Ah, Spring Break! Time to break free of winter with a sunny vacation. At least that was the story in college. Then I entered the real world where I had to surrender half my yearly vacation time to keep the Spring Break tradition. Usually I’d just spend it at the end of the year.
In theory, Spring Break is a time to stop and relax. We all need an occasional break from our routines for some essential rejuvenation. Many typically imagine sunbathing on a warm beach. That’s because soaking in the rays of the sun can invigorate us out of winter doldrums.
Our lives have seasons, too, so occasionally we need rejuvenation to break out of the winter doldrums of our lives. But instead of lying on a warm beach soaking in the rays of the sun, our souls need to lie in the care of the Son of God soaking in the rays of faith.
You need never feel abandoned, lost, or unable to enjoy every blessing the gospel of Jesus Christ promises. If you feel winter upon you in your life, it’s time to go faith-bathing!
Mind your thinking habits
We create the quality of our lives with our thinking. Our focus always becomes our reality. When we wallow in the mire of negative thinking, our reality will be negative. But when we routinely embrace positive thinking, our reality becomes positive.
We’re also hardwired to follow habits in everything, including how we think, and to keep repeating those habits regardless of the consequences. This is why many continually repeat cycles of failure again and again, even though it hurts them.
That’s why faith-bathing is so essential. Without the habit of immersing ourselves in a bath of positive thinking that fills us with belief we can actually feel, whatever other habit we do have won’t lead us to the faith we need to endure well the hardships of life. We need to make faith-bathing a habit.
Find your faithbathing habit
How we do that will vary from person to person. But however we do it, we need to do it often. Many faith-bathe when General Conference comes every six months, and rightfully so. But as crazy as the world now is, we need total immersion in faith more often than twice a year. We need to faith-bathe frequently.
On the radio program last week I suggested creating a Book of Faith. Find a notebook and fill it with scriptures, quotes, and personal experiences that ignite your fire of faith. The habit of compiling and regularly immersing yourself with that content can bathe your soul in the faith you need to have good cheer regardless of your circumstances.
You could also look to General Conference for ideas. Pursuing an idea or direction from someone’s address can lead you to your faith-bathing habit. The same could be said about the scriptures or a talk or lesson in church.
Of course, you can partner with the Lord to find your faithbathing habit. Faith-bathing regularly brings us closer to the Savior. With all He suffered for us borne out of pure love for each one of us, the Lord will show us our next step when we partner with Him.
If you don’t know where to start, then start here. What do you really believe and feel? Do you really believe that possibility abounds for you? Do you feel hope when you think about your future? You will, if you truly believe the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If you don’t, then go back and examine your habits of thinking. Where is your focus? On the obstacles or the opportunities, the problems or the possibilities, the bitterness or the blessings? Whatever it is, your focus will always determine your reality.
The best life tends to come to those with the best habits of thinking. So if you feel you’ll never have yours, you need to re-examine your beliefs. When you truly believe the truth about who you are and how the universe works, you can’t help but feel optimistic inside.
You’re not here by accident. You are in this place and time for a glorious proposition. Bountiful blessings of greatness and goodness await you. God has declared it because He believes in you. Take Him at His word. Believe in yourself the way He does. Walk in that faith, and bathe in it regularly.
Life opens to those who open themselves to life. Faith-bathing immerses us in the positive energy of true belief, belief so ingrained in our core that it defines who we are and radiates goodness to everyone around us. That way of living is truly enjoyable. So let’s not wait to enjoy every ounce of life God has granted us. Let’s go faith-bathing!
For the past year Church leaders have promoted renewed attention on keeping the Sabbath day holy. This fits right in with my blog for the past two weeks. Taking a regular break from the cares of our lives can rejuvenate us to start over. And clearing and respecting the space to honor the Sabbath helps us to live our best life.
But what can we do on the Sabbath? We commonly hear, “Spend time with family.” That answer doesn’t really help singles who don’t have their own family. Furthermore, single parents with children can easily feel the Sabbath is far from delightful when their children make constant demands on their attention.
