Perhaps most importantly, it really made me think about the perspective driving many LDS dating decisions and the resulting challenge it creates. Far too many filter decisions about not just who to date but who they talk to through the perspective of the natural man or natural woman. Seen only through those eyes, we’ll never see the truth that everyone is beautiful.
A demanding lifetime pursuit
Let’s start with a disclaimer: In the words of Indiana Jones’s father, “I’m as human as the next man.” Conquering the natural man or the natural woman takes a lifetime, so we shouldn’t expect anyone to be completely covenant men or covenant women during their dating journey.
But we can expect improvement. When I compare the man I am today with the man I was 10 or 20 years ago, those men were definitely more aligned with the natural man. I’m not completely a covenant man, but I’ve made gains in that direction, and I’ve got the receipts to back that up.
That said, I still have work to do. That’s part of the value I gained from watching this documentary. When I first saw a full body shot of Lizzie, I recoiled. I wasn’t seeing the beautiful soul of the person within, just the shell of flesh and bone that encased it. The portion of the natural man still within me found that shell repulsive.
A common blind spot
I’d expect most LDS singles to respond similarly because that’s how most people respond. Natural men and women see only the exterior. Those inner qualities of character which have value in eternity have no value to the natural man and natural woman.
When that natural mindset drives dating decisions, LDS singles will always discount worthy potential companions who’d be ideally suited for them because those options aren’t “top shelf.” They could be sitting next to the very person who could make them maximally happy and never know it.
Worse still, most LDS singles aren’t even aware of how natural their mindset is. They equate conquering the natural mindset with keeping the standards, and because they keep the standards, they don’t see themselves as a natural man or woman. That self-image blinds them from seeing how well their dating decisions actually align with the natural mindset. And it’s that mindset obstructing their dating journey. They’re blind, and they think they see just fine.
A more joyful view
That’s where this documentary enters stage right. Natural men value youth and external beauty. Lizzie has neither, so of course she’s single. But as I listened to her story with an open mind and an open heart, I experienced a transformation. I began seeing more and more the beauty living inside her. And that inner beauty colored my view of her exterior. After an hour and 18 minutes, what at first seemed repulsive had become welcome in my inner circle.
What changed it for me can change it for LDS singles in their dating journey. Far too many insist so much on having “top shelf” they won’t even give the time of day to anyone perceived to be less. But the truth is everyone is more. And you’ll never see that vision until you embrace an open mind and heart while spending sufficient time with someone.
Everyone is beautiful. Acting on that belief at first is an act of faith. You act as though you see that truth even though you don’t. Pressing forward in that walk of faith, eventually you reap the reward of your diligence and patience as the vision opens up to you. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
As I carefully re-read Elder Ochoa’s address in preparation for the broadcast, I see I had assumptions that led me to a different conclusion than what Elder Ochoa likely intended. When you approach your life with the right assumptions, you can ask “Is the plan working?” and know that it is.
Recognize your faulty assumptions
My assumptions began to influence my thinking from the start. When Elder Ochoa mentioned a young returned missionary whose life wasn’t working out the way he expected, I instantly assumed that young man was single.
It seemed right to think that. Increasingly LDS singles aren’t marrying at all, and those who do marry do so later. Thus, many LDS singles wonder how the plan of happiness can be working for them when they seem shut out from the blessings of happiness they desire. In that light, Elder Ochoa’s address could’ve been addressing LDS singles when he said,
But Elder Ochoa never identified that discontent young man as single. He may have been single, but he also could have been married. We simply don’t know because Elder Ochoa never said. That’s important, because my assumption the man was single led me to an erroneous conclusion about Elder Ochoa’s address.
Distinguish between two plans
Here’s the real problem: There’s two plans we’re talking about here. The first is God’s plan for His children that spans eternity. The second is our plan for our lives here in mortality. With both plans intended to result in our happiness, it’s easy to get them confused.
