I remember as a missionary reciting D&C 4 every day. I recited it so often I could do it in my sleep. Now, after being home more than two decades, I’d need a little prompting to get through it, especially verse 6.
Notwithstanding, I’ve always been impressed with the idea embodied in verse 3: “Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work” (D&C 4:3). Think of that. Desire is the only requirement to serve. We don’t need any special talent or skill, or look a certain way, or come from a particular part of town. We just need the desire to serve.
Over the past year, the Church has emphasized ministering to one another. We’ve each been called to serve in a higher and holier way, but we’ve always been called to refine our devotion to God through service to our neighbors. And all we need is the desire to serve.
Lately the program has touched on the need for LDS singles to adopt a personal ministry. All that requires is the desire to serve. And we all have some cause we can serve, because we’ve all been called to care.
Choose to serve
Why do singles adopt the personal ministry they do? I mean, no one’s forcing them to adopt anything. I’ve just been encouraging it since 2016 because I want to help LDS singles everywhere live happier, more joyful lives.
And that’s just it. Joy in the Journey Radio is my personal ministry. I embraced it as such because I wanted to. And so has every LDS single who’s adopted a personal ministry. They adopt their personal ministry because they want to.
That desire to serve propels any meaningful effort. And that’s an essential ingredient for happiness. Happiness is giving your all to the right things for you. When you give your all to the personal ministry that’s right for you, you can’t help but be filled with happiness.
Choose to be happy
That means happiness is a choice. We choose to be happy irrespective of our circumstances. If that sounds impossible or just plain wrong to you, please open your mind while you walk with me a bit.
Happiness comes from giving your all to the right things for you. A personal ministry is one of those right things. All you need to embrace a personal ministry is the desire to serve in that way. That’s a choice. And because you choose to want what in the end brings happiness, happiness must itself be a choice.
Now, just going through the motions won’t bring happiness. Life on autopilot can never bring happiness. Only when we give our all to what’s right for us will we find the happiness we crave.
It’s that choice to give your all to the right end you choose that unlocks the happiness encapsulated in every moment of living. And you can choose that regardless of your circumstances.
Embrace the simple solution
We sometimes speak of choices as belabored events lasting stretches of time, but the actual choice takes less than a second to occur. Why then wait to be happy?
The choice to adopt a personal ministry takes less than a second. The choice to give your all to the right thing in front of you right now takes less than a second. The choice to be happy takes a less than a second. Why then don’t more of us just turn it all on?
Pride masquerading as disbelief often obstructs our way. We don’t believe it could be that simple. We want to believe it’s more complicated because that would explain why we didn’t see it before. We don’t want to appear to be idiots.
But we aren’t the first to travel that road. The Old Testament tells of a servant who wisely advised his unbelieving master, the captain of the Syrian army, to put away his pride and follow the simple instructions of the prophet: “If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” (2 Kings 5:13) That captain washed and was cleansed. Likewise, we should not discount the solution before us because of its simplicity.
In fact, the beauty is in the simplicity. When you truly believe it can be that simple, when you feel God’s love inviting you to make that choice, and when you do what that requires — choose to give your all to all the right things for you — then you’ll find all the happiness that God has wanted you to have all along. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Elder Uchtdorf’s remarks are no exception. He begins by describing King Solomon’s trappings of worldly success — money, power, fame, prestige. But at the end of his life, King Solomon described his success as vanity. All his advantages weren’t enough to secure his happiness.
Many LDS singles experience something similar. Though they’ve many blessings surrounding them every day, because they focus excessively on the one blessing they lack, they too see life as vanity. They too wonder what really has worth when the blessings they want most continually seem out of reach.
Of course, it need not be that way. Life is wonderful and beautiful. And Elder Uchtdorf describes how we can capture that vision everyday when we believe, love, and do.
Everything starts with belief. That’s why faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel. If we don’t believe, we’ll never receive.
That’s because true belief always motivates to action. You wouldn’t flip a light switch in a room if you didn’t believe the lights would come on. Everything you do is based on a belief that some result connected with your action will occur or could occur.
Elder Uchtdorf agrees. He declared,
I remember a time in my life when I wanted all the trite sayings about having a happy life to be more than just words but something I felt and lived every day. I wanted more than just the same old superficiality, pretending the life I wanted was just around the corner. In short, I wanted real.
