But living in the future forfeits the joy of living found only in the present moment. The joy of living now comes only by living in the now. That’s a conscious choice everyone can make. And that means the happy life doesn’t find you. You get the happy life when you make the happy life.
You don’t need a plan
I remember years ago hearing a speaker at a singles conference talk about living in the moment. She encouraged intentional living, saying living with intention can lead you to own your life. I’m a big fan of owning your life, so I was with her that far.
Then the speaker defined intentional to mean having a plan. The joy of living in the moment, she declared, comes from following a plan. And that’s where she lost me, because I couldn’t disagree more.
To act with intention requires a conscious choice. Living with intention therefore means living in the moment. When you consciously choose in the moment what you do, you refuse to let your habits simply play themselves out. That act allows you to embrace life and all the true joy of living.
You don’t need a plan for any of that to unfold for you. All you need is to use the one gift from God we all have — agency. You simply make a conscious choice.
What happiness really is
Happiness comes not from just doing the right things but from giving your all to all the right things for you. Giving your all is a conscious choice. When you choose that path with full awareness and intention, the true joy of being alive can be yours.
Most don’t live like that. They live on autopilot, a life filled with comfort and a sense of stability. But true joy isn’t found in comfort and stability alone. True joy comes from consciously embracing the right things.
I use that word embracing intentionally. You can’t just execute a routine of righteous activity and expect happiness to find you. The happy life doesn’t just come to you because it’s somehow your right or because you’re somehow deserving of it just because of who you are. To get the happy life, you have to make it. That requires consciously choosing the right things. That means getting out of autopilot and its routine living. And that means embracing all the right things for you.
Make your happy life
In the end, your focus always determines your reality. Focusing on what you don’t have and can’t do always brings a reality of scarcity and helplessness. And a life that feels lacking and helpless is never enjoyable.
But the same principle works in the other direction. Focusing on what you do have and can do brings a reality of abundance and empowerment. As you begin to see how richly the Lord has blessed you, you feel gratitude come to you. And life starts feeling joyful.
That focus on what you have now and can do now is key to living in the moment and making the happy life you want. Focusing on the present and not the future is a conscious choice that helps you live with intention. And the gift of agency from a loving Heavenly Father brings that choice within reach of us all.
The happy life doesn’t find you. You find it by making it. And that starts when you start living with intention. Righteous intentional choices lift what you do to a new level because in so doing you give your all to the right things. And when you give your all to the right things, life in return gives back to you all the joy and satisfaction of a life well lived.
You’ll always get what you give, so give your all to the right things for you and get the life that’s right in all ways for you. You can breathe with confidence, walk with boldness, and bring your focus away from the future and more to the present moment. You’ll then open yourself to a life you can savor regardless of your circumstances. 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.
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.
How many of us are doing that? How many of us are taking the action needed to improve our lives? Again, only action produces results. And it doesn’t matter how undesired your reality is today. You can flip any reality into something better when you flip your focus.
More than just seeing
Some may find that a bold claim. If you’re engulfed in your own negative experience, you’ll rightly wonder how simply looking at something different can change anything. But we’re talking here about focusing, not just looking.
Just because you look at something doesn’t mean you’re focused on it. When you drive a car, for example, you’ll look ahead for the most part because that’s the direction you’re going. But occasionally, you look in your mirrors to get a sense of what’s around you. That’s part of safe driving. But how safe would you be looking mostly in your rear view mirror? You’d find driving your vehicle safely difficult if you did that.
That’s the difference between focusing and seeing. Everyone has undesired experiences in life. Simply looking at them won’t create a negative reality. Only when you constantly choose to keep your vision fixed on the negative are you focused on the negative. And a focus on the negative means a reality filled with negativity.
How it actually works
Changing a negative reality is as simple as choosing a positive focus. If a negative reality results from a negative focus, then a positive reality will result from a positive focus. But how exactly does that work?
Many think reality is the collection of what happens to you, but this perspective drives a focus on what others do or don’t do, and the resulting reality is one in which you’re disempowered to change your own life for the better.
What happens to you does play a role in shaping reality, but you play a much larger role with the meaning you assign. You’ll get a certain result depending on your actions. And, yes, other people play a role in determining that result. But whatever the result, you choose what that result means. And that meaning plays a larger role in creating your reality than what others do.
