These false assumptions actually create the struggle with knowing who to marry. That’s why singles looking for the presence of yes should instead look for the absence of no.
Take your responsibility
We’re here in mortality to exercise agency. Our choices in this life determine our situation in the next stage of our eternal journey. We therefore bear the responsibility for our choices.
That’s precisely why singles who look for some significant spiritual confirmation often struggle with knowing who to marry. Insisting God provide some unmistakable sign you should marry So-and-so means God carries responsibility for that decision. That’s not how it works, so insisting it should work that way only ends in frustration.
We’re here in mortality to make choices. And we have responsibility for those choices. Pushing that responsibility back to God defies His plan for His children. Insisting on some definite spiritual sign says we don’t accept So-and-so until God tells us marrying So-and-so will work out well. It pushes back to God the responsibility for our choices that rightly belongs to us.
Make your choice
We naturally want the security that would come from God revealing to us So-and-so is someone we should marry. But that’s not how it works. A river journey tends to go smoother when you don’t fight the current by paddling upstream. You can paddle downstream by aligning your assumptions with eternally true principles. Instead of fighting God’s design for mortality by pushing the responsibility for your choices onto Him, go with the way it’s supposed to work by accepting that responsibility.
Revelation from God comes after you make your own decision and then bring that decision you made to God to seek His counsel on your decision. God will then respond with yes, no, or maybe. If He answers yes, you’ll feel the strong, unmistakable impression He approves of your decision. If He answers no, you’ll feel a similarly unmistakable impression He doesn’t approve. And if you don’t get any strong impression one way or the other, He answers maybe, which means He trusts you to make your own decision.
So unless the Lord answers no, you should go forward with your decision. If He answers yes, going forward is obvious. But you should also go forward if He answers maybe. If your choice would take you too far away from where He wants you, God answers no. So when He doesn’t answer no, you can walk forward in faith following through on your decision. Only if He answers no do you need to change course. So all you really need is the absence of no.
Walk in faith
Singles stand in their own way when they insist on the presence of yes when approaching marriage decisions. But that faulty assumption also retards progress at any stage of the dating journey. So unless you get that overwhelming sense of no from the Spirit, you should include more people in your circle of friends, and you should casually date more of those friends more often.
Especially in the early stages of the dating journey, you don’t need to receive revelation for every choice you make. Some might extend that to deciding who to marry. Regardless of how you feel about that idea, looking for the absence of no will have you making more progress more quickly in your dating journey.
So if you’ve been waiting for the presence of yes before you move forward, it’s time to change your assumptions. Stop looking for the presence of yes, and start looking for the absence of no. Walk in faith the Lord will tell you when you’re traveling too far from the path He wants for you. That walk will breathe confidence in your gait as you gain more experience. With that experience, you’ll learn, grow, and make more and more better choices. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That said, my experience still excites me because it gives me great hope the culture of the larger Latter-day Saint community will soon eliminate what has traditionally provided the greatest challenge in LDS singles life. Just as we know rain will fall when we see storm clouds gather, we can see the cultural signs around us indicating a change is gonna come.
How it’s been
I’ve long spoken on this platform about the challenges LDS singles have traditionally faced. For those who may be new to the audience, the bulk of those challenges stem from our family-centered culture.
Traditionally, LDS culture has centered on family. That means the marker of belonging to that culture is being married with kids, because that’s what having a family has traditionally meant. Because everyone has a deeply seated need to belong to a larger group, LDS singles have struggled to belong when the marker of belonging is something they by definition don’t have.
That’s why for years I’ve called for a change in the culture to one centered on Christ. The marker of belonging in that culture would be discipleship. Such a culture would both support the family while being inclusive of those who are different. No matter your background or your situation, you can work to make and keep sacred covenants that everyone else in the LDS community makes. You can be a disciple. You can belong.
A new hope
I kept affirming my message of cultural change despite the appearance of little if any move in that direction. But that all changed in 2018. That’s when I saw my first glimmer of hope.
