Fight your fears with faith
Another two years later, I need those words. I find myself challenged even more with a hospital stay. It’s a new experience for me, as is needing any surgery, let alone two. All this has been unexpectedly thrust upon me. Yet even in these challenging circumstances, I can still choose my response. And so can you. No matter what life gives, when you choose to act, you can fight your fears with faith.
Pray and act
My most recent trouble began with abdominal pain, coming hard, fast, and sharp one afternoon. It seemed to wane as the night came, so I thought I might sleep it off.
But the pain returned very soon after awakening. Having recently been diagnosed with an ulcer, I thought the pain might be excess stomach acid. I took a couple of antacid tablets and waited, but the pain continued on. And it was so massive, I couldn’t ignore it. But I didn’t know what to do.
So I prayed for help. A voice I felt more than I heard whispered, “Go to the emergency room.” I looked at the time and wondered if I shouldn’t try to tough it out for three or four more hours, because then the clinic, which costs less than the emergency room, would be open. Again the voice whispered, “Go to the emergency room.” So I got dressed, put my shoes on, and went.
There was certainly no sense of emergency in the people working there. Eventually I learned my previous diagnosis of an ulcer was not correct. My real problem is pancreatitis, a severe inflammation of the pancreas caused, in my case, by gallstones. But here’s where it gets tricky. Some of those gallstones have traveled into the bile duct connecting the liver with the pancreas. Those must be removed before the gallbladder. Due to differences in how surgeons enter the body for each of these tasks, two surgeries are necessary.
Make your choice
The universe isn’t without a sense of irony. I was thinking just the other day very little in my life is actually going my way. Everything seems a challenge, and I’m continually fighting from the edge of a cliff hoping not to fall over the edge into despair. Then I get this.
As if that isn’t bad enough, the first surgery’s scheduled for Monday. Yeah, that’s right. I’m going to be under the knife on Halloween. I think I’ve had my fill of irony!
Still, the choice we all have remains for me. Where will I place my focus? And what action will I choose? Sure, I have fears. In addition to ones stemming from current events, some of the same fears that plagued me four years ago continue to haunt me today. That’s because I haven’t taken sufficient action to build the faith needed to conquer those fears.
And so it goes for us all. When we focus on what we lack, we encourage inaction, and faith being a principle of action cannot thrive, leaving fear to reign. But when we focus on what we can do and take action, always taking the next step we can take, we build the faith we need to fight fear.
Don’t slow down
It’s so easy to step back and surrender to fear. So often we all choose habits of maintaining the status quo rather than consciously maintaining our momentum towards our best life. But the easy choice rarely leads to great reward.
Faith is built only through action. To have the faith the face your fears, you must act. Initially, any action will do, just to get some momentum. Once you start building enough momentum through any action, then you can shift your direction so you move towards your best life.
When you choose to act, you can fight your fears with faith. The Lord hasn’t given up on you, so why should you? Take His strength, act in that strength, and no matter what comes your way, you can truly believe great things are in store for you. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Now is the time
Today will soon be yesterday
Time passes by so quickly. It seems only yesterday I came home from my mission. Yet in reality it’s been not one day but almost 10,000 days — 27 years. That number staggers my imagination.
And what changes have occurred in all that time? I’ve grown in ways I never imagined when I looked into the future 27 years ago. Many are quite positive, but many have me living far beneath my dreams. Comparing what I saw for myself then with what I see in myself now reveals vast differences that beg the questions: How did I get here? How did it come to this?
Many LDS singles ask themselves similar questions as they take stock of themselves. They live far beneath the dreams they had when they were younger. And with the world becoming ever more chaotic, they wonder how those dreams have any chance of coming true.
Much lies outside your own individual power to change, but much more remains within it. As President Nelson reminds us,
That last part — how you spend your time each day — is key. Your best life is the collection of results you desire. Results come only from action. And every action, in order to exist, must occupy space and time. You can’t change the past, and the future’s always a day away. All you have is here and now. And it turns out that’s all you need to begin living your best life.
