But you can still own your life. You can still take responsibility for yourself and the results you have in your life. And today is the perfect opportunity to do just that because today is April Fool’s Day. Now, I’ll admit social distancing and sequestering have radically changed the landscape. But a change in landscape should never signal us to surrender positive energy. Now more than ever we should be always up for fun.
Change your habits of thinking
Many people don’t associate staying at home with fun. They think about going out to restaurants, stores, malls, parks, concert venues, and the like. Many of us approach April Fool’s Day the same way, conjuring images of practical jokes played on people and often in front of other people.
But that was yesterday. Today the landscape is different. We need to practice social distancing and sequester ourselves in our homes as much as possible. And those who refuse to change their thinking to match this new landscape will experience untold and unnecessary hardship.
Long time listeners to this program are familiar with these principles in relation to helping LDS singles find joy regardless of their circumstances. For example, many singles who leave YSA land without getting married experience a difficult transition into SA world. Some don’t even transition; they go inactive or leave the Church altogether.
That’s because their YSA thinking doesn’t match the new SA landscape, and they simply respond to their biological hardwiring which encourages them to maintain the status quo. They keep thinking the same way, and that just leads them to leave. But if these singes would change their thinking to match their new landscape, they could experience a greater amount of joy despite their circumstances.
Look for opportunity
We can begin to capture much of the joy we’ve been missing by owning our lives and looking for the opportunity amidst the obstacle. I demonstrated that attitude this morning in my Daily Dose video. Is it cheesy and silly? Absolutely. And that’s OK, because I refused to let my current situation keep me from having a spot of fun.
You too can refuse to allow your current situation to keep you from experiencing joy amidst adversity. You can still celebrate April Fools Day. Will it be the same? Of course not. But joy is still joy, no matter how it comes.
Own your life
Presented with this knowledge, each of us now confronts this question: Will you own your life? Or put another way, will you take responsibility for the results you experience in your life? Will you refuse to allow your circumstances to dictate your attitude and perspective?
I choose to own my life. My circumstances will be what they will be, but they will never dictate my choices. I choose to live with intention, not on autopilot. I choose to produce more than I consume, not just consume. I choose phenomenal, not mediocre. I choose life, not death. I choose faith, not fear. I choose hope, not despair. I choose love, not hate. I choose joy, not sorrow.
And so can you. Decide today you will own your life. Decide that no matter your circumstances you will be always up for fun. Then follow through with that decision by taking advantage however you can of the moments for fun that come your way. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That said, I’m not going to approach exercise in the usual way. Instead, I’ll share how you can improve an exercise habit whether you exercise not at all or everyday. All you need to do is just one more.
Determine your motivation
First, let me start where everyone else starts — a recognition of our highly litigious society. Please consult with a competent physician before starting any exercise program.
That said, before you see a doctor, you need to establish some motivation. Without the proper motivation, you simply won’t follow any program long enough to integrate it permanently into your life. So get crystal clear on why you’re going to do this. Your reason must be compelling enough to push past the resistance to change you’ll surely encounter.
And there’s no one-size-fits-all reason. Perhaps you hate having your weight limit you. It’s harder to bend over and stand up when you’re fat. Or perhaps you need to keep up with some younger folks in your life. That would currently help me as an Aaronic Priesthood advisor.
Or maybe you need to shed those pounds so you can become more agreeable and progress in your dating journey. Argue with it all you want, but no rightness in any argument will diminish the truth that many singles have, do, and will continue to assess potential dating partners by physical appearance.
Yes, I know how it sounds, but it’s no less true. And if you don’t become more agreeable by losing the extra weight, the only way to progress in your dating journey is to find someone who’s satisfied with less. Those people are very few and far between, so relying on that proportion seriously decreases your probability of success.
As I point out in my new book, you increase your probability of success by opening yourself to more possibilities for the successful outcome to occur. The best way to do that is to raise what you offer to a whole new level so that enough people find you agreeable. The more people that find you agreeable, the more possibilities you create for your successful outcome to occur, and thus the more probable your success will be.
Now, before you despair at having to exercise to progress in your dating journey, there’s a simple way to get started. And it’ll improve your performance wherever you are on the fitness spectrum. It’s called the One More Principle.
