What impressed me about Sister Porter’s approach was her use of singles to exemplify her ultimate message of the valuable contribution LDS singles can make in their world. It’s a message we’ve been promulgating here at Joy in the Journey Radio by encouraging LDS singles to adopt a personal ministry. We all can powerfully influence those around us for good, and we’ll make that difference in others’ lives when we heed the lessons at the well.
You determine your future
I love the introduction Sister Porter gives to her remarks. She was happily married and serving with her husband in the Church in Eastern Europe. Then her husband’s health took a turn for the worse, and in short order she found herself single.
I don’t know if she actually thought of herself as single. She didn’t mention that in her address, and I know many who’ve lost a spouse to death still consider themselves married by virtue of their temple covenants. If your spouse is not in this life living with you, you may be married for the purposes of eternity, but for the purposes of this life, you’re single.
You also have a wonderful opportunity to effect much good. It starts when you realize your past and present circumstances don’t determine your future. In referencing her unexpected return to singlehood, Sister Porter shared,
The woman at Jacob’s well exemplified this attitude, which applies just as much to men as it does to women. She did not allow her past or present condition to determine her future. She chose to testify of the Savior, and her choice blessed many others.
You have the power
Likewise, LDS singles can chose to embrace a new future by making the higher choice. Too often LDS singles play the victim, thinking that their past is prologue and nothing they do will make any difference.
But that’s true for you only if you decide it is. You’ve been blessed with agency, the second most underappreciated gift of God. And it’s the second most underappreciated gift of God because so many simply don’t realize the power that’s in them because of this gift.
Sister Porter recognized it. After quoting D&C 58:26-28 and emphasizing that last phrase in the verses — “for the power is in them” — she declared,
You’re not in this alone! No matter your past or present circumstances, you can choose to let your light shine, share your goodness with others, and put a dent in the universe. With the creator of heaven and earth at your side, why choose anything else?
You make the difference
This is how great ends come out of small beginnings. The Lord is the Master Gardener, the one best suited to help you grow into the fullness of your potential. He can transform the seemingly meager contributions you make into extraordinary differences.
Sister Porter shared three examples from the Master’s teachings that demonstrate this effect, one involving salt, one involving leaven, and one involving light. Each of these items in even seemingly small amounts makes a tremendous difference in their separate contexts.
Likewise, though your efforts may seem small and inconsequential, you can make a tremendous difference in your world. Your salt can flavor the lives of others, your leaven can lighten their loads, and your light can disperse the darkness surrounding them. As Sister Porter taught,
Heed the lessons at the well and make the higher choice. When you do, the Savior can turn your seemingly small service into the difference others need in their lives. In easing the burdens of others, you’ll find your own burdens eased. In helping others grow, you’ll find your own growth. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
And that’s the rub. Bettering our position to receive a miracle requires work, and most of us don’t want to work for our miracles. We just want them to appear. Yet miracles still follow universal law. Appropriate work on our part aligns us with the universal law governing the miracles we seek. That often involves delivering value, because at the end of the day, it’s all about value.
Focus on fundamentals
So many of our desired miracles involve other people using their agency to advantage us. The miracle of companionship is one such example. Yet this miracle like all others follows universal law, which begs the question: What laws govern the occurrence of this miracle?
The answer resides in the fundamentals of the dating journey. Those who align themselves with the fundamentals position themselves to receive that miracle more easily. Those who don’t stumble and trip up over and over again.
Stepping back and looking at the fundamentals, it’s easy to see they’re all about value. Arriving at any stage of the dating journey requires an agreement, and you secure any agreement by being agreeable enough. That means providing sufficient value. At the end of the day, it really is all about value.
Do the work
And that’s where work comes in. We can change ourselves and our environment to become more agreeable by offering more value and thereby position ourselves to receive more easily the miracle we seek. And we’re not in this alone. When we partner with the Lord, He’ll help us (1) to know what work we need to do and (2) to do that work.
