One of the classic discourses for LDS singles is Elder Oaks’ 2003 fireside address about timing. Because the Lord really can make more out of our lives than we can, we need to accept His timetable for our blessings.
Many LDS singles rationalize inaction with that idea, and it annoys me. Many assume the Lord’s timing must not be right for them simply because they’re still single. They don’t dig deep enough to understand the truth of their lives.
Well-meaning leaders often counsel, “Just stay righteous and wait for the Lord.” Do we need do nothing more than maintain the standards? My own life experience proves that isn’t true, and the experiences of many other faithful LDS singles add to that testimony.
In all of this, something more seems missing. Let’s you and I dig deeper.
Give yourself to the right things
We all know what success in our road to marriage is. You choose the person who chooses you. Faced with that reality, when life doesn’t go as planned many simply say, “Well, it must not be the Lord’s timing.” Such a premature conclusion blinds them from digging deeper and finding real solutions to their real problem.
You have agency about everything in your life, which includes making you more attractive to your hoped for eternal companion.
Too many LDS singles use the concept of the Lord’s timing as a crutch to excuse themselves from further involvement in their own eternal progression. They simply keep the standards and then expect the Lord to deliver their desired companion through some magical event, as though righteousness alone earns them the right to their blessings.
The universe doesn’t work that way. If you want to reap the harvest, you must sow the seed for your desired harvest. Plenty of miserable people simply do the right things. How many LDS singles keep the standards and yet journey through life unfulfilled? Happiness is not about doing the right things but about giving your all to the right things.
There's more you can do
Without question the standards are some of those right things. But so is eliminating habits that encourage potential companions to decide against you.
So is changing the way you think so your approach to life broadcasts an attractive rather than repulsive energy.
So is conquering your fears holding you back from achieving your potential.
So is adopting a personal ministry, which makes you more attractive by the goodness you bring into the world.
So does partnering with the Lord so you can know what steps you need to take today to turn your life around and capture all the joy He wants you to have right now.
Rushing to conclude the Lord’s timing isn’t right just because you’re still single blinds you from seeing all the things that are right for you, thus robbing you of joy you can have in your journey everyday. No matter how much you’ve done, there’s always more you can do.
Partner with the Lord
Of course the Lord has His timetable for each of our lives. He knows not only what’s right but when it’s right. That’s why we need to partner with Him. When you do that, you’ll know when your time is. For the vast majority of LDS singles, that time is right now. We need to get busy giving our all to all the right things. That’s more than keeping the standards. It’s changing the way you think so you embrace a new way of being that makes you more attractive to your blessings.
That’s the real secret to marriage. It’s something you pursue indirectly, not directly. The agency of another person is involved. You can’t choose for others, only yourself. But choosing to make the right changes in you drastically increases the probability of someone you want wanting you. Partnering with the Lord will help you know what changes are best for you to make today that will attract a brighter tomorrow.
The Lord does have a right time for each of us to receive the blessings of eternal marriage. When you partner with the Lord, He’ll tell you what time is right for you. Unless the Lord has revealed to you your time really isn’t now, you’re choosing to be single when you use the concept of the Lord’s timing to justify your own inaction. For the vast majority of LDS singles, the Lord’s timing is now. We then need to get busy giving our all to all the right things for us.
I’ve been thinking about a recent monologue in which I took a new spin on the expression and it came to pass. Our trials always come to pass and never to stay. This perspective can help us to endure our trials better.
That monologue is one of my best since I started blogging about LDS singles life almost four years ago. Yet the more I think about it, the more I sense something’s missing. Yes, our trials will always pass with time, but that perspective alone doesn’t make them any easier to bear in the moment. Is it possible to have real, deeply felt joy while your world is crumbling around you?
I believe the answer is a resounding yes. And I believe the key goes beyond perspective and embraces attitude. Like so much in life, it’s all in how you approach it.
You make it
What happens to you doesn’t determine the quality of your life. It’s what you do about it. We all have challenges in life, but not everyone has the same quality of life.
Mortality challenges us by design. It’s part of the plan to help us grow and achieve our eternal potential. That means we came here to have challenges.
