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.
The natural man and woman (and yes, they are worth distinguishing) drive the dating decisions of far too many LDS singles to prize the worldly over the eternal. The natural mindset informs our assumptions about what’s acceptable, which in turn drives our dating thinking and dating behavior. When you view the bigger picture, it’s not hard to see we need to reject the natural mindset.
Begin with awareness
This may shock many, but it needs to be said because awareness is the first step towards positive change. The vast majority of LDS singles make decisions about dating with the natural mindset. They prioritize self and attributes that don’t really matter in the hereafter (or even very long in this life, for that matter) over what will truly matter in the eternities to come. Their thinking is all about this life and more specifically, their life.
In contrast, the covenant mindset prioritizes making and keeping sacred covenants. Covenant men and women value consistently living the restored gospel. Having a covenant-minded partner is more important to them than physical attraction, money, fame, or status. Covenant men and women will choose to date someone who may lack in those attributes but who has that commitment to the covenant lifestyle.
Now, I want to make clear I’m not suggesting any two active LDS singles should come together on that basis alone. We’re not interchangeable parts. We’re all unique, nuanced individuals, and our dating decisions should acknowledge that individuality. But that individuality finds best expression within a covenant relationship with someone who prioritizes covenant living.
Recognize the danger
Yet many LDS singles prioritize finding someone who today excels in desired attributes. They want perfection up front when the perfection they insist on having really comes only after a lifetime of work. It’s an impossible standard leaving many singles unnecessarily single.
And there’s a dangerous assumption lurking behind that standard. It’s the assumption your marriage is all about you — your happiness, your life, your eternity. But correctly understood, your marriage is not about you.
Yes, it has to do with you, but it’s not entirely about you nor even principally about you. Your marriage is about your companion and your children — the family you’ll create together. That often means giving up something you want for yourself in order to prioritize something for them.
That’s why the natural mindset is so dangerous. Thinking your marriage is all about you engenders a selfish approach to dating and marriage, one that prioritizes what you want over making and keeping sacred covenants. What do you expect results from that approach? It’s exactly what we increasingly see — more and more singles remaining single and more and more singles who do get married struggling to make their marriage last. You don’t get maximum happiness outside covenant living, and the covenant lifestyle doesn’t work when you prioritize self over covenant living.
Correct your thinking
And that’s why the natural man and the natural woman are enemies of God. When you prioritize self over covenants, you prevent families, which play a key role in our Heavenly Father’s plan, from being created and nourished.
The real obstruction is the insistence on having nothing but the best in a companion. It’s the associated idea that “settling for second best” can’t lead to happiness that prevents us from having our maximum happiness. Only inside sacred covenants can we find maximum happiness. Happiness is about giving, not having. So few of us are genuinely top shelf by worldly standards anyway that allowing the natural mindset to drive our dating decisions under the false belief that “settling for second best” leads only to misery is what’s really making us miserable.
If you want your dating journey to lead to maximum happiness, reject the natural mindset. Start by learning what you need to reject. Consciously choose to act with a priority of covenant living rather than selfish desire. And embrace Christ’s wondrous Atonement. When you do, He’ll purify your desires so that what you sincerely want is what you should want. Then making the right choices becomes easier. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
It takes practice, but it’s not difficult to think like the opposite gender. Both men and women think logically and rationally. Yes, it’s true. Men use intellectual logic based in reason. Women use emotional logic based in feeling. Once you understand these principles, remembering five magic words can help you experience more dating success.
Dealing with men
Of course, men and women have their own five magic words because men and women think differently. So first, brethren, let’s be gentlemen and help the ladies understand the five magic words for men: It must make intellectual sense.
Now, I can already hear some of you objecting, “Men are always following their hormones. They’re always chasing the hotties! Where’s the intellectual logic there?”
All men do think with their head. Unfortunately many don’t use the one between their shoulders. But let’s get real, ladies. Those are natural men chasing youth and beauty. Once you lose yours, they’ll lose you. What you really want is a covenant man who’ll prioritize making and keeping sacred covenants, take ownership of his life, and demonstrate leadership by making something of himself.
These men aren’t following hormones as much as they follow what makes sense. That’s how masculine men process thinking — with intellectual logic. If it makes sense, they accept it. If it doesn’t make sense, they reject it.
So ladies, stop, for example, trying to attract a man by increasing your own status. That works to attract a woman because it aligns with how a woman thinks. But men don’t think like women. It makes no sense to follow status because that doesn’t offer a man anything he values. And what sense does it make to chase after something of no value? It must make intellectual sense.
Dealing with women
Of course, women have their own five magic words. So brethren, let’s huddle around and learn the five magic words for women: New experience with desired emotion.
Once you understand these five magic words, you’ll have come a long way towards understanding women. That may surprise men fooled by the common myth that women are illogical and irrational. That’s simply not true. Women are completely logical and totally rational. Their logic simply has a different base.
Where men base their logic in intellect, women base their logic in emotion. Just as men accept what makes sense and reject what doesn’t, women accept what feels good and reject what doesn’t, because feeling good is the emotional equivalent of making sense. That’s why the five magic words for interacting with women are new experience with desired emotion.
Any man who’s had any experience with women can understand that experience better after applying the five magic words to view it. Once he does, he’ll understand why women always chase the bad boy, the muscle man, the money man, or the famous man. These men offer new experience with desired emotion.
Making better progress
There’s so much more about the five magic words that we’ll get into in the course of the broadcast today. They represent the key to learning how to think like the opposite gender. And it’s that type of thinking that can unlock the door to greater success with dating.
After all, it all goes back to the fundamentals we’ve discussed so often on this program and The World of TED. Every stage in the dating journey has an agreement. If you don’t secure the agreement for a particular stage, you don’t progress there. And the way to secure an agreement is to be agreeable enough.