We start by understanding what value we offer today. Those who already offer great value have less to do, whereas those offering less value have more work to do. Either way, we should seek input from others when assessing the value we offer. We’re all inherently biased to overestimate the value we offer. That bias blinds us from many of the imperfections diminishing our value. Input from others combined with counseling with the Lord can help us overcome our inherent bias and blindness.
So when that 400-pound single adult partners with the Lord and considers input received from others, the realization comes that losing weight and taking better care of one’s body will ease the arrival of the companionship miracle. Partnering with the Lord, that single adult seeks and follows guidance to assemble a plan and then involves the Lord in executing that plan. Losing weight then becomes not just a physical change but a spiritual adventure experienced step by step at the Lord’s side with the intention of easing a miracle into one’s life. Can we not feel the increased power behind this approach to securing miracles? It all starts with a focus on value.
Hold the line
As we work to improve the value we offer, we need to remember value has different meanings in different contexts. We also shouldn’t forget everything’s interconnected.
For instance, value in the dating context isn’t value in the eternal context. We all already have immense value in eternity as children of God, but we all have different value when it comes to dating. The value of an attribute differs with context, but low value in one particular context often means a lack of attributes valued in that context.
When we see ourselves lacking the valued attributes in the context of a desired miracle, we shouldn’t surrender to despair. Instead, we should partner with the Lord and get to work. We should look for invigoration in meeting the challenge and work with faith that, with the all-powerful Lord at our side, we can make any miracle happen. Making gains in one area of our lives can strengthen us in other areas, giving us a further boost towards making our miracle happen.
At the end of the day, it’s all about value. Looking through that lens can provide a clarity of vision regarding needed changes. As we make those changes in partnership with the Lord, we can feel more confidence as we ease the miracles we seek into our lives and more gratitude when those miracles finally appear. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Yes, I know how incredible that may sound to some, especially if your life hasn’t gone the way you expected. You’ve probably also had some painful experiences involving either someone else deciding against you in a single instance or many others using their agency across multiple instances. Maybe you’ve experienced both. But even if you’ve had the whole world against you, I still say seek and expect miracles.
Believe in miracles
We typically think of miracles as events that defy the laws of nature. For me, miracles are manifestations of one or more universal laws we don’t understand fully.
This shift in perspective is essential to why I say we should seek and expect miracles. The perspectives we take and the assumptions we embrace are everything; they’re key components of our thinking, which produces our actions, which in turn produces our results. In the end, we all want results, so when we don’t get desired results, we need to examine our thinking.
President Nelson begins his comments on miracles with this declaration:
First, he illustrates his concept with the words of a single adult! And this wasn’t just any single. No, Moroni had everything ripped from him. He witnessed the destruction of his people in a horrible war, leaving him to wander alone for the safety of his own life. Yet he still declared fervent belief in miracles.
All lives have painful disappointments, but most don’t compare to Moroni’s. If in his circumstances he could find the strength to believe in miracles, could we not muster the courage to do the same?
President Nelson continued,
It’s not just Moroni but every book of scripture declaring belief in miracles — all the more reason to question our perspectives and assumptions leading us to disbelieve in miracles. While we question, we should remember the Prophet’s caveat: Miracles can take time and may not unfold how we expect. So often LDS singles seeking a miracle expect something so inconsistent with universal law they take the absence of their miracle as evidence against miracles.
Do the work
That last phrase caught my attention. How many LDS singles have approached their desire for a miracle “doubting nothing”? Most of us have doubts, some so much so they’re consumed by them. And yet “doubting nothing” is part of the price of faith we must pay for admission to the miracle show.
That means we’ve got work to do. It’s no surprise then to see President Nelson’s next words:
How often have we advocated taking ownership of your life, or doing what’s in your power, or partnering with the Lord? Results come from only one thing — action. To score points, you must quit sitting on the sidelines and get on the field. So often the miracle we want is perfection delivered to our doorstep. In reality, we need to partner with the Lord, accept His guidance, and do the work that will create our miracle.