Many LDS singles do in fact confuse them because of faulty assumptions behind their thinking. The largest of these is the idea that righteous blessings result from righteous behavior. The faulty connection assumed here provides particular challenge when the blessing sought is marriage, a blessing not predicated entirely or even largely on righteous behavior. Notwithstanding, those singles who chose to assume that faulty connection in their thinking are more likely to turn tone deaf when they hear messages like this:
Many LDS singles who falsely assume righteousness leads to marriage hear that and respond, “What are you talking about? I’m trying to honor my covenants, so of course I’m following Jesus. But I still don’t have my desired blessings, so how can you say the plan works?” Again, we’re talking about two different plans here. Just because our plan for mortality isn’t working doesn’t mean God’s plan for eternity isn’t also.
Focus on the right plan
Elder Ochoa doesn’t address that distinction. His solution for people who feel the plan of happiness isn’t working for them is to act in faith, turn to Jesus, and humble themselves. That’s a great approach when you’re talking about God’s plan that spans eternity. But it offers little to those largely concerned with receiving a blessing in this life.
That’s why my faulty assumption at the start of his remarks led me to conclude falsely. Every time Elder Ochoa speaks of “the plan of happiness,” he’s talking about God’s plan that spans eternity. But my faulty assumption at the start got me focused on receiving a blessing in mortality. And with that focus, I couldn’t connect with Elder Ochoa’s real message.
Is the plan working? That depends on which plan you’re talking about. If you’re talking about the plan you make for yourself for happiness in mortality, then it may or may not be working, depending on your assumptions. But if you’re talking about the plan God made for His children to be happy in eternity, then yes, that plan is working great so long as we make and keep every sacred covenant we can.
When you question your assumptions and get clear about distinguishing between God’s plan for life in eternity and your plan for life in this world, you can better feel the power of perspective helping you to let go of everything holding you back from enjoying each moment irrespective of your circumstances. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
What impressed me the most in that meeting was a Japanese sister. As she rambled on in her broken English from one topic to the next, I struggled to make sense of what she was trying to say. But then she spoke two words that captured my attention: Expect miracles.
Nourish your thinking
I have no idea why she said those two words. Perhaps she was referencing President Nelson’s address from the last Conference on spiritual momentum. Perhaps she was talking about something else related to miracles. Or perhaps she was talking about something completely unrelated and the Spirit prompted her to say those words because I needed to hear them.
I say I needed to hear them because they captured my attention. And as I began pondering those words and remembering what I said about them in a recent episode of this program, I immediately felt prompted to make them the focus for this episode of Joy in the Journey Radio. So perhaps there is someone out there who needs this message.
Regardless of the need, I do believe this message is important for all LDS singles to review on a regular basis. We need to nourish our thinking with better assumptions, better perspectives, better attitudes, and better self-talk. The idea of expecting miracles encompasses all four of those elements.
Reformat and reboot
For example, too many LDS singles assume the future will be just like the past. They place so much emphasis on the choices others make, they do not perceive the power inherent in their own choices. A discouraging outlook encourages a despondent attitude.
And all of these elements then find reinforcement in self-talk: “What’s the point of trying?” “Why would anyone choose me?” “I’m not good enough.” “I’ll never be loved.” All these messages played on autopilot via habits of thinking reinforce the faulty assumptions, the diminished perspectives, and the failing attitudes that will never lead to success.
Expecting miracles reverses all that. Expecting miracles in your life assumes miracles can and will come to you. Expecting miracles exchanges the perspectives focused on the past for ones focused not just on the future but on a future that’s very different from the past. Expecting miracles encourages an optimistic positive attitude. And expecting miracles encourages uplifting self talk: “I’ll keep trying because I will succeed.” “My miracle will choose me.” “I’m more than good enough for my miracle.” “My miracle will happen because I’m already loved.”
There’s a night-and-day difference between expecting miracles and the less effective ways of thinking many LDS singles choose to tolerate. Many so choose because they simply aren’t aware of the difference. But having that awareness, why would you choose not to expect a miracle? Why would you cheat yourself of the glorious best life you could have?
Position yourself better
Of course, miracles are more likely to come and are therefore easier to expect when you get your game on. Put yourself in a good financial position. Serve faithfully in your Church calling. Take care of your responsibilities, including those involving self-care. These changes likely won’t come overnight, but every effort to move in that direction moves you closer into a space where miracles can more easily come.
