Like most things in life, LDS dating has its own set of challenges. And like most challenges, our ability to come off conqueror depends upon our attitude and our approach.
Unfortunately, many LDS singles remain single because they have a completely wrong attitude and a completely wrong approach. Last week we discussed some of the ways in which LDS singles can improve their approach. Although not comprehensive, that discussion provides some ideas for starting the change towards securing better results.
Yet, as good as those ideas are, they won’t take you very far without the right attitude. That’s because your approach always takes root in your attitude. Even if you have a more effective approach, a bad attitude will water that garden with contaminated water that will destroy whatever blooms your approach encouraged.
Conversely, a good attitude will prosper that garden into providing a harvest of beautiful blossoms. And the best part is that you can choose the attitude you embrace. It all starts when you boot out the negative from your life.
Leave the past in the past
Have you ever seen ads for investments? They always have some fine print somewhere that essentially says past performance does not guarantee future earnings. Now, why is that? They’re trying to cover themselves. After all, the future’s not written. Anything could happen.
That’s just as true for our lives as it is for a financial portfolio. Yet too many of us don’t believe that. We believe that somehow the past determines our future. We think we’re deficient or “less than” because of something that happened to us. Or maybe it’s because of something that hasn’t happened to us. Our focus turns more towards the negative, and before long our reality is negative as well.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Our past will become our future only if we choose that. If we choose differently, then our lives will be different. It all starts when we leave the past in the past and believe a brighter tomorrow awaits us ahead.
Yes, whatever bad thing happened to you happened. OK, great. Now it’s time to move on. Do you want a different future? Move towards it!
Watch the self-talk
Moving towards a better future means gaining control over your self-talk. I’ve discussed self-talk so often in this forum because it’s absolutely essential to having joy all along your journey. Up to 95% of our emotions comes from self-talk.
Self-talk is essentially the messages we give ourselves. Most of it operates out of habit, so whether it’s positive or negative, you’ll drown yourself in whatever you’ve programmed your habit to play to you. And yes, you have programmed your self-talk habit.
That may sound discouraging, but it really isn’t. If you make conscious choices in how you program your self-talk habit, you can feed yourself positive messages that will uplift and inspire you. You can feed yourself hope, optimism, and light that will support you in moving towards a positive future that’s very different from whatever past you may have. All this is possible because you can choose what messages you give yourself.
Make the change
We choose not only the messages we give to ourselves but also the messages we give to others. Even some of the messages our world gives us we can choose. After all, we choose our environment. We choose our friends. We choose what media we allow in our lives.
With so much that you choose for yourself, your life is very much what you’ve decided it to be. When you accept responsibility for the results your choices have brought you and own your life, a whole new world of possibilities opens before you. You become free from the shackles of self-limiting beliefs and excuses. You can do anything because you have the power within you.
You can move forward to make whatever change you need to make. No longer held back by your past or held down by your self-talk, you can change your life when you change yourself and the way you think.
So boot out the negative! Get it out of your life and replaced with the positive. Immersing yourself in that energy will empower you to become everything your Heavenly Father wants you to become. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Last week we discussed President Nelson’s remarks from the most recent General Conference about increasing the revelation we receive in our lives. By following the Prophet’s counsel, we can find answers to questions and solutions to challenges.
Many LDS singles rightly seek revelation during their dating journey. However, many become their own worst obstacle when they seek too much revelation too soon.
These singles ask the obvious question: Is this person “the one”? That question seems appropriate for exclusive daters contemplating engagement. But many ask that same question before they get anywhere near the Exclusive Dating stage. They’re in the Casual Dating stage or even still in the Friendship stage.
I understand why they do it. They don’t want to waste their time with someone who ultimately won’t give them what they want — a temple marriage. And they don’t want the emotional pain of heartache after investing in a relationship that dies. But I also understand why this approach turns LDS singles into their own worst obstacle.
So much of the thinking in LDS subculture is binary. Everything’s either good or bad, black or white. There’s no room for gray.
