Last week I extolled our need to choose Christ when life takes unanticipated turns. No matter how bereft or lost you may feel, Christ can transform your life into something meaningful and joyful.
Part of that transformation involves your sense of identity. Although many LDS singles know in their mind they’re children of God, many of them have yet to know that truth in their heart. And getting to that deeper level is essential to weathering the storms of LDS singles life with joy in our journey.
For example, many LDS singles see themselves and others through the lens of circumstance. Most people, single or married, do this habitually because others’ actions teach them so to act. Yet the perspectives embodied in many of these actions serve more to hinder our progression towards eternal goals than to help.
Christ offers ennobling perspectives. To gain those, we need to choose to think in new and different ways. And that means seeing ourselves and others with greater clarity.
You are not your body
Everyone knows how your body is shaped or groomed isn’t the real you. Yet many LDS singles — men and women — use physical appearance to filter who they befriend and date. These actions clearly communicate you must be attractive to be loved. And many of us feel very unloved.
Of course, most prefer interactions with physically attractive people. Improving your physical appearance can increase your chances of having the interactions you want.
But people are also hardwired to respond positively to a great attitude. I’m always inclined to know more about someone who displays generosity and cheerfulness towards me.
You are not your body. You are the character you choose to embrace.
You are not your job
It amazes me how some singles accept not getting to know someone who happens to be unemployed. That’s like saying it’s OK to divorce a spouse who loses a job. “What? You lost your job? Well, time to find someone else. See ya!” That’s absolutely ridiculous. And yet many of us have no qualms about filtering others with that ridiculous standard.
Those actions clearly communicate you must be occupationally successful to be loved. And many of us feel very unloved.
Of course, people typically prefer interactions with successful people. Improving your career can increase your chances of having the interactions you want.
But people are also hardwired to respond positively to a great attitude. I’m always inclined to know more about optimistic people.
You are not your job (or lack of one). You are the energy you choose to radiate.
You are not your bank account
On a related note, many LDS singles use wealth to filter who they befriend and date. These actions clearly communicate you must be financially secure in order to be loved. And many of us feel very unloved.
I can understand the allure of security, but it’s all facade. Marrying the right person can help us become who we need to become. That’s a life more fully lived than simply not having to worry about how to pay the bills.
Of course, we all want to associate with successful people. Improving your financial situation can help you to have the interactions with others you want.
But people are also hardwired to respond positively to a great attitude. I’m always inclined to know more about someone who sees the opportunities rather than the obstacles.
So are others. My bank account has seen highs and lows, but the best romantic relationships of my life occurred during the lows, not the highs. That’s because my confidence, the confidence others find attractive, has nothing to do with my bank account. How I choose to approach life speaks volumes about who I really am.
You are not your bank account. You are the confidence you choose to exhibit in your life.
Not everyone will choose this perspective. That’s OK. Their use of traditional filters tells you exactly who they are, making it easier for you to filter them from your consideration.
When high ideals inform your daily actions, it’s much easier for others to see and focus on your best you rather than any deficiencies. In short, it’s easier for you to succeed.
It’s also a more enjoyable way to navigate LDS singles life. Improving how you think improves your approach to life. Making conscious choices to communicate and reinforce gospel ideals with your actions provides more joy in everyone’s journey. You can create a rich life through meaningful contribution.
You are not your circumstances. If you think you are, reformat and reboot yourself. You are a child of God with infinite worth and potential. Start seeing that in yourself, and then others will be able to see that more clearly too.
is the very real result of choices you and others have made. But that doesn’t mean you’ve lost a glorious future. There is always hope because there is always Christ.
Many LDS singles easily feel their hopes of a temple marriage reside far outside their reach, if they even exist at all. Yet our reality abounds with opportunities for us to have the blessings we desire. We simply need eyes to see what’s really there around us.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf testified of that. His April 2016 General Conference address entitled “He Will Place You on His Shoulders and Carry You Home” reminds us of the hope all of us can have in a bright and wonderful future.