My friend provides a good example. His real interest in attending that Sunday School class was a special “person of interest” (as he calls her). During the drive back, he told me they’d met only one month ago. I was surprised to hear that. Given the way they hugged each other in the parking lot before leaving, I thought they’d known each other longer. But apparently they just hit it off really well. I’d call that a miracle.
So expect miracles in your life. Believing in and opening yourself up to possibility can improve your probability of success. By working as you can on improving yourself and your situation, you can move yourself into the space where your miracle can more easily come. That miracle can be the door that swings your best life wide open to you. And that will bring your more joy in your journey.
It’s not uncommon to find singles who have extended such expectations to every part of their lives. They include how many kids they will have, where they will live, what kind of career they have, and more. The list of rules their life is supposed to follow is quite long if not endless. Well, I’ve got just one thing to say to that. Your rules are dumb.
Make rules for you
Setting rules for how life is supposed to proceed establishes expectations. And that’s a problem, especially where other people are involved. Everyone is so imperfect that you’re almost certain to be disappointed.
I know that sounds cynical. I’m not trying to be. Successful people take the world as they find it, not as they wish it would be. That means seeing things as they really are and calling them out. Expecting people to act a certain way so your life can unfold according to your fantasy is just dumb.
Instead of establishing rules for how others should act, make rules for how you should. Others will almost certainly disappoint you, but you can choose not to disappoint yourself. You can work towards your best life by becoming your best self, and you do that by exercising the discipline to conform to rules that your best self would follow. That process of struggle as you seek to change not just your behavior but your identity fuels the growth for the transformation into your best self.
Leverage life’s little surprises
Your rules for how your life should proceed are dumb for another reason. By staking out an expectation of what will or even should happen, you cut off all other possibilities from being acceptable. And that removes much of the beauty your life could have.
Life is wonderful not because it conforms with some plan of perfection but because of possibility. Variety and spontaneity are the spices of life because they highlight possibilities. It’s the possibility of surprise that helps make it interesting.
Of course, some of those surprises would be more interesting if they didn’t invade your life. For example, my place recently flooded for the third time in the last two months. A surprise to be sure, but I don’t wallow in playing the victim. I choose to leverage the event to fuel my drive to improve my situation. Those improvements require me to think creatively about possible solutions and to work hard to realize them.
If I insisted that my place wasn’t supposed to flood because that’s not how my life is supposed to be, I’d cut off the creativity I need to find solutions. I’d spend far too much time focusing on the problem, which creates a reality filled with problems. I’d miss out on how beautiful my life could be by truly living it — taking it by the reins and making it the best it can be.
Open yourself to possibility
What would happen if you suspended your rules and opened yourself to possibility? Instead of insisting that your life proceed according to some pre-determined expectation, what if you had the humility to embrace an alternative?
I recall in a previous ward receiving an invitation to dinner. The family had invited another family to join us. As we waited for the women to finish preparations, the children were playing outside, and we men were conversing.
Speaking of his wife, one of the men said, “I never thought I’d be happy with a red head, but I am.” When single, he expected he needed to marry a blonde to be happy. What he found by releasing that expectation and embracing possibility was true happiness found not in what he had but in what he gave. And the life he described living was truly beautiful.
Your rules are dumb. Let go of the expectations that life must unfold a certain way in order for it to work for you. Your life will work for you when you do the work your best life requires. And that will bring your more joy in your journey.
Check your thinking
Elder Christofferson starts with Job, recounting how Job’s sufferings tried him so deeply he began to condemn God for “wronging” him. God then reminded Job of His omnipotence and omniscience. Job, realizing he couldn’t hold a candle to his Maker, humbly let God prevail. In the end, “the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12).
Often the suffering of LDS singles leads them down the road of Job. They can feel wronged when they do their best to keep the standards of righteousness and yet desired righteous blessings don’t materialize. Worse yet, those blessings don’t show any sign of ever materializing.
