to come home early, I wouldn’t have had the blessing of teaching the gospel in my own language and to people from different parts of the world in the neighboring country of Belize. I wouldn’t have had the companions I had, each one of whom taught me something. My mission experiences continue to bless me and benefit my life decades after my service.
Facing our trials and working to overcome them have changed us all for the better. We’re better people because we decided not to run away from those experiences but rather to embrace them and allow them to change us into something more than what we were before.
Embrace the opportunity
In addition, those challenges themselves can be blessings in their own right. But we’re not likely to see that as long as we keep wanting to cross to where the grass appears greener. We’ve got to learn to want what we’ve already got. And that means changing the way we think in order to see the blessings our challenges are.
Sometimes that blessing comes as opportunity to bless the lives of others. For instance, my experience being single for more than two decades has, to say the least, increased my compassion for those who struggle with the challenges of LDS singles life. And that compassion is a large portion of the fuel that drives me in producing Joy in the Journey Radio. How many lives have been and will be blessed because of my personal ministry?
If you feel the siren call of grass that appears to be greener, ask yourself who could be blessed because you stayed on your side of the fence. Someone there may need your contribution, a contribution only you can make because only you have your unique personality paired with your challenges.
Confront your challenge
In the end, we are our choices. The grass may indeed seem greener on the other side, but there’s much value in the greenness of the grass we already have. We can all choose to lift where we stand, thereby blessing others while growing from the confrontation with our challenges.
Besides, nothing good comes from wishing we could exchange places with that other half of the world that seems to have a better life. The results we want will never come from wishing because they can come from one and only one thing — action. Better to spend our time confronting our challenges and learning how to overcome them than to waste away wishing for what will never come with the wish alone.
When you choose to keep your half instead of longing after the half someone else appears to have, when you choose to embrace challenges rather than seek ways to escape them, when you choose to see them for the blessings they are in and of themselves, then you’ll see that the grass on the other side of the fence isn’t that much greener after all. That will increase your gratitude to God for His bounteous blessings you already have. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Is the new meeting schedule working? What improvements have we seen from emphasizing a greater effort to study the gospel in the home? And have we lost anything along the way with implementing these new changes?
Some may think it too early to say, but I’m convinced these changes announced by the Brethren as the result of revelation received from the Lord are nothing but good. In fact, I don’t think the word good does them justice. I think they’re outstandingly amazing.
Embrace more effective meetings
First, I have to say I love two-hour church! I wish I had this growing up, on my mission, and in college. But better late than never.
Elder Bednar encouraged us to see beyond the superficial logistical changes in the meeting schedule, and I do see this change as providing more than an “extra” free hour on the Sabbath. Perhaps the most immediate effect I’ve seen thus far is a greater attention to make the most of that second hour. Whether it’s Sunday School or my quorum meeting, I’ve seen my leaders be more intentional about using what time they have, if for no other reason than that they have less of it.
And that’s great. Living with intention precedes joyful living. It’s the antithesis of the living on autopilot which most people practice, a habit leading to mediocrity and a lackluster life. I’ve truly enjoyed my meetings more now that the time spent in them is more precious. That has translated into a closer and deeper interaction with the Spirit, which is part of the reason why we meet together to begin with.
Feel the Spirit more
Now, I don’t know this from personal experience because I don’t have my own family yet, but I’ve heard other ward members testify of greater unity in their family and the joy they’ve felt in fielding questions from their children regarding gospel principles. The Church has always been about strengthening families, and this move in that direction is truly inspired.
Not having my own family, I have an “extra” hour on Sundays, which I typically use in extended personal scripture study. I don’t follow the Sunday School study schedule because I felt prompted to travel a different road. But my life has been blessed as I’ve used this “extra” hour for my own study.
I’ve also heard of singles who have been blessed by gathering together in their own groups to study what their married friends are studying in their homes with their families. I’m not a member of such a group (though I might be if I knew of one that met weekly), but I can imagine the blessings that would come to singles who have that arrangement in their life. They could enjoy the same closeness with the Spirit and to one another that families experience among themselves.
Change in the culture
For me, however, the most exciting change from home-centered church has yet to be seen fully. I believe a cultural change is in the works that will benefit LDS singles everywhere. This change has already been ongoing, but the practice of home-centered church will greatly accelerate it.
Traditionally, LDS culture has centered around Sunday meetings in general membership wards. The mark of belonging has been being married with kids, and so many singles openly display their lack of belonging just by showing up without a significant other. Of course, different wards are more accepting than others, but that’s been the general reality over the past few decades, if not longer.
Enter home-centered church. By centering the worship experience in the home, the Church has effectively marginalized the differences between singles and marrieds that were once glaringly apparent. Now that church has become about supporting what’s done in the home, we’ll now see a change in the mark of belonging within the culture to one centered on Christ and our willingness to make and keep as many covenants with Him as we can. This is great news for LDS singles, because every single can belong in that culture.
The changes announced by the Brethren regarding home-centered church are outstandingly amazing. Many glorious days lie ahead of us. As we follow the counsel of the Brethren to adopt the changes revealed by revelation, the Lord will bless our lives with an outpouring of His Spirit. Our culture will become more inclusive, and we’ll become more united as a people. And that will bring more joy in our journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and now I produce a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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