I think that point comes into the life of all LDS singles who are single when they thought they wouldn’t be. Whether through divorce or death or just not marrying, LDS singles hunger for real in their lives.
But do you believe — I mean, really believe — you can get it? Do you believe the miracle you want to happen can happen? That it will happen? Belief is always the first step. If you don’t believe, you’ll never receive.
The belief God will perform a miracle for you becomes easier when you feel His love for you. This is why the Prophet Joseph Smith taught one cannot have faith in Christ without a true understanding of God’s character. It’s through God’s love we best realize all of God’s attributes.
That’s because, when we feel God’s love for us, that love simultaneously communicates every other attribute describing God. When you feel God’s love for you, you know more than just that He loves you. You know He’s good because His love is good. You know He’s kind because His love is kind. You know He’s compassionate because His love is compassionate. You know He’s merciful because His love is merciful. You know He’s just because His love is just.
Elder Uchtdorf declared,
John the Beloved spoke truly when he wrote, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:8). When you truly believe, you can reach out to Him and taste of His love.
Of course, love like faith prompts us to action. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the man or woman “filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his [or her] family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” When we fully give ourselves to that effort, we can transcend any of life’s difficulties, including the challenges of LDS singles life.
That’s why I’ve long encouraged LDS singles to adopt a personal ministry. When we partner with the Lord, a personal ministry can increase our belief in God and the miraculous blessings He wants to give us as well as provide opportunity for us to love those we serve the way God loves them. And when we allow the love of God to motivate us in fulfilling our personal ministry, we can feel for them the way God feels for them and see them the way He sees them.
Elder Uchtdorf invites,
I add my testimony to that of Elder Uchtdorft that when we truly believe with all our hearts, love God and others with all our hearts, and do the right things for us with all our hearts, we will not just feel happy but be happy. And that will bring more joy in our journey.
Given that Singles Awareness Day — oh, excuse me — Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, it seems appropriate today to talk about something from the program last week that got me thinking. Many of us know how we want life to be. But it’s been said life is what happens while you were making other plans. Life has a way of turning out differently than we planned.
Many singles plan to find the perfect companion — someone they’re meant to be with, someone easy for them to fall passionately in love with and who falls passionately in love with them — and to get married and have a family and live the rest of their lives in a blissful happily ever after.
Then life happens. They notice life doesn’t match their idyllic dream. And that mismatch presents questions of compromise: Should they wait for the one who’s right for them forever, or should they just take the one who’s here right now because the one who’s right for them forever doesn’t seem to be coming and that person who’s right here seems good enough for right now?
Are our dreams portents of a possible future or a cruel joke of mortality? Why do we dream if the dreams never become real? Do they never materialize because they weren’t meant to be or because we aren’t good enough?
You’re not good enough
There’s two ways to answer that question. Here’s the first: Of course, we aren’t good enough. That’s why Christ plays such an essential role in our Heavenly Father’s plan.
If we were good enough, we could secure eternal blessings on our own. We wouldn’t need a Savior. We could simply persevere with hard work to secure our blessings.
But that’s not how it works. Yes, we need to work hard to achieve our goals and dreams. But we’re not likely to achieve them on our own because too often we get in our own way.
And that’s the beautiful part of the Atonement. Elder Bednar put it beautifully when he declared
Christ saves us not just from sin but from ourselves — our mistakes, our imperfections, our propensities to fail, and the natural man or woman residing inside each of us.
You are good enough
There’s another side to that coin, though. It says we are good enough to secure eternal blessings. Last week, I introduced the analogy of the electoral college. In the US, we elect the chief executive with a winner-take-all voting system that appropriates different numbers of votes to each state based on population. All a candidate needs to win is 270 electoral votes. And you can get that without the state with the most electoral votes. The current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is a case in point.
In like manner, many singles think they need to be perfect to secure their dream companion. Yet we’re all so mired in imperfection that many singles wonder how they could ever be agreeable to an acceptable marriage partner. That happens in the same way the President doesn’t need to win California to become the President. Those who are serious about what marriage really entails generally evaluate other people as a whole package. That means strengths in some areas can compensate for weaknesses in others.
Of course, that doesn’t justify ignoring our weaknesses. We should always do our best to improve in every area of ourselves and then trust the Lord to make up the difference. And Christ can make up the difference because He is the difference — the difference between eternal glory and eternal misery.