That’s because that’s when the Brethren unveiled the ministering initiative. My heart jumped for joy while I physically jumped on my couch at hearing the announcement. I saw then a shift in perspective to see inquiring after the needs of others not as a duty, which is what home and visiting teaching had largely become, but as an opportunity to build the kingdom and grow in discipleship.
That’s exactly in line with the vision I’ve always proposed for the most successful singles groups. They focus on bringing everyone together and making everyone feel they belong. They know it doesn’t matter what people’s background or circumstances are, and they proclaim that knowledge in the way they act and treat others.
Seeing this shift announced in General Conference brought me a new hope that the change I had been talking about for years could be on the edge of unfolding into reality.
The future’s bright
That’s why I was so excited when I saw what appeared at the time to be a change in the home page of the Church website. The layout and content were all focused on Christ as the center. And they combined together to create a unequivocal message of belonging no matter your background or circumstances.
I’ve always believed our Church leaders on the global level have been aware of the singles. Many of the failings LDS singles have cited have root in local leaders who either haven’t understood how to minister effectively to singles or have been so busy with other priorities that ministering to singles simply didn’t happen.
But all of that will be history. Change is gonna come! We can look forward to the future with hope and optimism in a brighter and better day. Our Lord truly knows us and our circumstances. He’ll inspire His disciples to move in a more positive direction while at the same time exercising the compassion of patience in respecting their agency to implement those changes.
Let us also exercise the compassion of patience in respecting the agency of our leaders, both global and local, while also helping them to improve in their ministering efforts towards us and other LDS singles. As we do, we’ll make the ground more fertile for the changes that will come. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
That’s why it didn’t take me long to identify “Eyes to See” by Michelle D. Craig as the Conference address to use for the program today. In her remarks, Sister Craig spoke of the need we all have both to see others deeply and to be seen deeply by others. And that’s possible for you when you acquire eyes to see.
Stop doing what you shouldn’t
I’ve long spoken about self-talk. We all give messages to ourselves every day out of habit. For most of us, at least 80% of those messages are negative. A constant barrage of negative messaging can hold anyone back from fully living the joy to be had in life.
The cure for that, of course, is embracing habits of positive self-talk. But you’ll find that next to impossible without first deeply seeing yourself the way God sees you. If you see yourself in any lesser light, it’ll be harder to accept your divine nature and heritage as a child of God. And you’ll feel awkward acting on what you don’t really believe.
That’s why I love how Sister Craig began her remarks with the story of Elisha’s servant seeing a threatening army surround him and his master. But the servant set aside his fears when the Lord opened his eyes to see the truth of his master’s words: “They that be with us are more than they that be with them.” Sister Craig then declared,
If what you’re doing keeps you from living the joy surrounding you every single day, then the obvious first step to experiencing that joy is to remove the obstacle. Get out of your own way. Stop doing what you shouldn’t, and stop thinking in ways that lead you to do what you shouldn’t.
Start doing what you should
Of course, you can’t just stop the bad you think and do. We’re all biologically hardwired to operate out of habit. Our self-talk and most other thoughts and actions we play out of habit. Our habits feed us the instructions we follow to navigate everyday life.
But habits don’t change just because you stop executing bad instructions. Again, you’re biologically hardwired to have a habit, so when you encounter the trigger connected with that habit you stopped, your brain looks for a habit. Not finding one, it kicks in the default response, which is always to go back to the last habit you had.
That’s why you don’t just quit bad habits. You must replace them with better ones. So once you stop doing what you shouldn’t, start doing what you should. And you can begin by partnering with the Lord and allowing Him to show the way.
Sister Craig shared some beautiful stories of how people were blessed and uplifted when others stopped their normal routines, looked around them, and acted on promptings to go and do. She declared,
See the beauty all around you
When you replace less effective habits of thinking and doing with more effective ones, you position yourself to see and to receive the deep joy that really does surround you every single day. That joy comes when you give your all to your true identity and purpose. But you can’t do that if you don’t first see your true identity and purpose.
So start today to develop eyes to see. Stop thinking and doing what prevents you from seeing yourself and others as the children of God we all are. Start thinking and doing what opens your view to the marvelous truths of the restored gospel and the reality of the Savior’s marvelous Atonement.
