Look to your foundation
But life comprises more than just the spiritual. We also have social, intellectual, and physical aspects to our lives, each with its own foundation. Could Elder Stevenson's counsel regarding our spiritual foundation apply just as much to the foundations for the other aspects of our lives?
If I had to choose one, certainly it would be the spiritual. But I don't have to choose between them, nor should I. And nor should you. After all, you best build your best life when you look to your foundation for every aspect of life.
Elder Stevenson recounted some of the 40-year history of the construction of the Salt Lake temple. In particular, he quoted Brigham Young, who wanted that "temple built in a manner that it will endure through the millennium. This is not the only temple we shall build; there will be hundreds of them built and dedicated to the Lord."
Elder Stevenson then emphasized the grandeur of Brigham's vision. He envisioned hundreds of temples while laying the foundation for the one before him. He didn't turn away from dreaming big.
Do you dream on that grand scale? Does your foundation for each area of life say you're preparing for big things? Far too many live without such a vision. They're zombies walking through life dead to all the joy surrounding them every day and which they could capture if they chose to pursue their potential.
Big dreams strengthen the foundation for every aspect of your best life, so dream big. Vision born of dreaming big inspires you to make your life everything it can be. You get a glimpse of your best life that can motivate you to keep moving towards that best life.
Surely many fail to live their best life because they fail to dream big. Just as surely, many others fail because they do nothing more than dream. You can't reap where you don't sow. To get a ticket to the show that's your best life, you must pay the price in full and in advance.
You pay that price largely in your work on and from your foundation. And the pandemic, which many have cursed as an obstacle to the life they want today, presents an opportunity to build the life you can have tomorrow.
We need to see beyond the obstacles towards the opportunities. Elder Stevenson rightly views the renovation of the Salt Lake Temple "more as a time of renewal rather than a time of closure." While presenting many obstacles, the pandemic also provides us with many opportunities to improve our foundations in every aspect of life.
A proper foundation always precedes prosperity. Private victories always precede public ones. Dating is a great example. Many singles fail publicly because they've failed privately; they don't have the proper spiritual, social, intellectual, and physical foundations to excel at dating. Only when you do the work do you get results.
That work is rarely easy. Big dreams always require big work. And working big is something entirely different than dreaming big. Visions can inspire, but it's blood and sweat doing the actual grind in the mill house of life. Results come only from action.
Often working big means working in faith. Elder Stevenson quoted a woman who worked in faith despite debilitating cancer. Focused on opportunities to inspire rather than obstacles to recovery, she wrote, "The future of this life may be unknown, but my faith is not. If I choose [not] to ... have faith then I choose to ... walk [only] in darkness. Because without faith, darkness is all that is left.”
Working big means patience. Big results don't come overnight. Big results come from the accumulation of little results patiently and diligently acquired every day.
If you experience constant failure rather than success, maybe you don't have the foundation for success. Look to your foundation in every aspect of life. When you strengthen your foundation, you clear the path to private victories. When you achieve enough private victories, you'll begin to experience public ones. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Natural is the enemy
But it's all really good discussion that touches on many interesting points. And that got me thinking. Pondering that and other LDS singles posts leads me to conclude that, when it comes to dating, natural is the enemy.
Recognize the natural
You might wonder what that means. After all, these days anything natural is in vogue. It's associated with purity, innocence, and goodness. How can natural be the enemy?
You don't need any mental gymnastics to answer that question in a dating context. You need only understand the differences between natural men and women and covenant men and women.
The Book of Mormon beautifully expresses that difference. We don't usually discuss Mosiah 3:19 in terms of dating, but it possesses perfect applicability. Consider each of these words carefully, for this one verse teaches bibles worth of truth:
How do these words apply to dating? Increasingly in the world, natural men and women have destroyed dating and with it the families that might have resulted. Thinking primarily of self and following natural behavioral drivers have removed many partners from the dating scene and complicated it for those who remain.
Know the difference
We Latter-day Saints covenant to be in the world but not of it. That doesn't mean the world doesn't influence us. In fact, the behavior I see some LDS singles displaying smacks very plainly of a worldly, natural mindset.
Enticement drives the choices of natural men. Put enough enticement in front of him, and he'll pretty much follow the carrot at the end of your stick. Of course, all men aren't alike; some enticements enchant some men more than others. But the concept holds true for all natural men.
Experience, namely the state of feeling desired emotions, drives the choices of natural women. We all know natural women; they have backup boyfriends, always look to "trade up" if they can, and are ruthless with other women who they see as their competition for their desired experiences with men.
Conversely, covenant men and women value covenant living over their natural drivers. They seek to make and keep covenants. Covenant men still feel the natural tug of enticement, and covenant women still feel the natural tug of experience, but they don't follow after it. They choose to value covenant living over the natural focus on self.
Put off the natural
Natural men and women value self over covenants. The natural woman stays single by insisting on dating only perfect men who can provide her desired experience with emotion. Since most men aren't that, the natural man struggles with the lack of enticement, eventually opting out of dating to seek enticement in other avenues.
Thus, following natural inclinations results in rejecting opportunities to marry sufficiently good companions and create families that can further the Lord's purposes for this world. The natural man and woman are indeed enemies to God.
In reality, no single one of us (pun intended) is completely a natural person or a covenant person. We are each a mixture of both — good and evil, light and darkness, covenant keepers and covenant breakers. What we choose to value determines how much we are of each.
Will we follow our natural desires when dating? Will we insist on having only the best when an "average" option can deliver not only the maximum amount of joy it's possible to experience but also make available the covenants we need for exaltation in the eternities to come? Will we view dating and marriage through the lens of self or through the lens of the family we will create out of that union and the generations that will follow after us?