But the problem here is in how we think. We need to correct the faulty assumption that keeping the standards means we’ll have our desired blessings and certainly not in our way and on our schedule. Elder Christofferson taught,
The idea that “I’m not happy so God must be doing something wrong” assumes God’s main job is to make our lives blissfully care free. But God’s work is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). As we discussed last week, growth is often uncomfortable. Sometimes that discomfort comes from living without desired righteous blessings.
Correct your assumptions
How then do the blessings we want come? Many LDS singles simply shrug their shoulders as they give the most common response: “I don’t know.” But other responses abound.
In recent years, as the proportion of singles in the Church has grown, leaders have increasingly suggested the receipt of righteous blessings is largely out of our hands. They say God has an individualized and personalized plan for each of His children, and righteous blessings are dispensed as God executes that plan.
Elder Christofferson appears to be in that camp when he taught,
I agree blessings which don’t conform to God’s will won’t materialize. However, I don’t think that means the lack of a particular blessing means it’s God’s will that blessing isn’t there. D&C 130:21 teaches every blessing is predicted upon obedience to the law connected with that blessing. If you don’t keep the particular law, you don’t get the particular blessing.
Thus, any lack of companionship and marriage lies not in failing to keep the standards good enough but rather in the assumption that keeping the standards should yield the blessing of companionship and marriage. Those desired righteous blessings are predicated on a different law.
Partner with Him
You may well ask, “What is that different law?” The blessings of companionship and marriage come as singles progress through the stages of the dating journey. When singles follow the fundamental principles of that journey, they make progress in that journey. When they don’t follow fundamentals, they don’t progress. Period.
Following fundamentals means becoming more agreeable, and that means changing you. Partnering with the Lord is the best way to know what changes you need to make now to become more agreeable. Partnering with the Lord also provides guidance, courage, and strength in making those changes. So a failure to see desired blessings in our lives should motivate us to increase our relationship with God, not diminish it. Elder Christofferson taught,
God hasn’t abandoned us simply because desired blessings haven’t come how or when we want. But we abandon Him when we lose faith in Him and allow that loss of faith to tolerate a lack of devotion to our covenants and our place in His work. That work is not about making life easy and comfortable but about helping others progress along a path that stretches into eternity.
When life doesn’t go as planned, we need to increase our relationship with God. Hard times are a call to deepen discipleship. By heeding that call, we’ll find the guidance we need to know the next step as well as the faith and courage to take it. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility” (2 Nephi 2:11).
To Father Lehi’s list of essential opposites we can add this pair: comfort and growth. We all want growth, but growth by its very nature is often uncomfortable. And if we avoid the discomfort, we’ll never grow. There’s no comfort in growth but also no growth in comfort.
Understand the nature
We’d all do well to remember these essential opposites as we encounter challenges in our lives. Many LDS singles naturally retract from the discomfort their challenges bring. That has nothing to do with being single and everything to do with being human. But the growth they want can’t come without discomfort.
Many of the challenges of LDS singles life come from the nature of singleness. You’re made to connect with another half, but you have only the half you are. Everything in your life has to come from you. All your financial support has to come from you. Maintaining everything in your life has to come from you. If something doesn’t work, the fix has to come from you. If you have children to raise, then that too has to come from you.
We’ve all been there in Singleland. Some of us have been there longer than others, and others more are still there. In fact, that’s where the majority of the adult Church membership is. And the majority of that majority is stuck right there in Singleland because they keep looking for the comfortable exit in the futile hope they can grow without discomfort.
Embrace the discomfort
That hope is futile because growth and comfort are essential opposites. You can’t grow if you stay comfortable. To have growth, you must be willing to embrace discomfort.
Notice I said embrace. A mere acceptance will not do. You must put your arms around the pain and take it in. You must channel it into the molding of your character. You must leverage it to your advantage. You must take what appears to hold you back and turn it into the very impetus that propels you forward.
Most people don’t think this way, which is why most people when presented with challenge will whimper and wallow in self-pity. Those who successfully transcend — not just overcome but transcend — their challenges are those who embrace the discomfort. And that embrace is what allows them to experience the most growth from their challenges.
