These false assumptions actually create the struggle with knowing who to marry. That’s why singles looking for the presence of yes should instead look for the absence of no.
Take your responsibility
We’re here in mortality to exercise agency. Our choices in this life determine our situation in the next stage of our eternal journey. We therefore bear the responsibility for our choices.
That’s precisely why singles who look for some significant spiritual confirmation often struggle with knowing who to marry. Insisting God provide some unmistakable sign you should marry So-and-so means God carries responsibility for that decision. That’s not how it works, so insisting it should work that way only ends in frustration.
We’re here in mortality to make choices. And we have responsibility for those choices. Pushing that responsibility back to God defies His plan for His children. Insisting on some definite spiritual sign says we don’t accept So-and-so until God tells us marrying So-and-so will work out well. It pushes back to God the responsibility for our choices that rightly belongs to us.
Make your choice
We naturally want the security that would come from God revealing to us So-and-so is someone we should marry. But that’s not how it works. A river journey tends to go smoother when you don’t fight the current by paddling upstream. You can paddle downstream by aligning your assumptions with eternally true principles. Instead of fighting God’s design for mortality by pushing the responsibility for your choices onto Him, go with the way it’s supposed to work by accepting that responsibility.
Revelation from God comes after you make your own decision and then bring that decision you made to God to seek His counsel on your decision. God will then respond with yes, no, or maybe. If He answers yes, you’ll feel the strong, unmistakable impression He approves of your decision. If He answers no, you’ll feel a similarly unmistakable impression He doesn’t approve. And if you don’t get any strong impression one way or the other, He answers maybe, which means He trusts you to make your own decision.
So unless the Lord answers no, you should go forward with your decision. If He answers yes, going forward is obvious. But you should also go forward if He answers maybe. If your choice would take you too far away from where He wants you, God answers no. So when He doesn’t answer no, you can walk forward in faith following through on your decision. Only if He answers no do you need to change course. So all you really need is the absence of no.
Walk in faith
Singles stand in their own way when they insist on the presence of yes when approaching marriage decisions. But that faulty assumption also retards progress at any stage of the dating journey. So unless you get that overwhelming sense of no from the Spirit, you should include more people in your circle of friends, and you should casually date more of those friends more often.
Especially in the early stages of the dating journey, you don’t need to receive revelation for every choice you make. Some might extend that to deciding who to marry. Regardless of how you feel about that idea, looking for the absence of no will have you making more progress more quickly in your dating journey.
So if you’ve been waiting for the presence of yes before you move forward, it’s time to change your assumptions. Stop looking for the presence of yes, and start looking for the absence of no. Walk in faith the Lord will tell you when you’re traveling too far from the path He wants for you. That walk will breathe confidence in your gait as you gain more experience. With that experience, you’ll learn, grow, and make more and more better choices. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That story greatly resembles dating for many LDS singles. Try as they might nothing they do seems to work. And days like Singles Awareness Day (otherwise known as Valentine’s Day) only highlight the struggles many LDS singles experience daily. In such circumstances, it’s easy to surrender to despair and embrace the pity party. But if you pity anything, you should never pity yourself. Pity the pity party instead.
Recognize your choice
I can talk because I’ve been there. After being single for more than 25 years, I’ve walked the lonely road. I know the heartache when everything you do seems to end in pain. If anyone should have justification to throw a pity party, it should be me.
And yet I’m not throwing one. To the contrary, I’m very optimistic about the future and my future in particular. How can I be so positive amidst so much reason for despair? After all, I’m still single. Nothing has ever worked out for me. True, I’ve had wonderful moments with girlfriends over the years, but it’s all come to nothing but pain every single time. At my age, how can I expect my life will ever be different?
Quite simply, I believe my future is more the product of my choices than my past. I believe fundamental truths which the restored gospel of Jesus Christ teaches me. And my beliefs run more than just skin deep. They permeate the very fabric of my character to define who I am and what I intend to become.
Choose your focus
For example, I believe the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi when he said everything has its opposite (2 Nephi 2:11). Everything includes the obstacles in our dating lives. What’s the opposite of an obstacle if not an opportunity? Thus, with every obstacle comes an opportunity.
