Yet the theme of broadening the definition of motherhood once more captures my attention. Especially among singles, we see women who haven’t given birth to children complain about how celebrating Mother’s Day simply rubs in their face the dream they want but don’t have.
The truth is you don’t need to birth a child to be a mother. But for many, that’s easier said than believed. So this Mother’s Day, let’s honor motherhood by helping everyone believe that. Let’s help our single sisters identify themselves as the mothers they are for the care they show to others. Let’s honor those who play motherly roles to others — the mothers we don’t see.
See what already is
I call them “the mothers we don’t see” not because we’re blind to them. Of course we physically see them. But too often we’ve not seen these women as mothers because they have no children of their own. We need to see these women for the mothers they already are.
Yes, they haven’t borne children, but they do have children who love them for the care these good women show them. Some of these women are Primary teachers or school teachers who find great fulfillment by “adopting” the children of others. And yet other single sisters show great care to grown children of our Heavenly Father. You don’t need to be a mortal child to appreciate the care shown by single sisters who adopt motherly roles for themselves.
Such broadened perspective reveals meaningful lives because motherhood is about something more fundamental than delivering a physical body into the mortal world. Motherhood is about sharing love with those who need it. And that’s something every woman can do, regardless of marital status or life circumstance. Celebrating those women who make that choice helps everyone adopt a broader perspective on what motherhood really is.
See what could be
Seeing our single sisters for the mothers they already are can also help them believe in the mothers they could be in the future. I believe many single sisters (and many single brethren, for that matter) keep themselves from having their own children principally because they don’t believe in their own potential. It’s always easier to believe in you when others do too.
But most people will take their cues about you from you. So when you don’t believe in the blessings our Heavenly Father wants you to have, you radiate an energy that broadcasts what you really feel and think inside of you. And others pick up on that energy. They presume you’re the expert on you, so if you think you don’t have a blessed future, most will simply defer to your expertise, thereby fulfilling a type of self-fulfilled prophecy.
Think for a moment what might happen if we celebrated women not just for the motherly roles they do play but the ones they could. We could help those sisters who haven’t believed in themselves to turn around and change course. We could help them become the mothers they’re capable of becoming, launching loads of love into the lives of people all around.
Celebrate a broader vision
We’re all biologically hardwired to get our sense of normal from those around us. So when everyone around us thinks motherhood means bearing children, it’s normal for us to think likewise.
But that works in other ways too. If everyone around us believes motherhood is really about sharing love with those who need it, then we establish a new standard for normal. It’ll be easier to believe that’s what motherhood really is all about. And it’s even easier to believe that when we celebrate the women who live that definition of motherhood.
So this Mother’s Day, by all means celebrate your own mother. But let’s also celebrate the mothers we don’t see, the women who we traditionally haven’t seen as mothers but who are mothers all the same for the love they share with others in need. More celebrations of love will encourage even more love, helping to push back the darkness of the world. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
The problem LDS singles have comes when they give too much prominence to what they want. Then dating becomes all about satisfying their demands to the exclusion of what they have to offer. As we discussed last week, taking your dating focus off of what you bring takes you out of alignment with the fundamentals of the dating journey. That’s why you need balance to find the right place for what you want in dating.
Be the best complement
As we’ve discussed more times than I can count, your focus determines your reality. So you won’t truly enjoy your dating journey with the wrong focus. Enjoying your dating journey requires a focus leading to that reality.
What’s that focus? There’s a huge clue in the definition of happiness we’ve discussed so many times on this program. Happiness is giving your all to all the right things for you. That definition applies just as much to dating as it does to any other part of life.
Being the best complement to your eternal companion, whether or not that person is now in your life, is one of those right things for you. And happiness comes when you give your all to that and every other right thing for you. That’s why truly enjoyable dating is about what you bring.
Yet too often LDS singles focus solely on themselves. They think of their dating journey as the search for what they want, so much so they think little if at all about what they bring to a potential relationship. As we discussed last week, it’s not about what you want. When you align yourself with the fundamentals of what you’re trying to do, you find your path to success easier.
Reject the natural mindset
Notice I said easier, not easy. The propensity to approach dating with the focus of what you want is rooted mainly in the natural mindset, which will dominate you if you don’t dominate it. And that fight for domination isn’t always easy.
That’s because the natural mindset always prioritizes self-gratification over all else. The natural mindset also always leads to misery. What else do you expect from a constant focus on taking in order to satiate one’s own desires? We’ve all been around people who constantly take and give little if anything in return. No one wants to be around those people.
We all want to be around those who constantly give and take little if anything in return. So your dating focus should be on being that person. Be the complement your companion needs, and you’ll more easily find the complement you need in a companion.