Women who can offer men what makes intellectual sense and men who can offer women new experience with desired emotion have a huge advantage in being perceived as agreeable enough. So remember the five magic words. They’ll help you see the world through the eyes of the opposite gender. That perspective can help you approach dating prospects more effectively, encouraging better results. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Let me say it again. No matter who you choose, your partner will never be perfect. Everyone on this planet has shortcomings, failings, inabilities, and other assorted nuances separating each one of us from perfection.
Why then do so many LDS singles look for perfection when dating? It’s understandable no one wants to be miserable for eternity. But many also don’t want to do the work to become more attractive to that “perfect” someone. They believe they should be loved just as they are.
Many also believe they shouldn’t have to settle. As the belief goes, only perfection can offer eternal bliss. “Settling” by accepting anything less simply means condemning oneself to eternal misery. And again, no one wants to be miserable forever.
But these assumptions lead to the results many LDS singles have of living year after year without the companion they desire. If you want different results, you need different action, and that comes when you think differently. But thinking differently means questioning (among other things) assumptions. So LDS singles who want to turn their lives around should start by questioning their assumptions.
Let’s start by questioning the assumption your companion should love you as you are. That sounds reasonable on its surface. After all, God loves you just as you are, so anyone who doesn’t isn’t trying to be like God and so isn’t marriage material.
But that assumption neglects this truth: God doesn’t want you to stay as you are. He sees what you can become. Because where you’re going is much more important than where you are, aligning your focus with that eternal truth changes your thinking from insisting on being loved as you are to owning your life and doing what you can to move your life in a favorable direction. Different thinking leads to different action which leads to different results.
Likewise for the idea that “settling” for anything but the best leads to eternal misery. It presents a false dichotomy. Either you’re happy forever, or you’re miserable forever. There’s no other option. And it seems reasonable, especially if you judge by your emotions.
But this assumption rests on another assumption that we know what the best is. The truth is we often don’t. Feelings aren’t knowledge, so however something feels, reality can be (and often is) quite different. When you accept that assumption, it’s easier to believe someone you think might not be good for you actually could be. That belief opens the door to accepting opportunities you might otherwise reject. And those actions lead to different results.
Really it all comes down to what we’ve discussed here before. The perfect companion for you is not a perfect person nor a perfect match with your ideal candidate. Rather the perfect companion for you is the imperfect person with whom you align in values and life direction and who will give freely as you help each other become perfect together.
That’s the essential meaning behind helpmeet — someone who helps you meet your potential. Again, everyone is imperfect. But when you align yourself with true principles such as prioritizing an alignment of values and life direction and valuing making and keeping sacred covenants above all else, you can better find the imperfect person who can be the perfect helpmeet for you.
Although never the best, your imperfect companion, when you choose wisely, can help you become the happiest you can possibly be. So question your assumptions so you can align them with eternal truth. Then your assumptions will drive more effective thinking, which will lead to more effective actions, which in turn will produce more effective results. 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.
Imagine that — a quality so essential that nearly everyone has it on their dating deal breaker list, and yet not everyone understands it to be the same thing. And that’s a problem, because you could be your own worst obstacle if you don’t know what compatibility really is.
What it’s not
Success comes more easily to those who conform to true principles. When your approach deviates from those, you make it harder on yourself. And compatibility really is essential in building a successful long-term relationship.
But first let’s talk about what compatibility is not. Compatibility is not liking the same things. Many LDS singles believe this, including myself in my younger days. But as I gained experience I began to see the error in this thinking. Liking the same things won’t get you through the challenging times. And challenging times come into every marriage.
Perhaps more common these days is the misconception that compatibility is matching some idea of perfection. The more a candidate matches your ideal companion — or what you think is your ideal — the more compatible you two are. This idea assumes a perfect match will bring you a successful long-term relationship. And why wouldn’t it if the candidate is perfect? Because what you think is perfect probably isn’t.
It’s natural to think you know what your perfect match is. But so often what we think and what actually is aren’t quite the same. And even if they were, perfect would bore you to tears. Joy in life comes in the journey, meaning you need to be changing, improving, progressing. There’s nowhere to go with perfect.
What it is
So if these things aren’t compatibility, then what is? Compatibility is an alignment in values and life purpose. The more alignment you have with someone, the more compatible you are.
Why is this true compatibility? It’s the alignment of values and life direction that’ll pull you through the difficulties that come into every relationship. We all make decisions consistent with our values, so sharing similar values means naturally agreeing to the same decisions more easily more often.
Moreover, traveling in different directions will make it harder to stay together because the desire to move in different directions creates tension in your relationship. If you and your companion persist in not aligning, you’ll eventually relieve the tension through separation. How much easier it is to stay together if you want to take your lives in the same direction!
Get on it
The alignment of values and life direction is true compatibility. And it’s essential for quality long-term relationships. But it rarely just comes without work. Marriage is hard work because it requires you to work not so much on your relationship as on yourself. The work is in aligning yourselves to a shared set of values and life direction.
That doesn’t mean all your values are identical or that you have the exact same vision of what to make of your life together. But it does mean you’re aligned enough in those areas that you fit together like a hand in a glove. Because values and life direction can change as we age, spouses must continue to work at alignment as they grow old together. It’s in this way they thrive in their relationship as they help each other become more and more perfect.
When you know what compatibility really is, you can then focus your dating approach towards what really matters most. You can emphasize eternal values in your relationships. You can begin to see others for where they’re going and not just where they are. Instead of looking for what’s wrong with potential candidates, you can savor more of the good they have to offer. And that will bring you more joy in your 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.
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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