Trust His promises
So many LDS singles wanting a miracle are faint. They’re weary. They’re beat down by the vicissitudes of life that point their gaze towards their weaknesses and imperfections, leaving them to wonder how their miracle could ever happen.
But none of that matters when you partner with the Lord, for He “giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.” With Him, we can do anything, even move the mountain seemingly standing before us.
So yes, even if you’ve had the whole world against you, I still say seek and expect miracles. Believe they can happen for you. Partner with the Lord and do the work you must do to have your miracle. You can then live with confidence that in time your miracle will happen. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
To assist all in gaining and maintaining positive spiritual momentum, the Prophet makes five recommendations:
Far be it from me to discount the covenant path. It’s so essential the Prophet lists it first among his recommendations. That said, I’d like to begin with his second point: Discover the joy of daily repentance.
When I was a young man, I thought of repentance as something for the big wrongs we do. Few if any of us do anything big every day, so in this view, repentance becomes an occasional activity. Yet President Nelson’s sees more broadly. Not only should we embrace repentance daily, we can also find joy when we do.
Simply put, daily repentance is just daily improvement, making small changes every day that move us forward. President Nelson taught,
If that’s true, then daily repentance is the key to daily progress.
These ideas apply directly to LDS singles who want more from their lives. Far too many of us are waiting around for our happily ever after to be thrust upon us. We need to use the gift of agency God has granted us and choose to do the little things day by day that will over time aggregate into the happily ever after we seek.
And since we’re talking here about singles, it shouldn’t surprise anyone I’ll focus on the Prophet’s fourth suggestion: Seek and expect miracles. The battering many singles receive from ineffective approaches to dating leave many thinking the only way their happily ever after will come to them is by a miracle.
That thinking has led also to this conclusion: The miracle they need just won’t happen. They don’t see any way anyone they like could like them. They don’t see how anyone would accept them with all their imperfections and disadvantages.
But President Nelson sees very differently. He declared,
In the end, it all comes down to what you really believe. If you don’t believe, you won’t receive. Faith must precede the miracle. And as President Nelson taught, it must be the kind of faith that doubts nothing.
We’ll of course discuss these and more points from President Nelson’s address in the broadcast today. In the end, we always get what we give. Those who consistently give the small contributions to their success day in and day out will eventually get the success they seek.
In all of our efforts, we must remember patience. It takes time to build momentum. As we discussed earlier, just doing 1% more each day will result in a 38% improvement after one year. The first three months of that year, you go from your baseline (where you are now) to 2X. But in the last three months, you go from 15X to 38X. Why the vast difference in improvement? Because you have momentum by the time you reach the last three months, but when you just start out, you don’t.
And you can best hold to momentum when you partner with the Lord. He can show you the 1% improvement you need to make every day. He can support you in making it every day. He can strengthen you with patience as you build your needed momentum.
So experience the power of spiritual momentum. Make the small changes every day you need to make to lay your daily brick, and in time you’ll have a wonderful edifice housing your dreams and the best life that awaits you there. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
After inviting a student to read the first stanza of Robert Herrick’s oft-quoted poem “To the Virgins to Make Much of Time,” Mr. Keating draws the students into a discussion about the meaning of the poem. Carpe diem is probably the best known Latin expression among the common populace today, most of whom don’t speak Latin. Yet for as well known as the Latin phrase meaning “seize the day” is, few actually practice it.
And that was the whole point of Mr. Keating’s lecture. We each have a window of opportunity while we live, and that opportunity is to seize the moment in front of us and make the most of it. This was Mr. Keating’s message in his first lecture. “Seize the day, boys! Make your life extraordinary!”
Make the conscious choice
I’m not sure why it didn’t hit me earlier, but this is a perfect message of LDS singles. Too many waste their lives away waiting for something wonderful to happen, as though the blessings they want in their life will appear magically at their front door.
Here’s the problem with that approach: It wastes opportunity. The same agency that singles use to waste away their time waiting for their blessings is the same agency they could be using to make their lives extraordinary.