With a clearer vision of your true reality, you can press forward with joy amidst any challenge. You can feel better about yourself because you’ll see yourself in the splendid potential for glory bequeathed to every child of God. You can feel better about life because you’ll see the beauty that really is all around you. You’ll see more clearly the Lord’s hand working in your life and the lives of others. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That story greatly resembles dating for many LDS singles. Try as they might nothing they do seems to work. And days like Singles Awareness Day (otherwise known as Valentine’s Day) only highlight the struggles many LDS singles experience daily. In such circumstances, it’s easy to surrender to despair and embrace the pity party. But if you pity anything, you should never pity yourself. Pity the pity party instead.
Recognize your choice
I can talk because I’ve been there. After being single for more than 25 years, I’ve walked the lonely road. I know the heartache when everything you do seems to end in pain. If anyone should have justification to throw a pity party, it should be me.
And yet I’m not throwing one. To the contrary, I’m very optimistic about the future and my future in particular. How can I be so positive amidst so much reason for despair? After all, I’m still single. Nothing has ever worked out for me. True, I’ve had wonderful moments with girlfriends over the years, but it’s all come to nothing but pain every single time. At my age, how can I expect my life will ever be different?
Quite simply, I believe my future is more the product of my choices than my past. I believe fundamental truths which the restored gospel of Jesus Christ teaches me. And my beliefs run more than just skin deep. They permeate the very fabric of my character to define who I am and what I intend to become.
Choose your focus
For example, I believe the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi when he said everything has its opposite (2 Nephi 2:11). Everything includes the obstacles in our dating lives. What’s the opposite of an obstacle if not an opportunity? Thus, with every obstacle comes an opportunity.
Then consider your focus determines your reality. Focusing on your obstacles creates an obstructed reality. You’ll feel unfairly held back and oppressed by circumstances outside your control. But focusing on the opportunity that must exist with every obstacle turns your reality around. You’ll feel liberated and empowered to pursue whatever passion fascinates your imagination.
Either way you’re not one jot more or less single than you were before. But how you feel inside about yourself, your life, and your future is as different as the bright day is from the dark night. I’ve experienced that difference in my own life. And I’ve seen countless others experience it in their lives as well.
Embrace your reality
Those who surrender to the pity party simply fail to see the opportunities and reasons for optimism and hope truly surrounding them. We should therefore pity them for their lack of understanding and perspective and not their circumstances. We all came to mortality to have hard experiences. Indeed, we wanted the challenge because we knew that was the only way we could grow in eternity.
If Singles Awareness Day has you feeling as burned and failing as my experimental churro crisps were, you don’t have to be that way forever, or even for one more single day. Every day, you choose your focus by what you choose to feed yourself. And your chosen focus then brings you your reality.
Don’t throw the pity party. Instead, pity the pity party. Take the truths of the restored gospel deep into your soul. Let the miracle the Savior can and wants to perform inside of you happen. You can embrace pure joy and happiness without being one iota less single.
Of course hard times will come, as they always will. That’s part of the plan. But when you seek out the opportunities instead of the obstacles, the Lord will open your eyes to what truly surrounds you every day. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
This woman says she disavows soul mates. But she also confesses both liking some of her current boyfriend’s traits and wishing he had other traits her former boyfriends have. She says she’s not being picky, but when you refuse to accept good enough I beg to differ. But how do you know when you have good enough?
In my view, this woman stands in her own way. She’s so focused on what her potential partner has today she doesn’t seem to consider what he’ll have tomorrow. How can you avoid confusion when you try to decide for tomorrow using only the indications of today? Here we see the problem with position.
If you marry someone today, you don’t get the person you marry today. The person you marry today is the one you get 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the road. It’s not about position; it’s about direction.
I’ve seen this in all my friends who got married. Invariably it’s the same story. Each partner is positioned at different points along the spectrum, which can be for anything from money to children to work ethic to whatever. As the two partners live with each other, each exerts a force on the other pulling the other closer. Eventually, they both end up somewhere in the middle between their original positions.
