After inviting a student to read the first stanza of Robert Herrick’s oft-quoted poem “To the Virgins to Make Much of Time,” Mr. Keating draws the students into a discussion about the meaning of the poem. Carpe diem is probably the best known Latin expression among the common populace today, most of whom don’t speak Latin. Yet for as well known as the Latin phrase meaning “seize the day” is, few actually practice it.
And that was the whole point of Mr. Keating’s lecture. We each have a window of opportunity while we live, and that opportunity is to seize the moment in front of us and make the most of it. This was Mr. Keating’s message in his first lecture. “Seize the day, boys! Make your life extraordinary!”
Make the conscious choice
I’m not sure why it didn’t hit me earlier, but this is a perfect message of LDS singles. Too many waste their lives away waiting for something wonderful to happen, as though the blessings they want in their life will appear magically at their front door.
Here’s the problem with that approach: It wastes opportunity. The same agency that singles use to waste away their time waiting for their blessings is the same agency they could be using to make their lives extraordinary.
But most don’t make their lives anything, let alone extraordinary. They simply flow with the waves of life, going wherever they’ll carry them. This is the path of the natural man and the natural woman. Simply following the impulse of the biological programming within our physical bodies is easy, and that programming would have us staying where it is “safe.”
But the extraordinary life doesn’t come to anyone who simply goes with the flow. Rather it comes to those who will make their own waves to create the currents that carry them to the destination they desire. They make conscious choices to act against the natural impulse to go with the flow.
Wield your greater power
Conscious choice is the key not only to making one’s life extraordinary but also to encouraging the blessings you want in your life to come into your life. Notice I said encourage, not make. Many blessings require the agency of another to decide in your favor.
That truth doesn’t diminish the greater power we each have to achieve the results we desire. Too many focus on what is outside their control, and that focus belittles the power we each have to change our lives for the better and make them truly extraordinary. In reality, many exercise their agency in accordance with what is presented to them. And you choose what you present to them every single day (pun intended).
So what should you choose to present to others in order to attract the results you desire? If you want an extraordinary life, then present the elements that will attract an extraordinary life. This is more than just the activity you embrace in your life. This is also, and perhaps more importantly, the assumptions and attitude you embody.
Focusing on what you can do will enable you to feel more of the power you truly have within you. And by acting on that truth, by doing what you can do, you’ll feel more powerful more often.
Start with what’s interesting
When you make your life extraordinary, you make yourself more attractive. So where do you start? How do you start?
The extraordinary life is an attractive life, but it is also an interesting one. So start by making your life more interesting. And the easiest place to begin is with your own imagination. What do you think makes a life interesting? Put those things one by one in your life. And don’t rely on what others think is interesting. Follow what you yourself genuinely think is interesting.
Make your life extraordinary. Take action to start living your life. The more interesting you make your life, the more attractive it will be to others and the more enticed they will be to share it with you. When you leverage the power you have in your own agency, you can make your life more than you imagined it could be. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
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.
Clearly, the Savior understood that power. His ministering example teaches all the love generated when we give our full attention to others. Indeed, one of the greatest gifts we can give to others is the gift of full attention.
Understand the fix
Society today hungers for attention, so much so everyone seems scrambling after it. Whatever new trick can potentially secure the attention of others finds its way onto the to-do list of many seeking to capture attention for their own gain. And these actors, feeling a scarcity of the attention they desire, saturate us with attention demand overload.
Combine that situation with the addictive nature of social media, and it’s not hard to understand why people give more attention to their phone than to people around them. Many take full advantage of the dopamine hits social media networks are designed to generate. And far too many of us surrender our agency to the addiction we hold in our hands and carry with us wherever we go.
We’ve discussed before on this program the mediocrity this life on autopilot creates. We break free by living in the moment, making conscious choices to move in the direction we determine and not just where the impulse of addiction would drive us. That’s what I love about the suggested action for today on the Light the World calendar. It encourages us to make a conscious choice to break free from impulse and move in a direction we consciously choose.
Choose real love
That conscious choice unlocks the real power of giving our full attention in our interactions. So doing sends a clear message: Out of all the choices I could make in this moment regarding where to place my attention, I choose you. This is part of why the gift of full attention is a truly a gift of love.