But most don’t make their lives anything, let alone extraordinary. They simply flow with the waves of life, going wherever they’ll carry them. This is the path of the natural man and the natural woman. Simply following the impulse of the biological programming within our physical bodies is easy, and that programming would have us staying where it is “safe.”
But the extraordinary life doesn’t come to anyone who simply goes with the flow. Rather it comes to those who will make their own waves to create the currents that carry them to the destination they desire. They make conscious choices to act against the natural impulse to go with the flow.
Wield your greater power
Conscious choice is the key not only to making one’s life extraordinary but also to encouraging the blessings you want in your life to come into your life. Notice I said encourage, not make. Many blessings require the agency of another to decide in your favor.
That truth doesn’t diminish the greater power we each have to achieve the results we desire. Too many focus on what is outside their control, and that focus belittles the power we each have to change our lives for the better and make them truly extraordinary. In reality, many exercise their agency in accordance with what is presented to them. And you choose what you present to them every single day (pun intended).
So what should you choose to present to others in order to attract the results you desire? If you want an extraordinary life, then present the elements that will attract an extraordinary life. This is more than just the activity you embrace in your life. This is also, and perhaps more importantly, the assumptions and attitude you embody.
Focusing on what you can do will enable you to feel more of the power you truly have within you. And by acting on that truth, by doing what you can do, you’ll feel more powerful more often.
Start with what’s interesting
When you make your life extraordinary, you make yourself more attractive. So where do you start? How do you start?
The extraordinary life is an attractive life, but it is also an interesting one. So start by making your life more interesting. And the easiest place to begin is with your own imagination. What do you think makes a life interesting? Put those things one by one in your life. And don’t rely on what others think is interesting. Follow what you yourself genuinely think is interesting.
Make your life extraordinary. Take action to start living your life. The more interesting you make your life, the more attractive it will be to others and the more enticed they will be to share it with you. When you leverage the power you have in your own agency, you can make your life more than you imagined it could be. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That said, the deal breaker lists many LDS singles have align more with worldly values than eternal ones and are anything but short. For all the talk in church about being spiritual, evidence that LDS singles are influenced by the dating culture of the world abounds in the choices LDS singles make when dating. But when you understand their effect, it’s easy to see we need to scrap dating checklists.
Dating is not shopping
For anything in life, some approaches are simply more effective than others. Part of what makes an approach more effective is the joy it can provide throughout your journey and not just how quickly it can get you to the end. Case in point: The shopping list I mentioned earlier. Here’s a ready example of how we should not approach dating.
Although every relationship has a transactional aspect, romantic relationships are not as fulfilling and ennobling if they’re entirely transactional. In fact, purely transactional relationships always eventually break down. That’s because a tit-for-tat approach never produces the best relationships. They develop as each partner freely gives to the other without expecting anything in return.
Approaching dating with a shopping attitude promotes just the opposite. The relationship you have with the worker at the checkout stand is purely transactional. You’re not looking for anything long-term or complicated. You’re looking for a quick way to exchange the value you have (your money) for the value you want (the items in your cart) and then to walk away.
It’s not hard to see how that approach to dating isn’t all that effective, and yet our language betrays us. Language always reveals thinking, and when we talk about people who are no longer available to date as “off the market,” we’re clearly thinking of dating like shopping.
It’s how you think
That’s not the only way we approach dating like shopping. We talk about potential dating candidates in terms of their “market value,” with top shelf candidates having high market value and others having low market value. We scroll through dating apps and online dating profiles the same way we shop for something online. And we constantly think of dating as the search for someone with qualities we want, very much like the way we think of shopping as the search for something with qualities we want.
That thinking of dating as shopping naturally drives us to make a list. As I said previously, lists aren’t necessarily bad. If it’s short and contains only deal breakers aligned with eternal values, a dating list can be very effective. That said, the lists many LDS singles have are anything but short and often contain few if any items aligned with eternal values. For example, your partner’s height has nothing to do with eternal progression, and yet how many singles insist on dating only those who meet a minimum height requirement?
