Most LDS singles would say they agree with the concept of personal responsibility. After all, our LDS culture prizes it, and we all have a natural need for acceptance. Of course we’ll say what we need to be accepted.
Yet we singles too often blame our single status on the actions of others. “Well, I’m single because my ex was a real jerk!” Or “I’m single because no one wanted me.” Or “I’m single because God let my spouse die.”
They’re all variations of the same theme. And guess what? The solution is also the same.
As singles, we’ve all had horrible experiences. Yes, your ex really was a jerk. Yes, you cried oceans because no one wanted you. And I’m sorry for the loss of your dearly departed.
None of that changes the reality that you’re where you now are. Life isn’t about what has happened to you as much as it’s about where you’re going.
Yet we singles inordinately ignore that truth. We wallow in our own mire as we relive our horrible past. And we keep pointing that blame finger outside ourselves — so often, in fact, that it becomes habit. Living life on autopilot then brings us more and more miserable mire.
The truth? You and others in your life together shaped the life you have now.
The divorced can list the imperfections in their former companion which prove what a bum that person was. But if that’s you, you decided to marry that bum in the first place.
Likewise for the widowed. Whatever caused their spouse to die, they decided to marry that person in the first place.
And similarly for the never been married. Sure, no one’s chosen them as a companion, but the never-been-marrieds themselves made choices that influenced others to choose other paths.
Few if any of us singles consciously chose to be single. I don’t know any divorcees who yearned to hoe some hard rows. Likewise, I don’t know any widowed who wanted their spouse to die or any never-been-marrieds who consciously strove to avoid marriage. We never woke up one morning and declared, “I love being single so much, I’ll choose it!”
Perhaps that’s why I’ve also known few singles who’ve consciously chosen to make the most of their lives as singles.
Pointing the blame finger outside yourself always disempowers you. You can’t change how others choose. The only choices you can change are own. Focusing there empowers you to move forward.
For every finger you point at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at you. Accepting your own part in producing the life you have now provides an incredible sense of liberation. Don’t concern yourself with quantifying the blame or insisting that someone else have their part. Just accept that you played a part in creating the life you have now. In so doing, you free yourself to act more constructively. And you better encourage the life you want to come to you.
If you feel that singles life is a prison, then free yourself. Make the conscious choice to accept responsibility for the life you have today. Then act on that responsibility by making conscious choices to reach after your best life. Take the cards you have and make your best play. Own your life.
God loves you so much He isn’t waiting for your permission to bless you. We all have so many blessings around us that if each one were a sticky note, the whole world would be covered in sticky notes! When you own your life, you can more easily see that truth in your life.
Stop blaming anyone but yourself for your life. Stop looking in the rear view mirror. And stop focusing on the marriage you don’t have while so many opportunities to enjoy the life you do have surround you.
Start taking responsibility for how your life has resulted. Start looking to the future. And start marching there, because with God as your life partner that future can’t be anything less than glorious.
Don’t just sit there and accept whatever part of your life isn’t right. Do something about it! Free yourself from your self-constructed prison of ineffective thinking and habits. Make conscious choices to strive after the life you want. Own your life.
Most of us dread exercise. We really don’t want to do it. Yet together with losing weight, it’s one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Our culture promotes weight loss through exercise.
Many singles think of losing weight for dating. They want to make themselves more attractive to a potential partner. While seemingly harmless, that attitude inhibits joy in living.
Don’t get me wrong. Self-improvement is fantastic. Seeing that in a potential partner often increases attractiveness. The problem comes when we fail to recognize the interconnections between our constituent parts.
A model for living
Reaching for the best-lived life, many have proposed models of the different aspects of life. To me, such models have limited use. Yes, they can help to identify deficiencies in personal development and constructive paths to balance in daily living. But many also encourage compartmentalization, thereby robbing us of the joy of living in the moment.
Over the years I’ve developed my own model to describe the different aspects of life. It has four parts: the spirit (spiritual aspect, including values, ethics, and worship); the heart (emotional aspect, including all interrelationships); the mind (intellectual aspect, including learning and culture); and the body (interface with the physical world, including health, career, and finances).
Although the spirit resides in the center, each of the four parts interfaces with the other three. A deficiency or imbalance in any one element strains the rest. Thus, we must nourish each part for a whole and balanced life.
Caring for more than the body
In my experience, this effect goes both ways. Just as neglecting one area can diminish the rest, expanding our perspective on an activity typically associated with one of the four areas can also strengthen the rest. This effect heightens the joy from the overall experience.
Exercise provides a good example. So many of us think of exercise as simply caring for the body, and it is. But any perspective ending here will limit our enjoyment of life. Exercise can provide a total experience when we expand our perspective to include the other three elements of living.