All you need to do is just one more than you did before. So if you’re just starting out, what you did “before” is zero. All you need to do today is one — one sit-up, one push-up, one whatever. When it’s time to do that exercise again, do just one more, which is two. And so on.
Adopt the lifestyle
It’s amazingly simple, and yet, if you stay with it, you’ll be amazed at how easily you can ease yourself into an exercise habit you previously didn’t have. And here’s the real beauty: If you practice an exercise habit long enough, you’ll actually start wanting to exercise.
Crazy, yes, but it’s true. I’ve personally experienced it. What before made me cower away in terror (What? I have to run how far?) became something that filled me with great anticipation (Oh yeah! I get to run that far!).
And anyone can do one more. If you haven’t exercised in a while (or ever), you can do one push-up. If last time you did ten push-ups, now you can do eleven. If last time you did 100, this time you can do 101. By doing just one more, anyone can progress.
And you can adopt the One More Principle in not just exercise but everything. Last time you wrote 2573 words, so this time you write 2574 words. Last week you went meatless for two meals, so this week you eat three meatless meals. When you do just one more as a lifestyle, you’ll find yourself and your life substantially improved. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Take a lesson from a farmer
Many don’t believe that. They assume life is the collection of circumstances outside their control. But that’s why many people aren’t all that happy.
Your focus determines your reality. Because you can choose what you focus on, you can choose your reality. True, most don’t choose their circumstances, but that never stopped anyone who lived joyfully from living joyfully. These people lived their best life because they made different choices with the same circumstances.
Some of us should take a lesson from a farmer. Farmers don’t choose their circumstances. They have the soil and the water that’s available. Their seeds for planting are whatever they are. The weather will be whatever it will be. So much of what’s needful for the harvest is outside their control. Yet with hard work in what they can control, they produce bountiful harvests year after year.
In like manner, we haven’t chosen many of the circumstances of our lives. What we have is what we have, and it’s often all we have. But if we work hard in what we can control, we can produce harvests of truly joyful living year after year. This is what I call your best life.
Embrace what you control
I can hear many of you now. What exactly can we control? Here’s my answer: Standards, attitude, approach.
It starts with standards. You’ll never design your best life without knowing what’s acceptable and what’s not. The best delineations between what you’ll tolerate and what you won’t are made after partnering with the Lord to get good with you. Once you know and accept who you really are and what your personal ministry should be, you can best draw that line between what you’ll accept in your life and what you won’t. The more clear you make that definition, the more able you’ll be to live the life you intend.
Once you know exactly what you want, you need resolve to do whatever it takes to get it (within the realm of covenant living, of course). You need the attitude of the victor and not the victim. That attitude will fire your imagination to design a life you’ll truly enjoy and pull you through to that fulfilling end when the road there gets tough.
Of course, attitude without action will never bring you achievement. To live a life you design, you must take action. Working smart as well as working hard requires attention to one’s approach. Too often we think what we seek must come in one specific way. But much of life is not path-dependent; there’s often more than one road leading to the top of the mountain. And sometimes the road that’s best for us to travel is not the one we expect.
Get clear and get going
With these three elements in place — standards, attitude, and approach — you can decide what you want your life to be and feel the joy that comes from working to make it happen. Usually that means taking small steps every single day to inch yourself closer to the life you dream.
That’s where many of us fall short. We don’t do the little things everyday that can near us to our best life. Then, after a larger block of time has passed, we can’t help but notice we’re left standing on the pier because our ship has long since sailed.
That’s where being clear about your standards, attitude, and approach holds its best value. Once you’re crystal clear on those elements, what you need to do everyday will be obvious. Performing those seemingly small and insignificant actions everyday will collect to create the very significant life you design for yourself.
So what are you waiting for? Get clear, and then get going. None of this happens overnight. But as you move closer to the life you design for yourself, you’ll feel the joy that comes from making progress. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Put your pieces together
As I reflect back on my life, I can’t accurately pinpoint any one trigger that brought me a phenomenal attitude. The change seems more a process than an event. That said, I can identify some key elements in my transformation.