Stop chasing after complication
This isn’t to say that what you want plays no role in dating. You’ll of course make choices in who you decide to date, both casually and exclusively. In these two stages of the dating journey, you have many opportunities to express what you want and the individual uniqueness underlying those inclinations.
But ultimately what you want from your dating journey is a thriving, enriching relationship. What you want is a complement. Yet too many chase complication by focusing their efforts too much on what they want to receive and too little on what they have to give. When you adjust your focus to align with the fundamentals of the dating journey, you’ll stop embracing complication in your dating life because you’ll quit chasing after it.
Balancing what you want in a companion and what you should be in a companion isn’t easy. But LDS singles who strive to strike that balance center their efforts around complementation. They focus on being a better complement for the person they want in their life. This is the right place for what you want in dating. When you embrace it, dating really will become more about what you bring. You’ll find it easier to make you a better you and make your life more interesting, thereby making you more agreeable to a potential partner. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
A brief tutorial
Elder Gilbert used some simple math to illustrate the Parable of the Slope. Some of you think the words simple and math don’t really go together, but I assure you they do. Elder Gilbert briefly explained his math, but let me offer a different explanation that may help with understanding both the simple math concept and the lesson Elder Gilbert draws from it.
Mathematically, we represent lines on a plot with two reference lines, one horizontal and the other vertical. We commonly call the point where your line crosses the vertical reference line the intercept. It effectively measures how far above (or below) your line is from the horizontal reference line at the position of the vertical reference line. Elder Gilbert’s parable compares your path in life to a line drawn on a Cartesian plane, taking the intercept as a starting position.
As you proceed on your path of life, you’re line can go up or down. Mathematically, we measure that direction with slope. A positive slope indicates an upward direction, and a negative slope indicates a downward direction. Which way it goes depends not on the intercept but on the slope. Likewise in life, whether or not you achieve your potential depends not on your starting position but on your direction.
The parable expanded
I’ve previously visited this idea of direction being more important than position. LDS singles often evaluate potential dating candidates solely on their position, judging those with less than desired positions as disagreeable, irrespective of their direction. But direction matters more in the end, because the person you marry isn’t the person you get today but the person you’ll get years down the road.
The importance of direction over position also gives hope to those judged as disagreeable. You can turn any life situation around when you own your life and focus more on direction than position. By doing what you can with what you have, you give your life a positive direction that, if maintained, will take your life into more and more agreeable territory. As Elder Gilbert taught,
Your focus always determines your reality. Too many LDS singles focus on what they lack — the looks, the body, the money, the talent, the whatever they think they absolutely must have to succeed — and wallowing in that discouragement, their reality is one of lack, disempowerment, and hopelessness. Focus instead on what you have and can do, and you’ll find a reality of abundance, empowerment, and hope.
Elder Gilbert then continued with
How many times have we talked about partnering with the Lord? He sees what we don’t see, knows what we don’t know, and loves us more than we can possibly imagine. When you partner with Him, He’ll guide you to whatever you need to take the next step in your journey towards the enjoyment of every righteous blessing.
Some final words
I’ll go more in depth in the program today and show how LDS singles can apply these ideas to their lives to have more joy every day starting today. Even though he didn’t address singles specifically, Elder Gilbert did provide LDS singles with essential information to support the journey towards one’s best life. I’ve found that to be true for most if not all Conference addresses.
So let’s not wait to apply the Parable of the Slope to our lives. Let’s start today to place more value on direction than position. Let’s focus more on what we have, what we can do, and where we’re going. And let’s partner with the Lord for our lives. When we do, He’ll guide us along the path leading to our best life. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
How many of us are doing that? How many of us are taking the action needed to improve our lives? Again, only action produces results. And it doesn’t matter how undesired your reality is today. You can flip any reality into something better when you flip your focus.
More than just seeing
Some may find that a bold claim. If you’re engulfed in your own negative experience, you’ll rightly wonder how simply looking at something different can change anything. But we’re talking here about focusing, not just looking.
Just because you look at something doesn’t mean you’re focused on it. When you drive a car, for example, you’ll look ahead for the most part because that’s the direction you’re going. But occasionally, you look in your mirrors to get a sense of what’s around you. That’s part of safe driving. But how safe would you be looking mostly in your rear view mirror? You’d find driving your vehicle safely difficult if you did that.
That’s the difference between focusing and seeing. Everyone has undesired experiences in life. Simply looking at them won’t create a negative reality. Only when you constantly choose to keep your vision fixed on the negative are you focused on the negative. And a focus on the negative means a reality filled with negativity.
How it actually works
Changing a negative reality is as simple as choosing a positive focus. If a negative reality results from a negative focus, then a positive reality will result from a positive focus. But how exactly does that work?
Many think reality is the collection of what happens to you, but this perspective drives a focus on what others do or don’t do, and the resulting reality is one in which you’re disempowered to change your own life for the better.