Partner with the Lord
In the end, we can best secure the blessings we desire when we partner with the Lord and walk with Him on the proper path towards our blessings. The Spirit will reveal to us the next steps along that path. And the Lord will grant us the courage we need to take those next steps.
Here as in every other way, your focus becomes your reality. When you focus on what you don’t have and can’t do, your reality becomes filled with lack and inability. That leads to frustration, anger, disillusionment, and despair. But when you focus on what you do have and can do, your reality fills with abundance and possibility. That leads to encouragement, appreciation, illumination, and hope.
Are you good enough to achieve your dreams and desires? Of course you are — when you partner with the Lord. So instead of the pity party many singles have on days like tomorrow, choose instead to partner with the Lord. Counsel with Him to develop an action plan that will get you moving forward. When you move in that direction, you’ll make real progress towards your eternal blessings. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Last week we discussed the importance of taking action to get the results we want in life. Often that means practicing small habits every day that lead to our desired results. When we stay consistent with those habits, eventually we achieve the results we want.
For example, if I want to learn to play the piano, I need a daily habit of piano practice. I need to dedicate a set amount of time every day to learning how to play.
Sometimes, however, the small daily habits needed for desired results are not so simple to envision. Many LDS singles wonder what habits will help them achieve the temple marriage they desire. Some may think the small daily habits they need revolve around finding the right person. Such an approach assumes people don’t need to improve upon themselves to attract the right person into their life.
And that’s why that approach rarely works. All of us have such imperfections that looking to improve ourselves is really the more effective approach. Instead of looking to find the one companion we want to take into our life, we need to be the one companion for the person we seek.
Make yourself more agreeable
Effective approaches often find root in fundamental principles. So how is being the one instead of looking for the one rooted in the fundamental principles of LDS dating? It all revolves around agreements.
Progress in your dating journey depends upon your ability to secure each agreement you need to move to the next stage of your journey. That means you need to be agreeable in someone’s view, because people aren’t going to agree to an unattractive prospect. That just isn’t agreeable.
If you focus your approach on finding the one, any improvement in your chances of securing the agreement you need will be marginal at best. But focusing your approach on becoming the one exponentially increases your probability of success because, when you work to become the one, you’re making yourself more agreeable
Take the next steps
That fundamentals-based approach begs this question: What must we do to make ourselves more agreeable? The answer will of course vary with the individual. We’re all so different in the totality of the dating prospect we represent that what we’re each missing to become more agreeable will also vary greatly.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t answers. Previously I’ve explored applications to the lives of LDS singles from Elder Larry Lawrence’s October 2015 Conference address on securing revelation through the Spirit. The Spirit can and will give us the next steps we need to improve ourselves and our lives. When we faithfully follow the instructions we receive, we are blessed with a better life and more instructions for making that better life even better.
Often those steps will be small. Elder Lawrence describes a single adult who asked after her next step and received the prompting to clean her room. That is a small step, but it also can bring about great results. Clearing the clutter in our local landscape can clear the clutter from our perspectives, helping us to feel less burdened and more capable of focusing on the work we need to accomplish. Whatever small step the Spirit prompts you to take, do it.
Secure the power of small
The success LDS singles desire in their dating efforts won’t likely come overnight. However, persisting every day in the small habits of making ourselves more agreeable dating prospects will over time transform us into more capable travelers in our dating journey. Small things give rise to great things.
This is the way the Lord works. “And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). When we take the small steps that will help us become the one someone else wants, we become more agreeable to potential dating partners. And that means increased probability of securing that agreement we need to progress to the next stage in our dating journey.
Yes, finding the one is important. You can’t have the companion you want if the two of you never meet. But simply crossing paths with someone isn’t going to influence that person to make the agreement you need to progress to the next stage of your dating journey. Being a more attractive person will. And you’re likely to cross paths with many prospective companions as you get active in becoming the best version of you that you can be.
So don’t focus on finding the one. Rather focus on being the one. Your progress in becoming your best self will by itself invigorate you. At the same time, you’ll be making yourself more attractive. Giving your all to those right things for you will bring you happiness. 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 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.
Joy in the Journey Radio offers many free resources to help LDS singles everywhere, but it certainly isn't free! Help Joy in the Journey Radio in its mission to improve the lives of LDS singles by donating today.
Posts by Month