This past weekend I traveled to visit with my grandfather. I was hoping to get some family history information from him, particularly stories from his younger days about growing up during the Great Depression and serving in the military during WWII. I also hoped to get some stories about his parents, about whom I know a little, and his grandparents, about whom I know nothing (beyond the vital information that fills a pedigree chart, of course).
We singles generally have more mobility and flexibility to travel. That makes us more apt for the task of collecting these stories. Don’t get me wrong. Temple work is very important. But knowing that my ancestors have their temple work completed doesn’t really turn my heart towards them.
That’s where having the stories of their lives come in. It’s through the stories that the work of Elijah comes full circle. And with the current emphasis the Church is placing upon hastening the work, collecting those stories takes on a whole new urgency.
Yet there’s another reason why we need to hasten this particular aspect of the work. It’s the reason why my apparently good plan didn’t work out. You see, I didn’t get a single story during my visit. My grandfather was in so much pain that his mind could dwell on nothing else.
It’s a lesson that I had learned on my mission, and this recent episode provided a poignant reminder. When the body cries out loud enough for whatever reason, all other aspects of the human soul turn towards satiating the needs of the body. I saw this as a missionary trying to teach starving people the gospel. You can get so hungry that it’s difficult to think about anything but how to get your next meal. And when you get like that, trying to develop yourself in any other way is like trying to put a square peg in a round hole.
Suffering from a combination of arthritis and just plain old age, my grandfather was in so much pain that his mind could not be sufficiently diverted to give me the stories I sought.
I wouldn’t think of just showing up at his door, so I always called first. But every call I made found him unable to share with me the stories I sought. His speech would slur to the point that I couldn’t understand what he was saying. And being in so much pain he certainly wasn’t going to be searching the recesses of his memory for details he hasn’t had to recall in decades.
Hearts don't turn without the stories
In thinking about my experience, I take away this lesson: We need to get the stories NOW. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Yes, once people die, it’s too late. But my grandfather is not quite dead and yet I couldn’t get anything out of him. As far as collecting the missing stories, what’s the difference? I’m struggling to see any.
Hastening the work of salvation is about more than just missionary work, though missionary work is important. And it’s about more than temple work, although that’s really important too. It’s about collecting the stories so that we and those who come after us will know who we are and where we come from and what heritage has been passed on to us. I don’t see how the hearts of the children turn towards the fathers without that knowledge.
Other than what is listed in a pedigree chart, I don’t know much about my great great grandfather. How does my heart turn towards a man who is essentially a stranger to me?
We need to play our part now
We singles often feel like second-class citizens in the Kingdom because we’re not on the “right” side of the cultural rite of passage known as marriage. But we should never allow those emotions or anything else to dissuade us from acting like first-class citizens. We have a role to play in unfolding the great plan of God for all of His children. Our single status, particularly if we don’t have any children, can be a great asset in hastening the work. We can collect the stories of our ancestors. And we need to do it NOW before it’s too late.
Do you have the stories of your ancestors? If not, start today. Prayerfully pick an ancestor and start searching. Ask relatives what they remember. Record your conversations for later archiving and transcription. You don’t have to do everything, but you do need to do something. Do what you can to get the stories now.
Obviously, I’m siding with Mom. Vera pronounced final judgement after the very limited experience of just one date. Did she expect to be swept off her feet from the get-go? Very romantic but not very realistic.
No one’s perfect in any interaction, let alone dating interactions. Placing filters too soon in the process is one of the biggest problems in LDS dating. Such habits promote less effective thinking. As a result, we have a less effective reality.
Get a better map
As described in my book, we need to distinguish between two types of dating. The commitment level in casual dates doesn’t extend beyond the date activity, and multiple partners are allowed. For serious dates, the commitment level is higher because multiple partners aren’t allowed.
If you want to navigate any terrain successfully, you need a good map. Unfortunately, when it comes to the dating and marriage process, most LDS singles don’t have one. That’s why my book provides one as well as detailed descriptions on its use.
Clearly this sister in Zion was on a casual date. But she didn’t treat it that way. Her approach (common among LDS singles) involved a litmus test for time and all eternity right at the start.
By imposing a high commitment on a low-commitment stage, we confuse the process and obstruct ourselves from reaching our desired destination. It should be no surprise then when our dating efforts fail.
The problem is not "out there"
Humans naturally think the cause for any life problem is “out there.” Yet that thinking itself is the problem. Almost always the problem is inside you. That’s why the Savior taught to look first at the beam in your own eye.
I practice what I preach here. My soon-to-be-released book makes clear the deep digging I’ve done into myself.
