Everyone dreams of living a better life, yet we all respond to those dreams differently. Some while away the days not doing much to move closer to those dreams. Others are doing something, only they’re stuck. Try as they might, they just can’t seem to succeed. Either way, it seems like everyone needs a miracle for their dreams to come true.
And then there’s those I call patient fools. They believe the absence of the miracle they need means it must not be the right time. And so they patiently wait, expecting their miracle to deliver their dreams when the time becomes right.
For many LDS singles, that miracle is finding an eternal companion. Some dream about the day it will happen but never take action to move towards it. Others take action but can’t seem to make any progress. Still others simply wait, thinking the time is somehow not yet right.
Whatever miracle you want in your life, that miracle won’t happen by itself. Someone needs to act, and that someone is you! If you truly want it, you can make your miracle happen.
Dreams inspire us with a vision of possibility. They animate the imagination and stir something within the soul. Yet no dream enters reality on its own. We must take action!
The world didn’t just appear out of nowhere. Under the direction of our Creator, heavenly workers took action. Those workers then returned to report their labors. The miracle that is Earth did not happen all at once but step by step as action was taken.
In like manner, your dreams will never happen unless you take action. Yes, taking action introduces change, and with change comes new challenges and new concerns. But only through action will your dreams become reality.
And you can respond to those challenges and concerns with faith. Partner with the Lord. By returning to Him every day to report the actions you’ve taken, you can receive counsel and direction regarding your next steps. When you take those steps and then return and report again, you can counsel with Him regarding the next steps. By walking consistently in faith, you can make your miracle happen.
Take the right action
Many of us aren’t just sitting on the sidelines of life twiddling our thumbs. No, we’re out there taking action. The problem is we don’t seem to be going anywhere.
The pursuit for eternal companionship leaves many LDS singles feeling like that hamster down at the local pet store. That hamster takes action, exerting tons of energy to run faster and go farther. But in the end, running inside a wheel doesn’t move the hamster that far.
Likewise, many LDS singles exert tons of energy running between conferences and other activities. But in the end, they don’t move very far.
If this describes you, stop running inside a wheel, and start doing the right things for you. You must take action, but not just any action will produce your miracle. You must take the right action. You must do what’s right for you.
I’ve talked before about how the right things are more than just the standards for being active LDS. They include owning your life, opening yourself to possibilities, partnering with the Lord, and embracing a personal ministry by which you bring goodness into the world. Each of these right actions contribute to making your miracle happen.
Take the right action now
Some LDS singles have trouble accepting that truth. They live under the myth that their blessings will come if they just live a righteous life. They’re fine waiting until the “right” time for their miracle when it will just happen.
These patient fools have grown comfortable in their complacency. They fool themselves into thinking their patience is rooted in faith. But faith is a principle of action. Patience truly rooted in faith is not passive, but active!
Patient fools also fool themselves into thinking the time for their miracle isn’t right just because it hasn’t happened yet. I’ve previously described how many LDS singles use the concept of timing as a crutch. Yes, the Lord has a timetable, but just because something hasn’t happened doesn’t mean the time isn’t right for it to happen. The time can be as right as rain, but miracles require action to happen.
If you truly want it, you can make your miracle happen when you take the required action now. Own your life. Embrace a personal ministry. Partner with the Lord. Counsel with Him regarding your next steps. Work hard and be open to possibility. Then return and report to Him. When you make the right things for you a lifestyle, you can make your miracle happen. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
We all feel the influence of language in every aspect of life. That’s because encoded in language are ways of thinking about and perceiving the world around us.
For example, we call a container containing cookies a cookie jar because that’s what it does. A cookie jar is a jar that contains cookies. Likewise, we call that small wedge placed in the gap underneath a door to hold it in place a door stop. That’s because that’s what it does; it stops the door from swinging.
Language reflects how we think about and perceive our world. So if we want to improve our thinking, we must improve our language. That’s just as true about LDS singles life as it is anything else. Given the widespread use of less effective language regarding singles, many of us need to wash our mouth out.
Enough with “singles program”
Singles program provides a good example. That word program suggests all singles need are activities and all leaders need to do is organize activities. Singles planning committees shouldn’t concern themselves with outreach or friendshipping. Just throw singles together and they’ll naturally pair off, right?
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again — singles don’t need a slate of activities as much as they need true friends who’ll walk with them along the road of life. I don’t remember the literally thousands of singles activities I’ve attended. However, I do remember when a friend reached out with kindness or compassion. Those times are memorable because they contain what matters most.