What happens to you does play a role in shaping reality, but you play a much larger role with the meaning you assign. You’ll get a certain result depending on your actions. And, yes, other people play a role in determining that result. But whatever the result, you choose what that result means. And that meaning plays a larger role in creating your reality than what others do.
The same undesired experience can come to two different people, and you can find one in complete turmoil and the other in complete peace. The same thing happened to both, so why don’t both have the same reality? It’s because reality is more than just what you experience; it’s also what meaning you choose to give your experience. And the way you assign meaning is through your focus. You choose your focus, and thereby you choose the meaning you assign to your experiences, and thereby you choose your reality.
Stand and own it
When you understand how it all works, the ramifications can overwhelm. If you choose your reality, then the one ultimately responsible if you don’t like your reality is you! That realization usually precedes one of two responses: You’ll either cower back and hide, or you’ll stand up and embrace it.
Cowering can be comfortable, but that choice disempowers you, surrendering you to a victim mentality that keeps you in the prison of always blaming others for why your life isn’t what it should be. But your best life has you empowered with a victor mentality that liberates you. And that’s where the harder choice to stand up and embrace the truth comes in. To have your best life, you must stand and own it.
If you don’t like your current reality, you can flip it when you flip your focus. Stand up, own your life, and start making intentional choices to seize your power of agency and move yourself towards your best life. You’ll feel the empowerment that comes from taking control of your life. You’ll feel the satisfaction that comes from making progress towards your goals. And you’ll learn how to stay positive no matter what negative experiences come your way. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Christ is of course the ultimate source of hope for anything good in this life or the next. No matter your background or situation, there is always hope because there is always Christ. That doesn’t mean you won’t have challenges, but it does mean every problem has some solution in Him. With hope in Christ, you can joyfully rise above any challenge.
Hope has power
I especially like President Ballard’s reliance upon eternal principles of truth. He doesn’t really talk about singles until halfway through his address. He spends the first half laying out the foundational principles that support his remarks on singles. That’s significant.
Equally significant is his repetition of what Elder Gong shared earlier. The majority of LDS adults are single. The public recognition of this demographic change precedes a new thrust by the Church to change LDS culture. Leaders might not describe it that way, but the Church is certainly publicly reaching more after those who by definition don’t have the traditional marker of belonging in LDS culture, namely being married with kids.
And it’s more than just Conference talks. Have you seen the Church website lately? The website has been promoting an upcoming broadcast for singles over 30, the first ever Church-wide broadcast tailored entirely and specifically for this demographic. There’s also an excellent article in the latest Liahona providing practical advice on helping singles feel more included at church.
This is the power of hope in Christ. How long have I discussed in blog posts and this radio program the need to embrace a Christ-centered culture in which the mark of belonging is discipleship? For the past seven years I’ve expressed my faith such a change would come, even amidst the challenges of feeling included in a culture that didn’t always welcome me. And now I rejoice to see the Lord rewarding the faith I and many others have held all this time.
Hope means action
President Ballard extolled singles everywhere to have such faith. Said he, “I speak of hope in Christ not as wishful thinking. Instead, I speak of hope as an expectation that will be realized. Such hope is essential to overcoming adversity, fostering spiritual resilience and strength, and coming to know that we are loved by our Eternal Father and that we are His children, who belong to His family.”
How does one achieve such hope? It comes by faith in Christ who grants that hope to those who wait patiently upon Him. Because faith is a principle of action, so is waiting upon the Lord.
President Ballard said as much. He declared,
I love his declaration of increased hope through needed contribution, a concept we’ve long discussed here — the need for singles to have a personal ministry. When you devote yourself to sharing your unique goodness and light with others, you focus on what you can do. That focus in turn creates a reality of possibility and potential, which naturally leads to hope.
Hope is yours
President Ballard shared other principles that engender hope — the truth no blessing will be denied those who keep covenants, the assurance blessings will be ours though we don’t know all the details, the inclusion of exaltation in God’s plan for all the willing, and faith the Lord will eventually right every wrong experienced in mortality. Each of these principles encourage us to hold to the promise of better days ahead.
And that promise is true. It’s not just wishful thinking. Better days are ahead! Whether those days come tomorrow, two years from tomorrow, or two centuries from tomorrow, better days will come. Faith helps us to see those better days, and hope helps us hold true until those days arrive.
There is always hope because there is always Christ. Let your hope in Christ kindle a fire of faith that promised blessings will be yours. Let your hope in Christ inspire you to share the light of your goodness with others. As you embrace your own personal ministry, you’ll see that light grow ever brighter and brighter. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
The rest and renewal you need won’t come to you on its own. You need to own your life and make what you need happen. That’s why every so often it’s good to separate yourself from your usual world and bask in the beauty of the world God gave you.