God can rebuild you
President Uchtdorf recounted his childhood experience living near Dresden, Germany, during World War II. Bombing totally devastated that city. President Uchtdorf particularly noted the destruction of the Lutheran church the Church of Our Lady. The war reduced this once grand monument to rubble.
Yet 70 years later, the city now stands completely renewed. This includes the Lutheran church. Some of the old stones were used in its reconstruction. President Uchtdorf describes the sight of these stones within the structure as “‘scars’ [which] are not only a reminder of the war history of this building but also a monument to hope — a magnificent symbol of man’s ability to create new life from ashes.”
President Uchtdorf then remarks,
No matter how derailed you feel your life may be, you can get it back on track. Through the Atonement, Christ can heal anyone and restore anything. But He won’t violate individual agency. We need to choose Him to effect His marvelous Atonement in our lives.
Of course the Savior will. That’s the whole purpose behind His Atonement — to rescue us from an impossible situation separated from God. While not on the same scale, many LDS singles experience their own individual impossible situations. “With all my deficiencies, how could anyone want to marry me in the temple?” “How can I ever rebuild my life after losing my marriage to divorce?” “How can my life have any meaning now that my spouse has died?”
No matter the question, choosing Christ is the answer. That’s because choosing Christ is always the answer to life’s difficult questions. Centering our lives around Him provides us with the perspective we need to journey home.
And because He’s already feeling after you, you’re sure to find and feel His love once you choose Christ. President Uchtdorf proclaimed,
You are made of more glorious matter than what your earthly eyes can see. No matter how lost or despairing you may feel, the eternal God of the universe Who has always and will always love you is still in control. Your eternal destination has not changed. Although earthly circumstances may necessitate a different path than what you anticipated, that eternal destination is still within your reach.
So reach after it. Abandon your doubts and embrace your faith. Forsake your fears and face the glorious future awaiting you. When you choose Christ, He’ll stand by you for each step you can take and carry you for each step you cannot. Choose Him today and start to experience the hope that can lead to more joy in your journey home.
When I was a boy, I loved riding my red bicycle. Then one day my father suggested we take the training wheels off my bike. I was really confused. How could my dad want me to fall flat on my face?
Despite my staunch resistance, my dad more staunchly and patiently persisted in moving me forward. He offered to hold the bike while I rode. My little kid brain couldn’t understand how that solved anything. I could pedal faster than he could run, so how would he keep up to balance the bike? Surely facial scars were in my near future.
But my dad simply waited and did the deed while I watched Saturday morning cartoons. When I realized he was outside with my bike, I rushed to find him fastening the last nut after removing the training wheels. My dad tried to curtail my obvious angst by suggesting I now give riding my bike a try with his help.
Reluctantly I mounted the bike. Because deep down I trusted that my dad really didn’t want to hurt me, I began riding down the street. I soon realized my dad wasn’t holding the bike, and I wasn’t falling on my face!
I couldn’t understand it, but it was incredible. I was happier riding that bike than I had ever been, and since then I’ve never even so much as thought of using training wheels again.
This experience applies directly to LDS singles trying to navigate life.
Although my kid brain couldn’t understand it, I later learned that forward motion balances a bike without training wheels. Moving the bike forward supplies the forces needed to keep the bike in balance. To prevent myself from falling on my face, I just need to keep pedaling.
Very often we LDS singles feel we’ve fallen flat on our face. We see others getting married and wonder where our blessings are. Or we experience a very painful loss of a marriage we thought would last forever. We wonder how our lives won’t end up with us falling flat on our face forever.
The way to prevent that is the same in life as it is on the bike without training wheels. We need to keep moving forward. It’s the forward motion that keeps the bike and our lives in balance.
Bad situations are part of mortality. Dwelling on the negativity of your bad situation will perpetuate imbalance. Your focus always becomes your reality. So look ahead to better times and move forward towards them.
That may be challenging if you feel like you’ve never been successful. I used to think I’d never succeed at dating because I didn’t look like a movie star and wasn’t otherwise “good enough.” But that focus on my failures brought me a life filled with failure because your focus always becomes your reality.