That’s why we should replace singles program with support networks. Support networks describe what singles really need — friends who support each other along the road of life. Changing our language in just this one way will change our thinking about how we all should relate to singles. And what goodness such a perspective of support can bring to the world!
Out with “family of one”
I’d shout “Hallelujah!” if that one phrase were the only one requiring elimination from our vocabulary. But, alas, there’s more.
I once posted about an experience with my stake president who used the phrase family of one while speaking in sacrament meeting. As I questioned him about it, his responses garnered my respect. He willingly admitted he made mistakes and that his use here was one of them.
In the three years since that encounter, I can’t remember hearing family of one, which suggests it may be going the way of the dodo bird. That’d be fantastic if true. I don’t want people to walk on proverbial eggshells just to talk to me. I understand a family by definition requires at least two people. And I’m perfectly OK with that.
The Church seems to have caught a ride on that train. Recently the General Authorities have been speaking of individuals and families. This practice — using individuals and families instead of family of one — rightly promotes the family. Its continuance gives me hope other vile vocabulary choices will find extinction.
Down with “family ward”
And, in my view, no LDS phrase is more vile than family ward. Oh, what screeching of fingernails on a chalkboard I hear every time someone uses this pernicious expression!
And that expression is pernicious. It provides an identity crisis alienating many LDS singles from the Church. Just like cookies jars get their name from what they are and what they contain, so too do family wards get their name from what they are and what they contain. Family wards are congregations for families; the name alone says singles don’t belong there. No matter how much our married friends may insist to the contrary, language by its nature reveals how we truly think and perceive the world.
I’ve suggested before we should replace family ward with general membership ward, because that’s who really belongs in these congregations — the general membership of the Church. In my ponderings since, I can understand many wanting a shorter expression. This too is in the nature of language. Using general ward conveys the same meaning — that the general membership of the Church belongs there.
In all we do, we should be meeting one another’s needs. Using support networks communicates that intention more effectively than singles program. Trying to be sensitive by watering down the meaning of family with the phrase family of one doesn’t really serve anyone well. And using general ward communicates we all really do belong better than family ward.
Language matters. It reflects how we think about and perceive the world. If your language needs some improvement, then wash your mouth out. Use soap if needed. When we improve the language we use, we improve the way we think about and perceive our world. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
The many changes announced in the most recent General Conference bring a feeling of starting a new chapter in LDS history. I’m not certain most of us anticipated such sweeping announcements. Yet those of us with faith will embrace the new reality and run with it.
In like manner, life brings to each of us sweeping, unanticipated changes. Perhaps you’ve reached a certain age without getting married. Or that marriage you thought would last forever won’t. Or you experience a job loss. The variety of surprises life can bring has no end. And they often come when we least expect them.
I believe the best response to unanticipated, unwanted events is the same best response to the most recent General Conference. We need to have faith to embrace the new reality and run with it. And when that new reality radically differs from our past, we need to let go of the past and start again.
Make it work
Letting go can be one of the most difficult challenges in life. You like the way things were. You were comfortable. And you don’t want to have the extra work changes often requires.
Yet successful people never confront life as they wish it would be. They confront life as it really is. They do the best they can with what they have. And they make it work.
And what exactly do you have? You have your Heavenly Father, with Whom you can counsel through prayer. You have the Lord Jesus Christ, Who suffered so you could have new life. You have the Holy Ghost, Who can provide revelation, comfort, and strength. You have angels and the powers of heaven upon which you can call when you keep your covenants. You have family, friends, and the Church which can each provide their own measure of support.
Considering what you have, is there any challenge you cannot overcome? As the apostle Paul declared, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).
Let it go
Letting go of the past is often the first step in embracing a new reality. It can also be one of the most difficult.
Earlier in my life, I had a really sweet job. I worked remotely for an East Coast company while living on the West Coast. I had complete mobility both with my physical location and (within reason) my schedule during the day. I also made some good money with the gig. I had residences in two different states and traveled between them at will. Life was sweet.
Then came the word from HQ. Financial conditions necessitated massive layoffs. Half of my peers would lose their jobs. I thought my superior job performance and delivery record would keep me safe.
Then I got my notice. I was the first to lose his job. The shock left me speechless. For some time thereafter I was paralyzed. That paralysis evolved into a deep depression as other life events knocked me down. You can tell I’m not depressed today, so what happened? How did I leave my depression?
I took action. I started doing what the Lord inspired me to do, whatever it was. Completing even small tasks built my confidence and helped me to regain my faith in myself and my future. Slowly but surely, with the help of the Lord, I began to process of rebuilding my life. I started again.