The same undesired experience can come to two different people, and you can find one in complete turmoil and the other in complete peace. The same thing happened to both, so why don’t both have the same reality? It’s because reality is more than just what you experience; it’s also what meaning you choose to give your experience. And the way you assign meaning is through your focus. You choose your focus, and thereby you choose the meaning you assign to your experiences, and thereby you choose your reality.
Stand and own it
When you understand how it all works, the ramifications can overwhelm. If you choose your reality, then the one ultimately responsible if you don’t like your reality is you! That realization usually precedes one of two responses: You’ll either cower back and hide, or you’ll stand up and embrace it.
Cowering can be comfortable, but that choice disempowers you, surrendering you to a victim mentality that keeps you in the prison of always blaming others for why your life isn’t what it should be. But your best life has you empowered with a victor mentality that liberates you. And that’s where the harder choice to stand up and embrace the truth comes in. To have your best life, you must stand and own it.
If you don’t like your current reality, you can flip it when you flip your focus. Stand up, own your life, and start making intentional choices to seize your power of agency and move yourself towards your best life. You’ll feel the empowerment that comes from taking control of your life. You’ll feel the satisfaction that comes from making progress towards your goals. And you’ll learn how to stay positive no matter what negative experiences come your way. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Most people, single or married, simply accept what they're given. They don't chase what they want. The result is they often don't get what they want. And not getting what they want, they end up unhappy. They settle for a life far beneath their privileges.
It doesn't have to be that way for anyone. And yes, anyone includes YOU! I don't care what's happened to you or where you're from or how old you are or any of that business. Results come from one thing and one thing only, and that's action. Period. Take the same actions, you get the same results. Take different actions, you get different results.
Once you stop over-thinking it and just accept the simplicity of that truth, it's easier to see other truths, like the need to own your life. After all, if your results come from your actions, then the only way your life gets better is with better actions. And that means accepting responsibility for how your life results and start choosing actions that will produce the results you want.
Most don't really struggle with grasping the Law of the Harvest. They know they need more effective actions to get more effective results. What many struggle with are the details. They don't know exactly what actions are the more effective ones. "What specific actions," they ask, "do I need to take to get the specific results I want?"
If you're asking that question, understand you'll never know the answer you should have for that question if you don't get your thinking right. Sound bonkers? It's still completely true. We don't just act; we're not hardwired that way. We're biologically hardwired to play out habit. And that means some thinking had to occur before we took any action.
Without understanding why you've chosen to act as you have in the past, you won't know what you need to choose in the future to get different results. Understanding the connection between what you've done and what you got will help you know what changes you need in what you do to get changes in what you get.
One of my favorite scenes in the film Jack Reacher is when Jack is in Helen's office helping her understand why her client is innocent. To open her mind to new possibilities, Jack has Helen look at people working late in a neighboring building. He slowly steps her through seeing through new eyes what she's seen before too many times to count. And he does it by entertaining an important philosophical question of what it truly means to be free.
True freedom exists in how you think. Changing how you think lets you see more clearly the connections between what you've done and what you got. You can see new possibilities for getting something different. You can see the changes you need in yourself to embrace those possibilities. And you can see how that future can be yours regardless of what's happened to you or where you're from or how old you are or any of that business.
Break yourself free of a life far less than the one you're capable of living. God gave you agency so you could choose for yourself what you'll do. Choose to learn the connections between how you think, what you do, and what you get. Then choose to leverage that knowledge in better actions designed to yield better results. When you consistently choose to plant and nurture seeds of more effective action, over time you'll reap a harvest of more effective results. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
I’m thankful President Oaks publicly declared those ideas. I’m also thankful he focused on eternal principles throughout his remarks, especially the principle of moral agency. The Constitution certainly isn’t perfect, but it does support that society most free to exercise agency. Thus, we should all be defending our Constitution, despite its flaws and limitations.
Understand the threats to agency
President Oaks began his remarks by establishing his authority. A former clerk to the chief justice of the US Supreme Court, law professor, and justice on the Utah Supreme Court, he’s certainly more than amply qualified to have a platform.
But the qualification he listed last and “most important” intrigued me most. He’s been an Apostle of Jesus Christ for 37 years. As President Oaks described, that means he’s “responsible to study the meaning of the divinely inspired United States Constitution to the work of His restored Church.”