Without question, developing a more solid relationship with God has been pivotal. You can’t have true joy in your life if you’re not good with you, which means you must know who you are. And that requires knowing who your Heavenly Father is.
When you come to understand who you really are as His child, you’ll realize your power to choose your reality. We do that when we select our thoughts, our self-talk, and our focus, because these produce our reality. When I realized how these elements worked in me, I felt empowered to take control. I could stop settling for mediocrity and start insisting on phenomenal.
Get some attitude
That’s when a new attitude emerged within me. I’ll no longer settle for anything less than a phenomenal life. I won’t settle for giving anything less than my absolute best. No longer will I accept failure or unhappiness or anything less than my best as my normal, and I’ll never give up on myself ever again.
I want phenomenal success. I want phenomenal fulfillment, phenomenal results, and phenomenal relationships. I want phenomenal for myself!
I can’t settle for anything less, because that’s giving up, and giving up is just plain flat out wrong. God gave me my gifts and talents not only to better myself but to better the world. When I refuse to let my light shine, others won’t have the improvement they might have had in their lives.
That’s why I insist on phenomenal in my life. It’s not about me. Giving up on myself and failing to achieve my potential means giving up on those who stand to benefit from that achievement. But when I strive to move closer towards my greatness, I automatically provide positive influence to everyone around me.
And so I can’t accept mediocrity. I’ll never be perfect, I’ll always fall flat on my face, but to quit trying to live my purpose, to fulfill my personal ministry, and to achieve greatness in my life is unacceptable. There are just too many people who would suffer, most of whom I’ve never met and likely never will. But it’s because of them I can’t accept anything less than my absolute best as my normal. I will never settle for anything other than phenomenal.
Make it happen
I have only one life to live. This is it for me. I’ll never get another opportunity to live this life. God gave my unique combination of gifts, opportunities, and personality to me and me only. So this is it. It’s do or die, greatness or bust, phenomenal or nothing. I must make it happen.
And that’s another key element in my transformation. The day I realized my life wouldn’t improve until I owned it was life changing. All the energy I’d wasted wishing my circumstances were better I should have spent wishing I were better. Instead of wishing for less problems, I should have wished for more skills. Instead of wishing the result I wanted would just come to me, I should have been working to make it happen.
Of course, I struggle where everyone else struggles — with the natural man. We’re all our own worst enemy. But working hard is the cost of entry to anything worthwhile. And so I put my shoulder to this wheel because I know people’s lives will suffer if I stop.
The best part is I’m not the only one. What’s possible for me is possible for you. If you want this transformation for you, you can have it. Embrace true foundational principles, do the work you need to do, and you’ll improve your life. And when you truly surrender yourself to that process, you too will have phenomenal. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Sister Craven begins by describing a sign she once saw advertising happiness for only $15. Of course, the sign was deceptive. The trinkets and souvenirs offered in exchange for that $15 could never bring the true happiness each of us yearns to have.
Sister Craven’s experience describes how many of us are similarly deceived. A casual approach to spirituality may seem inviting and even appropriate. But only by being careful with our covenants and obeying them with exactness can we hope to yield the true joy we seek.
Sister Craven explains,
What a magnificent insight! Sister Craven continues,
The amount of joy we receive from covenant living is in direct proportion to the care and attention we give in living those covenants with exactness. We can unleash true power in our spiritual lives when we reject a casual approach for a careful one.
I remember on my mission hearing my leaders advocate obedience with exactness. What fascinated me as I heard Sister Craven repeat that idea was the thought of expanding that attention to every aspect of our lives. If being careful with our spiritual lives can yield great power, how much more power would being that careful with every aspect of our lives bring?
What would happen if we were just as careful with those who matter most to us? Think for a minute about the people who mean the most to you. Of course, others will always have their own agency, but how much more enjoyable would those relationships be if we exercised great care in the details of those relationships?
And what would happen if we exercised great care with our mind? If we were more insistent on having certain standards for the books we read, the music we listen to, the movies we watch, and the other forms of media that we consume, how much more pure, powerful joy would sweep into our lives? What if we were more careful with improving ourselves — taking a class, learning a new skill, or improving some aspect of our character? What increase in joy would come from that?