Proper lists for dating
As I said before, the best relationships come from each partner freely giving to the other without expecting anything in return. That doesn’t mean we’re interchangeable parts. Dating does have a transactional aspect, and using a few essential items to build a foundation for your relationship can satisfy that transactional aspect. That’s where the short list I mentioned earlier can prove effective.
The problem comes when that list isn’t short. We don’t want just anyone, so we add deal breakers to a list to qualify candidates. But every item we add reduces our dating pool and with it our probability of success. In this way, long lists of deal breakers assure singles stay single.
That’s why we need to scrap dating checklists. They represent a less effective approach that decreases the probability of success. In their place, we should embrace a new dating attitude, one less focused on finding perfection and more focused on supporting others to become more perfected. We could even extend that to ourselves focusing more on what we bring to a potential relationship than what we want to have. Making these changes in our thinking will produce more effective actions which in turn will yield more effective results. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
A brief tutorial
Elder Gilbert used some simple math to illustrate the Parable of the Slope. Some of you think the words simple and math don’t really go together, but I assure you they do. Elder Gilbert briefly explained his math, but let me offer a different explanation that may help with understanding both the simple math concept and the lesson Elder Gilbert draws from it.
Mathematically, we represent lines on a plot with two reference lines, one horizontal and the other vertical. We commonly call the point where your line crosses the vertical reference line the intercept. It effectively measures how far above (or below) your line is from the horizontal reference line at the position of the vertical reference line. Elder Gilbert’s parable compares your path in life to a line drawn on a Cartesian plane, taking the intercept as a starting position.
As you proceed on your path of life, you’re line can go up or down. Mathematically, we measure that direction with slope. A positive slope indicates an upward direction, and a negative slope indicates a downward direction. Which way it goes depends not on the intercept but on the slope. Likewise in life, whether or not you achieve your potential depends not on your starting position but on your direction.
The parable expanded
I’ve previously visited this idea of direction being more important than position. LDS singles often evaluate potential dating candidates solely on their position, judging those with less than desired positions as disagreeable, irrespective of their direction. But direction matters more in the end, because the person you marry isn’t the person you get today but the person you’ll get years down the road.
The importance of direction over position also gives hope to those judged as disagreeable. You can turn any life situation around when you own your life and focus more on direction than position. By doing what you can with what you have, you give your life a positive direction that, if maintained, will take your life into more and more agreeable territory. As Elder Gilbert taught,
Your focus always determines your reality. Too many LDS singles focus on what they lack — the looks, the body, the money, the talent, the whatever they think they absolutely must have to succeed — and wallowing in that discouragement, their reality is one of lack, disempowerment, and hopelessness. Focus instead on what you have and can do, and you’ll find a reality of abundance, empowerment, and hope.
Elder Gilbert then continued with
How many times have we talked about partnering with the Lord? He sees what we don’t see, knows what we don’t know, and loves us more than we can possibly imagine. When you partner with Him, He’ll guide you to whatever you need to take the next step in your journey towards the enjoyment of every righteous blessing.
Some final words
I’ll go more in depth in the program today and show how LDS singles can apply these ideas to their lives to have more joy every day starting today. Even though he didn’t address singles specifically, Elder Gilbert did provide LDS singles with essential information to support the journey towards one’s best life. I’ve found that to be true for most if not all Conference addresses.
So let’s not wait to apply the Parable of the Slope to our lives. Let’s start today to place more value on direction than position. Let’s focus more on what we have, what we can do, and where we’re going. And let’s partner with the Lord for our lives. When we do, He’ll guide us along the path leading to our best life. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
See the situation
The story begins with Phil Connors, the weatherman for Channel 9 News in Pittsburgh. The man is clearly full of himself, so it’s no surprise no one really likes him, not even himself. He’s a rather disgruntled man who thinks covering the Groundhog Day Festival is beneath him.