It’s time to start moving
Far too many of us hold ourselves back from our best life. We focus on the obstacles instead of the opportunities. We keep looking for and listening to excuses instead of ways to move forward. And without forward motion, we’ll never develop the momentum we need to push through tough times.
Some hear these arguments and decide to fool themselves. They leverage lessons from their past to formulate brilliant plans for moving forward. They feel good about themselves after spending inordinate amounts of time planning and preparing. But those good feelings never translate into a new life. Their actions don’t deliver the results of their dreams but rather trick their minds into thinking they’ve done something substantial when in reality they haven’t.
President Nelson understood that situation. He taught,
It’s forward momentum that keeps you moving from one success to another. Momentum carries you through life’s rough seasons and makes your dreams come true. And the only way to get momentum is to start moving and then keep moving. Now is the time to start moving.
Right now is the time
Everything we talk about on Joy in the Journey Radio is meant to help LDS singles live their best life. And all of it will mean absolutely nothing for you unless you wield your power of agency to do what you can with what you have right here right now.
All you have is this moment. When you waste it, nothing in your life changes, at least not for the better. So don’t waste it. Begin gathering momentum now. Live within your covenants more completely now. Make more time for the temple now. Take more action towards the results you want in life now.
Now is the time because now is the only time you have. Once the present becomes the past, you can’t change it. And when you allow enough present moments to become past regrets you can’t change, your present life falls far below your dreams, leaving you to wonder how you ever got there to begin with.
Don’t wait, and don’t doubt yourself. Start taking action towards your best life. Now is the time. When you diligently take advantage of each present moment, they’ll become past successes that taken together will lift you into your best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
As bright as your faith
Faith clarifies vision
We all judge too much by what we see directly around us, and this feature especially manifests itself in dating. Far too often LDS singles look around for someone they’d like to date and, not seeing what they define as acceptable, quickly become discouraged. That scene repeated often enough leads to hopelessness in the future.
Bright futures start with faith. Faith helps you see what’s there but not readily seen. In the context of dating, this could mean, first, you don’t see that acceptable candidates around you because they aren’t doing what you normally do and going where you normally go. When you branch out and see new vistas, you’re more likely to cross paths with them. The world is a bigger place than your own backyard.
Second, faith helps you see the person you discounted may be the one you’re looking for. So many singles insist on having the “perfect” partner that they reject knowing many less-than-top-shelf candidates who’d make good partners. Falsely assuming only the best can produce joy in life has kept and continues to keep many LDS singles single long than need be.
Action feeds power
Lack of hope in the future often attends feeling powerless. A focus there will lead only to despair. To change your reality, you must change your focus. Instead of focusing on the “evidence” for why what you want won’t happen, seek out reasons to believe.
Those reasons to believe will be easier to embrace when you take proper action. I’ve never seen anyone busy working to make his or her dreams a reality feeling powerless, and neither have you. That’s because it’s impossible. When you busy yourself with the business of doing, you’re so immersed in evidence of your own power you can’t feel powerless. It’s when you’re not doing anything that feelings of powerlessness can take hold.
Start feeling that power and savoring your life by listing what makes up your best life. If you could have your best life, what would it look like? What would you be doing? Put those activities on your list. Then start to fill your calendar with those activities.
So if you think your best life involves horse riding, great. When are you going to ride that horse? If you think your best life involves learning how to crochet, great. When will you learn that? Whatever you want your life to be, start doing what you can to live that life. Don’t let what you lack prevent you from embracing — and finding joy in — what you already have.
Partner with Him
While you’re making that list, don’t forget to partner with the Lord. When you include Him in crafting your best life, you’ll get there much more easily than if you go it alone. He might even help you see that what you think is your best life really isn’t. Make the course correction He suggests, and you’ll not leave any joy on the table.