Here he segues into a discussion of moral agency. God inspired the Founding Fathers to assemble a system of government that would maximize the exercise of moral agency. And as we know, agency is key in our Heavenly Father’s eternal plan for His children. Defending the Constitution therefore promotes God’s plan of happiness.
President Oaks then mentioned some of the threats to the undergirding principles of the Constitution. Said he,
The threats to the Constitution, and by extension to our Heavenly Father’s plan, are very real and very much growing.
Learn and perform your duty
So can we do about it? What should we do to defend the Constitution? President Oaks provides some answers. I love how he starts by encouraging optimism, declaring “we should trust in the Lord and be positive about this nation’s future.”
Founded in faith and positive thinking, we should pray for leaders in all nations and then seek to exercise a righteous influence civilly, peacefully, and legally. Also, in these divisive times, “we should seek to moderate and unify.”
These days, everyone loves to talk about their rights and what they’re entitled to receive. But few speak of their duties and what they should give. It’s people performing their duties that make the rights of all available. That’s why I applaud President Oaks in listing three duties every good citizen has.
That power-packed list reveals more I need to do to support the Constitution. And I love how President Oaks reiterated King Benjamin’s counsel not to do everything at once (Mosiah 4:27). We all have different seasons in life, and the combination of actions appropriate in one season may not be appropriate in another.
Get busy doing your part
Let’s truly celebrate Independence Day by defending our Constitution. Perhaps the best place for you to start is where I’m starting — by reading and becoming more familiar with the actual document itself. Or perhaps you need to consider running for a position in an upcoming election. Or maybe you need to call or email an elected official about a current issue.
What you do today may not be what you do tomorrow, but we should always be doing something. The threats to the Constitution President Oaks described have grown precisely because far too many of us have been doing nothing in civic life. We’ve been busy focusing on our careers, our loved ones, and our own lives, and enough responsible people have been so absorbed in that busyness that we’ve allowed irresponsible people to hold office.
The Constitution has imperfections, but one thing it does right is give ultimate power to the people. Let’s celebrate the birth of our nation by learning about and then committing to safeguard that power. And the best way to safeguard it is to exercise it civilly, peacefully, and legally. When we persist in so doing, we can enjoy the fruits of freedom to exercise the moral agency essential to God’s plan and preserve that gift for the next generation. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
But you get to choose your identity. You choose who and what you’ll be. Understanding this principle is key to making positive changes in your life. If you want to live your best life, learn how identity precedes behavior.
Understand the source
You always act consistent with who you think you are. And you’ll always feel good about yourself when who you think you are is who you think you should be.
This is self esteem, how well your self image (how you see yourself) matches your self ideal (how you think you should be). When you live up to what you think you should be, how you see yourself matches how you think you should be, yielding high self esteem. Conversely, when you see yourself very differently than what you think you should be, your self image and your self ideal don’t match. That mismatch creates a dissonance you feel as low self esteem.
Matches don’t require exactness. You don’t need to see yourself exactly as you idealize yourself. You can see yourself as mostly there and have a healthy self esteem provided you forgive yourself for coming up short. Lacking that forgiveness leads to a rigid disposition that prevents a robust sense of mental health. As in other areas of life, you don’t need perfect, just good enough.
Understand the choice
Understanding these ideas sets the stage for positive change. But to effect that change, you need to add agency into the mix.
You choose whether or not you have self-esteem. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter how well your self image matches your self ideal. That’s not the way it works. We’re all built to operate based on the match between our self image and our self ideal. But you can choose your self ideal. And you can choose to bridge whatever gap exists between your self image and your self ideal.
Our culture hands us norms that we then adopt in constructing our self ideal. For many singles, for example, that includes being married by a certain age. If you aren’t married by then, it’s easy to get down on yourself because your self image (seeing yourself as single) doesn’t match your self ideal (you should be married by now). Low self esteem leads to feeling worthless, and you won’t think any effort worthwhile when you see yourself as worthless.
But you can choose your self ideal, one that doesn’t necessitate being married by a certain age. And you can choose to bridge the gap by taking action — learn the fundamentals of the dating journey and then change yourself to become more agreeable to a potential partner.
Make your choice
When it comes to bridging the gap, Christ is the ultimate bridge builder. His Atonement allows all to cross the chasm between how we see ourselves in mortality and what we can be in the eternities. Christ can help you achieve your greatest potential.
He does this by transforming you inside, effectively changing your identity. He lifts your vision towards a higher standard and provides strength to lift your performance to match that standard. In essence, he changes your self image to match a higher self ideal.