The most satisfying marriages have each partner pulling the other in a desirable shared direction. When you and your partner want to go in different directions, tension will always be in the relationship. But when you align yourselves to go in the same direction, the energy that went into tension now goes into propelling each of you towards perfection together. Becoming better partners makes you better people.
That’s where I see this woman having her biggest problem. Her considerations don’t seem focused on direction. Her comparison of different boyfriends seems focused on position, like asking, “What can my partner offer me today?”
A focus on position is incredibly shortsighted. Your position today says nothing about your position tomorrow. You could have the best position today, but with a bad direction, tomorrow you’ll be worse off. Conversely, even if you’re in a very bad position today, with a good direction you’ll be in a good position tomorrow. Position means nothing. Direction means everything.
Yet most LDS singles assess dating partners almost universally on position. It’s like using the wrong tool for the job. Sure, you can fell a tree with a pocket knife, but it’d be much easier with a chain saw. Likewise, in making a decision that will affect your life tomorrow, you should consideration where your life will be tomorrow. Direction gives a far more accurate indication of that than does position.
Now I’m not advocating you ignore position. You can’t progress in your dating journey without an agreeable enough partner — that’s a fundamental principle of dating. Often that means your partner should bring something to the table today. Having nothing to offer just doesn’t make anyone agreeable to anybody.
That said, direction always has more importance than position. Yet in our instant gratification microwave world, we’re often not patient enough to assess a quality like direction that takes time to assess. The problem with position is one of patience.
Patience is then the ready solution. Get to know people. Stay in that dreaded “friend zone” with someone, because it’s more important you like rather than love your partner. Spend some more time getting to know more people in the casual dating stage. That experience will help you better assess the direction of each potential partner.
And so it goes for the rest of your dating journey. Prize direction over position by taking the time to assess direction. With that priority, you set yourself up for success because the person you get 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the road after you marry will be more aligned with your own direction in life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That’s because if you always get back up and keep pressing forward, sooner or later you’ll achieve your goals and live your dreams. You don’t get that staying down. So if you’ve been knocked down, get back up and let the journey begin again.
Always get back up
It is about the journey, after all. The destination is essential in that it determines the direction; it sets the course for your sails. But no destination ever changed anyone. It’s the journey that does that.
And it does that job well, but only if you embrace it, only if you choose to be changed by it. If you stay down when life knocks you down, you essentially choose to stay separated from the destination embodied in your goals and dreams. You essentially choose to stay unchanged.
But when you get back up after life knocks you down, when you refuse to stay defeated, you choose to be changed by your challenges into something that overcomes those challenges. Is it easy? Of course not. If it were, everyone would be doing it. Most don’t do it because they aren’t willing to pay the price for what they want. They prefer the easy choice of staying down. They prefer the fade out of failure to the surge of success.
Perhaps they console themselves in being normal. Everyone does fail, after all. So failure doesn’t make you defective or deficient. It just says you’re normal.
Even those who succeed start out as failures, and many of them failed over and over ad nauseam. Take Stephen King, for instance, one of the most prolific and popular American authors from the last century. Publishers rejected his first book Carrie 30 times. And when that 30th rejection came, King was so disheartened he promptly placed his draft in the circular file.
Life had knocked King down, and left to his own devices, he would’ve chosen to stay down. But he wasn’t alone. His wife removed the draft from the circular file, handed it back to him, and asked, “Why don’t you try just one more time?” That one more time was all King needed. He published his first novel, and the rest is history.
Every success story I’ve ever encountered goes the same way. Everyone fails initially, and often abysmally. But those who succeed choose not to stay down when life knocks them down. They pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and start all over again. They rise and declare, “Let the journey begin.” And off they go to begin again.
Just start over
All of us can do that, and yes, that includes you. And here’s the best part. You don’t need to wait for the first day of the week, month, or year to begin choosing better. Every day offers the opportunity to begin again. So if you’re normal and find yourself knocked to the ground before January is through, just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start over again.