The typical response to trial is to wallow in despair and self-pity. We ask, “Why does this have to happen to me?” But what does that approach provide? It certainly doesn’t make us stronger. If anything, it makes us weaker. And the more we embrace that attitude, the weaker we become.
Obviously, we need a different approach if we want a different experience. Perspective can help with that, but it’s not the whole answer. We need a new way of thinking.
That starts for you when you accept the truth. What happens to you doesn’t determine the quality of your life. You do. If you want your world to change, then you must change. You must make the life you want.
You choose it
What happens to you happens to everyone. Sure, you may have a challenge others don’t seem to have. But guess what? Others have challenges of their own you don’t have.
Again, that’s by design. We’re here in mortality to experience challenges so we can fulfill our eternal potential. That’s why marriage, which so many LDS singles consider the solution for their problems, really isn’t a solution at all. You’ll leave behind some challenges, yes, but other challenges will take their place. Mortality is designed to challenge everyone.
We’re all challenged by something, so there are no real differences. What happens to you happens to everyone. The Savior taught, “for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). The difference is in how you choose to respond. You have a glorious gift called agency.
You don’t have to give the typical response to trials. You don’t have to ask, “Why me?” You can instead ask, “What can I learn from this experience?” Or “How can I use this experience to make a renewed and better attempt?” Or “How can this experience help me be a better person?” Or “What opportunities does this experience provide?” The person asking these questions isn’t some pathetic clod in a corner. The person asking these questions is rising to the challenge in confident nobility.
You become it
Our trials never come to stay and always come to pass. As good as that perspective is, we still have this question: What good will that passing provide? Will your challenges change you into something more than you were before? Or will they simply pass and leave you the same?
The answer is entirely up to you. You have agency. You decide what your response will be. And that response dictates what effect your trials have upon you.
In the end, we all make it to the end. You determine what that end is for you and the quality of your journey there by the choices you make. So what life will you choose to make for yourself? Will you shrink in the sulking of self-pity? Or will you rise with your regal heritage as a child of the Ultimate Creator and meet your challenges head on?
The natural man inspires the typical, destructive approach to trials. Christ inspires a different, constructive approach. It’s more than just perspective. It’s even more than attitude. It’s a lifestyle. When you adopt that lifestyle, you can have joy in your journey no matter what challenges you. That’s part of the miracle of the Atonement. And you can have that everyday if you but choose to rise to the challenge.
Recently I’ve been considering how I arrived where I am today. I remember a really dramatic episode from several years ago involving a woman I loved with all my heart. I was in my mid-30s and considered her as my last chance to secure the blessings I’d been wanting for over a decade.
Everything seemed OK until my rose-colored glasses could no longer obscure the truth. She called to tell me she was seeing another guy. I still held hope things could turn around. After all, we’re supposed to believe in miracles, right?
Only deep down I didn’t really believe a miracle would happen for me. Instead I felt desperate. It seemed my last hope was slipping away from me. I kept thinking about what I didn’t want to have happen. So what happened next shouldn’t surprise anyone.
She called on my birthday to say she was engaged to be married in two weeks. She knew it was my birthday because earlier she sang “Happy birthday” into my voicemail. As if stabbing me through the heart wasn’t enough, she twisted the knife by bluntly telling me I wasn’t invited to the wedding.
The excruciating emotional turmoil that ensued felt unbearable. The anguish of being lost for eternity tortured me. I felt more alone and forsaken than at any point in my life. I entered a depression that took literal months to overcome.
See the opportunity
I’ve learned in the years since my tragic episode I wasn’t alone in seeing a specific relationship as my only hope for securing eternal blessings. And I’ve also learned I created much of the pain and anguish I felt from losing that relationship. I hurt like I did because of the way I was thinking.
That concept may shock some, but it’s no less true. Sure, other people make choices, sometimes against us. But we construct much of our reality, including our emotional reality, with our thinking.