The key to maximizing joy in life is focusing on fundamentals. Far too many LDS singles focus on finding ways to cross paths with that special someone, all the while forgetting that if they aren’t agreeable enough, no quantity of paths crossed will produce the desired result. When you focus first on living your best life as much as you can, you make yourself more agreeable and your life more inviting. That life is also the more joyful one, and that joy will only increase your attractiveness to a potential companion.
The future really is as bright as your faith. When you focus on fundamentals, you can take more effective action. More effective action produces more effective results. More effective results will help you feel more powerful and desirous to do more, and thus the cycle continues ever upward. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
What you get in life
My release augments my discouragement with the attitude my stake has for singles. The older couple serving in place of our non-existing reps were organizing an occasional activity before their release. Now there’s nothing. How can I believe my leaders really care about singles when I don’t see any action on the singles front?
Now enter my philosophical moment. Reflecting on much of what I share here on Joy in the Journey Radio, I’ve seen the need to take my own medicine. It’s time to own my life, and the first step is acknowledging the truth: I don’t have the results I want because of choices I made. In the end, what you think, what you give, and what you are determine what you get in life.
What you think
We often highlight on this program the connection between how you think and the results you get. As my recent experience shows, it’s one that is all too easy to forget. Having that idea infused into your nature isn’t the factory default setting.
That natural default is to blame the outside — blame people outside of yourself, blame outside circumstances, blame whatever lies outside your control. But by placing responsibility for your life outside yourself, you also place outside yourself the power to change that life. That’s why you’ll never have your best life if you don’t own your life. Until you take responsibility for all the results you have in your life, you’ll never wield the power you need to change your life into your best life.
And you have that power within you, for the Lord has declared it (D&C 58:28). Once you own your life, you’ll not only see that power you have within you more clearly but also wield it more effectively. Thinking in those terms always leads to better results in life, no matter your circumstances.
What you give
Once you start acting on more effective thinking, you’ll see your life begin to change, starting with the way you feel inside. The more you act on more effective thinking, the more effective your actions become at producing the results you want to see in life and the more you find yourself giving.
That shouldn’t surprise any long time members of our audience. We’ve often discussed our definition of happiness — giving your all to all the right things for you. The key part of that definition is that first word: giving. So many chase after having whatever they think will make them happy, and all of them sooner or later face the truth of their unhappiness. Happiness is not about having. It’s about giving.
And true to the Law of Restoration, life always returns to you what you give to it. What you send out always comes back. So if you want to get more out of your life, give more to it. And the definition of happiness we’ve discussed so often here is the key to what you give — your all to all the right things for you.
What you are
When you consistently take more effective actions bolstered by more effective thinking long enough, it becomes a habit. That habit played out long enough becomes your character. You become what you consistently do.
We all have the potential to be great, but whether or not you reach that potential depends entirely on the choices you make. You have the power within you to make those choices. It’s called agency, and you begin to wield that power by owning your life. The first step is acknowledging you don’t have the results you want because of choices you made in what you’ve thought, given, and been.
What you think, what you give, and what you are determine what you get in life. You get to choose all three, and it’s never too late to make a better choice. So don’t wait. Make the better choice now! When you own your life and choose to be more effective in what you think, what you give, and what you are, you’ll be on the road to your best life. 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.
Your rules are dumb
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.
A lesson from Groundhog Day
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.
Share your gifts from God
Starting with gratitude simply promotes an extra portion of power. That’s especially true of giving. Indeed, true giving begins with gratitude. As we discussed recently, the more grateful you are, the more you will have, and the more you have, the more you can give. You can truly light the world when with gratitude you share your gifts from God with others.
Reflect on unique gifts
We often think of gifts being highly prized and desirable attributes or skills. So it’s not that surprising when some of us who don’t have those highly prized and desirable attributes or skills feel we don’t have any gifts.