The other part deals with the basic human needs we all have to feel loved, needed, and belonging to something greater than ourselves. Putting down your phone and giving your full attention to others essentially tells them they are preferred, and realizing that preference generates in others the feeling of being loved, needed, and part of something bigger.
Now consider what happens when we don’t make that conscious choice to give full attention. We tell others through our actions we choose something else over them, that something else is preferred. And that preference generates in others feelings of not being loved, needed, or part of something bigger.
I still remember the love generated during a single adult conference 12 years ago when an attendee chose to give me full attention. Our exchange lasted only five minutes, yet the influence of that seemingly small choice in how to spend five minutes has lasted 12 years, and the end is not in sight. The gift of full attention is truly a gift that keeps on giving.
Expand the power
And we need not limit the power of that gift to just the one small act the Light the World calendar suggests for today. We can expand our influence even further by practicing active listening in all settings.
Our society suffers substantially from a lack of listening. People think listening means simply hearing the words other people say. Meanwhile, they look for chances to inject what they want to say into a conversation. But real, active listening involves hearing what others say with the intent to understand them. Instead of looking for breaks to project our own selves onto others, we can use those same opportunities to try to understand others. In so doing, we help others feel loved and thereby expand the power the gift of full attention can provide.
So today and every day, let’s give more of the gift that keeps on giving. Let’s give the gift of full attention. When we do, our seeming small act of surrender to love will invite others to do the same. And when they do, the cycle will continue, resulting in a better world filled with the light and goodness of love. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Conference provides a great opportunity to reflect and recommit ourselves to a better path. But truth be told, every single day holds the same opportunity. Each day provides a new opportunity to consider your ways and act to change your life.
Consider your time
We all have the same 24 hours each day, but we all choose to spend it differently. And how you spend your time reveals what you value most in life.
Me? I’ve always been a big fan of sleep. There’s no way it’s overrated. It’s fantastic! But you can pursue many things to excess, and sleep is no exception. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the admonition in D&C 88:124 to “arise early.” I’m actually still working on that.
But I’ve found, when I can do it, an early start radically changes the entire day. I’m way more productive, producing more value more easily. I feel more focused and energized throughout the day. And at the end of the day, I’m just more satisfied with myself.
I don’t get those benefits if I prioritize personal playtime and consuming content, and neither will you. If you want your best life, you need to answer these questions: Do you devote more time to worthy causes or frivolous pursuits? Are you the captain of your life’s ship, or do you just float wherever the waves of life take you?
Consider the consequences
Speaking of sleep, what does “retire to thy bed early” mean? I think we each must find our own way. For myself, the sooner I get to sleep, the easier it is to beat the sun up. My body simply takes what sleep it needs, so staying up late doesn’t help me “arise early.” And if I don’t get up early, I won’t get the resultant benefits.
In fact, getting up late usually means getting the exact opposite. I get tons more desire to play and waste the day. If I do manage to drag myself into some productive pursuit, I’m anything but focused. My mind goes all over the map. At the end of the day, I’m left with nothing but the shame of having wasted the day.
On my mission, I heard an African story. Every morning a gazelle awakens. He knows his best chance of escaping the tiger hunting him is to get as much of a head start as he can. But every morning that tiger also awakens. He knows his best chance of eating that day depends on catching the gazelle before he starts running. Thus, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a gazelle or a tiger. When the sun comes up, you had better be running.
Consider your needs
Your sleep schedule is just one of many ways you should consider. We should all reflect on what we need to get where we each want to go and then consider getting what we don’t have but need. Sometimes that means gaining new knowledge. Sometimes that means acquiring a new tool. Sometimes that means having the right people in your life. Your Heavenly Father, the Lord, and the Spirit are indispensable members of that support team. Don’t forget to include them in your plans for success.
In the end, you won’t get the most out of life unless you live intentionally. Only by choosing your activities with intention can you get the most juice for your squeeze. And the best intention for your time includes your own personal ministry by which you contribute to making the world a better place.
So consider your ways. Are you making the most of every day? Are you living with intention? I can’t say I always have. But I can say I’ve experienced real joy in living when I’ve consciously chosen how to spend my time to achieve worthy goals. And I’m grateful to be reminded of the opportunity each day brings to consider my ways and make changes where necessary.
