Forgiveness is my next iteration of gift giving, though I give it more to myself. To that gift, I wish to add another — the gift of partnering. No, I’m not talking about an eternal companion (although I don’t object to such “gift giving”). I’m talking about partnering with the Lord. Is there any better time than Christmas to partner with Him? Is there a better way to celebrate Christ than to commit or recommit oneself to the road of discipleship? With Christmas just around the corner, ‘tis the season to partner.
Partnering with the Lord has been a longstanding theme of Joy in the Journey Radio. Christ is the source of all true joy, so how can we maximize the joy in our journey without Him? And the best way to include Him is to partner with Him.
That partnering includes everything in life, not just the spiritual aspect. Christ’s work is “to bring to pass the eternal life and immortality of man” (Moses 1:39), which clearly has a spiritual component but cannot be complete without also including the emotional, mental, and physical aspects as well. Partnering with the Lord takes life to a whole other level when approached holistically.
And why shouldn’t it be so? Christ is interested in every aspect of our lives and blessing us in any way He can. If we partner with Him, He’ll want to help us thrive and succeed emotionally, mentally, and physically as well as spiritually. Thus, partnering with Him means involving the Lord as a full partner in the emotional, mental, and physical aspects of our lives as well as the spiritual.
Unfortunately, far too many think of partnering with the Lord strictly or primarily in spiritual terms; involving the Lord in the other aspects of their lives means primarily asking for help. They struggle with employment prospects, for example, and so ask for help in finding a job.
Asking for help is of course good. But partnering means more than just asking for help. It means counseling and involving in decision making. So instead of asking for help finding work, for example, partnering with the Lord means discussing how to approach your job search, sharing your successes and your challenges, and seeking His input as you decide what actions to take next.
Alma the Younger counseled his son Helaman, “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good” (Alma 37:37, emphasis added). Involving the Lord in the spiritual aspect of our lives and heeding His direction will of course bring us closer to Him. Heeding His instructions regarding the emotional, mental, and physical matters of our lives as well as the spiritual will bring us all the more closer to Him. But He’s less likely to provide that direction when we don’t involve Him in those matters.
And what better time to involve Him than the Christmas season? In the holy trinity of holidays, we start with gratitude at Thanksgiving, then celebrate the hope for new life we have because of the birth of that new life in the manger, and conclude by resolving to act better in the new year. Partnering with the Lord in every aspect of your life is a wonderful way to celebrate the reason for the season.
That celebration will be most meaningful if it leads to actions that produce positive results. Many holiday traditions are simply rote performances; you do them because it’s that time of the year. But rote performance doesn’t change you. The richer celebration is one that leaves you changed, and truly partnering with the Lord will do just that.
If you are not now partnering with the Lord in every aspect of your life, now is a great time to start, for ‘tis the season to partner. Make partnering with the Lord your new Christmas tradition. When you do, He “will direct you for good.” And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
But there’s another perspective of propriety. LDS singles can hold bitterness in their hearts towards someone they fault for their singleness. Never married singles can begrudge dating relationships that never worked out or simply never happened. Divorced singles can blame a former spouse. Widowed singles can embitter themselves towards whatever caused their spouse to die. Yet regardless of the cause, embittered singles can have beauty for ashes when they embrace the Savior and forgive.
It begins with awareness
Perhaps Sister Yee’s address spoke to me because I have my own need to forgive. My stake does absolutely nothing for singles. My leaders have responded to my pleadings by calling a stake rep who does absolutely nothing. They seem tolerant of a status quo in which sorely needed blessings are not received.
Naturally, what results inside me is a roller coaster ride, and I’m not talking about my pancreatitis (although I could be)! I know I shouldn’t hold a grudge, and so I want to resist the conclusion that my leaders simply don’t care. At the same time, I struggle to see any evidence that they do care. I’m left resisting a bitterness launching itself at my door, eager to enter, and I’m tiring.
In that context, Sister Yee’s recounting of the Old Testament story of Abigail seems apropos.