Experience maximum growth
We’ve all had the experience not just of trials but also of realization after the trial that the uncomfortable experience made us stronger. We learned something we didn’t know before. We have a perspective that’s more complete because of the experience the trial provided. We grew because of the discomfort.
But most of us leave it there, taking just what life has forced upon us. We’re leaving some growth on the table when we do that. There’s so much more growth we could experience if only we embraced the discomfort.
And that discomfort is something LDS singles especially should want to embrace. We’ve talked often about the fundamentals of the dating journey and how you must become more agreeable by changing you. That change you most need is almost always uncomfortable. But embracing that growth by being all in with both your circumstances and what you do in those circumstances will bring that change to you more quickly and more completely. And maximum growth leads to maximum joy.
There’s no comfort in growth but also no growth in comfort. May we each remember that truth as we each consider our response to the challenges in our own lives. And may we each embrace the discomfort in those challenges. Doing so will maximize the growth we’ll experience. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Thinking back on my experiences with LDS singles over the years (in addition to being one myself), I’ve selected some questions that appear over and over again yet yield poor results. Also, for each one I’ve better questions that lead to better answers that yield better results. At the end of the day, we all want results, but tackling your challenges often begins with asking the right questions.
Change your thinking
Let’s start with what’s probably the leader of the pack. Many of us are just trying to do the right thing while we find our way in this world, and yet many of us just keep getting beat down. Over and over again, when things don’t work out, we ask, “Why me?”
I was like that in my 20s. “I don’t understand,” I’d say to myself. “I’m trying to do what’s right. Why is dating so hard? Why can’t they see what a good person I am? Why does this have to happen to me?”
With questions like those guiding my thinking, I didn’t get desired results. And my struggles intensified because I kept doing what I’d been doing. I kept asking the same questions, which led to the same answers, which brought the same results.
Things kept getting worse until I reached a turning point: I realized I was responsible for my life and whatever it was. Most turn away from such thoughts, but I embraced it. And as a result, I started asking different questions. Instead of asking “Why me?” I started to ask “What do I do now?”
Question your questions
I can’t begin to tell you how fundamental that flip in thinking was. Instead of playing the victim, I started playing the victor. Instead of feeling all was hopeless and lost, I began feeling hopeful that everything could change in my favor. The blessings I wanted could come to me.
That’s another question I started asking. Many singles wonder when their blessings will come to them, especially as the years being single begin to accumulate. But instead of asking “When will my blessings come?” it’s far more productive to ask “What can I do to near myself towards my blessings?” So many want their struggles to end, but they want the solution to come on demand without doing any real work to get it. The true joy in life unfolds when you use your agency to quit wallowing in the wanting and start wading in the working.
That’s one major difference between less and more effective questions. Less effective questions assume you don’t need to change you, and therefore you don’t need to act. But results come only from action, so taking no or poor action means getting no or poor results. More effective questions, conversely, assume you must change you, and thus their answers encourage you to exercise the power of your agency and act. Better action always produces better results.
Claim your power
That’s why asking poor questions never delivers rich rewards. I’m sure many if not most of us have asked, “Why does it have to be so hard?” But how many of us have stopped to examine the assumptions behind that question? Those who do are more likely to encounter the better question: “How can I get better?”
It’s one thing to wish things were better. Everyone does that. It’s another to wish you were better, and most don’t do that. They focus on what’s outside of themselves, and in so doing they disempower themselves because the power they seek to change their life is already inside of them and by looking outside themselves they focus away from the very power they seek. When you continually focus on what you can do to grow into something that isn’t challenged by what currently challenges you now, you can achieve amazing results. You’ll always get better answers by asking better questions.
So when you find yourself asking questions about the state of your life, step outside yourself and ask if you’re asking the right questions. Only by asking the right questions will you find the right answers, and that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Many LDS singles find themselves similarly situated. They can feel themselves abused by the vicissitudes of life, be they setbacks in society or disappointments in dating or disillusionment in the death of a loved one or the lingering loneliness of living alone or the ever present responsibility of raising children alone. Many yearn to break free and live independent of their challenges.