In one way Vera does get it right. Too often marrieds say trite expressions that on the surface appear to help. But when you dig deeper, you find they either don’t want to help or do want to help but don’t know how. Ultimately, everyone needs to come together and help everyone travel together toward our eternal home.
The natural man says he does when in fact he doesn't
We often complicate life by thinking we do what in fact we don’t. Look closely at this key paragraph from Vera’s article.
The thing is, I do know some singles that are too picky. An over-obsession with physical perfection or needing someone to fit a very detailed résumé can be damaging. It also stands to reason that as you get older, your pool of eligible candidates gets smaller, and it is not wise to rule people out lightly. But I have worked very hard in my life to make sure I am picky about the right things. I don’t look for or expect perfection, but I can still hold out for someone who might just be perfect for me.
Initially, Vera makes LOTS of great sense. That’s easy when talking about others. It’s different when you’re the focus and you haven’t done the deep digging necessary to face your truth.
I don’t think Vera’s done that. She explains how she blew someone off after just one casual date then confesses that she doesn't rule people out lightly. Her only serious objection to further investigation? She “didn’t feel any sort of connection with the guy.”
Why would you expect any strong bonding after only one casual date? True loves are more made than found. That takes time and effort, a whole lot more than what a single casual date represents.
But her last sentence is the most telling. We LDS singles hear constant railing against requiring perfection. All of us want to belong. That’s why when prompted we’ll all say we aren’t looking for perfection. We want to feel validated in our culture. We want to belong.
Yet if you think you “can still hold out for . . . perfect” then you are looking for perfection. Facing your truth means coming to terms with how you really are and accepting that for whatever it is, even if it’s ugly or shaming or painful.
Your truth is simple. When you find the core naked truth that answers why you are still single, you’ll never describe singleness as “complicated.” But Vera does, because she hasn’t dug deep enough.
I really am trying to help
I hope Vera doesn’t feel picked on. I do appreciate her for sharing an honest appraisal of her experience. She’s not alone in her perceptions of LDS singles life. Habits rooted in less effective ways of thinking blind many.
That’s why it’s so important to understand the role of habit and dig deep enough to get your core naked truth. Anything less will leave the roots of your weeds to grow back another day.
If Vera can give that first date a real, legitimate chance, I hope she does so. Much of the challenge we LDS singles face really is of our own making.
An absolutely brilliant idea came to me while I was running yesterday. I’ve got so many great messages that singles need to hear that I put them into a book. Why not distribute them out with photos on social media? That way people can get some needed light in their lives without having to buy anything.
So I went looking for stock photos just as I do when preparing my blog posts. I collected ones that seemed to work for the purpose at hand. When one inspired a positive message in my mind (or just seemed related to one), I stopped and added it to the graphic. This activity quickly became really enjoyable, and I got on quite a roll, spending half my day with it. That meant some things didn’t get done as I intended they would. But that’s okay. After all, I have today.
Here’s the first of these graphics. I’ll be sharing them on the Facebook page I started for my book. So you can get these as I send them out automatically in your news feed by liking that page. And of course, spread them around. We all need to support one another in meeting the challenges of our lives.
And that’s exactly what this first graphic is intended to communicate. Yes, we do need to stand on the right side of the line. But in a world growing ever more dark, standing where we should is not enough. We need to support other people to stand there also.
Far too often singles groups are viewed either as activity clubs or dating forums. Both of these perspectives represent less effective ways of thinking and will prevent us from achieving our full potential in building Zion. That’s because those perspectives don’t encourage us to be supportive of those who surround us.
Zion is a place where everyone looks out for everyone. That means singles groups should be about supporting one another. Yet too often those who participate in singles groups have their own agenda. And that agenda -- whether filling a spot in a calendar or looking for a companion -- is ultimately centered on self.
And this isn’t just something for singles to adopt. Our married friends can do much to support us to face the challenges of singles life without diminishing the role of the family in the gospel plan.
I talk about all this and more in my upcoming book. You can download the first 60 pages for free. And you don’t need to provide any information on yourself to download. Just click on the download link at the bottom of the book page and you get the PDF. It’s really that simple. There really are no strings attached.
I’m following a different business model. Some folks call me nuts for not collecting contact info that can be used in future marketing efforts. But I’m so sick of being marketed to that I don’t want to inflict that on anyone else.
That’s also why I place a word limit on my blog posts. In our modern world, information overload is so prevalent it could rank as the fastest growing public health concern. I don’t want to overload anyone. I want to provide positive strength in facing challenges and relief from problems in a way that people can easily fit what I have to offer into their already busy lives. Sharing pieces through multiple channels seems to achieve that objective best. That way people can pick and choose what fits best for them.