If you haven’t considered your ways recently, do so now. You’ll open the door to feeling more satisfied with yourself each and every day. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
You don’t need a plan
I remember years ago hearing a speaker at a singles conference talk about living in the moment. She encouraged intentional living, saying living with intention can lead you to own your life. I’m a big fan of owning your life, so I was with her that far.
Then the speaker defined intentional to mean having a plan. The joy of living in the moment, she declared, comes from following a plan. And that’s where she lost me, because I couldn’t disagree more.
To act with intention requires a conscious choice. Living with intention therefore means living in the moment. When you consciously choose in the moment what you do, you refuse to let your habits simply play themselves out. That act allows you to embrace life and all the true joy of living.
You don’t need a plan for any of that to unfold for you. All you need is to use the one gift from God we all have — agency. You simply make a conscious choice.
What happiness really is
Happiness comes not from just doing the right things but from giving your all to all the right things for you. Giving your all is a conscious choice. When you choose that path with full awareness and intention, the true joy of being alive can be yours.
Most don’t live like that. They live on autopilot, a life filled with comfort and a sense of stability. But true joy isn’t found in comfort and stability alone. True joy comes from consciously embracing the right things.
I use that word embracing intentionally. You can’t just execute a routine of righteous activity and expect happiness to find you. The happy life doesn’t just come to you because it’s somehow your right or because you’re somehow deserving of it just because of who you are. To get the happy life, you have to make it. That requires consciously choosing the right things. That means getting out of autopilot and its routine living. And that means embracing all the right things for you.
Make your happy life
In the end, your focus always determines your reality. Focusing on what you don’t have and can’t do always brings a reality of scarcity and helplessness. And a life that feels lacking and helpless is never enjoyable.
But the same principle works in the other direction. Focusing on what you do have and can do brings a reality of abundance and empowerment. As you begin to see how richly the Lord has blessed you, you feel gratitude come to you. And life starts feeling joyful.
That focus on what you have now and can do now is key to living in the moment and making the happy life you want. Focusing on the present and not the future is a conscious choice that helps you live with intention. And the gift of agency from a loving Heavenly Father brings that choice within reach of us all.
The happy life doesn’t find you. You find it by making it. And that starts when you start living with intention. Righteous intentional choices lift what you do to a new level because in so doing you give your all to the right things. And when you give your all to the right things, life in return gives back to you all the joy and satisfaction of a life well lived.
You’ll always get what you give, so give your all to the right things for you and get the life that’s right in all ways for you. You can breathe with confidence, walk with boldness, and bring your focus away from the future and more to the present moment. You’ll then open yourself to a life you can savor regardless of your circumstances. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
I’m thankful President Oaks publicly declared those ideas. I’m also thankful he focused on eternal principles throughout his remarks, especially the principle of moral agency. The Constitution certainly isn’t perfect, but it does support that society most free to exercise agency. Thus, we should all be defending our Constitution, despite its flaws and limitations.
Understand the threats to agency
President Oaks began his remarks by establishing his authority. A former clerk to the chief justice of the US Supreme Court, law professor, and justice on the Utah Supreme Court, he’s certainly more than amply qualified to have a platform.
But the qualification he listed last and “most important” intrigued me most. He’s been an Apostle of Jesus Christ for 37 years. As President Oaks described, that means he’s “responsible to study the meaning of the divinely inspired United States Constitution to the work of His restored Church.”
Here he segues into a discussion of moral agency. God inspired the Founding Fathers to assemble a system of government that would maximize the exercise of moral agency. And as we know, agency is key in our Heavenly Father’s eternal plan for His children. Defending the Constitution therefore promotes God’s plan of happiness.
President Oaks then mentioned some of the threats to the undergirding principles of the Constitution. Said he,
The threats to the Constitution, and by extension to our Heavenly Father’s plan, are very real and very much growing.
Learn and perform your duty
So can we do about it? What should we do to defend the Constitution? President Oaks provides some answers. I love how he starts by encouraging optimism, declaring “we should trust in the Lord and be positive about this nation’s future.”
Founded in faith and positive thinking, we should pray for leaders in all nations and then seek to exercise a righteous influence civilly, peacefully, and legally. Also, in these divisive times, “we should seek to moderate and unify.”