If you feel this way, know that you can break free. You’ll have to work through a war of your own just as the Founding Fathers had to work through theirs, but in the end you can stand tall having given birth to a new you you’ve defended and championed. With Independence Day approaching, you can celebrate your independence and let today be the first day of a new you.
Envision your new you
Believe it or not, there’s a new you inside of you waiting to be set free. That new you can help you feel more joyful and alive than ever before. But it won’t ever happen if you don’t believe it’s there.
That’s the first thing tripping up most LDS singles wanting to change their lives. They refuse to believe. They persist in holding faulty assumptions that hold them back. They insist the future can’t be different than their past, or they just aren’t good enough, or all the good ones are gone, or whatever else their brain can use to convince them to maintain the status quo.
In short, they don’t change how they think. They continue whatever habits they presently have that deliver their present reality. Even when they learn how their biological hardwiring is designed to maintain their status quo, they don’t translate that knowledge into action. They don’t change how they think.
That doesn’t have to be you. There is a new you inside of you, but you’ll never birth that new you into your real life until you change your way of thinking.
Defend your new you
When you change how you think, it’s easier to change your actions and with them the results you get in life. But that’s just the first step. Like the Founding Fathers who didn’t get a new nation simply by declaring it, you must fight to defend your new you.
Your first and most formidable enemy will be yourself. Your brain is naturally hardwired to maintain a status quo. And your brain does this by operating out of habit. The current habits are consistent with your current results, so unless you embrace different habits, you’ll never get different results.
Your second and not quite as formidable but still threatening enemy is other people. We’re all biologically hardwired to get our sense of normal from those around us. And we all want to be normal. So when you embrace a new you, you threaten other people’s sense of normal. They intuitively feel the need to change themselves just to be normal, and most don’t want to do the work that involves. They find it easier to bring you down so they can feel normal just as they are.
Champion your new you
Defending your new you is no small task. It’s a constant daily fight. And it’s a fight that you’ll eventually lose unless you champion the new you.
You must celebrate your victories, no matter how small. You must surround yourself with people who are acting in accordance with the changes you want to see in yourself, people who’ll celebrate your victories with you and encourage you to achieve and become even more. You must cheer the self-improvement lifestyle that will maintain your new you.
This Independence Day, celebrate your independence. Let today be the first day of a new you. Envision and believe in that new you. Defend that new you, and champion it. You’ll find resistance along that path, but you’ll also find the satisfaction that comes from progressing towards the fulness of your potential. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Attend to the fundamentals
Understanding the two parts of making a dating connection is fundamental. The first part involves being agreeable enough. The second involves crossing paths with someone who’s agreeable enough to you and who thinks you’re agreeable enough.
This is where many LDS singles put the cart before the horse. They completely skip over making any changes in themselves to become more agreeable, focusing instead on finding the right singles ward or attending the right activity or joining the right online dating site. They jump ahead to the point of crossing paths with the right person.
Here’s the problem with that approach. Even if you do cross paths with the right person, that person won’t connect with you if you’re not agreeable enough. The fundamentals of the dating journey always operate regardless of whether we attend to them or not. You won’t progress to any stage of the dating journey without the agreement you need to be in that stage, and you don’t make agreements if you’re not agreeable enough. Cross paths with the perfect companion and it won’t make any difference to your dating journey because you won’t secure the agreement you need to progress without being agreeable enough.
How the brain works
Accepting the truth that most of us aren’t agreeable enough as we are now is a hard pill to swallow. We want to think we don’t need to change to be good enough, and it’s because we’re biologically hardwired to think that way.
The brain is designed to maintain a status quo, and it does this by establishing habits. That’s why 95% of what we do everyday is out of habit; habits help to maintain a status quo. The brain will dream of a “better” future; dreaming of a “better” future doesn’t affect the status quo. But when it comes to taking action towards that dream, our biological hardwiring kicks in. Taking action means change, and change threatens the status quo. And so our brain, designed to maintain a status quo, fights the change.
It usually starts with “Yeah, but ...” self talk. You feel the dream, and then your brain replies, “Yeah, but that’s too hard.” “Yeah, but you can’t do that.” “Yeah, but it’ll never work.” “Yeah, but you’ll get hurt.” “Yeah, but ...” on and on and on.
