That’s why I’m making this trip despite the inconvenience. I want to make memories while I can. I want to make memories a priority.
With my mother’s birthday approaching, it’s the perfect time to do this. Still, I’m not sure what to expect in this trip. As I said, I haven’t flown in eight years.
It’s not that I don’t like travel. It’s just most of my travels have been accessible by car. I say most because, when I started my PhD program, I could have flown instead of driving across the country.
But had I done that, I would have missed the opportunity to visit with one of my aunts who died just last month. As I drove across the country, I made it a point to plan my route so that I would be able to visit with her. And I’m glad I did that, because now that she’s passed on I no longer have that opportunity to make memories with her (at least not in this life).
Now I see a similar situation with my mother. I’m not saying she’s about to die. I’m saying I love this sweet woman who has done so much for me over the years, and I want to take advantage of the opportunity I have now to make memories with her while I can.
That’s a good approach to take not just with loved ones but with everything in life. When we die — and we’re all going to die — we don’t take much with us beyond our desires, our knowledge, and our relationships. Focusing ourselves here, then, should take priority in our lives.
I’ve found it’s always good to step back every once in a while and evaluate where I am in my life. How am I doing? And am I going in the right direction?
If you haven’t evaluated yourself recently, then take a moment now to do so. Just ponder on those questions I just asked for the next few minutes and reflect on your answers to them.
And if you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself wanting in multiple areas. That’s OK. Just determine what you need to do to improve, and then decide to do it. If you need tools or resources to support you, then go get them and put them in place. If you don’t know how to do anything along the way, then partner with the Lord and let Him guide you to the who and what you need when and where you need them.
Overall, your life is what you make of it. You only get one, so what will yours be?
Too many of us take for granted the opportunity we have to make memories with the family and friends we love. In the busyness of living our lives, it’s easy to think we’ll always have the opportunity to make memories.
But you never know when you’ll no longer have that opportunity. Accidents happen every day. A festering medical condition could suddenly worsen. An act of violence could unexpectedly shorten someone’s life. Who knows what might happen? You may not have the time you think you do.
Don’t waste the opportunity you have to make memories while you can. Your life is what you make of it, and you only get one. Make your life one filled with the blessings of treasured memories with loved ones that will yield satisfaction and joy for years to come. Make memories your priority. You’ll then spend more of your limited time building the relationships that matter most. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Yet in other respects, I feel like I’m worse, especially when compared with what I’d expect to be at this point in my life. As I think about why I’m where I am, I realize I’m no different than anyone else. We do what we want.
Tony Robbins once said, “Change is never a matter of ability. It’s always a matter of motivation.” If you really want to make a change in life, you simply make the change. It’s never a matter of ability because, if you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way to do it.
So despite the volume of our protestations, we all do have the life we really want. My life is where it is because that’s where I want it to be. I see a change I think I want in my life, and I think I want it because it appears to give me something desirable. But in reality I have the life I truly desire most, because results come only from actions, and I chose the actions that have given me the results I have.
Still, I keep returning to the question of making changes in my life because what I have truly desired does not completely satisfy. Why then do I not make the changes that will give me that different life? I have ability to change but not sufficient motivation. I’m just too comfortable where I am now.
I think many of us live in this same rut. We don’t really do what we need to do to achieve positive change because we’re far too comfortable with out present life. Pursuing positive change opens the door to problems and challenges involving pain and confusion. I think all of us have enough of those not to want any more.
At the same time, there’s no reward without risk. You can’t really feel the deep joy of love without opening your heart to betrayal and loss. You can’t lose weight without exposing yourself to pain and discomfort a new diet might bring or to the exhaustion and injury that exercise can inflict. You can’t experience the good results from being out in the world without exposing yourself to the bad things that happen to people every single day.
Many of us sense these risks and pull away. We want safe, sure, guaranteed. So we stay in our comfort zones, yearning to get out but never wanting to do what will get us out. We’re just not motivated enough. We’re doing what we want.
So how then do you get motivated enough to change? I think we’ll all have our own answer, but I do see one common thread that could tie all those individual answers together. You get to a point where you won’t tolerate not having the change any longer.
You just get sick and tired of being sick and tired. You make a decision — a real decision, one in which you cut yourself off from every possible outcome except the one you pre-determine. You put your all into producing the actions that will produce that pre-determined result. And to keep yourself motivated, you surround yourself with like-minded go-getters who’ll support you in going after your best life.
Not everyone will do that, but either way, we do what we want. We have the results we have because of the action we’ve taken, and we take that action because that’s what we really want to do. If you really want to do something different that’ll produce different results in your life, then you’ll do that. Hitting rock bottom could be the greatest blessing ever, because there you can more easily find your motivation to do something different. As you then decide not to tolerate anything less than your absolute best, you’ll get yourself on the path to your absolute best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
How did friendship come to be so bad? That’s totally upside down. Friendship is good, and when you understand the fundamentals of the dating journey, you can easily see you do want the Friend Zone.
Understand your journey
It’s hard to get anywhere in any journey without having a good map and then getting your bearings on that map. That’s what knowing the fundamentals of the dating journey does. They provide that good map and help us get our bearings.