How much more power could we procure if we were truly careful with our body? Too many of us are quite casual when it comes to diet and exercise. Too many of us aren’t very careful with personal finances. Too many of us take a casual approach to our careers by allowing the here and now demands of our job to overwhelm any notion of career direction. How much better would we feel about ourselves and our lives if we exercised greater care towards our body?
Act with order and diligence
If you stop to think about all this for a moment, you may conclude as I did. Exercising great care in any one area is work. When you extend that work to every area of your life, the task can quickly feel overwhelming.
The Apostle Paul counseled, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). King Benjamin taught his people similarly. “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order” (Mosiah 4:27).
In other words, we don’t need to be perfect today. But we do need to exercise care by doing something every day to move towards personal improvement. As we exchange our casual approaches to every aspect of life for more careful ones, we will reap a harvest of joy and power from the seeds we have sown daily. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Our LDS culture hands each of us a life plan describing how life is supposed to go. We go on a mission, do college, start the career, and somewhere in that mix get married. Then we live happily ever after with our eternal companion.
But the lives of many LDS singles differ greatly from that story. Some haven’t married, others divorce, and still others lose a spouse to death. Whatever the reason, those who find themselves single when they don’t want to be consider that happily-ever-after story nothing more than a fairy tale.
And LDS singles deal with the shock of that unexpected life chapter in multiple ways. Some enter paralysis, unable to move outside of their newly found rut. Some despair, thinking all hope is lost for them. Others question themselves, wondering what sin they committed to deserve losing the blessings they were promised. Other responses run the spectrum of possibilities.
Yet no matter the reason or the response, one truth continues to shine brightly. Just because your life hasn’t turned out the way you anticipated doesn’t mean all is lost. There is always hope because there is always Christ. And we take the first step to grasping that hope when we ditch the plan our culture has been feeding us.
Get a better map
Whatever your destination, you need an accurate map. A map that doesn’t match your current landscape will do nothing more than obstruct and frustrate you. It’ll never help you find your way. And that won’t change until you get a better map.
That’s why most LDS singles need to ditch the life plan our culture feeds us. It doesn’t represent their current landscape. Perhaps it was fine for where they were, but it’s not a good map for where they are right now. Want to move forward with your life? Get a better map!
That better map will one you create after you partner with the Lord. President Ezra Taft Benson taught that Christ can make more out of our lives than we can on our own. He has the better map we need. When we turn to Him, He’ll guide the next steps of our journey.
Let go of the past
Still, some among us insist on keeping that defunct life plan despite its mismatch with their current landscape. Accordingly, they feel stuck, unable to move, because they can never live that plan. Try as they might, they can’t travel back in time to make different choices. We all must play the hand we’re dealt.
While in college, I had the possibility of conforming to the life plan. But that ship has long since sailed. So any insistence on my part to hold on to this life plan is insanity. I’d be grasping at lost opportunities that’ll never be anywhere but in the past. And no one can move forward until they let go of the past.
Why would any of us fight against reason and keep ourselves immobile by holding on to the past? Reasons will vary with the individual, but many singles associate belonging with conforming to that cultural life plan. The need to belong is a basic human need, and so they don’t want to accept the possibility that need won’t ever be met.
Follow His plan
And that’s the lie from our culture that we shouldn’t believe. When the mark of belonging is being married with kids, you’ll never feel like you belong while you’re single. Singles by definition aren’t married, which means by definition they don’t belong.
But you don’t have to believe that. You don’t have to believe what’s handed to you. You can adopt your own mark of belonging, one centered on Christ and your desire to be true to the covenants you’ve made with Him. And adopting a personal ministry can help you do just that.
When you partner with the Lord and surrender yourself completely to the personal ministry He shows you, you’ll look forward to the goodness you can contribute into the lives of others. The better map you need for your journey involves a personal ministry. And the Lord can use your focus on others through the vehicle of a personal ministry to help you let go of the past, embrace the joy to be found in facing forward, and make more out of your life than you can alone.
So ditch the plan our LDS culture feeds us about life and partner with the Lord. He’ll heal you and help you to move forward. He’ll show you the next steps you need to take. And He’ll guide you in your personal ministry as you focus on contributing goodness into the lives of others. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Is the new meeting schedule working? What improvements have we seen from emphasizing a greater effort to study the gospel in the home? And have we lost anything along the way with implementing these new changes?