These days, everyone loves to talk about their rights and what they’re entitled to receive. But few speak of their duties and what they should give. It’s people performing their duties that make the rights of all available. That’s why I applaud President Oaks in listing three duties every good citizen has.
That power-packed list reveals more I need to do to support the Constitution. And I love how President Oaks reiterated King Benjamin’s counsel not to do everything at once (Mosiah 4:27). We all have different seasons in life, and the combination of actions appropriate in one season may not be appropriate in another.
Get busy doing your part
Let’s truly celebrate Independence Day by defending our Constitution. Perhaps the best place for you to start is where I’m starting — by reading and becoming more familiar with the actual document itself. Or perhaps you need to consider running for a position in an upcoming election. Or maybe you need to call or email an elected official about a current issue.
What you do today may not be what you do tomorrow, but we should always be doing something. The threats to the Constitution President Oaks described have grown precisely because far too many of us have been doing nothing in civic life. We’ve been busy focusing on our careers, our loved ones, and our own lives, and enough responsible people have been so absorbed in that busyness that we’ve allowed irresponsible people to hold office.
The Constitution has imperfections, but one thing it does right is give ultimate power to the people. Let’s celebrate the birth of our nation by learning about and then committing to safeguard that power. And the best way to safeguard it is to exercise it civilly, peacefully, and legally. When we persist in so doing, we can enjoy the fruits of freedom to exercise the moral agency essential to God’s plan and preserve that gift for the next generation. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
When life seems to go bat nut crazy, you can easily get caught up in the craziness, because it’s easy to accept the reality we’re presented. With that acceptance comes stress. You wonder how the future could ever possibly be bright.
But the truth remains: Your focus determines your reality. When you focus on crazy, you get crazy. But when you include more of what’s around you in your focus, the craziness occupies a lower proportion of the whole, thereby diminishing your stress from the craziness. And the best way to get that expanded focus is to step outside yourself.
Feel the wonder of nature
I’m reminded of an old Native American question: “Who can own the land?” In their world view, people don’t own land. Rather, the Creator provides the land for all.
That perspective draws me out of myself to see the world as a place God created so His purposes for me and all my spirit brothers and sisters could be fulfilled. That view helps me to experience more fully the wonder of the world around me. And having lived across the United States, I’ve seen many marvelous wonders of natural landscape.
I can’t help but be biased towards mountains. Mountains breathe strength and determination into me. They seem like a natural representation for closeness to God. That said, I’ve felt a certain calm watching the tide roll in the shore of a lake or the edge of the ocean. I’ve marveled at the way sunlight bends around the curves of rolling prairies. Even the desert has a beauty all its own.
Only when I step outside myself do I experience the full wonder the natural world offers. Only when I step outside myself do I feel full gratitude to God for creating such a beautiful world for me to live in.
See more as God sees
That perspective of God’s creation invites me to see more as He sees. When I see the world as His creation to fulfill His eternal purposes for me, I naturally recall God did likewise for all His children. God has a plan, and He is in control.
And that plan hasn’t changed. It’s the same plan He’s had all along, the one presented in the council in heaven, the one Satan rejected, the one our Savior supported, the one calling for all of us to experience mortality in this world and with it the opportunity to grow in the eternities into something more than we could ever become otherwise.
Likewise, God retains the same control today He’s always had. He was in control when the same plan He’s always had was presented in heaven. He was in control when He created this world and the rest of the universe. He’s been in control throughout human history. And He retains that same control today.
Live by faith with intention
None of this is to say the challenges the craziness around us presents aren’t real. I’m not advocating we fix rose-colored glasses on our faces. God’s continual control doesn’t mean life won’t ever get difficult. But His control does mean He’ll guide us through troubled times and strengthen us to persevere through difficult days. And we best hear His voice and receive His strength on the covenant path.
So the question then is this: What path will you choose? Will it be the covenant path? Or will you take a different path? The path to happiness is found in living by faith with intention to give your all to all the right things for you. Those right things include making and keeping sacred covenants with God. They also include embracing a personal ministry to share your light with the world around you.