Did you fall off that exercise train you committed to ride at the start of the year? Hop back on. If you messed up that diet, forgive yourself and get back on it. Trying to gain a new skill and missed a day or two or more? Pick up where you left off. Struggling with adopting some new positive habit? Keep struggling, keep fighting, and every time you fail keep starting over.
Whatever goal you set for yourself this year, don’t let failure settle you back into staying your old you. Let the journey begin again. Embracing the confrontation with challenge lets you grow into something that transcends your challenge. You’ll probably fail countless times, and that’s OK. Just keep punching. Keep getting back up every time you get knocked down, and eventually you will succeed. You’ll achieve your goals, you’ll live your dreams, and however many failures you had won’t matter at all. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Many of us see challenges as we look ahead both for society and ourselves individually. Elder Bednar’s remarks remind us of the essential nature of testing in our mortal experience. Just as tests in school help us compare what we know with what we should know and thereby provide opportunity to grow in knowledge, tests in mortality help us compare what we are now with what we can become and thereby provide opportunity to grow in light and truth. And the best way to pass those tests is to prepare and press forward.
Elder Bednar related how the pandemic revealed the state of his own family’s preparedness for difficult times. In some ways he was prepared, and in others he was wanting.
For those instances in which he and we are found wanting, Elder Bednar pointed to the Savior’s example of incremental increase “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). I love Elder Bednar’s description of this approach: “a blended balance of intellectual, physical, spiritual, and social readiness.”
As I examine my own readiness in each of those four areas — the intellectual, physical, spiritual, and social — I find I’m not that different from Elder Bednar. In some ways I’m prepared, and in others I’m wanting.
We all are, in fact. That’s why we need to use the time we have now to prepare for what may come. I recall President Hinckley speaking in the April 2001 General Conference Priesthood session about setting our houses in order. Five months later, the aerospace industry took a nosedive from 9/11, and many Saints in that industry lost their jobs. Those who failed to heed a prophet’s warning to prepare suffered when the testing moment came.
I love what Elder Bednar had to say about such preparations.
The difficulties of the pandemic have revealed the state of our own individual preparedness. Now is the time to act on that knowledge and prepare for what may come in those areas where we’re wanting. Elder Bednar issued just such an invitation:
When it comes to action, it’s good to have a plan and better to act. Plans provide the framework for moving forward, but they don’t actually move you forward. Only action produces results. Only action moves you forward.
Elder Bednar told the story of a father who lost his missionary son to a tragic accident. The father shared his family’s feelings at the funeral service — feelings of heartbreak but also feelings of determination to remain faithful. When the moment of trial came, this family showed they were prepared to learn eternal lessons through their suffering. That preparation allowed them to press forward.
We likewise can press forward when our intellectual, physical, spiritual, and social trials come to us if we do the work now to prepare ourselves for those moments. And that means making choices. Elder Bednar shared the following words from Elder Jeffrey R Holland.
He then went on to say
Live the promise
Moments that test us will always come in mortality. As Elder Bednar explained, “the process of proving ourselves is a fundamental part of Heavenly Father’s great plan of happiness.” He then promised those who prepare and press forward will be able to pass “the ultimate examination of mortality.”
You can live that promise when you prepare for what will come and then press forward, walking in faith the Lord will support you as you act upon your plans. Preparation doesn’t always prevent or remove hard times. But preparation can make burdens easier to bear. Preparation can provide the eternal perspective needed to learn lessons of eternal import when those trials do come.
So prepare and press forward. You don’t know when all your trials will come, but you do know they’ll come. Assess yourself now, plan to supply what’s wanting, and then take action on those plans. The Lord will do His part as you do yours. You’ll then realize in your life the promised pronouncement: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
When life seems to go bat nut crazy, you can easily get caught up in the craziness, because it’s easy to accept the reality we’re presented. With that acceptance comes stress. You wonder how the future could ever possibly be bright.
But the truth remains: Your focus determines your reality. When you focus on crazy, you get crazy. But when you include more of what’s around you in your focus, the craziness occupies a lower proportion of the whole, thereby diminishing your stress from the craziness. And the best way to get that expanded focus is to step outside yourself.