Some may think it too early to say, but I’m convinced these changes announced by the Brethren as the result of revelation received from the Lord are nothing but good. In fact, I don’t think the word good does them justice. I think they’re outstandingly amazing.
Embrace more effective meetings
First, I have to say I love two-hour church! I wish I had this growing up, on my mission, and in college. But better late than never.
Elder Bednar encouraged us to see beyond the superficial logistical changes in the meeting schedule, and I do see this change as providing more than an “extra” free hour on the Sabbath. Perhaps the most immediate effect I’ve seen thus far is a greater attention to make the most of that second hour. Whether it’s Sunday School or my quorum meeting, I’ve seen my leaders be more intentional about using what time they have, if for no other reason than that they have less of it.
And that’s great. Living with intention precedes joyful living. It’s the antithesis of the living on autopilot which most people practice, a habit leading to mediocrity and a lackluster life. I’ve truly enjoyed my meetings more now that the time spent in them is more precious. That has translated into a closer and deeper interaction with the Spirit, which is part of the reason why we meet together to begin with.
Feel the Spirit more
Now, I don’t know this from personal experience because I don’t have my own family yet, but I’ve heard other ward members testify of greater unity in their family and the joy they’ve felt in fielding questions from their children regarding gospel principles. The Church has always been about strengthening families, and this move in that direction is truly inspired.
Not having my own family, I have an “extra” hour on Sundays, which I typically use in extended personal scripture study. I don’t follow the Sunday School study schedule because I felt prompted to travel a different road. But my life has been blessed as I’ve used this “extra” hour for my own study.
I’ve also heard of singles who have been blessed by gathering together in their own groups to study what their married friends are studying in their homes with their families. I’m not a member of such a group (though I might be if I knew of one that met weekly), but I can imagine the blessings that would come to singles who have that arrangement in their life. They could enjoy the same closeness with the Spirit and to one another that families experience among themselves.
Change in the culture
For me, however, the most exciting change from home-centered church has yet to be seen fully. I believe a cultural change is in the works that will benefit LDS singles everywhere. This change has already been ongoing, but the practice of home-centered church will greatly accelerate it.
Traditionally, LDS culture has centered around Sunday meetings in general membership wards. The mark of belonging has been being married with kids, and so many singles openly display their lack of belonging just by showing up without a significant other. Of course, different wards are more accepting than others, but that’s been the general reality over the past few decades, if not longer.
Enter home-centered church. By centering the worship experience in the home, the Church has effectively marginalized the differences between singles and marrieds that were once glaringly apparent. Now that church has become about supporting what’s done in the home, we’ll now see a change in the mark of belonging within the culture to one centered on Christ and our willingness to make and keep as many covenants with Him as we can. This is great news for LDS singles, because every single can belong in that culture.
The changes announced by the Brethren regarding home-centered church are outstandingly amazing. Many glorious days lie ahead of us. As we follow the counsel of the Brethren to adopt the changes revealed by revelation, the Lord will bless our lives with an outpouring of His Spirit. Our culture will become more inclusive, and we’ll become more united as a people. And that will bring more joy in our journey.
I remember as a missionary reciting D&C 4 every day. I recited it so often I could do it in my sleep. Now, after being home more than two decades, I’d need a little prompting to get through it, especially verse 6.
Notwithstanding, I’ve always been impressed with the idea embodied in verse 3: “Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work” (D&C 4:3). Think of that. Desire is the only requirement to serve. We don’t need any special talent or skill, or look a certain way, or come from a particular part of town. We just need the desire to serve.
Over the past year, the Church has emphasized ministering to one another. We’ve each been called to serve in a higher and holier way, but we’ve always been called to refine our devotion to God through service to our neighbors. And all we need is the desire to serve.
Lately the program has touched on the need for LDS singles to adopt a personal ministry. All that requires is the desire to serve. And we all have some cause we can serve, because we’ve all been called to care.
Choose to serve
Why do singles adopt the personal ministry they do? I mean, no one’s forcing them to adopt anything. I’ve just been encouraging it since 2016 because I want to help LDS singles everywhere live happier, more joyful lives.