So imagine his shock when he wakes up thinking it’s February 3rd only to find out it’s February 2nd again. The bewilderment continues as each morning he wakes up to find that somehow in his sleep he went back in time by one day. He keeps living the same day over and over again.
His first reaction is denial. This can’t be happening to me! Denial drives resistance, but no matter how he fights against his situation, the next morning is always February 2nd again. His denial then turns into despair. This report he gives at the festival summarizes his condition rather well.
That day ended in suicide, but it doesn’t end him. In despair, Phil keeps trying to kill himself in different ways trying unsuccessfully to escape his never-ending cycle.
Note the pivot
And then one of those February 2nd days becomes a pivot day when everything changes. Phil doesn’t escape the never-ending cycle, but he does find a new perspective on his situation. And what changed everything was Rita.
Rita is Phil’s producer. She’s also the apple of his eye. Previously he spent God knows how many successive February 2nd days trying to get into her pants. But on his pivot day, Phil approaches Rita with a different agenda. Instead of trying to satiate his lust, he sincerely cries for help. (Why do I have a Rick Astley song in my head right now?) Rita helps him and in the process begins to fall for him.
Of course, that disappears when everything resets the next morning. But Phil remains changed, and he starts spending his February 2nd days improving upon himself, working to become a better, more quality person. He takes up reading all kinds of books. He learns to play the piano. He takes up ice sculpting! Not only do his efforts make him a better person, they make his life more interesting.
And the proof is in this report. It’s the same day, same festival, but a completely different Phil.
Once he stopped trying to escape his situation and embraced it, Phil was able to tap into the joy life has to offer every single day. In the end, he escapes the cycle and gets the girl.
Take a lesson
The allegory here to LDS singles is so clear I wonder why I didn’t see it earlier. How many of us singles are in denial? No, I can’t be single. This can’t be happening to me! And no matter what we do to fight it, we seem caught in a never-ending cycle of singleness from which we cannot escape.
But if we’d stop trying to escape from it and start embracing it, we could turn everything around. We could start looking inside ourselves and working to become better, more quality people. We can do things to make our lives more interesting. We could tap into the joy God wants us to have every single day.
And we could help other singles to have their pivot day. Just as Rita helped turn things around for Phil, we can reach out to one another. Instead of looking only to satiate our own agendas when we interact with each other, we could help each other live better lives.
When we take a lesson from Groundhog Day, we can make the most of what seems to be a never-ending cycle of singleness. By embracing our situation instead of trying to escape from it, we can live our best life and help others to do the same. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Write your best story
Our reality is simply the combination of our results in life and the meaning we ascribe to them. A story is essentially a description of that reality. Stories are how we make sense out of life. That’s why we all have a story.
And that’s why, when your life starts going off plot, it’s natural to freak out. The story you’ve been using to make sense of your life doesn’t match reality. “Wait a minute!” some cry. “I’m supposed to be married by now. This isn’t how my story is supposed to go!” Or maybe you weren’t supposed to get married to a “consolation prize.” Or maybe you weren’t supposed to get divorced. Or maybe your spouse wasn’t supposed to die so soon. There’s endless ways to detail the difference between the story you’ve been using and the one you’re experiencing.
But Christ can make up the difference because He is the difference. Your goals determine your direction, and direction determines destination. How can you embrace the best destination unless you embrace He Who is the only Way to that best destination? Sister Johnson acknowledged that truth as she began her remarks with an invitation:
Partnering with the Lord is the only way to your best life on both sides of the veil. You simply can’t write your best story without Him.
Understand why you hesitate
As simple as that answer is, it isn’t easy. Partnering with the Lord often means surrendering your will to His. And the natural man and woman are nothing if not unwilling to be ruled.
Combine that truth with our biological hardwiring to resist change, especially uncomfortable change, and you’ve got obstacles to becoming your best self before you even begin. Sooner or later, we’ll all sense that accepting His will instead of our own will mean accepting some uncomfortable outcome, deviating the story of our life away from the story we’ve told ourselves is the one that’s supposed to be.