The story has been told of two salesman who get up one morning and see a very wet and windy storm. The first one says, “Wow, what a storm! No one can expect us to go out and make sales today.” He stays home. The second one says, “Wow, what a storm! And what a great day to make sales. Everyone will be home, even the other salesmen!” Both men saw the same storm, but each had a different reality because each choose to see the same storm differently. Where one saw an obstacle, the other saw an opportunity.
That’s what my experiences have taught me over the years. As much as it once felt like I blew my last chance, God has provided others. I just needed to see the opportunities instead of the obstacles.
Part of that required me to recognize what an opportunity actually is. So many of us LDS singles think so narrowly in that regard we’re standing in our own way. We place too many and too stringent filters up front, removing qualified candidates from our consideration. And we view the whole dating journey through binary lenses which blind us from seeing any value in relationships that for whatever reason don’t end in marriage.
Last week I provided the key to changing our perspective. We need to believe the gospel — I mean, really believe it. We know God loves us, but when you truly believe it, you’ll have the confidence He’s constantly working on clearing the next best pathway to your blessings. We know God is all-knowing, all-powerful, etc., but when you truly believe He has His characteristics, you’ll walk in faith He’ll turn everything bad in your life into everything good. All your mourning will turn into joy.
In truth, there is no Obi Wan. There’s never a last and only chance for eternal happiness. God loves you so much He’ll never stop providing you with opportunities to secure your blessings. You just need to set your thinking straight. You need to see the opportunities instead of the obstacles. You need to believe what you know is true. And you need to start doing the right things. The sooner you get on that train, the sooner you’ll savor the joy you can have in life.
me of what I’ve been writing about in my blog for over two years and talking about on my radio program since the start of this year.
And as always with Conference addresses, there’s lots of good application for LDS singles.
Knowing and believing
Sister Oscarson begins with the story of a boy who needed to be airlifted from American Fork, Utah, to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. The mother was allowed to ride in the helicopter. As she surveyed the ground below, she could see temples here and there. Then came into her mind this thought: Do you believe it or not?
She thought about her experiences growing up in the Church and serving a mission and marrying in the temple and teaching her children in FHE lessons that families are forever, so clearly she knew it. But did she believe it?
She responded that, yes, she did believe it, and then immediately she began thanking God in her heart and surrendering her will to His regarding the life of her son. Months later, the boy recovered.
Notice the emphasis in this amazing story on knowing and believing. The boy’s mother knew that families are forever, but believing that families are forever prompted her to act, in this case to offer thanks in prayer and submit her will to God’s.
We all know the gospel, especially if we’ve been to church all our lives and have served missions and have continuously studied the scriptures. But do we believe the gospel?
For many years I knew the gospel was true but didn’t really believe it. I doubted the Lord’s promises to me. I wondered why others who seemed to be less dedicated were rewarded with the blessings I sought but couldn’t obtain. The longer I was single, the more desperate and cynical I became.
Then one day I hit what seemed like rock bottom. I thought all was lost when a romantic interest who I thought was my last opportunity to secure my blessings cruelly rejected me. As hard as it was to endure that experience, I still didn’t get it. Instead, I went the other way, wondering why nothing ever worked out for me. I won’t detail the even greater hardships and frustrations I later endured, but suffice it to say my life just kept getting worse and worse.
Through all those years, one aspect of my life remained constant. I didn’t really believe. I didn’t really believe I’d ever have my promised blessings. I grew embittered from my failed expectations of what my life was supposed to be but wasn’t. And all the while, I never received the blessings I most wanted.
I didn’t believe. And I didn’t receive.
True belief prompts action
That’s why I really love what Sister Oscarson presents. I knew the gospel was true, but I never really believed it. And it wasn’t until I truly believed it that I began to know real peace.
The mother’s action in Sister Oscarson’s story reveals a key aspect. True belief always prompts action. True belief isn’t static; it’s dynamic and active. It helps us to live because it itself is living. And it changes our lives when we embrace it.
Too many of us live the gospel and life on autopilot. And living on autopilot robs us of the joy we otherwise might have. Sister Oscarson was right in line with that thought when she shared,
To believe, we need to get the gospel from our heads into our hearts! It is possible for us to merely go through the motions of living the gospel because it is expected or because it is the culture in which we have grown up or because it is a habit.