This narrow perspective drives LDS singles to see every dating prospect in extremes. Everyone is either potential marriage material or an acquaintance. Why waste time and money, the thinking goes, on someone who won’t be with you in the end anyway?
It’s little wonder we don’t really know what friendship is anymore when we discard further association with others once their failure to satisfy our personal agenda becomes evident. Getting to know other people is never a waste of time. Who couldn’t use more support while traveling the road of LDS singles life?
Cutting off association with others once all hope of romance dies sends the message that our worth comes from our ability to provide marriage. Yet our worth really comes from our status as children of God. Building genuine friendship with others — especially when they can’t really help us any — is the mark of a true friend. And more true friends means more support when relationships we do hope will work out don’t.
Asking “Is this the one?” too soon introduces excessive seriousness in our dating journey. Everyone retracts, becoming extremely cautious about everything they do because they don’t want to be tied to any undesirable commitments. And that restricts progress in our dating journey.
We also tend to misinterpret our experience with revelation when we ask such a serious question too soon. What will be the answer to such a question? More often than not, it’ll be “No.” We then assume that means this person isn’t “the one” and proceed to sever all relations. In actuality, it’s far more likely that “No” simply means “No, you’re going about this all wrong.”
I once met an attractive woman at a singles conference. We really seemed to click. But a couple of emails later, she told me she prayed to know whether I was “the one” and God told her to stop talking to me.
Please! Revelation properly used in dating is about confirming choices we make, not instructing us with what to do. Her choice was in no way informed. We never went on a single date!
And what resulted from her choice? No one won. Both of us remained single longer than we needed to be, and neither one of us gained a new friend. In many ways, we really are our own worst obstacle. If only we could get out of our own way!
Be where you are
We can promote rather than frustrate our progress in our dating journey by respecting where we are. Before the Exclusive Dating stage, there’s no elevated commitment level. Any commitment between people dies with the end of the date activity.
With such low levels of commitment, asking a very serious question like “Is this the one?” has no place until time with the more serious commitment of the Exclusive Dating stage prompts consideration of progressing even further. No wonder the answer to that question asked too soon is more often “No.” The Lord is trying to tell us, “No, you’re going about this all wrong!”
Why can’t we just focus on where we are in our journey and enjoy that place? Dating is supposed to be fun, and it can be when we set aside our expectations, enjoy getting to know others, and build friendships rather than rushing everything towards the end goal.
Don’t be your own worst obstacle. Save serious questions for later stages of the journey when the level of commitment demands that level of seriousness. When you do, you’ll free yourself to enjoy more every part of dating. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Because it’s always good to know what the living Prophet said in the last Conference, my selection wasn’t difficult to make. In “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” President Russell M. Nelson spoke of our increasing need to include personal revelation in our lives. And he did so by sharing experiences with revelation from his own life.
Later he revealed (pun intended) how we can best receive that revelation in our lives.
We all have questions that can be answered and challenges that can be solved with the divine inspiration that comes from revelation. But do we have the power-packed combination President Nelson offered?
Pure and obedient
Increased purity and exact obedience go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. We increase our purity only by aligning ourselves more closely to standards of truth, and that means obeying the commandments with more exactness.
I remember on my mission we were constantly encouraged to be “Ammon missionaries.” Ammon performed every command given him (Alma 18:10) and as a result had wonderful missionary opportunities open to him. Years later, many of the sons of the converts Ammon taught went to battle under Helaman’s command. Mormon ascribes their miraculous preservation in battle to their faith, which they had because “they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness” (Alma 57:21).
How exact are we in our obedience? Are we unable to receive the revelation we need to do wonderful things because our tolerance for impurity is too low? Are we kept from our best life solely by the essential bits of information we might have received had we been more committed?
Seeking and feasting
Just as purity and obedience go hand in hand, so too do earnest seeking and feasting daily from the Book of Mormon. Earnest seekers of answers to questions and solutions to challenges will look to hear God’s voice through many channels. And an obvious channel is the scriptures.