I like that phrase — “the weight of a warring heart.” It’s so poetic and yet so profound.
It happens with belief
If awareness is the first step towards forgiveness, the second must surely be belief. You must believe it’s possible for you to forgive before you’ll ever attempt it. If you truly believed it would never happen, you wouldn’t even try.
This is where many who need to forgive stop. They somehow link forgiveness with the other person, the object of their bitterness and hurt, rationalizing that since said person will never comply with whatever their judgment demands, forgiveness simply isn’t possible. That link becomes especially strong when that other person offended egregiously.
But forgiveness isn’t about the other person; it’s about you. It’s about stopping the canker of bitterness from blinding your vision and consuming your heart. It’s about healing the cancer that would steal your soul. Holding a grudge never punishes the other person; it punishes only you.
That’s why I found Sister Yee’s personal testimony about forgiveness so moving. Her experiences encourage belief that forgiveness is possible, even when the hurt cuts very deep.
Her confession that she “still has work to do” makes relating to her experience much easier for me. And her hope for herself give me hope for myself.
It continues with choice
Yet the part of Sister Yee’s address I appreciate the most appears towards the end, where she reminds us of the importance of timing and adapting that timing to the individual. Not everyone heals at the same rate, and so we should be tolerant as others pursue their path of coming to Christ in their own way.
That admonition to avoid judgments of timing is best applied within yourself. Extend kindness to yourself and allow your heart to take the time it needs to open to the Savior and experience the miracle of forgiveness. That kindness you extend to yourself by not insisting on a particular timetable promotes the healing you need. As Sister Yee testifies,
That last part is, I think, the key part of the journey of transformation the Savior promises. Unless you give to others what you have been denied, you’ll never be fully healed. Many LDS singles have been given ashes in their lives, but to receive beauty for your ashes, you must give beauty to others, for you always get what you give.
So release the weight of your warring heart, believe forgiveness is possible, be kind with yourself, and give to others what you’ve been denied. When you do, you will find beauty from the ashes of your life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
I also like how each year the Light the World campaign just gets better and better. Just when I think there’s no way next year can be better, next year comes along and proves me wrong. The Church always finds a way to take it to the next level, and this year is no exception. This year, the tradition gets a whole lot simpler. And the simple truth is the world needs your light.
I just love that emphasis for the tradition this year. Typically there is a calendar with a suggested activity for each day. This year, it’s all about sharing the light of Christ that all of us have within us. You share the light within you because the world needs your light.
Now don’t get me wrong. I thought the calendars from previous years were great. I loved them. But I find myself loving this shift to emphasize individual initiative even more. Part of that is from the highlight of “25 Days of Kindness.” There is a beauty in the simplicity of not having everyone be part of some program but rather recognizing and sharing the seemingly small acts of kindness all around each one of us.
I say seemingly small intentionally. What may seem small to us can make all the world of difference to others. Too often we discount our own power to influence for good because in our own eyes we don’t measure up to whatever (often impossible) standard we adopt for ourselves. But you don’t have your light just because it can dispel the darkness for someone. You have your light because it will dispel the darkness for someone. The world needs your light.
I also love how this year the Church combines a simpler emphasis with a notched-up professional production. The video they made to introduce the campaign this year is really top class. That’s not to say videos from previous years weren’t great. There just seems to be a professional grade quality that’s next level up from last year.
And the upgrade in quality isn’t just in the professional look and feel of the video. It’s also in the emphasis on seemingly small yet simple ways of letting your light shine. We don’t see anyone in the video doing anything grandiose. They’re doing what anyone can do. And the difference that light makes to those who receive it is evident. Again, the world needs your light.
We spend far too much time focused on reasons not to give and not to influence for good. We convince ourselves we can’t make a difference. We doubt ourselves and the ability we all really do have to dispel the darkness in the lives of others.
Yet if we reflect on the real reason for the season, we can realize that He never concerned Himself with how His actions would or wouldn’t be received. His approach was simple. He just gave. When it came to kindness, He just was. When we follow that example and simply give, we can lift our light higher and let it shine in a world growing ever more dark.