Feel the wonder of nature
I’m reminded of an old Native American question: “Who can own the land?” In their world view, people don’t own land. Rather, the Creator provides the land for all.
That perspective draws me out of myself to see the world as a place God created so His purposes for me and all my spirit brothers and sisters could be fulfilled. That view helps me to experience more fully the wonder of the world around me. And having lived across the United States, I’ve seen many marvelous wonders of natural landscape.
I can’t help but be biased towards mountains. Mountains breathe strength and determination into me. They seem like a natural representation for closeness to God. That said, I’ve felt a certain calm watching the tide roll in the shore of a lake or the edge of the ocean. I’ve marveled at the way sunlight bends around the curves of rolling prairies. Even the desert has a beauty all its own.
Only when I step outside myself do I experience the full wonder the natural world offers. Only when I step outside myself do I feel full gratitude to God for creating such a beautiful world for me to live in.
See more as God sees
That perspective of God’s creation invites me to see more as He sees. When I see the world as His creation to fulfill His eternal purposes for me, I naturally recall God did likewise for all His children. God has a plan, and He is in control.
And that plan hasn’t changed. It’s the same plan He’s had all along, the one presented in the council in heaven, the one Satan rejected, the one our Savior supported, the one calling for all of us to experience mortality in this world and with it the opportunity to grow in the eternities into something more than we could ever become otherwise.
Likewise, God retains the same control today He’s always had. He was in control when the same plan He’s always had was presented in heaven. He was in control when He created this world and the rest of the universe. He’s been in control throughout human history. And He retains that same control today.
Live by faith with intention
None of this is to say the challenges the craziness around us presents aren’t real. I’m not advocating we fix rose-colored glasses on our faces. God’s continual control doesn’t mean life won’t ever get difficult. But His control does mean He’ll guide us through troubled times and strengthen us to persevere through difficult days. And we best hear His voice and receive His strength on the covenant path.
So the question then is this: What path will you choose? Will it be the covenant path? Or will you take a different path? The path to happiness is found in living by faith with intention to give your all to all the right things for you. Those right things include making and keeping sacred covenants with God. They also include embracing a personal ministry to share your light with the world around you.
When you step outside yourself, you can more clearly see beyond the challenges current circumstances present. You can feel the wonders in the world around you. You can see your current place in your life more as God sees it. You can live by faith He’ll guide you away from dangers. You can feel His strength as you pursue a life of contribution with intention. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That said, the smart tough get going long before the going gets tough. They don’t just wait for the waves of life to crash against them and hope for the best. They anticipate their challenges and prepare for them. They embrace a vision that drives them to do more and to be more. They don’t just perform; they super-perform. They understand that life is so short and so marvelous the only real decision is to go big or go home.
To start, let’s step back from the whole making-goals-for-the-new-year routine and adjust our approach. Quite frankly, too many of us have simply played out ineffective habits that don’t produce the results we really want in life. You need to step outside yourself and see everything anew.
And the first thing you need to see anew is yourself. Too many people refuse to go big because that vision doesn’t match how they see themselves. Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar often said, “You cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself.”
So are your dreams of your best life small or big? And how do they compare with how you see yourself? Do you see yourself as capable of accomplishing great things? Or do you see yourself as a nobody, a failure, or someone who’ll just never have success? If you find it hard to dream big, examine your self-image. If you see yourself as unworthy or incapable, you’ll struggle to believe — and I mean really believe — you can achieve anything great in your life. So before you start setting goals, you need to get good with you.
Once you’re good with you so the way you see yourself matches big dreams, only then can you truly dream big. That’s because a poor self-image fetters your dreams within self-imposed restrictions. When you free yourself from those self-imposed restrictions, you feel liberated to achieve the full measure of your potential. And it’s an empowering feeling.
However, most never get to that point. They keep listening to their biological hardwiring say, “Yeah, but ....” Truly, that voice is designed to keep you safe. But the longer you listen to that voice, the more your self-imposed restrictions that begin with “Yeah, but” will keep you living far beneath your potential. “Safe” isn’t really safe. Risky is the real safe.