And in no book of scripture can we hear the voice of heaven more clearly than in the Book of Mormon. This book was prepared for us in our day. The ancient prophet Alma the Younger instructed his son Helaman that the Lord was preparing the plates from which the Book of Mormon was later translated “that he may show forth his power unto future generations” (Alma 37:14). I believe part of that “power” is an increased capacity to hear the voice of God provide answers to our questions and solutions to our challenges.
Of course, we don’t always get answers and solutions just for the asking. Some times we’re left to struggle with our questions and challenges because that struggle will help us to grow in a way we other wouldn’t if we received everything on demand. But, as President Nelson promises,
Certainly these blessings come after we do our part. So how are we doing? Are we earnestly seeking for answers while feasting every day in the Book of Mormon?
Committed to temple and family history work
The final part of President Nelson’s power-packed combination is like icing on a cake. Temples are natural places of revelation, and the family history work that supports temple work naturally invites revelation. Both provide ways for us to practice the increased receptivity to revelation gained from increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, and daily feasting in the Book of Mormon.
I confess that lately I’ve been slacking here. There’s no reason why I can’t attend the temple weekly. In fact, I’ve never before had so little excuse not to attend weekly as I live conveniently to two temples. But like most things in life, if you don’t schedule the time to go and then commit to follow that schedule, life can easily crowd out family history and temple service.
That’s why I like President Nelson’s description: “regular time committed.” We need to establish a time when we will go to the temple and when we will participate in some aspect of family history work. And then we need to commit ourselves to follow through on our plans.
What questions do you need answered? What challenges do you need solved? Revelation can help. When we follow President Nelson’s counsel, that blessing can be ours. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Mother’s Day is once more around the corner. And of course I remember my own dear mother. She’s a sweet lady who’s continually given to me all of my life. I can’t help but remember her.
I also remember a “controversy” that swept through LDS singles groups on social media last year. I rarely use social media, but I remember someone showing me what people were saying. Some childless sisters were getting upset about all the attention paid to women who have born children. Their comments reflected feelings of hurt, isolation, and neglect.
Because I still rarely use social media, I can’t tell you if any similar discord exists this year. But I can tell you this episode illustrates a great truth. Half the problems we LDS singles have are all in our head. If we’d adopt more effective ways of thinking, half our problems would literally disappear.
Don’t get me wrong. Those feelings of hurt, isolation, and neglect are real. Emotions are not figments of our imagination. But those feelings stem from less effective ways of thinking about yourself and your world. Once you adopt more effective ways of thinking, many negative feelings disappear because they have nothing to drive them within you.
Watch your focus
What are these more effective ways of thinking? One of the most important is to control your focus. I feel like a broken record, but your focus becomes your reality. Change your focus, and you change your reality.
Negative emotions often attend a focus on what you lack. When you focus on what you lack, your reality becomes one of lack. And that reality doesn’t make a very happy life for anyone.
Furthermore, focus can become habitual. Because we’re designed to function out of habit, the way we were designed to function may be keeping us in a negative reality.
Of course, the reverse can also be true. When we adopt habits of positive focus, we can experience a positive reality habitually. We can have joy all along our journey regardless of the circumstances that surround us when we focus on the positive.
“Give,” said the little stream
What then should be the focus of those who feel isolated by holidays like Mother’s Day? What’s so positive about not fitting in and having it rubbed in your face?
This brings us to another aspect of more effective thinking — action. Many simply act according to how they feel. But you can also act yourself into feeling a certain way.
For example, it’s been said that, when you don’t feel like praying, you should pray until you do. By persisting in the act of praying, you adjust your focus to a new reality. Before long, your thinking starts to match that reality. And then your feelings change to match the new reality.
What actions can LDS singles take to combat feelings of lack and isolation on holidays like Mother’s Day? The opposite of lack and isolation is abundance and connection. And feelings of abundance and connection prompt us to give. Giving helps us to focus more what we have than on what we lack.
Remember who you are
It’s easy to see yourself as not fitting into a family-centered culture when you define motherhood as having born children you don’t have. But in a broader and much more meaningful sense, motherhood is about giving love to those who need it.
It’s in that sense that I remember my own mother. The love she has continually given me throughout my life is what makes our relationship meaningful to me.