In so many ways, natural is the enemy. And it will always be the enemy unless the natural man or woman values covenant living over self. Only valuing covenant living opens the heart to the Savior and His marvelous Atonement, which can transform us from natural men and women into covenant men and women. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
You got played, bro
Harry has no clue what happened here. But I do; I see very clearly what's happened. Harry, my man! You got played, bro.
Get good with you
In the comments to this post, most men think the woman was disingenuous, and most women think she was completely honest. I think if we understood more how each gender thinks, we all might gain an increased understanding prompting greater patience.
Men think with logic. Reason drives them to seek enticement. Women think with emotion. Emotion drives them to seek experience, by which I mean the experience of desired emotions as they live their life. To understand the choices made in interactions between the sexes, we need to see those choices through each respective perspective.
From the perspective of logic, it's reasonable to expect further interactions based on positive past experience. From that perspective, what the woman did was not honest; she's playing games. However, from the perspective of emotion, it's just as reasonable to choose the feeling of being with someone offering enjoyable company (even if that someone is not the right type) over the feeling of being with no one. From that perspective, what the woman did was honest; she's not playing games.
Who's right? They both are. That's why you have got to get good with you and the biological hardwiring in each gender's brain, because that's not going to change. The sooner you can understand each perspective, the sooner you can accept those perspectives and get busy with what will make you more attractive and your dating journey more enjoyable.
Chart your course
The best way to become more attractive and enjoy your dating journey is to become the best version of you and adopt a personal ministry — your unique contribution of goodness to the world. By improving upon yourself and giving all of yourself to your special way of improving the lives of others, you chart a course that will both best attract the type of companion that's best for you and maximize your joy along the way.
Too many LDS singles struggle with dating because they have ineffective assumptions. It's all too common to find men and women who view singles life as something they must escape. While understandable, that mindset is all backwards. Trying to escape singles life suggests it's a problem, and no one wants more problems. It also makes you look desperate, and no one really wants desperate.
Many LDS singles also don't understand the fundamentals of dating. When they participate in dating (or what they think is dating), they trip all over themselves, ending up hurt and frustrated. But that's to be expected when you don't understand the fundamental principles governing what you're trying to do.
When you do understand, you see your best course is to embrace singles life. No matter how long it may be, make your singles life the best it can be. Get good with you, make you the best you, and throw yourself into a life of contribution, a life that someone special will want to live with you.
Stay your course
Of course, the hardest part is to keep going without knowing how much farther until your journey ends. But you must keep going, because the moment you quit is the moment you lose all attractiveness, the currency you need to secure the agreements required for progress in your dating journey.
You can't avoid the difficulties surrounding not knowing when your dating journey will end, but you can avoid many other difficulties in that journey with more frequent, higher quality communication. We all need to assume less and ask more.
Harry, I'm truly sorry you got played, bro. Yes, it hurts, but you minimize your future pain when you get good with you, chart your course, and then stay your course. Understand how each gender thinks and what drives their choices. Stop trying to escape singles life and start embracing it. When you do, you'll start living your best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Write them down
The lesson here is clear. You boost your power to achieve your goals — and therein change your life — when you write them down.
Learn the ritual
This wasn't the first time I came across this story. And yet this time something clicked inside me. I came to a realization that had somehow escaped me before. I say somehow because it's staring me in my face, leaving me at a loss to explain why I didn't see it before.
But I'm glad I saw it now, because it led me to a new daily ritual that's improving the quality of my life and giving me more motivation and momentum to dedicate myself more completely to the accomplishment of my goals.
What is this new daily ritual? Before I begin my tasks for the day or even turn on my computer to review my tasks, I open a notebook and write down each of my goals for the year. Everything here is old school. I take a pen in my hand and physically transcribe onto paper each of the goals I made back in January.
Gain your power
I have goals for my personal life and each of my business endeavors — 36 all told. Since I'm writing each word by hand, it takes me about 20-30 minutes to complete this exercise. That's a sizable chunk out of my day, but I'm starting to see some sizeable return on my investment.
Each moment I spend writing each goal, I'm not just copying words. I'm considering the gap between where I am and where I want to go. Starting my work for the day with a realization of what I need to be done is empowering, especially when paired with the motivation stemming from the grandeur of my goals (yes, I can't help but dream big).
Starting my workday with that motivation drives me to do more with my day. The act of physically forming letters in a set arrangement on paper is a metaphor for completing the tasks in real life that together form the set arrangements known as goals. It's a form of spiritual creation that precedes the physical creation. That's how God created all things (D&C 29:31-32). How can you follow the same pattern and not gain some semblance of the power He wields?
Wield your power
I've embraced this new ritual for only a few days now, so I haven't practiced it long enough to become a habit. But I do feel stirrings of power within me, a taste of the great potential this practice will unleash.
That real power isn't just checking items off a to-do list. It goes beyond completing tasks or even accomplishing goals. The real power is having our tasks transform us into something more than we were before. We're human beings, after all, not human doings. We live our best life not because we do more but because we are more.
It's never too late to start a new way of living. You can feel empowered every day to effect change in yourself, accomplish great goals, and attain your best life. To start feeling that power in your life, decide to start living that way and follow through with the simple yet powerful practice of writing down your goals at the start of each day.
So what are you waiting for? Start right now by collecting the tools you'll need to write out your goals. Then tomorrow morning use your tools to practice your first iteration of a new habit. You may not feel much effect after just one session, and you probably won't. But with diligence and persistence in this practice day after day, it won't be long before you start feeling a growing effect within you. Keep on keeping on with that, and you'll empower yourself to accomplish anything. And that will bring you more joy in your 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 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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