This is essentially why we hesitate to turn our story over to Christ. Sister Johnson said as much in her remarks:
Christ knows you and your potential so well He will guide you to what will help shape you into your best self, and He won’t allow anything to come into your life that you can’t leverage for that end. Sister Johnson confirmed these truths when she taught,
Embrace your best story
So it really comes down to this: Are you willing to let Christ write a story for your life far better than any you could write on your own? You can stay in your comfortable hovel believing in your own story and denying any deviations life will always eventually present. Or you can embrace the discomfort that will lead you to your best life by letting Him prevail in your life.
The truth is we don’t know everything we think we do. As discomforting as a turn in your story might seem, if that turn comes from Christ, embracing it will turn you more into your best self and your life more into your best life. As Nephi taught, “He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him” (2 Nephi 26:24).
Let Christ author your story. Partner with Him, and He’ll make more out of your life than you ever can on your own. Whatever discomfort you experience from so doing will turn around to your gain. When that day comes, you’ll look back on your decision to let Him prevail with gratitude. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Starting with gratitude simply promotes an extra portion of power. That’s especially true of giving. Indeed, true giving begins with gratitude. As we discussed recently, the more grateful you are, the more you will have, and the more you have, the more you can give. You can truly light the world when with gratitude you share your gifts from God with others.
Reflect on unique gifts
We often think of gifts being highly prized and desirable attributes or skills. So it’s not that surprising when some of us who don’t have those highly prized and desirable attributes or skills feel we don’t have any gifts.
That’s of course not true. I don’t care who you are or where you’re from. Everyone has gifts from God. We all have talent for something. When we exercise our talents, executing the necessary action just seems to flow more easily, even if we lack specific training. God gave talents to everyone so we all can contribute positively to others’ lives.
I’m convinced we each have multiple talents from God. Often, they aren’t what we’d think of as talents. I once knew a sister missionary whose smile was so infectious you couldn’t help but feel a little better when her smile shone upon you. Another friend was a really good listener. We don’t normally think of smiling and listening as talents, and yet I would submit they qualify.
What talents do you have from God? What gifts has He given you that make your contribution to the lives of others unique? Reflect on those gifts for a moment and simmer in gratitude for them.
Reflect on common gifts
Of course, we share some gifts from God in common. Again, I don’t care who you are or where you are from. God has blessed each of us not only with gifts unique to each one of us but also with gifts we share in common.
The first such gift is the greatest gift of God — the gift of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. He is the reason for the season precisely because He is the greatest gift. Through Him, we all have the opportunity to repent and to live forever with God and those we most love. Through Him we all have the power to acquire the fulness of not just our spiritual potential but every other potential as well, be that emotional, intellectual, or physical.
Unfortunately, that gift too often goes unappreciated, as does the second greatest gift from God — agency. Every moment, we get to choose for ourselves what we’ll think, say, and do — and with that what we’ll become. Between our Advocate with the Father and our agency, we have the essentials to become our best selves, live our best life, and achieve the fulness of our potential. Yet too often we don’t even consider these gifts as the gateways to greatness they are.
Don’t let that be you. Take a moment to reflect and meditate on these wonderful gifts and the opportunities they make possible in your life. Marinade your soul in gratitude for your gifts from God.
Share gratitude with others
But it’s not just enough to feel gratitude. You must share it as well! Otherwise, the circle won’t be complete.
What does that mean? Gratitude is an emotion for what has come into your life. You then decide what you will send out to others. What you send out will come back to you again, even when that something is nothing; if you send nothing out, you won’t get anything back again. But when you send out something — say, gratitude, for instance — you will find it later returned to you.
Whatever your gifts from God, take time to reflect on them, feel gratitude for them, and then share that gratitude with others. You’ll find more reason to celebrate the season while moving yourself closer to becoming your best self and living your best life. 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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