When you step outside yourself, you can more clearly see beyond the challenges current circumstances present. You can feel the wonders in the world around you. You can see your current place in your life more as God sees it. You can live by faith He’ll guide you away from dangers. You can feel His strength as you pursue a life of contribution with intention. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That perspective transforms everything about the Lord’s work into gathering Israel. It makes sense when you consider President Nelson’s observation that “one of the Hebraic meanings of the word Israel is ‘let God prevail.’ Thus the very name of Israel refers to a person who is willing to let God prevail in his or her life.” And indeed, LDS singles are abundantly blessed when they submit their will to God’s and let God prevail in their life.
The key portion
I love the story President Nelson shares about Jill. Struggling with her father’s approaching death and her own questions regarding testimony, Jill was at first startled to hear President Nelson describe her perspective as “myopic.” But further reflection on that word led her to embracing God’s will, adopting a more eternal perspective, and finding peace. These blessings came to her as she let God prevail in her life.
Of course, the key portion of President Nelson’s message applies to all, though I think it has particular application for LDS singles. After rightfully decrying the prejudice of racism, President Nelson declared,
With all the voices in our crazy modern world, are you willing to open your ears to God’s voice more than any other? Are you willing to put His work ahead of your own desires, even righteous desires like securing an eternal companion? Will you walk away from someone you love who wants to marry you if God says no? Will you submit your will to His even when it seems completely crazy and makes absolutely no sense to do so? Will you let God prevail in your life?
Guidance for dating
President Nelson then begins applying those key questions to different situations. And the first situation he tackles? Being single. He said, “If you are unmarried and seeking an eternal companion, your desire to be ‘of Israel’ will help you decide whom to date and how.”
When I first encountered those words, I wondered why President Nelson did not expound upon them. How exactly does my desire to be “of Israel” help me decide whom to date when choosing between two active Church members? And then there’s the bigger question: How does my desire to be “of Israel” help me decide how to proceed with dating?
In reflecting upon these questions, I realized President Nelson didn’t expound more upon them because he doesn’t need to. Do you remember when in 2018 he said this?
In that same address about revelation, President Nelson taught,
When you submit your will to God’s, you position yourself to understand better how you should navigate the seas of your singleness. That’s why, coming back to the present address, we find President Nelson teaching this:
Focus becomes reality
Most of the time, it really is a matter of perspective. Our focus does indeed become our reality. When we let God prevail in our lives, we focus upon His objectives. And because His work and glory is our salvation and exaltation (Moses 1:39), that focus brings us the most joyful reality.
Doing the work to let God prevail isn’t easy, of course. Surrendering one’s will to God never has been and never will be easy. President Nelson acknowledges this truth:
There’s so much more I want to get into here, but limitations force me to defer that discussion to later in the broadcast. Here’s the bottom line: When you let God prevail in your life, you’ll understand more clearly what really matters in God’s plan. You’ll see more clearly the path leading to your greatest happiness now and in eternity. And you’ll feel more of God’s love strengthening you to walk that path.
So let God prevail in your life. You’ll see the miracle your life can become when you do. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Many singles hold to that assumption under the guise of having standards. They seem to see themselves acting nobly in a chaotic dating world by adhering to their standard that insists on only the best. But such standards actually impede progress in one’s dating journey. So if you insist on believing you’ll be happy only with the most attractive companion, then you’re letting your standards keep you single.
How does one progress in dating? As I discuss in my upcoming book about dating, to progress to each next stage of the journey, you must make an agreement. No agreement means no progress. Period.
In the first stage of the dating journey, you meet new people and build friendships. In the next stage, you casually date candidates you’ve befriended. These activities require openness to social interactions. Otherwise, you’ll likely never get the agreement you need to progress from friendship to casual dating and on to exclusive dating.
But assuming you can be happy in life only if your partner is the “best” or most attractive type limits those interactions. That faulty assumption will encourage you to engage only with those who meet your standards, because what’s the point, after all, in “wasting your time” with people who simply won’t do romantically because they aren’t the “best”?
Mathematically, it just isn’t possible for everyone to have the “best.” Yet many singles cling tenaciously to the hope they’ll be one of the few to score just such a life partner. After all, no one wants to accept an unhappy and unfulfilled life.
But happiness in marriage doesn’t come from what each partner has. Happiness in marriage comes from what each partner gives to each other. And what you give is a choice.
If your partner has to be the “best” or most attractive sort for you to be happy, then God must have really messed up His plan. Check out these words from then Elder Gordon B Hinckley.