Put first things first
And so it’s easy to believe someone should just love us for who we are with no change required on our part. That belief maintains our status quo, encouraging us to skip ahead to how we’re going to meet that special someone. We focus on that second part of making a dating connection without considering the first part. We put the cart before the horse.
How much progress do you think you’ll make with that? The horse can’t pull from behind and doesn’t push very well. Putting the horse ahead of the cart promotes better progress. Likewise, you’ll make better progress in dating when you attend to making yourself more agreeable before focusing on finding ways to cross paths with that special someone.
As I said earlier, the fundamentals of the dating journey operate whether or not we attend to them. They even operate whether or not we know about them. Dating is not only hard but confusing when you don’t know the fundamentals. The different parts tend to work better when you place them in the proper order.
So don’t put the cart before the horse. If you aren’t agreeable enough as you are now, then you need to spend less time looking for ways to cross paths with a potential partner and more time improving yourself to become more agreeable to a potential partner. Master the fundamentals of what you’re trying to do, and you’ll find more success in your efforts. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Yet the theme of broadening the definition of motherhood once more captures my attention. Especially among singles, we see women who haven’t given birth to children complain about how celebrating Mother’s Day simply rubs in their face the dream they want but don’t have.
The truth is you don’t need to birth a child to be a mother. But for many, that’s easier said than believed. So this Mother’s Day, let’s honor motherhood by helping everyone believe that. Let’s help our single sisters identify themselves as the mothers they are for the care they show to others. Let’s honor those who play motherly roles to others — the mothers we don’t see.
See what already is
I call them “the mothers we don’t see” not because we’re blind to them. Of course we physically see them. But too often we’ve not seen these women as mothers because they have no children of their own. We need to see these women for the mothers they already are.
Yes, they haven’t borne children, but they do have children who love them for the care these good women show them. Some of these women are Primary teachers or school teachers who find great fulfillment by “adopting” the children of others. And yet other single sisters show great care to grown children of our Heavenly Father. You don’t need to be a mortal child to appreciate the care shown by single sisters who adopt motherly roles for themselves.
Such broadened perspective reveals meaningful lives because motherhood is about something more fundamental than delivering a physical body into the mortal world. Motherhood is about sharing love with those who need it. And that’s something every woman can do, regardless of marital status or life circumstance. Celebrating those women who make that choice helps everyone adopt a broader perspective on what motherhood really is.
See what could be
Seeing our single sisters for the mothers they already are can also help them believe in the mothers they could be in the future. I believe many single sisters (and many single brethren, for that matter) keep themselves from having their own children principally because they don’t believe in their own potential. It’s always easier to believe in you when others do too.
But most people will take their cues about you from you. So when you don’t believe in the blessings our Heavenly Father wants you to have, you radiate an energy that broadcasts what you really feel and think inside of you. And others pick up on that energy. They presume you’re the expert on you, so if you think you don’t have a blessed future, most will simply defer to your expertise, thereby fulfilling a type of self-fulfilled prophecy.
Think for a moment what might happen if we celebrated women not just for the motherly roles they do play but the ones they could. We could help those sisters who haven’t believed in themselves to turn around and change course. We could help them become the mothers they’re capable of becoming, launching loads of love into the lives of people all around.
Celebrate a broader vision
We’re all biologically hardwired to get our sense of normal from those around us. So when everyone around us thinks motherhood means bearing children, it’s normal for us to think likewise.
But that works in other ways too. If everyone around us believes motherhood is really about sharing love with those who need it, then we establish a new standard for normal. It’ll be easier to believe that’s what motherhood really is all about. And it’s even easier to believe that when we celebrate the women who live that definition of motherhood.
So this Mother’s Day, by all means celebrate your own mother. But let’s also celebrate the mothers we don’t see, the women who we traditionally haven’t seen as mothers but who are mothers all the same for the love they share with others in need. More celebrations of love will encourage even more love, helping to push back the darkness of the world. And that will bring us more joy in our 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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