The great part about this is that we all have someone to love. God has given to all of us people in our lives who need the love we have to give. When we focus on giving that love to those whom God has given us to love, we focus on what we have and what we can do, not on what we don’t have or can’t do. Our reality then becomes one of abundance.
Many of the challenges LDS singles face are simply issues of identity. You embrace a more healthy sense of identity when you adopt more effective ways of thinking. By directing your focus and action towards giving love to those whom God has given you to love, you can embrace a new identity that transcends any challenge. You can rise above any difficulty.
Who has God given you to love? Who can claim you? This Sunday, let’s all celebrate the true spirit of motherhood by giving love to those whom God has given us to love. A focus on giving love will create a reality filled with love. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Making conscious choices allows you to overcome the challenges of your life. By breaking you out of autopilot, they break you free of the bonds of a mediocre life.
But your life won’t escape mediocrity if you make conscious choices about only a few things. You must make conscious choices about everything. That can burden just as much as the mediocre life your conscious choices helps you overcome.
Instead of swapping burdens around, you can leverage the power of habit. By working on your life one area at a time, you can adopt the habit of making conscious choices in a way that tips the balance towards liberating you.
For many, personal finances will likely top that list of life areas to reform. New Years resolutions regarding finances enjoy almost as much popularity as losing weight. Plus it’s just hard to feel free in other aspects of your life when this one area has you in bondage.
You need not feel imprisoned. Just as you can free yourself from the shackles of old, defunct ways of thinking, you can remove the chains of financial servitude. You can put your house in order.
Pay your tithing
The first step is to give the Creator of the universe what He’s marked as His. In so doing, you access the powers of heaven. Given the strong, thick cords that often comprise financial bonds, getting all the help you can just makes sense.
In my life, I’ve almost always paid tithing. Yes, I said almost. And yes, there’s a story behind that.
When I switched my career to education, I couldn’t find a job. So I made my own by starting a tutoring business. I learned lots in that experience, but I also didn’t make any money. And when you don’t make any money, you don’t pay tithing.
I had that business for just over a year — plenty of time to develop a habit of not paying tithing. So when I finally found a job in education, I followed my default habit and didn’t pay tithing. And, as I look back now upon that time, I see I didn’t have the blessings that come with paying tithing.
I’ve worked hard to re-establish the habit I once had, and now I’m seeing the blessings from paying tithing. The Lord has provided miracle after miracle in providing me financial support once I first walk by faith and pay my tithing. No financial house can be in order where tithing is not paid.
Eliminate your debt
Of course, excessive debt also indicates a financial house out of order. No matter how hard you work, interest will always work harder. Interest never sleeps. Interest never eats. Interest never stops.
Just like turning off the faucet stops an overflowing bathtub, the first step to clearing debt is to stop the flow of new charges to your existing debt. This requires a huge amount of discipline which many people don’t have (which is why they have financial problems to begin with).
But there’s good news. If you pay your tithing, you can access the powers of heaven to turn things around. I can’t tell you how amazing it felt to write the last check that paid off my student loans. I also remember when I received the title for my car. Those were wonderful moments when I savored freedom.
They didn’t come all at once. They came as I exercised the discipline month after month to pay the small portions I could every month. Step by step, I achieved my freedom.
Save what you can
Once you get out of debt, it’s best to stay out. And part of that is having enough in store to weather the rainy days that will surely come your way. One accident, one job loss, or one other unfortunate event can quickly bring you back into the bondage of indebtedness.
Again, the end result doesn’t happen overnight. You need the discipline month after month to set aside what little you can every month into savings. And you need the discipline not to touch that money outside of legitimate emergency need.
I’ve never been a profligate spender, so I’ve always saved by default. Most people aren’t that way; they spend most of what they earn every month. Still, I can see some wisdom in making the conscious choice to set aside a certain amount for savings every month. There’s a difference between simply letting something happen and acting to ensure it happens.
In the end, the conscious choices we make in managing our money reveal the discipline we have in managing ourselves. By making the right conscious choices, we can have a house in order. 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 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.
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