One of those fundamentals is understanding the different stages. And the first stage of the dating journey is the Friendship stage. You’re in this stage when you first meet someone, and you’ll be in this stage until you start dating. In this stage, there’s no commitment of either party to each other; anyone can come and go as they please. That lack of commitment is necessary to foster each person opening up enough to let someone else know them better, which you need to foster true friendship.
Friendship is the foundation of all successful long-term relationships. That’s why the Friendship stage is the first stage of the dating journey. Without friendship, a married couple won’t have the stamina to get through the difficult times and challenges that sooner or later come to every marriage. If you want to build something that lasts, begin with a solid foundation.
Be where you are
The Friendship stage is where building that solid foundation starts. You don’t necessarily need to have that foundation completed before proceeding to the next stage. In fact, you’ll be building that foundation of friendship all along your dating journey. But you should have the core established before going further.
Many singles encounter difficulty in their dating journey when they try to rush it. Seeing singleness as something to escape, they want it over as quickly as possible. That propensity to rush leads them to think they’re in one stage when they’re really in another.
Singles progress more effectively through their dating journey when they consciously choose to be in the stage where they are. You may want to be dating someone, but if you’re in the Friendship stage, then be there. That doesn’t mean you don’t look for opportunities to date. It means you focus on friendship building skills you’ll need when you’re with whoever you do eventually marry.
So when you’re in the Friendship stage, be in the place where you are. Focus on building friendships and enjoying people for who they are and what they have to offer without any expectation of getting something in return. There’s no commitment in this stage of the dating journey, so you don’t have to accept anything you don’t like.
Enjoy the journey more
When you focus on being where you are, what was once complex and confusing becomes simple and clear. Truly being in the place where you are allows you to let go of worries and concerns about the future. You can’t cross a bridge until you get to it, so focus on crossing when you get there.
Being in the place where you are also allows you to experience more joy in your journey. Because you’ve pushed aside concerns about future stages for when you’re actually in those stages, you’ve cleared the space for more joy to come into your life. You can learn to enjoy people for who they really are without concerns about what they might offer you in return. The friend zone then changes from the equivalent of some God-forsaken wasteland to a wonderful paradise of plenty where life just becomes enjoyable. And isn’t that what we all really want in the end?
Yet whatever the cause or extent of injustice, there’s hope. Though not speaking directly to singles, Elder Renlund taught the best way for singles to confront the injustice in their lives — find peace in Christ. He knows our wounds from infuriating unfairness and can heal our hurt. When we embrace the Prince of Peace, we can have faith He’ll right every single wrong.
The peace we seek in a world of infuriating injustice begins inside. Once we get good with ourselves on the inside, we can then turn to help others on the outside. And in helping others become better, we ourselves become better.
That process can’t begin anywhere but on the inside. The strength needed to follow the Savior’s example in serving others comes only from within. Only by getting good with you on the inside can you be in position to strengthen and uplift others.
That requires dealing with unfairness in your life productively. Of course, Christ offers the most productive way of confronting any challenge in life. And so, Elder Renlund points us to the Savior:
The Lord understands what it’s like to carry your burden. He can make your burden light because He’s already carried it. His life wasn’t exactly free of injustice, and the Atonement brought to Him whatever suffering you’ve experienced that wasn’t in His life. He willingly carried all that burden because of His love for you.
And because of that love and willingness to accept your sufferings — burdens which weren’t at all fair He should carry — you can trust Him He’ll support you in this present world and someday somehow correct whatever injustice you experience.
He’ll also help you find advantage in that injustice. As the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi taught, “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). Every obstacle you face must therefore also come with its opposite. What’s the opposite of an obstacle but an opportunity? So there must be an opportunity with every obstacle.
Likewise, every injustice must come with its opposite. If an injustice is something horribly wrong, then its opposite must be something fantastically right — a delight, a joy, a thrill, a gratification. So every injustice must come with a gratification.
The gratification that comes might not relate at all to the injustice. But one gratification we can all have from whatever injustice we experience is that which comes from supporting someone else in similar circumstances. Elder Renlund spoke of this:
Your injustice gives you an experience by which you can extend compassion and support to others with similar experience. The never-marrieds who experience injustice in the search for eternal companionship as well as those experiencing injustice in divorce or being widowed can reach out to other LDS singles with similar experience. You can leverage your injustice to lift others higher.
That means every confrontation you have with injustice presents you with a choice. You can retreat into yourself and become embittered. Or you can give of yourself and become empowered.
You make your choice with your focus. Focusing on how wronged you’ve been creates a reality of wrong, which leads to bitterness. Focusing on how you can leverage the injustice to help others creates a reality of hope, which leads to empowerment.
We all know which choice is better. As Elder Renlund counseled,
Though the injustice you face may make it easy to feel the Lord has abandoned you, He hasn’t, nor will He ever so long as you turn to Him.
Only the Prince of Peace can grant a fullness of the peace we all seek in the face of injustice. So whatever injustice you face in your life, take the Lord at His word that someday someway He’ll right every wrong you experience, and give Him your burden. When you do, He can heal you and help you leverage your pain for your gain in helping others. Instead of becoming bitter, you become better. 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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