Yes, the world needs your light. You were given gifts and talents so that you could offer others the light they need. You don’t need a lot to make a lot of difference. You just need to give and let your light shine. In so doing, you’ll help others remember the real reason for the season. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
You’d think that situation would turn me away from gratitude, but I had an experience the other day that turned me around. I realized that anyone can adapt to undesired change. You just need to find your new joy.
Coming to terms
We’re all creatures of habit, and I certainly have habits when it comes to the holidays. As I just mentioned, many of those habits involve food.
My condition won’t last forever. One day my recovery will end. I don’t expect I’ll go back to how I was before my first ER visit, and I’m not sure I’ll want to go back. But I am sure I’ll want to partake of my favorite foods occasionally — and indulge a bit when the annual holidays come around.
That’s all cold comfort for me right now. Or at least it was. Sure, the thought of being around people gorging themselves on delicacies I can’t now enjoy doesn’t exactly fill me with delight. I already cancelled my birthday food plan. Now I’ll need to cancel my food plans for Thanksgiving and probably also Christmas and New Years. You’d think I wouldn’t have gratitude from this — and you’d be right before I had this wonderful experience the other day.
Seeing new perspectives
I was shopping for some new diet items and of course conscious of the items in others’ carts — items I wanted in mine but dared not on penalty of pain. So I tried distracting myself by focusing on accomplishing the task before me. I would get what I needed and go.
That’s when the thought came to me. I’m not that bad off. First, I’ve been moving towards my present diet for some time in increments. I just didn’t want to surrender my favorite foods completely. My current condition won’t tolerate the increments; I have to be there now. That sudden shift gives new perspective on how much moving in small increments was really worth, and that’s something to be grateful for.
Second, removing those foods from my diet left a lot of space, so I’ve been searching out recipes online that meet my restrictions. One by one, I’m finding them. Not only that, I’m finding new worlds of flavor as I avoid usual fillers like sugar and embrace spices and seasonings. I’m not sure I’d have all these wonderful new taste experiences without my health challenges driving me, and that’s something to be grateful for.
Third, many of these recipes are so easy to make and way cheaper than the pre-packaged versions that I’m finding a new perspective on convenience. The short term convenience of time I get a can or a box doesn’t outweigh other conveniences like more flavor in my mouth, more health in my body, and more money in my bank account. All that’s something to be grateful for.
Finding new joys
When I put it all together, I have an experience I wouldn’t otherwise have. And that gives me a new perspective on not just my health but also living my life and finding more joy in it.
Yes, I’ve had some undesired changes in my life, but I still have access to joy. It’s not the same joy I had previously; my circumstances won’t permit that. But new doors open for every old one that closes, and behind those new doors are new experiences, perspectives, and joys that all give reason for gratitude. So even though I won’t be partaking of the usual Thanksgiving Day feast tomorrow, I will be reflecting on how grateful I am for the new joys I’ve found and continue to find in my new life.
So when your situation changes in a way you really don’t want, please take a moment to consider what you do have and find your new joy. You’ll gain new perspectives and new experiences you’ll wish you would have found earlier, and you’ll find yourself grateful you did find them. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
I soon saw why. President Ballard’s references to the pioneers really resonated with me in the midst of my own difficult journey. In a way, I’m something of a pioneer. I’ve had my first visit to the emergency room, my first hospital stay, and my first surgery. The road I’m walking now is unexpectedly new to me. But that new road just heightens my need to take footsteps of faith.
My pioneer mission
Despite the newness of my current road, I’m not entirely in unfamiliar territory. I covered ground much like this on my mission. Being sick all the time with symptoms that came and went so much I couldn’t tell you what the next day would be like, let alone when exactly it would end. That sounds a lot like the road I’m on right now.
President Ballard mentioned his own missionary service in his address, and it caused me to reflect on my own service, particularly how it prepared me for my life. It’s provided me a foundation for each new segment of my life journey.