I posted before on how exercise-induced asthma has provided me with many challenges. Those challenges provided opportunities for learning which strengthened my mind. Collecting performance data and assessing results often revealed the next step in my journey. Learning more about the nature of my challenges and devising ways to overcome them has brought great mental stimulation.
As I continued my quest for higher performance, I’ve learned to love myself more and be more forgiving when my performance falls short of aspirations. In this way exercise has helped to increase my emotional well-being. When you care for something every day, it’s hard to hate it, imperfect though it may be.
Finally, we Latter-day Saints have spoken of the body as both a temple and a stewardship. Viewed in this light, exercise acquires a spiritual element. Exercise then becomes a spiritual meditation in which we glorify God by caring for His creation. I can’t tell you how many times my runs have helped me feel nearer to God.
Feeding the spirit while neglecting the body, which is a temple, usually leads to spiritual dissonance and lowered self-esteem. If you are out of shape, if you are uncomfortable in your own body and can do something about it, then do it!
Therefore, please use good judgment in what and especially how much you eat, and regularly give your body the exercise it needs and deserves. If you are physically able, decide today to be the master of your own house and begin a regular, long-term exercise program, suited to your abilities, combined with a healthier diet. Spiritual confidence increases when your spirit, with the help of the Savior, is truly in charge of your natural man or woman.
Many singles approach physical activity with a narrow attitude. Instead of exercising to lose weight to attract a dating partner, we should exercise with the interconnected view of each aspect of our lives. That perspective increases our confidence in both God and ourselves. And it’s that confidence that will attract the kind of companion we really want much more than any exercise program focused on simply changing our physical bodies.
All of Elder Klebingat’s address is top notch. Didn’t read it or need a refresher? Follow the link I gave earlier. Or watch it right here. No matter what, own your life. Always do something suited to your personal situation that will move you into more positive territory.
Speaking of which, I need to go run.
For the benefit of those not in class yesterday, lesson highlights comprise my post for this week. If you haven’t yet read President Uchtdorf’s address, or you need a refresher, take a moment to get familiar.
People over programs
For many Latter-day Saints, Church activity means rote motions involving programs. That’s especially true with singles. Too many singles committees restrict their function to planning activities. As I’ve posted previously, falling to minister to individuals often yields low attendance.
Why do we singles attend activities? To advance our own agenda? For some personal advantage? Or are we consciously choosing to seek opportunities to minister to other singles?
Perhaps that’s why this section from President Uchtdorf’s address really resonated with me.
This temptation to appear better than we are is found not just in our personal lives but can be found in our Church assignments as well.
I love that the first example recipient of service is a single adult! How I wish local leaders would embrace that spirit and stop merely checking off boxes on their to-do lists! How I wish they would minister to individual singles!
And that brought me to the crux of my lesson yesterday. We singles can sit and decry how our leaders and the other married members of our wards and stakes aren’t doing enough to make us feel included. We can complain how they continually refuse to reach out to us and minister to us effectively. But we can’t expect our leaders to do for us what we refuse to do for ourselves.
Surrender to love
President Uchtdorf invoked the idea of a personal interview with the Savior. Instead of asking after numbers and programs, he envisions Christ asking after our hearts and the people under our care. I love how President Uchtdorf mentioned three special items:
1. How we love and minister to those in our care
Regardless of our situation, we all have people in our lives to love. Whether it be a parent, a child, a sibling, a friend, or simply another single, we all have someone we can love. When was the last time you ministered to such a person?
2. How we show our love to our spouses and family
While we singles don’t have our own families according to the ideal modern-day prophets and apostles promote, we are members of wards and stakes. When did you last show love to one of them? If it was before yesterday, it’s been too long.
3. How we lighten their daily load
Feeling loved is a basic human need. So yes, the married members of our wards and stakes should include us singles more. But wallowing in complaints that they aren’t isn’t very productive. Taking the initiative to lead by example and minister to them is.
President Uchtdorf continued
Whether your testimony is thriving and healthy or your activity in the Church more closely resembles a Potemkin village, the good news is that you can build on whatever strength you have. Here in the Church of Jesus Christ you can mature spiritually and draw closer to the Savior by applying gospel principles day by day.
Isn’t that what we all ultimately want? The scriptures commonly use hunger and thirst as metaphors for desire. Thus, God promises we’ll have no more desires. And that’s because He’ll fill them all.
God will correct every injustice in our lives and cater every deficiency. He will make up the difference because He is the difference in every joyful, meaningful life. And that’s the life every one of us can have when we exercise the power of conscious choice.
Ministry of service
Theoretically, the Church should be a place of healing, just as President Uchtdorf described. For many singles, however, attending church only picks at the scabs of old wounds, if not provide fresh ones. It’s easy to feel marginalized when the culture focuses on what you don’t have.