That’s of course not true. I don’t care who you are or where you’re from. Everyone has gifts from God. We all have talent for something. When we exercise our talents, executing the necessary action just seems to flow more easily, even if we lack specific training. God gave talents to everyone so we all can contribute positively to others’ lives.
I’m convinced we each have multiple talents from God. Often, they aren’t what we’d think of as talents. I once knew a sister missionary whose smile was so infectious you couldn’t help but feel a little better when her smile shone upon you. Another friend was a really good listener. We don’t normally think of smiling and listening as talents, and yet I would submit they qualify.
What talents do you have from God? What gifts has He given you that make your contribution to the lives of others unique? Reflect on those gifts for a moment and simmer in gratitude for them.
Reflect on common gifts
Of course, we share some gifts from God in common. Again, I don’t care who you are or where you are from. God has blessed each of us not only with gifts unique to each one of us but also with gifts we share in common.
The first such gift is the greatest gift of God — the gift of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. He is the reason for the season precisely because He is the greatest gift. Through Him, we all have the opportunity to repent and to live forever with God and those we most love. Through Him we all have the power to acquire the fulness of not just our spiritual potential but every other potential as well, be that emotional, intellectual, or physical.
Unfortunately, that gift too often goes unappreciated, as does the second greatest gift from God — agency. Every moment, we get to choose for ourselves what we’ll think, say, and do — and with that what we’ll become. Between our Advocate with the Father and our agency, we have the essentials to become our best selves, live our best life, and achieve the fulness of our potential. Yet too often we don’t even consider these gifts as the gateways to greatness they are.
Don’t let that be you. Take a moment to reflect and meditate on these wonderful gifts and the opportunities they make possible in your life. Marinade your soul in gratitude for your gifts from God.
Share gratitude with others
But it’s not just enough to feel gratitude. You must share it as well! Otherwise, the circle won’t be complete.
What does that mean? Gratitude is an emotion for what has come into your life. You then decide what you will send out to others. What you send out will come back to you again, even when that something is nothing; if you send nothing out, you won’t get anything back again. But when you send out something — say, gratitude, for instance — you will find it later returned to you.
Whatever your gifts from God, take time to reflect on them, feel gratitude for them, and then share that gratitude with others. You’ll find more reason to celebrate the season while moving yourself closer to becoming your best self and living your best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Be that shining star
But then as I thought about it, I began to see I needed to see this differently. I’m not knocking the Light the World calendar. If you want to do that, that’s great. I just think I need to focus more on what I can give than on what I have received. I think I need to be that shining star for someone else rather than showcase what someone else has been for me.
See your full potential
Yeah, I get it. Like I said, I’m not knocking the Light the World calendar or anything like that. It’s all good and, like I said, if you want to do it, then do it. There’s a lot of good that can come from that.
But when I turn the consideration away from what others have done or will do and towards what I will do, I feel I need a different focus. It’s not hard for me to see that producing Joy in the Journey Radio has helped me undergo a transformation. I’m not the same man I was last year, and next year I won’t be the same man I am this year.
What’s happened? What’s changed? And what’s driven that change? I think the essence of it is simply that I’m becoming more of the man that God wants me to be. And that man is a man who spends his days serving others, helping others, and inspiring others to become the men and women God wants them to be. I think that man is a man devoted to helping others along the covenant path of eternal progression.
And when I say that, I’m not just talking about the spiritual. I’m talking about the total package — the physical, the emotional, and the mental/intellectual as well as the spiritual. That’s because I think God wants each of us to become the total package.
Understand the bigger picture
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting we all become identical clones of some unrealistic ideal. Your total package may not be the same as my total package. But your total package represents the fulfillment of your potential just as my total package represents the fulfillment of my potential.
And that’s really the whole idea behind why we’re here. The whole intent of our Heavenly Father’s plan is for us to achieve the fullness of our potential. Coming here to this fallen mortal world and having experiences in mortality allow us to take important steps along that path towards achieving our full potential.