Then consider your focus determines your reality. Focusing on your obstacles creates an obstructed reality. You’ll feel unfairly held back and oppressed by circumstances outside your control. But focusing on the opportunity that must exist with every obstacle turns your reality around. You’ll feel liberated and empowered to pursue whatever passion fascinates your imagination.
Either way you’re not one jot more or less single than you were before. But how you feel inside about yourself, your life, and your future is as different as the bright day is from the dark night. I’ve experienced that difference in my own life. And I’ve seen countless others experience it in their lives as well.
Embrace your reality
Those who surrender to the pity party simply fail to see the opportunities and reasons for optimism and hope truly surrounding them. We should therefore pity them for their lack of understanding and perspective and not their circumstances. We all came to mortality to have hard experiences. Indeed, we wanted the challenge because we knew that was the only way we could grow in eternity.
If Singles Awareness Day has you feeling as burned and failing as my experimental churro crisps were, you don’t have to be that way forever, or even for one more single day. Every day, you choose your focus by what you choose to feed yourself. And your chosen focus then brings you your reality.
Don’t throw the pity party. Instead, pity the pity party. Take the truths of the restored gospel deep into your soul. Let the miracle the Savior can and wants to perform inside of you happen. You can embrace pure joy and happiness without being one iota less single.
Of course hard times will come, as they always will. That’s part of the plan. But when you seek out the opportunities instead of the obstacles, the Lord will open your eyes to what truly surrounds you every day. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
This woman says she disavows soul mates. But she also confesses both liking some of her current boyfriend’s traits and wishing he had other traits her former boyfriends have. She says she’s not being picky, but when you refuse to accept good enough I beg to differ. But how do you know when you have good enough?
In my view, this woman stands in her own way. She’s so focused on what her potential partner has today she doesn’t seem to consider what he’ll have tomorrow. How can you avoid confusion when you try to decide for tomorrow using only the indications of today? Here we see the problem with position.
If you marry someone today, you don’t get the person you marry today. The person you marry today is the one you get 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the road. It’s not about position; it’s about direction.
I’ve seen this in all my friends who got married. Invariably it’s the same story. Each partner is positioned at different points along the spectrum, which can be for anything from money to children to work ethic to whatever. As the two partners live with each other, each exerts a force on the other pulling the other closer. Eventually, they both end up somewhere in the middle between their original positions.
The most satisfying marriages have each partner pulling the other in a desirable shared direction. When you and your partner want to go in different directions, tension will always be in the relationship. But when you align yourselves to go in the same direction, the energy that went into tension now goes into propelling each of you towards perfection together. Becoming better partners makes you better people.
That’s where I see this woman having her biggest problem. Her considerations don’t seem focused on direction. Her comparison of different boyfriends seems focused on position, like asking, “What can my partner offer me today?”
A focus on position is incredibly shortsighted. Your position today says nothing about your position tomorrow. You could have the best position today, but with a bad direction, tomorrow you’ll be worse off. Conversely, even if you’re in a very bad position today, with a good direction you’ll be in a good position tomorrow. Position means nothing. Direction means everything.
Yet most LDS singles assess dating partners almost universally on position. It’s like using the wrong tool for the job. Sure, you can fell a tree with a pocket knife, but it’d be much easier with a chain saw. Likewise, in making a decision that will affect your life tomorrow, you should consideration where your life will be tomorrow. Direction gives a far more accurate indication of that than does position.
Now I’m not advocating you ignore position. You can’t progress in your dating journey without an agreeable enough partner — that’s a fundamental principle of dating. Often that means your partner should bring something to the table today. Having nothing to offer just doesn’t make anyone agreeable to anybody.
That said, direction always has more importance than position. Yet in our instant gratification microwave world, we’re often not patient enough to assess a quality like direction that takes time to assess. The problem with position is one of patience.
Patience is then the ready solution. Get to know people. Stay in that dreaded “friend zone” with someone, because it’s more important you like rather than love your partner. Spend some more time getting to know more people in the casual dating stage. That experience will help you better assess the direction of each potential partner.
And so it goes for the rest of your dating journey. Prize direction over position by taking the time to assess direction. With that priority, you set yourself up for success because the person you get 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the road after you marry will be more aligned with your own direction in life. 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.
Many LDS singles have habits of thinking that give zero consideration to that truth. Too often they put the cart before the horse by insisting that potential casual dates meet their marriage standards. This practice encourages equating dating with marriage, warping dating for everyone.