How do you improve your focus? Everyone has experienced success somewhere. Use that success to leverage success at small wins in new areas. Those small wins can help propel you to greater success with bigger wins.
Don't go it alone
Sometimes you simply won’t have the strength to go it alone. That’s OK because you’re not supposed to do life alone. Reach out to the Lord and partner with Him. Just as my dad initially held my bike so I could take the leap of faith I needed to ride without training wheels, so the Lord will hold you so you can take your leap of faith. That’s what partners do, and the Lord loves you more than any other partner you could ever have.
You’re not here in this world by chance. You’re here as part of a noble plan designed to promote your growth into something so amazingly incredible you can’t really imagine it. And guess Who designed that plan? A Heavenly Father who loves you so immensely that anything less than your growth into an exalted, celestial being would never be His ultimate objective.
You’re not here to fail. You’re here to succeed, and that gloriously! The way to succeed is to keep moving forward. The obstacles in your path may seem huge, but the power of the Lord’s Atonement is greater than any power any other opposition may offer. Partner with Him and keep moving forward.
Just as I learned to balance my bike without training wheels by continuing to move forward, so LDS singles can balance their lives without a spouse by continuing to move forward. Partnering with the Lord can help you to know what you need to do to move forward and provide the strength you need to do it.
So what are you waiting for? Partner with the Lord today, and enjoy the serenity of a life in balance.
Afterwards single ladies posted those remarks on social media with some inclusions of their own. “Yeah, you need to get busy and do your priesthood duty!” That for me 20-year-old refrain doesn’t inspire anything positive and is inspired more by issues within them rather than any issue I have.
That’s why I absolutely loved Elder Holland’s remarks at the conclusion of General Conference entitled “Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders Among You.” Conference indeed presents high ideals, from which many of our own personal situations seem far removed. How ever can we bridge the gap?
Elder Holland reminded us how the Atonement makes our improvement possible and that trying is what counts, even if we sometimes fail. As I’ve said before, it’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey.
See the similarities
I struggled for many years with dating. Because I own my life, I take responsibility for how my life has turned out. That means the story I tell to explain why I’m still single lays the fault on me. It’s not that I didn’t want to be married. I just didn’t have the right attitude or project the right image to attract the type of woman I really wanted.
True, most of my dating invitations failed miserably. For many years I felt trapped because my eternity seemed completely outside my control at the mercy of others who could never see the real me. But because I now own my life, I accept I wasn’t doing a good enough job of showing the real me to them.
What always annoyed me were the ladies who always threw marriage quotes from General Authorities in my face. When I did manage to work up the courage to ask them out, they rejected my invitations in ways that made me feel completely worthless.
Ladies, if you want us brethren to ask you out more, then you need to own your life and approach us more effectively. I understand you’re frustrated in not receiving the dating invitations you want. You feel trapped because your eternity seems completely outside your control at the mercy of others who don’t seem to see the real you. That’s not very different from the experience I and other single LDS men have had.
Can we all come to a place where we start to see the potential in each other rather than the problems? Can we see each other the way God sees us, as brothers and sisters on the same eternal journey who have much more in common than we do different? I answer with a resounding yes. And Elder Holland’s recent conference talk shows us how.
What a glorious perspective! Too often we focus on the destination and consider ourselves as “less” because we haven’t yet arrived. Yet God sees us as “striving to be more” and so should we! It’s about the journey and not the destination!
Elder Holland continues:
Just because we don’t see the way forward doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It is there. And when we partner with the Lord, He will not only help us to see the reality of the blessings we want but also provide help to secure them. After all, He created this world in which we are journeying!
I love this perspective from Elder Holland:
Let’s extend that grace to our neighbor. Let’s see each other more as God sees us. Let’s divert our energy from criticizing others for their failings to helping them overcome the obstacles that impede their journey home. In so doing, we’ll accelerate our own journey to the same heavenly destination.
Tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you because today He will do wonders with you and within you when you partner with Him, rely on His marvelous Atonement, and keep trying. May God bless each one of us so to do.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and now I produce a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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