That’s what the covenant path of eternal progression really is. That’s what becoming the total package really is. It’s all just a series of steps that each help us to become more of that man or woman we can and should be.
Truly light the world
I’m not going to become the man I can and should be unless I turn my focus to giving. I need to do more of what the man I can become would do in order to become that man. I need to be that shining star for others because that’s what the man I can and should become is.
Again, I’m not knocking the Light the World calendar. And hey, if you really need to do that in order to become the man or woman you need to become, then I say go for it. Pour your whole self into it. Whatever your potential is for you, pour your whole self into it and embrace the transformation.
For many of us, I think that transformation will come when we decide to be the shining star for others. When we decide to hold up our light, others are both inspired to come out of the dark and given permission to hold up their own light. When they do, that will inspire others and give them permission to do the same. When we each decide to be the shining star we need to be, we can truly light the world. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Chase purpose, not proof
I’ve felt free like I haven’t felt in quite some time. I still have lots to do, and I still don’t know how I’m going to accomplish it all. But I feel as though I have more than enough time to do everything needful, even though I did the math and know the numbers don’t fit. It’s a great blessing from the Lord, and I realize my choice to chase purpose, not proof, paved the way for my blessings.
Commit to purpose
Part of the difficulty I wrestled last week was feeling I needed to do more than time would allow. Meeting with my advisor helped resolve that by providing some clarity around exactly what effort was needed. And I felt the Lord’s guiding and supporting hand.
But the floodgates of feeling truly free and empowered opened only after I committed to my purpose. Don’t get me wrong. I committed to my PhD program back when I gave up my employment, got rid of two thirds of my belongings, moved the remaining third clear across the country, and accepted a lower standard of living — all to pursue a step towards my dream job.
But I hadn’t committed myself completely. I was busy with so many different things, all of them valuable but not all of them conducive to my commitment. Complete commitment is always reflected in completely prioritized time pursuing it.
Once I made that complete commitment in how I would spend my time, that’s when freedom swept over me. That’s when I felt I had the time I needed to do what was needed. That’s when I felt I could truly achieve my potential.
Align with happiness
Too many never do that. Even if they have a purpose they say they pursue, they aren’t really chasing after it. Instead, they chase after proof.
By proof, I mean evidence they’re accepted. They devote more time and energy to acquiring validation and belonging than to any life purpose. And by going off the path of their purpose, they go off the path of their potential.
We all have a deep-seated need for acceptance. We all want to belong, and we all want to be loved. There’s nothing wrong with those desires. But there is something wrong with not prioritizing your potential.
And here’s what’s wrong with it. You’re leaving happiness on the table. You think you’re chasing happiness, but you’ll never capture it by seeking to have something. Happiness isn’t about having; it’s about giving. Happiness is giving your all to all the right things for you. And one of those right things is achieving your potential.
Pursue your potential
Let’s look at an example. What do typical LDS singles do with their time, especially the time they aren’t compelled to do anything? Many spend their so-called “free time” consuming content or soaking in social media, looking for love and belonging, pursuing proof not purpose.
Happiness doesn’t come from having that special someone or having social media likes or indeed having anything. Happiness isn’t about having; it’s about giving. That’s why pursuing your potential is linked to happiness. The more of your potential you achieve, the more you have to give and the more happy you can be.
And you maximize your happiness by committing completely to your purpose, a commitment you demonstrate with the time you devote to that commitment. So take a look at how you spend your time and make adjustments where needed. Chase purpose, not proof. You’ll find yourself feeling more free and more connected with the Lord. 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.
Joy in the Journey Radio encourages the free discussion of ideas but reserves the right to remove and/or block comments which do not conform to LDS standards.
Joy in the Journey Radio offers many free resources to help LDS singles everywhere, but it certainly isn't free! Help Joy in the Journey Radio in its mission to improve the lives of LDS singles by donating today.
Posts by Month