Online dating only magnifies that ill perspective. If you don’t make an overwhelming first impression with your profile — and primarily your photo — in the first two seconds, you’re done. Treating people like commodities just keeps everyone single.
Don’t close off possibilities
When you buy a commodity online, you expect what you buy to maintain its quality long after the purchase. A tool that works when you buy it should work years from now. Clothes you buy today should still look good years from now. Media that plays today should play problem-free years from now.
And that’s where treating online dating like commodity shopping breaks down. People aren’t products that never change. People will change over time. The person you marry today isn’t the person you have today but the person you will have 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the road.
But of course, none of that enters into our consideration when viewing online dating profiles. We don’t think in terms of potential and the direction people have for their lives. We think in terms of position and how well a candidate can satisfy us today.
In so doing, LDS singles often close themselves off from possibilities to have the very blessings they seek. When considering dating opportunities, we should consider direction more than just position. We need to see others as they will likely become.
Direction is more than position
We came to this mortal existence to grow towards perfection. Traveling on this path towards perfection means that none of us are perfect as we are now.
Yet our Heavenly Father doesn’t condemn us for not having yet completed our journey. He knows we’ll eventually arrive at our celestial destination if we maintain the proper direction. And He knows we can always change our direction.
How often LDS singles fail to take that perspective when dating! We too often prefer someone who provides present satisfaction over someone who’ll provide eternal satisfaction.
Case in point: Most aren’t attracted to overweight suitors. Yet being overweight is merely position. What about direction? There’s a world of difference between the overweight person stumbling through diet and exercise and the overweight person doing nothing except crying over why no one wants to love them as they are. With your help, that person you discount today could be more than satisfactory tomorrow.
Potential to change is not change
Of course, just because someone can change doesn’t mean they will change. For example, perpetrators of physical abuse can change, but that doesn’t mean you should trust them just because they can change. Potential for changing direction isn’t the same as actually changing direction.
That’s why you must examine what people do when assessing their direction. What we do every day determines whether we end in one destination or another. And small changes today can result in large differences tomorrow.
No one’s perfect in this life. We all miss the mark somewhere. But that doesn’t mean we always will. Your actions today can build a case that over time demonstrates a more positive direction, convincing those with eyes to see just what a find you really are.
Seeing others for their potential can reveal doors of opportunity you didn’t know existed. Because no one’s perfect, the eternal companion you seek isn’t perfect. Learning to value others for what they will become because of their direction may help you find that companion who actually fulfills your needs more than you could ever imagine. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
But life comprises more than just the spiritual. We also have social, intellectual, and physical aspects to our lives, each with its own foundation. Could Elder Stevenson's counsel regarding our spiritual foundation apply just as much to the foundations for the other aspects of our lives?
If I had to choose one, certainly it would be the spiritual. But I don't have to choose between them, nor should I. And nor should you. After all, you best build your best life when you look to your foundation for every aspect of life.
Elder Stevenson recounted some of the 40-year history of the construction of the Salt Lake temple. In particular, he quoted Brigham Young, who wanted that "temple built in a manner that it will endure through the millennium. This is not the only temple we shall build; there will be hundreds of them built and dedicated to the Lord."
Elder Stevenson then emphasized the grandeur of Brigham's vision. He envisioned hundreds of temples while laying the foundation for the one before him. He didn't turn away from dreaming big.
Do you dream on that grand scale? Does your foundation for each area of life say you're preparing for big things? Far too many live without such a vision. They're zombies walking through life dead to all the joy surrounding them every day and which they could capture if they chose to pursue their potential.
Big dreams strengthen the foundation for every aspect of your best life, so dream big. Vision born of dreaming big inspires you to make your life everything it can be. You get a glimpse of your best life that can motivate you to keep moving towards that best life.
Surely many fail to live their best life because they fail to dream big. Just as surely, many others fail because they do nothing more than dream. You can't reap where you don't sow. To get a ticket to the show that's your best life, you must pay the price in full and in advance.
You pay that price largely in your work on and from your foundation. And the pandemic, which many have cursed as an obstacle to the life they want today, presents an opportunity to build the life you can have tomorrow.