How can God’s plan provide happiness for all His children if 90% of people aren’t the “best” but just ordinary? Mathematically, 90% of singles can’t each have monogamous marriage with someone from the top 10%. At least 80% of singles will be left unhappy if only the “best” makes a happy life. Because God wants all his children to be happy, clearly happiness must be available without having the most attractive partner.
And happiness is available to those couples who place honoring sacred covenants above personal desires by giving themselves fully to each other. Your companion doesn’t need to be the “best” or most attractive for you to give all of yourself to that person. Granted, it’s more easy to do the more attractive your companion is, but it’s not essential for happiness.
The resistance many feel when confronted with such a choice is the natural man or natural woman in each of us. The natural man and woman value self-gratification more than making and keeping sacred covenants. Covenant men and women obviously reverse that value system.
I’m not saying we’re interchangeable parts. You shouldn’t marry just anybody, and having standards does help with decision making. Far too many LDS singles, however, insist on standards around what really isn’t essential for lasting happiness. Elder Gerrit W Gong has taught,
Regardless of how you justify it, when you insist on having only the most attractive type of companion, your standards keep you single. Lowering those standards to accept more candidates into your dating pool doesn’t mean sacrificing happiness. Rather, it increases your chances of obtaining it. So reject the natural man and woman, open yourself to possibility, and you may find the blessings you’ve been seeking have been right in front of you all along. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
In that context, the future doesn’t look bright at all. I don’t have what most single LDS women seem to want, and my effort at acquiring those traits have been far from successful. In their eyes, I'm a dainty bird that can’t sing well. Why then even bother trying to sing?
Well, you're guaranteed to fail if you don't sing at all. And who knows what goodness your song, though poorly sung, will promote? So even if you sing poorly, still sing.
Choose your advantage
Emotions like hopelessness are real and legitimate. Yet following those emotions to their logical conclusion would lead me to where I cannot go.
In my heart, I know God loves me. I know He wants to bless me with every righteous blessing I desire and more. In fact, looking back on my life, I see He's worked tirelessly to bring me those desired blessings of companionship. He hasn't abandoned me. He has a plan for me and all of His children to progress in this life and in the eternities to come.
So why then, one may well ask, have those desired blessings of companionship not come? Well, in a word, it’s agency. People make choices. And because people aren't perfect, the choices they make aren’t often perfect either. Sometimes you'll make poor choices, and sometimes others will.
Yet the same agency allowing others to choose against you is the same agency allowing you to choose to your advantage. You can choose to improve. You can choose to learn and to practice honing your skills so that you sing better. But that won’t happen if you don’t sing. Even if you sing poorly, still sing.
Rely on Him
But, you may well ask, what good will that do me today? If I don't sing well enough right now, I won't be noticed. And then how will I have my desired blessings?
That's a legitimate question. Many suitors ignore pathways to their success because they're focused on fulfillment in the present rather than on potential in the future. But you get the same result if you never sing at all.
Moroni experienced a similar conundrum. With the abundance of time he had on his hands, he entertained hypothetical what-if scenarios. What if the Gentiles fail to have charity because my weakness in writing kept the scales of their agency from tipping towards charity? Wouldn't it be they didn’t have charity because of my weakness?
That argument mirrors the one we’re considering here. The Gentiles might not have charity whether Moroni writes in his weakness or chooses not to write. So why then write anything at all? Of course, the Lord had a very clear answer:*1
The Lord has worked wonders that make any weaknesses Moroni had moot. What's to say He won't work similar wonders for you and me? Whatever our weakness, God can turn the songs we sing into powerful performances. Even if you sing poorly, still sing.
Never stop singing
And even if you sing poorly, the more you sing, the better you’ll get at it. I remember once as a child being told by one of the other Primary children I didn’t sing very well. I should just shut up and spare everyone.
But I didn’t stop singing. Mostly I would sing to myself when alone — that childhood experience affected me — but I kept with it. Many years later in college, I tried out for a musical, hoping to join the choir. To my great surprise, I got the main part!
Even if you sing poorly, still sing. As they say, “The show isn’t over until the fat lady sings,” and for many of us singles, that moment is still far away. Though you may feel bereft of hope, strive on still. Focus on doing what you can do, keep doing what you can do, and one day you’ll surprise yourself as you exceed your wildest expectations. 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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