That’s why I really appreciated President Ballard’s initial words. Right out of the gate, he starts with bold testimony:
I need that hope now as I face my current challenges. It’s one thing to say it’ll all be over because I go home at the end of two years. It’s another when you don’t have such a marker in sight.
Pioneers and prophets
It’s not altogether surprising President Ballard centered his remarks around pioneers. He’s spoken in past Conferences about his pioneer ancestors and the lessons they offered him — and through him to all of us.
Such references often get me thinking about my own pioneer ancestors. I don’t know much about them because the principle one never kept a journal. Perhaps my knowledge of my ancestors’ lives will change one day.
In the meantime, I can lean on others like President Ballard to fill that gap. I was particularly impressed when he shared,
How many of us have really thought about that? It’s easy to get wrapped up in the difficulties of our own lives, so much so we can easily forget that the story of how we confronted our challenges could help those who come after us confront theirs. Knowing my response can help others gives me strength to make a better choice.
President Ballard spoke of other pioneers. In particular, he mentioned President Nelson:
I so very much appreciated that quote from President Nelson, for if I ever needed a miracle, I need one now. What a tender mercy!
Our pioneer Savior
Of course, President Ballard saved the best example for last — our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That’s altogether fitting since Christ is the ultimate anything good. Plus President Ballard’s remarks are entitled “Follow Jesus Christ with Footsteps of Faith.” It’s not just walking in faith. It’s walking the path of Christ in faith.
Moreover, it’s not walking behind Him so much as it is beside Him. That concept I find especially comforting in my current difficulties. Don’t get me wrong. This road has been very rough, and I’m just getting started with it. But even in my most painful moments, the Lord has never abandoned me. He has stood beside me through it all. His walk beside me in my moments of difficulty invites me to walk beside Him in my moments of ease (which will come one day, for eventually this all will pass).
President Ballard’s testimony of the Savior especially moved me.
Whatever road in life, may we each seek to follow Jesus Christ with footsteps of faith. He’ll strengthen us to become shining examples for those who follow us. He’ll encourage us through the voice of His Spirit and His living Prophet. And He will stand ready to lift us to higher ground as our trials bring our glean to a brilliant glorious sheen. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Assessing the moment
Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, which the pancreas can heal on its own. But to do so, it must be allowed to focus on that task. Calling it away for its usual duty of producing digestive enzymes or insulin will distract it and thereby prolong healing.
That restriction has wrecked some havoc on my diet. Initially I was on a liquid diet and then slowly graduated to more solid food. So long as I stay within my restrictions and keep my meals small (this also helps the pancreas to focus on healing), I should be fine. That said, I still feel swings in my abdomen. Some moments feel better than others.
I have even worse swings from my pulmonary embolism. The blood thinners I’m on have some funky side effects, one of which is lightheadedness. It comes and goes, some moments being better than others. Today was particularly bad. The lightheadedness was extreme as I’d never before felt in my life, and it stayed with me the whole morning. I spent much of the day today in the emergency room, where the doctor finally concluded I was experiencing a side effect of my meds.
Confronting the moment
How do I deal with a condition that not only constantly changes but changes so often I don’t really know how I’ll be the next day? The only real option I have is to do the best I can to attend to the demands of the moment. My condition forces it on me.
But that’s not very different from what I’ve been sharing here on Joy in the Journey Radio. We find our best joy in life from living in the moment. Letting go of what things will mean tomorrow opens a door that otherwise remains closed.
For example, LDS singles leave much joy on the table when dating by worrying about what different social interactions will mean for them tomorrow. “I don’t want to sit next to those people because then they’ll think I’m interested, and I’m not.” We think we know so much, yet in truth, we don’t know that much, and we see even less. There’s countless tales of couples who didn’t think they were right for each other but who are very happy today because they let go of what they thought they needed and embraced the opportunity in the moment.