We need to see beyond the obstacles towards the opportunities. Elder Stevenson rightly views the renovation of the Salt Lake Temple "more as a time of renewal rather than a time of closure." While presenting many obstacles, the pandemic also provides us with many opportunities to improve our foundations in every aspect of life.
A proper foundation always precedes prosperity. Private victories always precede public ones. Dating is a great example. Many singles fail publicly because they've failed privately; they don't have the proper spiritual, social, intellectual, and physical foundations to excel at dating. Only when you do the work do you get results.
That work is rarely easy. Big dreams always require big work. And working big is something entirely different than dreaming big. Visions can inspire, but it's blood and sweat doing the actual grind in the mill house of life. Results come only from action.
Often working big means working in faith. Elder Stevenson quoted a woman who worked in faith despite debilitating cancer. Focused on opportunities to inspire rather than obstacles to recovery, she wrote, "The future of this life may be unknown, but my faith is not. If I choose [not] to ... have faith then I choose to ... walk [only] in darkness. Because without faith, darkness is all that is left.”
Working big means patience. Big results don't come overnight. Big results come from the accumulation of little results patiently and diligently acquired every day.
If you experience constant failure rather than success, maybe you don't have the foundation for success. Look to your foundation in every aspect of life. When you strengthen your foundation, you clear the path to private victories. When you achieve enough private victories, you'll begin to experience public ones. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
But it's all really good discussion that touches on many interesting points. And that got me thinking. Pondering that and other LDS singles posts leads me to conclude that, when it comes to dating, natural is the enemy.
Recognize the natural
You might wonder what that means. After all, these days anything natural is in vogue. It's associated with purity, innocence, and goodness. How can natural be the enemy?
You don't need any mental gymnastics to answer that question in a dating context. You need only understand the differences between natural men and women and covenant men and women.
The Book of Mormon beautifully expresses that difference. We don't usually discuss Mosiah 3:19 in terms of dating, but it possesses perfect applicability. Consider each of these words carefully, for this one verse teaches bibles worth of truth:
How do these words apply to dating? Increasingly in the world, natural men and women have destroyed dating and with it the families that might have resulted. Thinking primarily of self and following natural behavioral drivers have removed many partners from the dating scene and complicated it for those who remain.
Know the difference
We Latter-day Saints covenant to be in the world but not of it. That doesn't mean the world doesn't influence us. In fact, the behavior I see some LDS singles displaying smacks very plainly of a worldly, natural mindset.
Enticement drives the choices of natural men. Put enough enticement in front of him, and he'll pretty much follow the carrot at the end of your stick. Of course, all men aren't alike; some enticements enchant some men more than others. But the concept holds true for all natural men.
Experience, namely the state of feeling desired emotions, drives the choices of natural women. We all know natural women; they have backup boyfriends, always look to "trade up" if they can, and are ruthless with other women who they see as their competition for their desired experiences with men.
Conversely, covenant men and women value covenant living over their natural drivers. They seek to make and keep covenants. Covenant men still feel the natural tug of enticement, and covenant women still feel the natural tug of experience, but they don't follow after it. They choose to value covenant living over the natural focus on self.
Put off the natural
Natural men and women value self over covenants. The natural woman stays single by insisting on dating only perfect men who can provide her desired experience with emotion. Since most men aren't that, the natural man struggles with the lack of enticement, eventually opting out of dating to seek enticement in other avenues.
Thus, following natural inclinations results in rejecting opportunities to marry sufficiently good companions and create families that can further the Lord's purposes for this world. The natural man and woman are indeed enemies to God.
In reality, no single one of us (pun intended) is completely a natural person or a covenant person. We are each a mixture of both — good and evil, light and darkness, covenant keepers and covenant breakers. What we choose to value determines how much we are of each.
Will we follow our natural desires when dating? Will we insist on having only the best when an "average" option can deliver not only the maximum amount of joy it's possible to experience but also make available the covenants we need for exaltation in the eternities to come? Will we view dating and marriage through the lens of self or through the lens of the family we will create out of that union and the generations that will follow after us?
In so many ways, natural is the enemy. And it will always be the enemy unless the natural man or woman values covenant living over self. Only valuing covenant living opens the heart to the Savior and His marvelous Atonement, which can transform us from natural men and women into covenant men and women. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Harry has no clue what happened here. But I do; I see very clearly what's happened. Harry, my man! You got played, bro.