Again, we could point to what others aren’t but should be doing. Or we could embrace a ministry of service to the very people who should be ministering to us. Others may act in ways that leave our needs — even our basic human needs — unmet. But what matters more is that we minister to the needs of others.
Simple, private service is often most effective. As President Uchtdorf noted, the Savior served this way.
The greatest, most capable, most accomplished man who ever walked this earth was also the most humble. He performed some of His most impressive service in private moments, with only a few observers, whom He asked to “tell no man” what He had done. When someone called Him “good,” He quickly deflected the compliment, insisting that only God is truly good. Clearly the praise of the world meant nothing to Him; His single purpose was to serve His Father and “do always those things that please him.” We would do well to follow the example of our Master.
What will you do to follow the Savior’s example in serving others? Happiness comes not from doing the right things, but from giving your all to the right things. When you make that conscious choice, you can access all the joy that God wants you to have here and now.
So what are you waiting for? What private moment will you take today to love someone in your life?
Giving ourselves positive messages through self talk applies to every area of life. But perhaps no area of singles life needs positive reinforcement more than how we imagine our chances for a lasting temple marriage.
Popular LDS singles urban myth says your chances of marriage seriously diminish after age 30. And if you don’t get married by age 40, they’re practically nonexistent.
But urban myth is just that — myth. People who marry well — many of them well past their 20s — do so because they’ve adjusted their lives to reflect a few truths. And all of us can do this no matter how young we are.
Your focus becomes your reality
The Law of the Harvest always holds true. The thoughts we entertain in the mind and nurture to reality obey this law just as much as the seeds we sow in the field and nurture to harvest.
Many of our thoughts as singles denigrate our royal heritage as children of God and depreciate our potential. If we tell ourselves that no one will ever want us, that we’re too deficient or inferior or defective to realize righteous desires, what seeds are we sowing and nurturing? When we give ourselves these messages habitually, how are we not then our own worst obstacle?
Your focus becomes your reality. When you habitually focus on why you can’t, your reality will always be failure. But when you habitually focus on why you can and act accordingly, your reality will always lead to success.
Positivity is a choice
Successful people in any endeavor accept the world as they find it, not as they would wish it to be. That doesn’t mean they don’t act to change their circumstances. They do what they can where they are with the confidence that the universe will somehow bring everything together for their benefit.
We Latter-day Saints call that walking by faith. And we must choose to walk by faith before God brings us our miracle.
Alma taught his son Helaman
For he will fulfil all his promises which he shall make unto you, for he has fulfilled his promises which he has made unto our fathers. (Alma 37:17)
Earlier Alma confessed
Yea, and he has also brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem; and he has also, by his everlasting power, delivered them out of bondage and captivity, from time to time even down to the present day; and I have always retained in remembrance their captivity; yea, and ye also ought to retain in remembrance, as I have done, their captivity. (Alma 36:29)
Alma constantly filled himself with faith — messages that bolstered belief that the Lord would help him to succeed because the Lord had done exactly that many times before.
It’s easy to despair when our natural eyes don’t see the path to eternal blessings. But Alma shows it doesn’t have to be that way. Positivity is a choice. When you choose to fill yourself with faith, you reap a harvest equally positive and uplifting.
Let your life exude faith
Walking by faith doesn’t mean engaging in a pointed campaign to march directly toward righteous goals. The road to marriage is not casual but correlative.
As I say in my upcoming book, we’re not making waffles here. You can’t mix the “right” ingredients, pour the mix into the iron, and then wait for that little light to indicate your deliciousness is ready (although many of us yearn for it to be that way). The agency of another person is involved. So the most you can do is influence your desired outcome.
You exert the best influence when you just let go and live a life which exudes faith in God’s promises. The Atonement has made joy possible for you — not just in the next life, and not until you have made every covenant that man and woman can make, but right now.
Many of us have the Lord’s promises of eternal blessings recorded in our patriarchal blessings. For others, the Spirit communicated those promises during special, sacred experiences. However your promises came, He says He’s got your back. Take Him at His word.
When you radiate that confidence, excessive worry can’t touch you. Of course, you’ll look for opportunities and take them when you see them. But you don’t fret if your aspirations don’t materialize. Other opportunities for a new future will come just as surely as the sun will dawn a new day. Walking by faith means living life guided by faith in Christ’s Atonement. As long as you keep trying to do all you can do, the Lord will somehow manage the rest.
But that confidence comes to you only after you fill yourself again and again and again with positive self-talk that encourages you to have faith.
If you haven’t embraced habits that encourage you to believe and reach always for the positive choice, then reformat and reboot yourself. Replace habits of fear and negative self-talk with habits of faith and positive self-talk.
No matter your situation, there is always hope because there is always Christ. When you walk with that faith, you allow your righteous desires to come to you more easily. So what are you waiting for? Fill yourself with faith every single day.
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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