Embracing the moment
Of course, letting go of what things will mean tomorrow isn’t license for leaving the covenant path. I’m in no way suggesting we ignore the consequences of sin. What I’m saying is that within the confines of our covenants we too often focus outside of the present moment, and that focus leaves a lot of joy on the table we could have every day by living in the present moment.
By embracing the moments that come within the confines of our covenants, we position ourselves for maximum joy. Redefining what we consider opportunity to be reveals more pathways to experience that joy. The road can still be rough, as I can attest. Some of the moments that confront me are less than pleasant. But I know by doing my best with each moment, I know I’m making my journey as good as it can be.
Embrace your life one day at a time. When you stop living in some future that never seems to come or the past that you cannot change, you find more possibilities in your life. You’ll gain more perspective that breeds more hope for the future. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Regardless of what’s going on there, I know the Lord will be with me to see me through. I know that because He’s always been with me throughout this entire ordeal. He’s never left my side. In fact, he gave me a wonderful experience. The Lord has bolstered my faith through an unexpected promise.
A promise made
Going into the hospital, I had no insurance. I’ve been looking at options in recent years, but I always made too much money to qualify for Medicaid, and what remained was simply not affordable. Something had to change, because there’s no way I can pay all the bills I’m racking up. But with all the stress of it on me, I thought to put it off until after I get out of the hospital.
Sunday I was reading in the D&C and came upon an interesting verse. The Prophet Joseph had traveled to Salem, Massachusetts, to pursue a claim of funds that could help alleviate the debts of the Church. Then I read this verse: “Concern not yourselves about your debts, for I will give you power to pay them” (D&C 111:5).
I’d read that verse many times before, but this time it struck me with great force. I felt as though a way would be prepared for me, that I didn’t need to worry about it and could focus on getting through this experience in the hospital. I set my concerns about payment aside, but I had no idea what lay in store for me.
A promise fulfilled
The next day, I find text messages which my brother had sent me while I slept. His wife rarely speaks out with any sort of intervention in my life, but she had one that night and urged my brother to share it with me.
She spoke from her previous experience working as an office manager for an assisted living home. And the advice was simple. "Let the hospital help you apply for Medicaid, and let them decide whether or not you qualify." I had looked at that earlier in the month and thought I didn’t qualify. But having nothing to lose by following that counsel, I pursued it.
I started with the number for the case manager who had visited me earlier. Eventually, I connected with someone who submitted an application for me. And the application came back approved. The real miracle of this event is that coverage begins from the first day of the month from the application date. I applied on the last day of the month, so everything from the moment I first walked into the emergency room would be covered.
A faith bolstered
I didn’t expect the Lord’s promise to be fulfilled so quickly. I thought everything would get resolved after I got out of the hospital. But in His love and mercy, He opened a way for His promise to be fulfilled.
That may seem like a trite, little story, but the thought that came to me after I understood my expenses would be covered was neither trite nor little. Through the Spirit, the Lord reminded me of the promise He made me regarding my eternal companion and testified that promise was still real. Just as He fulfilled this unexpected promise regarding my medical expenses, He would open the way for His promise of an eternal companion to be fulfilled.
D&C 111 isn’t one of those sections that one would expect to provide special, faith-promoting experiences. Yet an unexpected promise I received while reading that section has given me a much needed bolster to my faith, and I remain grateful to God for His love and mercy.
So open yourself to unexpected promises. These tender mercies from the Lord can lead to the bolster of faith you may need in your life. As you share that experience with others, you can help them increase their faith. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Another two years later, I need those words. I find myself challenged even more with a hospital stay. It’s a new experience for me, as is needing any surgery, let alone two. All this has been unexpectedly thrust upon me. Yet even in these challenging circumstances, I can still choose my response. And so can you. No matter what life gives, when you choose to act, you can fight your fears with faith.
Pray and act
My most recent trouble began with abdominal pain, coming hard, fast, and sharp one afternoon. It seemed to wane as the night came, so I thought I might sleep it off.