Get good with you
In the comments to this post, most men think the woman was disingenuous, and most women think she was completely honest. I think if we understood more how each gender thinks, we all might gain an increased understanding prompting greater patience.
Men think with logic. Reason drives them to seek enticement. Women think with emotion. Emotion drives them to seek experience, by which I mean the experience of desired emotions as they live their life. To understand the choices made in interactions between the sexes, we need to see those choices through each respective perspective.
From the perspective of logic, it's reasonable to expect further interactions based on positive past experience. From that perspective, what the woman did was not honest; she's playing games. However, from the perspective of emotion, it's just as reasonable to choose the feeling of being with someone offering enjoyable company (even if that someone is not the right type) over the feeling of being with no one. From that perspective, what the woman did was honest; she's not playing games.
Who's right? They both are. That's why you have got to get good with you and the biological hardwiring in each gender's brain, because that's not going to change. The sooner you can understand each perspective, the sooner you can accept those perspectives and get busy with what will make you more attractive and your dating journey more enjoyable.
Chart your course
The best way to become more attractive and enjoy your dating journey is to become the best version of you and adopt a personal ministry — your unique contribution of goodness to the world. By improving upon yourself and giving all of yourself to your special way of improving the lives of others, you chart a course that will both best attract the type of companion that's best for you and maximize your joy along the way.
Too many LDS singles struggle with dating because they have ineffective assumptions. It's all too common to find men and women who view singles life as something they must escape. While understandable, that mindset is all backwards. Trying to escape singles life suggests it's a problem, and no one wants more problems. It also makes you look desperate, and no one really wants desperate.
Many LDS singles also don't understand the fundamentals of dating. When they participate in dating (or what they think is dating), they trip all over themselves, ending up hurt and frustrated. But that's to be expected when you don't understand the fundamental principles governing what you're trying to do.
When you do understand, you see your best course is to embrace singles life. No matter how long it may be, make your singles life the best it can be. Get good with you, make you the best you, and throw yourself into a life of contribution, a life that someone special will want to live with you.
Stay your course
Of course, the hardest part is to keep going without knowing how much farther until your journey ends. But you must keep going, because the moment you quit is the moment you lose all attractiveness, the currency you need to secure the agreements required for progress in your dating journey.
You can't avoid the difficulties surrounding not knowing when your dating journey will end, but you can avoid many other difficulties in that journey with more frequent, higher quality communication. We all need to assume less and ask more.
Harry, I'm truly sorry you got played, bro. Yes, it hurts, but you minimize your future pain when you get good with you, chart your course, and then stay your course. Understand how each gender thinks and what drives their choices. Stop trying to escape singles life and start embracing it. When you do, you'll start living your best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That’s true for anyone, LDS singles included. How much injustice have we endured? How often have we been considered an “other” or somehow “less than”? The bitterness we singles can feel — and indeed many have felt — isn’t fundamentally different from the bitterness behind all the chaos currently tearing the country apart. Bitterness is bitterness. Hate is hate.
And so as we approach Father’s Day this year, I reflect upon the never-married single men who want to be fathers but feel embittered against the single women who have constantly rejected them. I reflect upon the divorced single fathers who feel embittered from a broken marriage. I reflect upon the widowed men who feel embittered after tragedy forces singleness upon them. For these and so many others, what we need is forgiveness. Without forgiveness, there can never be healing.
Start with self
I was once quite embittered. In fact, I often joked, “I’m so jaded, I’m diamond!” — a tongue-in-cheek jab at the single sisters who somehow couldn’t see what a real find I was.
But that attitude never made me less single. If anything, it kept me more single. After all, who wants to live with bitterness?
And the ironic part is that the hatred bitterness always breeds is most fully directed against self. One may think all of the hatred is directed outward, but how can people truly love others without also loving themselves? We’re all children of the same Heavenly Father.
Only after I embraced forgiveness — of both myself and the imperfect ladies making imperfect choices regarding me — did healing begin to take hold in my heart. And only after my heart had healed could I broadcast a more positive energy that then led to more positive dating experiences
Take strength to let go
Simply put, the failure to forgive will hold everyone back from living their best life. Many singles harbor ill-will for both perceived and real injustices related to their singleness. However justified singles may believe their feelings to be, bitterness will always consume more the longer it’s held. Healing can’t happen until we let the bitterness go.