Clearly my upcoming book is a major channel. But I also have this blog. And now I’m moving into social media to engage other ways of spreading the message.
The gospel really is good news for those who truly embrace it. Let’s support one another as we all journey together towards our eternal home. You can support those in your circle of influence by liking the Facebook page for my upcoming book and then sharing the posts with those in your network. If you haven’t done so already, then lease take a moment and do it now.
No, I’m not bringing in Bob Dylan as a guest blogger. But I am announcing something big. Today I completed a major milestone. I have the text of my book completed.
All told, there’s 400 pages of material. It’s taken me three and a half years to get to this point, and it feels great to have reached it.
But the journey is far from over. I still have the covers to design and editing to complete, not to mention setting up distribution channels, among other minutia. I want to make this book available in both electronic and print versions.
That being said, I’m going to share with you the first part of my book as a PDF download from this website.
Yes, you read that right. You can have the first 60 pages of my upcoming book for free. Just go to the Book link at the top of the page. Once you're on the Book page, scroll to the bottom and click on the link to download. You won’t get anything fancy outside of the text itself. But what you get will give you a good taste of what’s coming down the pike.
If you have any issues with the download or would like to share some feedback about what you find in the book sample, just leave a comment below.
Oh, the times they are a changin’. And I’m totally pumped to embrace what’s coming.
Many single adults, especially never-been-marrieds past their mid-20s, think all hope is lost when they don’t see any obvious opportunities for the marriage they long to have. Fundamentally, their lack of hope is no different from anyone else with righteous desires that appear difficult if not impossible to fulfill. A good example is the righteous married couple who wants to have biological children but can’t.
Yet in all cases hope abounds. No matter how bleak your circumstances may appear, you always have reason to hope. There is always hope because there is always Christ.
Access the truth
How do you believe that when all around you seems bleak and dismal? Almost all of us believe very readily in miracles that Christ performed among a people most of us don’t know in a land far away which most of us haven’t seen. Yet when it comes to believing in miracles performed in our own lives, we respond very slowly if at all. We need to open our hearts and start believing Him in everything.
Part of what makes that belief easier is a correct idea of life after death. Knowing that God has apportioned a time in which all wrongs will be righted encourages patience when things you don’t want to happen do in fact happen. Knowing that a just God will not wait to right your wrongs when the time to right them comes also encourages patience. There is always hope because there is always Christ.
Focus on Christ
Of course, patience doesn’t always appease the longing that pains the heart here and now. Because your focus determines your reality, those who focus on those pains have a reality filled with pain. These individuals should focus instead on the Savior so that He becomes their reality.
Christ didn’t teach that all His promised blessings would be available only after death. Nor did He teach that His promised blessings would be distributed like lunch on a buffet table — first come are first served and everyone else will just have to wait. He wants all of us to enjoy all His promised blessings. That means you.
Because you are unique in personality and demeanor, so also are the gifts that you have been given to help you to achieve your full potential. Some people may appear to have more than you. But just as in the parable of the talents, those who improve upon what they have, whatever that may be, will be received into the joy of the Lord. That joy can fill you now as well as in times to come. There is always hope because there is always Christ.
Christ will help you to prepare
We also find each other at different points in our life journey. If you look around, you should notice that some are ahead and others are behind in terms of spiritual progression. Christ wants all of His children to enjoy all of the blessings He has promised to the faithful. Yet some of the faithful, because of where they are in their life journey, may not be ready for some of those blessings.
In the case of marriage, both parties must be ready in order for the arrangement to bring a fullness of joy into the lives of both parties. If you are yearning for that special someone and wonder why you do not have the blessing you desire, consider that you may not be ready. Consider that your companion may not be ready. Or perhaps the time is right for both of you and you simply need to get busy doing the right things. In any of these cases, Christ can help you to prepare. There is always hope because there is always Christ.
See with spiritual eyes
If you see with no more than your physical eyes, then ultimately you will have no hope. You can look around and not physically see the means to achieve what you desire. Even here, there is always hope because there is always Christ.
Christ can help you to see with spiritual eyes. He can help you to see what is there but not seen with physical eyes. What you want may be right in front of you. But because of the way you see your world, you may not recognize you blessing.
Second, He can help you to see what does not now exist because it has yet to be created. What you desire may be something that He creates for you. Or it could be something that you have yet to create for yourself. In all cases, Christ will help you to do whatever is needful for you to receive all of the blessings which He desires to give you. There is always hope because there is always Christ.
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 and podcast 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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