In contrast, the world would have us lower our standards to match lower performance. Rejecting covenant living may appease the natural man and woman, but only covenant living yields the fulfillment of eternal growth. Settling for low performance always invites a medium of mediocrity. Christ wants to raise us out of that mire into a more glorious state of being.
We all want positive change in life, but you won’t act inconsistent with how you see yourself. Identity precedes behavior. So partner with the Lord and let Him lift your self image to eternal heights and strengthen you to do the daily tasks your positive change requires. Laying your daily brick will eventually result in the very fine structure that is your best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
The answer my stake president gave included a twist. He extended the ideas of agency and God’s respect for agency in a way that promotes faith in our use of agency. And the conclusion, if you honestly desire to do right, is to let faith guide you through whatever challenges you face in life.
We all have the choice of how we’ll act when confronted with challenges; that’s agency. And agency means not everyone will choose unicorns and rainbows. Some will choose to inflict hardship and even pain on others.
But agency is independent, meaning the choices others make don’t determine our own. We might choose in response to what others choose, but we don’t have to. We can make a completely irrational choice, because the agency we each have is independent.
That independence is vitally important because it transforms this life into a test to “prove [us] herewith, to see if [we] will do all things whatsoever the Lord [our] God shall command [us]” (Abraham 3:25). That independence allows every choice we make in life to be one of faith. Will we choose to exercise faith in God? Or will we choose a different path?
The question we ultimately face in the midst of any challenge is one of faith. In many cases, not knowing the end from the beginning contributes to the challenge confronting us. If we choose the path of faith, will we have a happy ending? That question speaks to the essential part of walking by faith; how could faith be faith if you always knew how your choice would result before you made it? In this way, every choice we make in life is one of faith.
When we view our choices through this lens, choosing faith becomes easier regardless of the challenge confronting us. For example, the older I get as an LDS single, the more I face the question of whether the blessings of marriage and family will ever be mine. My patriarchal blessing describes those promises, worded such that the fulfillment is in this life, not the next. But the older I get, the more single I seem to be and the less likely those promises seem to be true.
So what do I do? Do I continue in the path of faith believing in promises that seem less and less likely to come true with each passing day? Or do I surrender to doubt, discouragement, and despair in the belief those promises are not true? Ultimately my question of what to choose in the face of my challenge is a question of faith. Will I choose faith in God? Or will I choose another path?
You could extend that application to any challenge. Ultimately there comes a moment in any challenge when you must decide what you believe. Will you choose to believe God? Or will you choose to believe a different voice?
I’ve faced that point multiple times in my life. I haven’t been perfect, but ultimately I’ve always chosen to believe God, even when that choice meant great sacrifice or hardship. And God has always supported me. Moreover, God hasn’t just seen me through; the man I am on the other side has always been better than the one I was before.
Ultimately every choice you make is one of faith. Will you choose faith in God? Or will you choose a different path? Thinking on your life and remembering times when God supported you after you chose Him makes it easier to choose Him again. So let faith guide you through whatever challenge you face in your life. Walking in faith will open you to feel God’s love for you, see God’s hand move to support you, and allow God to make more out of your life than you can yourself. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Then I thought I might have the wrong focus. Maybe what I need to focus on, I thought, is focus. After all, Mother’s Day is hard for many single sisters because of where they place their focus. Your focus determines your reality, so when you focus on what’s missing, your reality feels like it’s missing something. When you focus on what’s wrong, your reality can’t help but feel wrong.
But when you focus on what’s right, your reality feels right. And that focus works not just for Mother’s Day but for every day. So instead of letting a holiday focus you on what’s wrong or missing, use that holiday to focus on what’s right. When you focus on the best parts of your life, it’s easier to celebrate the best in you.
Admittedly that’s a hard row to hoe when you’ve got an ideal you’re not even close to reaching pressed in your face at church. Many wards are stepping up and exercising more sensitivity to their single members, but many wards still have a lot of work to do. And that begs the question: What can LDS singles do when they find themselves in such a ward?
The worst that can happen is you have a horrible experience at church and then you go home and brood about it. If church wasn’t what it should have been, why would you torture yourself further by brooding about it? Your focus determines your reality, so wallowing in the muck of negative experience just brings you the muck of a negative reality.