Habits can lead to unfulfilled lives. Life lived by conscious choice is so much sweeter than life on autopilot. We get that sweeter life when we make conscious choices and then act on them. True belief motivates us to act, so when we make a conscious choice to act on a true belief, then the real joy of living is ours to savor.
I still don’t have my blessings, but my life turned around when I began to ask myself, “What do I really believe?” and then act accordingly. You can turn your life around, too. Don’t just know the gospel; believe it! As Sister Oscarson testified, “the blessings and peace the Lord has in store for those who are obedient and faithful exceed anything the human mind can comprehend.”
I love words. That’s probably no surprise to anyone who knows me or even those who are just long-time members of this audience.
Maybe that explains why I have to be around books. My dream home has a huge library in it. The one I live in now has shelves filled with books, but I dream of being in a room where the walls themselves are the shelves of all my books. I could spend literal hours in such a room.
Maybe that’s why I don’t visit the library that often. If I did, I might never come out. I’d be so enraptured by the words everywhere (not to mention the smell of old books) that I’d just park myself and stay — at least until a staff member kicked me out at closing.
Yes, I love words. That’s why I was excited when a new word came to me while thinking about LDS singles life. It’s a word that can help us meet our challenges with renewed hope and optimism. What is this miracle word? Faithsight.
More than just eyesight
Yeah, I know. If we were playing Scrabble, you could challenge me and totally win. Faithsight is nowhere in the Scrabble dictionary, or any dictionary for that matter. And my word processor keeps displaying that squirmy red underline, suggesting the word needs correction.
Yet what really needs correction is our vision. Faithsight embodies a powerful idea, our need to see ourselves and our lives through the lens of faith. Seeing with faithsight brings joy seeing with eyesight cannot.
Too often we LDS singles use only eyesight to see ourselves. We look in the mirror and judge unrighteously. We declare ourselves too this or too that, as though our declaration carried some binding finality.
We view our lives similarly. It’s been years since anyone dated me, we may think, so why would that ever change? Being divorced or never married means I’m damaged goods, and who’d want to spend eternity with that? We pass final judgement upon ourselves because our lives seemingly prove we’re too familiar with failure ever to know success.
A tale of two drivers
But that’s where faithsight expands our vision. Eyesight can see only what’s physically there. But faithsight can see what’s not yet but may be.
The story is told of a driver — let’s call him Sam — who went to the hospital. Sam sees a parking space close to the hospital entrance and maneuvers towards it when suddenly another car speeds into the spot first.
At first Sam is irritated. What a jerk! he thinks. Then the driver of the other car suddenly approaches Sam. He apologizes, explains his pregnant wife went into labor at work, apologizes again, and rushes into the hospital.
Most initially think the second driver a jerk. Learning more about the circumstances inclined us more towards understanding. But what if the second driver had simply rushed off to find his wife? His circumstances would still be just as compelling, but not knowing those we’d have been more inclined to judgment — and an unrighteous one at that.
It’s the same with our lives. If we see only with our eyesight, we’ll likely judge ourselves and our true potential unrighteously. But if we use our faithsight, we allow more room for understanding.
Put on your faithsight
If we don’t truly believe deep down within ourselves that the Lord loves us too much not to bless us, we’ll likely see only with eyesight. And eyesight can never see all there is to see.
That’s because eyesight sees only the past and the present. It assumes your future will be no different than your past, creating a prison out of your present. But faithsight sees your future as whatever you truly believe it will be. That makes your present far more joyful.
If you believe all is lost, how can a glorious future ever come to you? When you don’t believe, other people intuitively sense the negative energy you broadcast and choose accordingly. But when you believe, you broadcast a more positive energy that others also sense. They then choose accordingly.
Faith precedes the miracle. You must believe in order to see what you can receive before you receive it. Eyesight will never deliver that vision to you. But you can see it with faithsight.
So put on your faithsight. Let go of your limiting assumptions about your life. Believe the blessings you want are real and just around the corner for you. Not only will those blessings be more likely to be just around the corner, but your journey there will be much more enjoyable.
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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