Over the years I’ve heard singles complain there’s nothing for them to do on Sundays. These individuals often focus on the obstacles — what we’re told not to do — rather than the opportunities — the possibilities for making the Sabbath “a delight” (Isaiah 58:13).
Your focus becomes your reality. So let’s make our reality of Sabbath day observance delightful by focusing on some possibilities for honoring the Lord’s day.
Seed your creativity
A recent blog post on the Church website provides an original list of appropriate Sabbath activities. What I love most about this list is the seed it provides to one’s creativity in the search for possibilities of new but appropriate Sabbath-day observance.
Although geared towards families with children, the list contains some items perfectly suited towards singles. For instance,
Other items on the list are more family oriented, so if you're a single parent, this list can seed your thinking. But with a little adjustment, it can do likewise for singles without families of their own. For example,
Open the door
With a little creativity, you can open the door of possibilities. As just shown, that can mean adjusting ideas on the Church-provided list to your situation. But it can also mean opening your mind to many ideas not on that list.
Family history work. Family history work is a great way to spend the Sabbath. I personally don’t do family history work on Sunday because many others are, slowing down the servers. But if that doesn’t bother you, have at it! The refining and purifying effect of participation in family history work is a great way to make the Sabbath “a delight.”
Plan your week. The Sabbath “is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High” (D&C 59:10). A weekly planning session can help you do just that. Taking a step back from your weekly routine can help you see more clearly how well you’re keeping your covenants. Are you making time for what matters most? Planning your week can help you clear the spaces you need to respect in order to live your best life.
Learn a new language. Language study keeps your mind agile, helping you confront challenges during your week more effectively. Language study can also help you gain insights from the scriptures in other languages as well as share the gospel with more people (D&C 88:78-80). Plus it can help you to teach your children to speak other languages, preparing them for future missionary service. And it need not cost a lot of money. Most adequate foreign language dictionaries cost around $5, an introductory lesson series on MP3 from Pimsleur costs around $20, and many smartphone apps such as Duolingo are free. Resources abound; you just have to look for them.
Read a good book. I love reading, especially Sunday reading. It’s a great way to rest from my weekly cares and make the Sabbath truly delightful.
Of course, there are plenty more ideas out there. Partner with the Lord to find the ideas that make the Sabbath your delight. Then make it happen. And if you have an activity idea that has helped you, feel free to share it below. Let’s help each other make the Sabbath more delightful for all of us. Then we can all reap the blessings of keeping the Sabbath day holy.
Last week I discussed how crazy life can get and how Christ can help us turn our life around by starting over. We always have the opportunity to start over.
That’s why I love sunrises. They’re a daily reminder that no matter how dark things may appear, light is always just around the corner. The dawn will always come. And when it does, it brings with it a chance for a new day.
That new day in life, however, doesn’t just happen. It comes as we make conscious choices to believe in and reach for the light. How do we do that when life seems to sweep us away with the constant drumbeat of the moment? Life can have such a frantic pace sometimes we feel we don’t have time to breathe.
And that’s just it. It’s the pace that’s the problem. How many of us have ever wished for just one more hour in our day? I know I’ve often wished for more than that.
But we have only 24 hours with each day. Learning how to manage our use of that time can help, but in reality that’s only a stopgap. Installing a better drain can help with a bathtub prone to overflow, but turning off the faucet provides a more effective solution.
We need to learn how to stop.
Make the space
Stopping can be a real challenge. When you’ve got children crying for your attention, the advice to stop can seem quite impractical. And yet if we don’t stop some time, we’ll drive ourselves into the ground.
The Preacher said, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). It’s probably not time to stop when your children cry. Sometimes life demands prompt action. Take that prompt action, then find another time to stop. If we don’t take time to care for our needs in life, we won’t have much of a life. And not much of a life isn’t the best life we all deserve to have.
If you are, as Feste in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night says, waiting to have “greatness thrust upon [you],” you’ll be waiting a long time. Your best life comes when you make the right conscious choices.
One of those right choices is making space to stop long enough to refuel. That space won’t appear on its own. As I said last week, life tends to seep in, devouring time and energy. To have a space in which we can stop, we need to clear that space consciously.