Chris Williams was a married man until a drunk teenage driver robbed him of his wife, then pregnant with their fifth child, and two of his other children. He watched his wife’s last breath. I can only imagine the sorrow this man endured.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story of Chris Williams, I highly recommend you watch the video in which Chris tells his story. And if you’re anything like me, grab a box of tissues first because you will break a water main.
Let the healing begin
Of course, it’s not just single men who need to embrace forgiveness. Everyone’s been wronged somehow. Bitterness works the same way in anyone. It knows no preference on whom it feeds.
And it doesn’t matter who is involved. Bitterness will corrode and canker whatever soul contains it. It works the same way on anyone. Its antidote is also the same for anyone. What we need is forgiveness. Without forgiveness, there can never be healing.
So this Father’s Day, show your love for fathers by embracing forgiveness. Forgive the man who was never the father you needed. Or forgive the one who took your father from you. Or forgive the man who has yet to be a father, especially if that man is you.
Whatever your situation, embrace forgiveness. Let the healing begin. Only then will come the peace and comfort you yearn to feel. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
I’m not sure what it was exactly. It’s not like the situation this sister describes is abnormal, extraordinary, or unusual. Confronting loneliness is part of the reality of singleness. I just felt I should address the question posed in this post.
Don’t ask me to compare the loneliness of the never-married versus the divorced versus the widowed. I don’t even know where to begin there, nor am I entirely certain that comparison would provide any real value.
What I do know is that I’ve had my own confrontation with loneliness and overcome it. I know the depths of despair that can enter the heart from prolonged singleness. I’ve been single for over two decades. I also know the pure joy and hope that fill the heart and soul when you change the way you think and adopt a personal ministry. And I know this is true because I’ve lived that joy and am living it now.
Change your thinking
Most of the comments offered in response to this single mother’s question revolved around two approaches: hobbies and renewal activities. They represent two ways of what I see as fundamentally the same approach. And that approach doesn’t address the real issue at hand.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against hobbies. And I’m certainly not against participating in regular activities that renew the spirit, heart, mind, and body. In fact, having regular renewal rituals is a great way to live life. We all need to recharge from time to time.
Yet neither of these methods proposed to combat the loneliness we LDS singles encounter solve the problem. They’re simply bandages covering the problem with a seemingly healthy and often pleasurable distraction. Avoiding problems will never solve them. Real solutions always require us to act.
That action starts when we change the way we think. We need to discard the notion that we have to be married or have some significant other in our lives in order to be happy. We need to stop conditioning our happiness on the choices of others. And we need to throw off any vestige of any victim mentality we have and replace it with a victor mentality. We need to own our lives, taking full responsibility for whatever results we do have and recognizing the power of our own choices in delivering to us the life we want.
Adopt your ministry
Attitude without action will never bring you achievement. Some people get fired up with positive thinking, but then their lives don’t change because they didn’t really change, especially in the way they think. Changed thinking always leads to changed action, which in turn always leads to a changed reality.
One of the best actions more effective ways of thinking always lead one to take is to adopt a personal ministry. Your personal ministry is that unique contribution of goodness you make to the world, the cause through which you uplift and bless the lives of others. We’ve discussed before on the program how adopting a personal ministry can help LDS singles overcome their challenges. Here are just three of those reasons:
Turn yourself outward
When you think about it, it’s not hard to understand why a personal ministry offers so much benefit for LDS singles seeking to overcome loneliness and other challenges we LDS singles face. It aligns us with the path the Savior trod by turning ourselves outward towards others.
That’s in stark contrast to the bandage solutions mentioned earlier. Again, I’m not against hobbies and renewal rituals. But focusing exclusively here will turn ourselves inward towards ourselves. That’s why they will never really solve the problem of loneliness. Only by turning ourselves outward can we connect with others in ways that remind us we aren’t ever really alone. Only by turning ourselves outward can we connect with the Savior Who fills us with His love that helps us to know we aren’t ever really alone.
If you feel consumed by loneliness, consider your focus. Your focus will always determines your reality. Change your thinking, adopt a personal ministry, and turn yourself outward. You’ll shift your focus towards others and shift your reality away from your problems and into your possibilities. 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 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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