Let go of your fears, your disappointments, your inadequacies, your failures, your excuses, and everything else keeping you from the life you want. No one achieves anything big by accident. Big results call for intentional choices, and big dreams can drive the choices that produce big results.
Notice I haven’t said anything yet about setting goals. That’s because it’s pointless to go after a target before you’re properly prepared. If you want to climb Mount Everest, for example, don’t wear shorts and sandals. Be smart and bundle up.
The same is true about goals. Before you announce any New Year resolutions — or really any goal at any time — make sure you have the right foundation of being good with you and unchaining yourself from the self-imposed limitations of small dreams. Only when you think big and dream big can you then live big.
Living big doesn’t mean what it appears on the surface. It doesn’t mean living outside your means or suddenly achieving greatness in a single bound. Living big means taking small steps every day and celebrating the daily wins you encounter along the way. Real success is the daily accumulation of those seemingly insignificant small wins.
So go big or go home. Life is too short and too marvelous to waste on small potatoes. Supersize your life by getting good with you, releasing the restrictions on your dreams, and then setting goals to achieve and celebrate the daily wins in your life. When you do, you’ll grow yourself into living big. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
I believe there is. Our enemies aren’t just people determined to act against our beliefs. “For,” wrote the Apostle Paul, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). We wrestle against the natural man and woman, our imperfections, and ourselves.
And yet the Lord’s command remains the same: Love your enemies. Though it may seem completely backwards, this path brings the greatest joys LDS singles can experience in their single years. And they can be yours when you love all your enemies.
Love your natural self
You’re thinking that’s totally crazy. How can we possibly love the natural man and woman when King Benjamin famously declared, “For the natural man [and woman] is an enemy to God” (Mosiah 3:19)? And how could that possibly bring more joy to LDS singles?
The natural man and woman are indeed enemies to God, so I’m in no way proposing you love that aspect. I’m proposing you love your natural self, the person you really are inside.
You’re not just the product of evolutionary biology, although we all coexist with that aspect. You’re a beloved child of God with quirks — features of your personality and disposition that you’ve always had. They’re part of what makes you . . . well, you. But we often want to hide our quirks to fit in. We view them as an enemy.
The greatest joy in life comes from embracing all the right things for you. Of course, keeping the commandments and your covenants will always be among those right things. But there’s more that’s right for each of us. And your quirks — the unique expressions of who you naturally always have been, even before mortality — definitely qualify. So love your quirks and that part of your natural eternal self.
Love your imperfections
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to embrace your imperfections. That’s not what you’d normally hear from a booming self-improvement industry fueled by the assumption that tolerating imperfections equals acceptance of a miserable life, or at best a mediocre one.
Yet I’d never be a better man without my imperfections. It’s the struggle to overcome challenge that facilitates growth. My imperfections provide me with that challenge. My imperfections help me become my best self, and thus, they help me live my best life.
Your imperfections can likewise help you. I’m not suggesting you stop trying to eliminate your imperfections. By all means put them on the next bus, train, boat, or plane out of town. What I’m suggesting is your imperfections provide opportunity for the struggle that makes you your best you. And being your best self lets you live your best life.
But having your best life means loving yourself. Too often we don’t live the life we most want because we’re in our own way. The best way to get out of your own way and stay out of it is to love yourself.
Many singles yearn for the companion who’d make them not so single anymore. But they don’t love themselves — and by love I mean care for themselves the way God cares for them. We all broadcast our inner selves to others, who intuitively pick up those broadcasts. Others will sense if you don’t love yourself and want little if anything to do with you if you don’t, because they want to be loved, not used and certainly not despised.
In encouraging you to love yourself, I’m not suggesting you prioritize selfish desires. I’m suggesting you get good with you, that you sincerely love the deepest part of who you are, because that will then broadcast to others. And that can lead to joy you can’t have while you’re single.
So, yes, love all your enemies. Love your quirks that communicate your natural eternal self. Love your imperfections that provide opportunity for growth. And love yourself in the deepest part of who you really are. When you do, you’ll enjoy your single years more because you’ll embrace all the good they have to offer you. 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 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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