Respect the space
Clearing that space can seem difficult. And it may require sacrifice. But it’s the only way we’ll really have anything meaningful in our lives.
For example, I’ve had and striven to use a temple recommend for many years now. But if I don’t clear the space in my calendar to attend the temple, then chances are it won’t happen. Life will present competing and seemingly more important demands. And before you know it, the week or the month will pass without me inside the house of the Lord.
I have to clear space by reserving the time in my calendar to attend the temple. Then I have to respect that space by diverting other demands to either a different spot on my calendar or my circular file. Otherwise, life will crowd in again.
I’ve found I have to do likewise for everything else I really want in my life. I have to clear a space for it and then respect that space. Otherwise, life will crowd in with other, less fulfilling ways to use that space.
Piecing together our best life
Clearing and respecting spaces for the elements of our life is really just a smaller piece of the larger process of designing our best life. Lest we feel overwhelmed with that, let’s remember we can partner with the Lord for anything in life. That includes what next step to take to reach our best life.
The Lord stands ready to help. He provides help constantly through His servants. I regard Elder Lawrence’s talk from the October 2015 General Conference as a classic discourse on partnering with the Lord to learn the next step we need to take and then act in faith to take it. General Conference is once more right around the corner, and I’m so thankful for that.
Of course, none of us need wait for General Conference. We all have access to the Lord’s voice through prayer, the scriptures, inspired Church members, and the temple. Let’s partner with the Lord today to discover what next step we need to take to clear and then respect the space we need to stop. When we stop long enough to refuel ourselves, we can live our best life.
My week is insanely busy. In addition to my job, I’m taking a course to qualify me to teach classes online. The course includes making the first four weeks of a real class, and creating all this content is hugely time consuming.
Then my dad, recently diagnosed with skin cancer, has surgery this week. The doctor has great confidence all will be well, but it’s still a little more stress to my already hectic week.
In the midst of all this bustle, my mind reaches back to a time that seems so long ago but really isn’t. I’m talking about the start of the year. At that time, I talked about the high hopes people had for this year and the sense that 2016 would be better than 2015.
I had high hopes as well, but as I examine my life at present, it seems like a far cry from what I hoped it would be. What happened?
Seeing the gulf
Here’s the Reader’s Digest version: Life happened. Life tends to crowd around you and devour every scrap of time and energy.
That and bad habits tend to linger. Without a good support system, it’s hard to change. That’s because we’re hardwired to adopt a habit and stick with it, regardless of how good or bad that habit may be.
Take my aspirations towards diet and exercise. I was really pumped at the start of the year. Confidence that 2016 would be my year filled me. I was ready to go!
Then life happened. Work got busier, my online course started, and my personal life began demanding more. Slowly my exercise routine became less demanding and more brief. My diet followed suit, other demands screaming for my time. Convenience is the cry of today.
My scripture study is another victim. Visions of sessions immersed in genuine study are replaced with reading a quick chapter and calling it good. My life demands convenience!
I could go on, but you get the point. Many of you have the same experience. Life is happening to you. A great gulf separates what we see now from what we once thought we would be.
I want to bridge the gulf in my life. Can it be done?
Start with the foundation
The answer is yes. It begins with two words: Start over.
Faith in Jesus Christ and repentance are the first principles of the gospel, so starting over is the very foundation of our belief. But is it?
Many carry incredible burdens believing they’re trapped. Life has crowded them into a corner they never imagined. But if we truly believe the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, we know we’re never trapped. We always have the opportunity to start over. We just don’t always take that opportunity.
And our life won’t change until we do.
We also have the tendency to carry our past mistakes. That burden influences us to think we’ll never have our best life. But carrying that burden holds us back.
The Savior said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me . . . and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Through the power of His Atonement, the Lord can help us drop whatever holds us back from our best life. He can help us to start over.
Build the structure
Accessing the Atonement is the best way to our best life. It’s the foundation of the support system we need to foster positive change. The next step is to complete that support system with quality people in our lives.