And that’s just it. Joy in the Journey Radio is my personal ministry. I embraced it as such because I wanted to. And so has every LDS single who’s adopted a personal ministry. They adopt their personal ministry because they want to.
That desire to serve propels any meaningful effort. And that’s an essential ingredient for happiness. Happiness is giving your all to the right things for you. When you give your all to the personal ministry that’s right for you, you can’t help but be filled with happiness.
Choose to be happy
That means happiness is a choice. We choose to be happy irrespective of our circumstances. If that sounds impossible or just plain wrong to you, please open your mind while you walk with me a bit.
Happiness comes from giving your all to the right things for you. A personal ministry is one of those right things. All you need to embrace a personal ministry is the desire to serve in that way. That’s a choice. And because you choose to want what in the end brings happiness, happiness must itself be a choice.
Now, just going through the motions won’t bring happiness. Life on autopilot can never bring happiness. Only when we give our all to what’s right for us will we find the happiness we crave.
It’s that choice to give your all to the right end you choose that unlocks the happiness encapsulated in every moment of living. And you can choose that regardless of your circumstances.
Embrace the simple solution
We sometimes speak of choices as belabored events lasting stretches of time, but the actual choice takes less than a second to occur. Why then wait to be happy?
The choice to adopt a personal ministry takes less than a second. The choice to give your all to the right thing in front of you right now takes less than a second. The choice to be happy takes a less than a second. Why then don’t more of us just turn it all on?
Pride masquerading as disbelief often obstructs our way. We don’t believe it could be that simple. We want to believe it’s more complicated because that would explain why we didn’t see it before. We don’t want to appear to be idiots.
But we aren’t the first to travel that road. The Old Testament tells of a servant who wisely advised his unbelieving master, the captain of the Syrian army, to put away his pride and follow the simple instructions of the prophet: “If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” (2 Kings 5:13) That captain washed and was cleansed. Likewise, we should not discount the solution before us because of its simplicity.
In fact, the beauty is in the simplicity. When you truly believe it can be that simple, when you feel God’s love inviting you to make that choice, and when you do what that requires — choose to give your all to all the right things for you — then you’ll find all the happiness that God has wanted you to have all along. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Most people settle for mediocre lives. They become comfortable inside a status quo. That’s human nature — establish a habit and then stay inside that “safe zone.”
Yet that safety lies well beneath the potential we all have to accomplish extraordinary achievements. Greatness abounds in all of us because we’re all children of the greatest measure of greatness in the universe — our Heavenly Father.
Nevertheless, so many of us live every day beneath our potential it’s insane. Instead of contributing goodness to others, we wander within ourselves. Instead of spending time in service to others, we spend time in service to ourselves voraciously consuming content via the Internet, video games, movies, and other forms of entertainment. Instead of taking control of our lives, we simply react as the waves of life toss us to and fro.
Too many of us are just standing on the sidelines of life waiting for extraordinary blessings. That’s not the way life works. To have your best life, you must skip the sidelines and get in the game of making other people’s lives better.
Find your useful passions
We all have talents we can leverage to improve others’ lives, and very often using these talents elicits passion within us — a passion for excellence, a passion to contribute, a passion to serve, and a passion to be the best we can be.
That passion becomes useful when it drives you to use your talents to fulfill a personal ministry bringing goodness to others. Your useful passions can carry you beyond your troubles into a life of joy if you let them. By adopting a personal ministry, you can transcend the challenges of LDS singles life and live your best life.
How do you find your useful passions? Start by separating yourself from daily distractions to gain clarity of vision. The temple is great here, but you should also have somewhere in your home where you can reflect without distraction. Then look inside yourself and ask what you do the best with the least amount of effort. Those are your talents.
How can you use those talents to bring goodness into the lives of others? Which of those ways would you do even if it brought you no personal gain or benefit? Those are your useful passions. They will fuel you to carry out your personal ministry despite the obstacles in your way. And when life overwhelms, postponing your efforts, your useful passions will always bring you back to sit at the table of contribution.