But the pain returned very soon after awakening. Having recently been diagnosed with an ulcer, I thought the pain might be excess stomach acid. I took a couple of antacid tablets and waited, but the pain continued on. And it was so massive, I couldn’t ignore it. But I didn’t know what to do.
So I prayed for help. A voice I felt more than I heard whispered, “Go to the emergency room.” I looked at the time and wondered if I shouldn’t try to tough it out for three or four more hours, because then the clinic, which costs less than the emergency room, would be open. Again the voice whispered, “Go to the emergency room.” So I got dressed, put my shoes on, and went.
There was certainly no sense of emergency in the people working there. Eventually I learned my previous diagnosis of an ulcer was not correct. My real problem is pancreatitis, a severe inflammation of the pancreas caused, in my case, by gallstones. But here’s where it gets tricky. Some of those gallstones have traveled into the bile duct connecting the liver with the pancreas. Those must be removed before the gallbladder. Due to differences in how surgeons enter the body for each of these tasks, two surgeries are necessary.
Make your choice
The universe isn’t without a sense of irony. I was thinking just the other day very little in my life is actually going my way. Everything seems a challenge, and I’m continually fighting from the edge of a cliff hoping not to fall over the edge into despair. Then I get this.
As if that isn’t bad enough, the first surgery’s scheduled for Monday. Yeah, that’s right. I’m going to be under the knife on Halloween. I think I’ve had my fill of irony!
Still, the choice we all have remains for me. Where will I place my focus? And what action will I choose? Sure, I have fears. In addition to ones stemming from current events, some of the same fears that plagued me four years ago continue to haunt me today. That’s because I haven’t taken sufficient action to build the faith needed to conquer those fears.
And so it goes for us all. When we focus on what we lack, we encourage inaction, and faith being a principle of action cannot thrive, leaving fear to reign. But when we focus on what we can do and take action, always taking the next step we can take, we build the faith we need to fight fear.
Don’t slow down
It’s so easy to step back and surrender to fear. So often we all choose habits of maintaining the status quo rather than consciously maintaining our momentum towards our best life. But the easy choice rarely leads to great reward.
Faith is built only through action. To have the faith the face your fears, you must act. Initially, any action will do, just to get some momentum. Once you start building enough momentum through any action, then you can shift your direction so you move towards your best life.
When you choose to act, you can fight your fears with faith. The Lord hasn’t given up on you, so why should you? Take His strength, act in that strength, and no matter what comes your way, you can truly believe great things are in store for you. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That attitude can greatly bless the lives of us LDS singles as we interact with each other. Too often we see opportunities to interact through the lens of dating, which often pulls us away from blessing others’ lives. Seeing through the lens of friendship, we’ll more often provide needed assistance. It’s time for LDS singles to re-hoist friendship in dating and singles groups.
In the video, John admits he couldn’t “fix” Troy, nor did he attempt to. In fact, the casual observer might conclude John didn’t do much at all.
John certainly wanted to help, but given everything so many others were doing, John didn’t see much for him to do. Then he started doing something more of us need to do more often; he listened. John invited Troy to ride with him in his truck and let Troy say whatever he wanted. John simply listened.
There’s probably a lot the video doesn’t show. But the simple act of listening is beyond profound. We all have a basic human need to be heard and to feel understood. By not directing Troy or trying to give him something, John showed complete respect for Troy’s agency. And by simply listening to Troy, John declared he would stand by Troy regardless of the path Troy chose or what pace he pursued. That’s the mark of a true friend.
What blessing could we be to other LDS singles if we simply listened more? Instead of interacting only with those whom we want to date, what if we interacted with everyone with an interest in understanding them or simply letting them be heard? By putting aside the personal agenda, we re-hoist friendship to its rightful valued place.
Many LDS singles see a duality in their local Church community, especially in geographic wards. There’s the singles and the marrieds. It’s an extremely common perspective among singles.
But the story in the video takes a different perspective. The two groups there were the grieving (Troy and his family) and the supporters (everyone else trying to help). That’s significant. John viewed Troy as a brother, not someone fundamentally different. If we LDS singles could see one another more as brothers and sisters, we could re-hoist friendship in a new culture of togetherness.