Choose instead to focus on what’s right. If church wasn’t what it should’ve been, remember babes in sacrament meeting, go home, and move on. Have your own celebration that highlights what’s best in you. Refuse to focus on the negative, and your reality will refuse to be negative.
That may be hard, especially if you have a habit of immersing yourself in negativity. But like all new habits, actions become easier and more entrenched the more you practice them. Holidays that traditionally present challenge to singles also provide opportunities to rise above those challenges.
The key is to remember that practice does not make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. You can practice how to approach something the wrong way, and you can practice it so much it becomes a habit. But in the end, all your habit will deliver you are less effective results. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.
So if your habits produce less effective results, here’s some free advice: Change them! You have the power of agency. Use that power to play the victor, not the victim. Change what you need on the inside so you can more readily see the changes you want to see on the outside.
Whatever holiday comes to your door, others don’t have the final say in how you feel. You have the final say with the focus you choose for yourself. Control your focus, and you control your reality.
It’ll be hard if you haven’t practiced perfect, but that’s OK. That just means you need to keep trying. Keep reaching for the light and the positive choice. No matter what others decide, determine you will decide your focus. Determine you’ll celebrate the best in you.
Your focus will determine your reality regardless of what you choose. The universe obeys its laws irrespective of any of us. Time is continually moving forward. You can choose to use that time to embrace the negative or the positive.
The choice is yours, so make the positive choice. Choose to celebrate the best in you each and every day. By insisting on making your focus more and more positive, you’ll make your reality more and more positive. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
From the original Greek, a mote is a small piece of wood like a chip or splinter, but a beam is like a much larger structural member used to construct a house. The contrast here has been applied differently but always with a play on the vast difference in perspective represented by the different size of the mote and the beam. When applied to dating, that contrast enlightens how LDS singles can improve their dating lives. It’s all in the lesson of the mote and the beam.
Flip your intention
The Savior is talking here about judgment because in the previous two verses He encourages judging righteously. And it’s a pretty simple analogy. How do we condemn others in righteousness when we ourselves are so grossly lack righteousness?
Often we judge small imperfections in others as huge monumental issues. But if we look inside ourselves, we’ve got issues that truly are monumental, just as a beam is monumentally larger than a mote. “For all have sinned,” the apostle Paul declared, “and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
I know for my own self I’ve never claimed to be anything but a walking construction zone with more imperfections than Swiss cheese has holes. So who am I to judge others for falling short when I myself am so lacking?
And that’s the point. It’s not about refraining from making any judgments at all; it’s about recognizing how we’re all flawed and then allowing that recognition to lead us into empathy and compassion in viewing others. Our intention turns from condemning them for their imperfections to considering how we can help them improve.
See your beam
The application to dating should be obvious. When evaluating potential dates, too often singles reject candidates based on imperfections when they themselves are certainly not paragons of perfection.
Singles often assessing those imperfections, however tiny, as monumental disqualifications. They focus so much on having perfect they forgo the joy they could have if only they accepted good enough. And as we’ve discussed before, you can have maximum joy with someone who’s just good enough if both of you give your all to each other.
That typically isn’t what happens, though. Singles use whatever standards they have as a litmus test in which no imperfection is tolerated. And since so many of us are wildly imperfect, no one passes the test, which leaves singles stuck asking where all the “good” candidates are and wondering why they can’t progress in their dating journey.
Remove the mote
What’s the solution here? The Savior advised us to take the beam out of our own eye first, and then we’ll see clearly to remove the mote in another’s eye. Applied to dating that advice becomes this: Look to accept and improve yourself first, and then you’ll be better able to accept and improve a potentially good dating partner.
Instead of discarding potential candidates with their imperfections, singles should ask how they can help them to discard those imperfections. The key here is assessing direction. You need to allow and encourage potential partners to show they’re aligning their lives with the direction you want for your life. If they demonstrate that willingness, you should investigate further rather than summarily rejecting them for their imperfections.
I’m not suggesting we’re interchangeable parts or that there aren’t acceptable reasons for rejecting a dating candidate. What I am suggesting is that we need to be more accepting of imperfection in others, especially since each of us is bereft with imperfection. The perfect partner for you is the imperfect one who’ll help you become perfect and who you in turn help to perfect.
So take in the lesson of the mote and the beam. It may be hard at first, but you just might be surprised at how perfect for you some of those you previously judged as too imperfect actually are. 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 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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