Turn it on
Surely the Lord wants you to make your contribution — one only you can make. Only by following His example of making that unique contribution will you live your best life. When you partner with Him, the Lord will help you discover your useful passions. And once you know what you need to do, get busy. Don’t let others wait for the blessings they’ll receive because of your contribution of goodness.
Throughout his career, my father has supervised others. Often when inquiring after an undone task, he’s heard,“I haven’t got around to it yet.” In response, my father would obtain small wooden discs and write the letters T-O-I-T on them. Then whenever someone would tell him, “I haven’t got around to it yet,” my father would give that person one of his special wooden discs and say, “There’s your round ‘to-it.’ Now get to work!”
Once you’ve identified your personal ministry, turn it on and get to work. “We all have work,” the hymn teaches. “Let no one shirk. Put your shoulder to the wheel” (Hymns, #252). When you allow your useful passions to drive your personal ministry, you can more easily find your life by losing it (see Matthew 10:39).
Stay in the game
Of course, life has a way of distracting or sometimes outright knocking us off course, thereby obstructing our personal ministry and restricting our contribution. When that happens, we’ve got to get back in the game.
Life will always present challenges. That’s by design; it’s partly why we’re here. But if you know who you are, if you’ve identified your useful passions, and if you have a personal ministry, then keep on keeping on that road of service. Your contribution may not change the world, but it will mean the world to those whose lives you change for the better.
Don’t just sit on the sidelines of life waiting for your best life to come to you. Make your best life happen! Skip the sidelines and find your useful passions that can fuel your own personal ministry. When you lose yourself in that effort, you’ll find your best life, because you’ll become the best version of you that you can be. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Life knocked me down earlier this week. While waiting for a student who had an appointment to see me, the text I didn’t expect appeared in my phone. My father announced my mother’s decision to stop eating and drinking. She just wanted to die. After reading that message, I just wanted to die.
My mother has been battling a host of medical conditions for a few years now, most prominently anxiety as a mental disorder and mystery pains no one can properly diagnose. The anxiety turns every mole hill into a mountain. So her mystery pains have become an insupportable burden.
My mother has several doctors, each one adding (and frequently changing) their contribution to the soup of medications she takes daily. The bulk of those doctors, overburdened by long patient lists, often seem more interested in processing my mother through a system rather than listening to her and helping her with her concerns.
I can understand why she just wanted to end it all. Yet it broke my heart to think of her following through on her decision. Emotionally I felt like a bus had run me over. I found it hard to do anything productive. My world seemed at a standstill.
I visited with my mother the next morning. She seemed worse than ever, but had an appointment to see one of her doctors. My time being limited, I tried to use what I had to best advantage.
I always hug my mother when I visit, but this time I hugged her tighter, held her closer, and told her how much I loved her. Then I couldn’t help myself from breaking into tears. The mere thought of losing her simply crushed me.
Later I learned about her doctor visit. There’s something about walking into a doctor’s office and asking for help to die that captures the doctor’s attention. After a lengthy discussion, the doctor was able to convince my mother to submit to some more tests and exercise patience while he searches more intently for a solution to her mystery pains.
I joined with the rest of the family in thanking the Lord for His merciful hand.
Pondering on experience
As they’ve have played themselves out, these events have highlighted the opportunity for reflection. Of course, I know my mother will one day die; death comes to everyone. It’s the thought of it happening so soon that knocks me over.
Many LDS singles are so wrapped up in the pursuit of their own blessings they don’t think about losing the blessings they already have. They’re so busy looking for that one special love that they let opportunities to strengthen their love for the family and friends already in their life pass by and expire.
That’s not a singles thing; that’s a human thing. It’s normal to craft a world for oneself and then get lost in that world. But the events of this week have brought me to question if I’m busy enough with the greater, weightier matters and too busy with matters of lesser importance.
Am I focusing first on those elements that matter most? Do the people I care most about know I love them in word and in deed? Or have I been too occupied in other pursuits to attend to those relationships?
My pondering upon recent events leaves me with a few powerful lessons that apply to us all.
I don’t know when that special someone will become a part of my life. But I know I already have several someones who are special to me today. We all do. When we put first things first, we don’t need to wait for love. We can feel love in our lives today and every day, no matter how long it takes for that eternal companion to join us. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and now I produce a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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