Now, I know some of you are saying. “Yeah, but John and Troy are both married, so of course John would see Troy as one of his group.” Perhaps, but John could’ve found a substantial enough difference if he looked for it. The point is he didn’t. He saw Troy as just as much a person as he was, and that view allowed him to feel more compassion and more desire to be the true friend he was.
John also involved others in demonstrating support for Troy. The scene where John and the group present the jersey to Troy just jerks my tears. Then there’s what appears to be his ward releasing balloons in celebration of his son’s birthday. As John continued standing by Troy, many other opportunities to show support probably presented themselves. And they all helped Troy along his path.
What if we singles involved one another in supporting each other? What if, instead of everyone doing their own thing, everyone reached out to include everyone? What if we each told each other, “Come talk with me,” “Come sit with me”, and “Come do what I’m doing with me”? Real friends bring everyone in. That may be the best support for singles dealing with their pain and grief, many of whom struggle unbeknownst to those around them.
Let’s re-hoist friendship in all our interactions with each other. By listening to one another, seeing one another as brothers and sisters, and involving others in building community, we not only embrace but also embody true friendship. By bringing ourselves closer to each other, we bring ourselves closer to God. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Approach with intention
When you pray, what do you intend the result to be? Surely we can all think of prayers we offered simply because it was time to pray. We had a habit of praying upon getting out of bed, for instance, and we were simply going through the motions when the time came.
And what resulted? We could cross morning prayers off our to-do list. When you think about it, that was the result intended by just going through the motions. If all you wanted was to go through the motion, then in the end that’s what you got — a completed motion.
That approach with prayer — or anything else in life — will never result in a growing relationship with anyone, let alone the Lord. To have the result of an improved relationship, your approach must invite that result. You must approach with the intention of securing your desired outcome. That doesn’t mean merely wanting your desired outcome as you approach the moment. That means your approach leverages the moment to turn your intention into your desired result.
How would your prayers be different if you approached them with the intention of building a relationship with the Lord? Would you use the same tired phrases over and over? Would you deliver a laundry list of desires? Or would you open your heart, share your hopes and fears, present more of a conversation than a monologue, and spend more time listening for the Lord’s voice after you concluded your prayer?
Schedule your intentions
Scripture study goes the same way. Your time with the scriptures will build a closer relationship with the Lord when you approach it with intention. Don’t just read. Actively look for the Lord in the scriptures. Seek Him out by trying to understand His character, His qualities, His perspective, and His perfection through the written words.
Thus it goes for anything in life. Don’t just collide with the waves in the waters of the moment. Approach the moment before you with intention. Planning the moment in advance can help you do that.
Modern life tends to have so many currents pulling you in so many different directions that, unless you’re intentional about your day, opportunities for improvement will pass you by and you’ll find yourself no closer to your goals and dreams. It’s hard to approach the moment with intention when that moment doesn’t happen. Schedule it so it will.
Make the time
That’s not to say every moment you plan will go as planned. Life is about change and learning how to adapt to change. But if you don’t schedule time for producing the results you want, you’re not likely to take the actions that will give you the results you desire.
Thus, to develop a relationship with the Lord, schedule the time you will spend building that relationship. But if you really want to get serious, schedule not just time for activity but time to become more like Him. What will you need to do to become more holy? Pray with real intent? Schedule that time. Search Him out in the scriptures? Make that time. Devote yourself more in His holy house, a.k.a. the temple? Schedule that time. Spend more time serving others? Schedule that time.
Take time to be holy. As you schedule your moments and then approach those moments with intention, you’ll bit by bit strengthen your relationship with the Lord. You’ll feel more of His love, which will strengthen you as you confront your challenges in life. You can then approach with intention every other area of your life — your career, your social life, your dating, whatever — and start having more of the results you intend. That’s not just going through the motions of life. That’s living your life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet radio show and podcast 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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