That’s one of the biggest reasons why my efforts to embrace a healthy lifestyle failed. I’m in it alone. No one in my life really supports me in that direction. There’s plenty who think it’s a good idea. But there’s a world of difference between agreeing with a good idea and supporting one.
Partnering with the Lord can help us to assemble our support team. He can help us bring people already in our lives on board and find new ones to cheer us on. And we’ll find a lot of the support we need when we first give that support to others.
It’s easy to get swept away with the tides of life. But by making conscious choices, you can start over. And with the help of the Lord, you can move into your best life. I want my best life. If you want yours, make that move with me. Come to Christ, let go of whatever holds you back, and start over. He still believes in you. Isn’t it time you believed in you as well?
It’s amazing how life unfolds. Last week I discussed our need to see one another as God sees us. I shared my perception that many of our local leaders don’t see us LDS singles as God sees us. They just fill blanks in an activity calendar and then do a Pilate — wash their hands and say they’re done. When the storms of life came to me, my ward or stake wasn’t there for me.
I wrote that monologue the day before my weekly recording session. So here I have written how I, an active LDS single, feel unsupported by my ward and stake. It wasn’t the sole focus of what I wrote, but it played an important role in building the overall message I’d be recording and then disseminating to the whole world via the Internet.
That very day, the day I wrote my monologue, the day before I broadcast that monologue to the world, I get a call from my elders quorum president. Events then unfolded to remind me that God is fully aware of us LDS singles.
Setting the meeting
My EQP called to ask when he could visit me. To understand my surprise, you need to know he’s never visited me in the three years I’ve been in his ward. And he lives just two houses down. I also never had home teachers – or if I did I never knew it because they never did anything.
Yes, all those storms of life I mentioned last week happened while my priesthood leader lived two houses down from me. Oh, the irony! How many other priesthood leaders are completely unaware of the singles directly around them who need help?
I routed his call to voicemail because I was at work. He just said he wanted to visit with me. I thought this meant he wanted to extend me a calling. My girlfriend suggested he thought I was inactive. After all, I’ve been attending church with my girlfriend in her ward.
Each of those possibilities seemed likely. I wondered which would unfold when my EQP came to visit with me.
The moment arrived. My EQP had no calling for me, and he didn’t think I was going inactive (though he did wonder why he hadn’t seen me at church recently). My girlfriend was with me when he visited, so we all conversed together.
It didn’t take long for our conversation to bend towards the experience of being single in the Church. My EQP married young and has two kids. He expressed surprise as my girlfriend described leaving the YSA ward as either “graduating with honors” (meaning you left because you got married) or “graduating without honors” (meaning you left because you aged out). He seemed genuinely ignorant. Hello! Babes in sacrament meeting!
As I recognized that concept in the context of my leader’s ignorance, I was moved with compassion towards him and others who should have been helping me but weren’t. I sensed from him a genuine concern while he visited with me. Should I not nurture that perspective by adopting a reciprocal perspective in myself?
The visit ended without extending any calling or any invitation to forsake inactivity. My EQP didn’t even hint he would visit again. But his visit has caused me to reflect.
I’ve believed for some time now that our leaders on the global level really do get it when it comes to ministering to LDS singles. That doesn’t mean they couldn’t learn a thing or two. They’re not perfect. But they have the vision of everyone coming together and being one that all singles and marrieds need to embrace.
Somehow that vision gets lost in translation when you get down to the local level. Or if our local leaders do have it, they’re often thinking only of people like them who are married with children.
The question then becomes this: How will we LDS singles respond? Will we respond with a perspective of isolation, demarcation, and abandonment? Or will we respond with an eagerness to embrace compassion, empathy, and unity when they present themselves?
The timing of my EQP’s visit speaks very forcefully to me that the Lord is very much aware of me. I am not forgotten or forsaken to Him. And neither are any of you. He paid too great a price ever to forget any of us.
In the end, I am filled with hope and optimism. Yes, my hopes have been dashed before. But none of that negates the Lord’s love for us individually nor His power to bring positive developments into our lives. Will our eyes be open enough to see the tender mercies He provides? I hope the answer is yes.
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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