Accepting that whatever bad thing happened to you actually happened to you requires a great deal of courage. But holding on to a past that doesn’t resemble the present reality is just extra baggage holding you back from moving forward in life.
Sometimes you need to take a new approach. And sometimes that new approach involves starting again.
I’ve had to start again in my own life at least seven times. That’s just the number of unanticipated change events from my life that come quickly to mind. I might find more if I really stop and think about it.
Still, it’s fair to say I’ve got a fair amount of experience with starting again. Here’s one of the lessons I’ve learned — starting again usually seems daunting and overwhelming at first but always gets easier once you dig in and start embracing the change with a positive attitude and effective actions.
It’s also helpful to remember everything you have. As I mentioned earlier, you have many in your corner rooting for you because they love you and want you to succeed. You can conquer any life-altering challenge before you when you start again. Embracing the change and making the most of it will help you to become everything your Heavenly Father wants you to become. And that will bring you more joy in our journey.
General Conference has ended, and traditionally my task is selecting just one of the many fabulous addresses for the post-Conference program focus of Joy in the Journey Radio. I’ve always struggled with that task. This past Conference was no exception.
And yet at the same time, it was. This latest General Conference was exceptional — truly historic, in fact — in many ways. Consider everything that happened, starting with what occurred before the Conference.
This was the first Conference on the new schedule. The third session now alternates between the General Priesthood meeting and the General Women’s meeting, now no longer held the weekend before Conference. We also started the year with a new method of instruction during the block schedule in which we face and teach each other.
Truly all that was just the tip of the iceberg. Conference began with a solemn assembly. We learned that wards will discontinue high priests groups. Then came the death of home teaching and visiting teaching. Instead, we will now be ministering to others in our wards and branches.
And let’s not forget the announcement of new temples. Perhaps the most historic was the last in President Nelson’s list —“somewhere near a major city in Russia.” Truly, in many ways this Conference was historic. Now it’s our turn to be historic by playing our part in the new changes which our leaders have outlined.
Embrace the reorganization
I’ll say it from the start — I’m rather enamored with these changes. I can see them playing a pivotal role in the evolution of the broader Latter-day Saint community. And at the same time, I feel very strongly we haven’t yet realized all the greatness that lies ahead for us as a people.
Take, for example, the reorganization of local priesthood quorums. Now only those high priests currently serving in a designated leadership position will be members of one stake high priests group over which the stake president presides. All other high priests will join the elder’s quorum of their respective wards.
I can see the vision the Brethren described in older and younger generations each supporting and learning from each other. Yet the larger benefit may well be the change that takes place in our hearts as we knit them together in love and unity. As we put off the generational lenses of our worldly culture and embrace the unity of a true gospel culture, we’ll find our lives enriched as we cannot now imagine.
Embrace the ministering
That unity can and will extend beyond the Melchizedek Priesthood brethren to all adults and youth in our wards. No longer will we go home teaching and visiting teaching. Now we will minister to our wards and branches.
Gone are the days of scheduling last-minute visits to read a message others can well read for themselves. Now we’ll focus on meeting the needs of the people to whom we are called to minister. Now, whether performed by brethren or sisters, by young Aaronic Priesthood holders or now Young Women, we’ll work together to meet one another’s needs.
This next evolutionary step shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, this is what real home teaching and visiting teaching has always been. Meeting the needs of the people has always been the true intent behind these programs. Announcing it as the stated purpose and then coupling it with new language that supports that end will reinforce that intention to wonderful effect.
Embrace the new culture
Perhaps the most exciting result I envision from all these changes is the change in our culture, especially as it concerns LDS singles. I see the day when LDS singles no longer feel like second-class citizens in the Kingdom but rather full-fledged “fellowcitizens with the Saints” (Ephesians 2:19). In fact, I see the changes announced in Conference laying the groundwork for changing the culture for singles within the broader LDS community.
For far too long, LDS singles have existed on the fringes of mainstream LDS society. Centering LDS culture around a status that by definition singles don’t have naturally yields this result.
Now with the new emphasis on meeting the needs of individuals and families, the Brethren are leading us into a new culture, one in which we see each other as the brothers and sisters we really are, one centered around Christ and the covenants we make with Him, and one in which we strive to follow His wonderful example of ministering to the one.
The changes we are about to make are historic. A bright and glorious future awaits us all. If we will embrace history, surrender to love, and seek to minister to one another as the Savior would, we will change the culture because we’ll have changed ourselves. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
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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