Refresh yourself in nature
Of course, the first thing that pops into the head of most people when I say that is nature. And yes, the natural world God created is filled with beauty. I for one am always moved by the majestic sight of real mountains. For me they represent so much strength I feel more confident and secure just being around them.
There’s also something refreshing in separating yourself from the artificial world people created and reconnecting yourself with the natural world God created. For some reason I just find it easier to get grounded when I immerse myself for a time in nature. There’s an extra renewal I gain when I reconnect with what’s most important while surrounded in natural beauty.
That’s why for the past few years I’ve held a tradition called Retreat. Every May I plan a day for being out in nature to meditate and write. The meditation helps me clear away everything not directly connected with the essence of my character, my true identity, and my purpose. Writing serves as an additional filter to clear away the bad. But writing also provides cement to solidify the good in place and fortify me to return to the artificial world renewed and ready to face the challenges that await.
Refresh yourself in the Lord
Of course, you don’t need to go into the woods on a special trip to reconnect with the essential. With enough intent, you can do that anywhere. And you should be getting that every week with the Sabbath.
I’ve often pondered on the words of the Lord to Moses: “...for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed” (Exodus 31:17). That final word refreshed has always caught my attention. The Sabbath should leave me feeling refreshed. I’ve come to learn that if I don’t feel refreshed from my Sabbath day, then I’m probably not keeping it very well.
And I find that’s more of a challenge as life goes on. My calling keeps me busy, and often I find so much needing my attention on Sundays I wonder if the day of rest isn’t a misnomer. But I’ve also found when I devote myself with intention to keep the Sabbath day, I do feel refreshed. I feel renewed and ready to tackle the challenges of another grinding week. There’s something very beautiful in that, and I can bask in that beauty every week.
Open yourself to beauty
There’s other beauty we can bask in regularly. For example, raising children alone challenges many single mothers, but I’ve heard many talk about moments when they realize how blessed they are to have their children. That’s beauty to bask in.
I could go on with other examples, but I think you get the point. We all have challenges in our lives, things we would rather do without. But we all also have great blessings, things we wouldn’t dream of not having. Whatever those blessings are, those tender mercies from the Lord are there to make your life more beautiful.
When you open your eyes to see the wonder all around you, you open yourself to wonderful possibilities of joy along your road in life. And you open the door to many more blessings God wants to give you if you will but open yourself to Him. So bask in the beauty you have all around you. Own your life and fill yourself with the refreshment and renewal you need. You’ll refresh yourself in the blessings you have around you. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Then I thought I might have the wrong focus. Maybe what I need to focus on, I thought, is focus. After all, Mother’s Day is hard for many single sisters because of where they place their focus. Your focus determines your reality, so when you focus on what’s missing, your reality feels like it’s missing something. When you focus on what’s wrong, your reality can’t help but feel wrong.
But when you focus on what’s right, your reality feels right. And that focus works not just for Mother’s Day but for every day. So instead of letting a holiday focus you on what’s wrong or missing, use that holiday to focus on what’s right. When you focus on the best parts of your life, it’s easier to celebrate the best in you.
Admittedly that’s a hard row to hoe when you’ve got an ideal you’re not even close to reaching pressed in your face at church. Many wards are stepping up and exercising more sensitivity to their single members, but many wards still have a lot of work to do. And that begs the question: What can LDS singles do when they find themselves in such a ward?
The worst that can happen is you have a horrible experience at church and then you go home and brood about it. If church wasn’t what it should have been, why would you torture yourself further by brooding about it? Your focus determines your reality, so wallowing in the muck of negative experience just brings you the muck of a negative reality.
Choose instead to focus on what’s right. If church wasn’t what it should’ve been, remember babes in sacrament meeting, go home, and move on. Have your own celebration that highlights what’s best in you. Refuse to focus on the negative, and your reality will refuse to be negative.
That may be hard, especially if you have a habit of immersing yourself in negativity. But like all new habits, actions become easier and more entrenched the more you practice them. Holidays that traditionally present challenge to singles also provide opportunities to rise above those challenges.
The key is to remember that practice does not make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. You can practice how to approach something the wrong way, and you can practice it so much it becomes a habit. But in the end, all your habit will deliver you are less effective results. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.
So if your habits produce less effective results, here’s some free advice: Change them! You have the power of agency. Use that power to play the victor, not the victim. Change what you need on the inside so you can more readily see the changes you want to see on the outside.
Whatever holiday comes to your door, others don’t have the final say in how you feel. You have the final say with the focus you choose for yourself. Control your focus, and you control your reality.
It’ll be hard if you haven’t practiced perfect, but that’s OK. That just means you need to keep trying. Keep reaching for the light and the positive choice. No matter what others decide, determine you will decide your focus. Determine you’ll celebrate the best in you.
Your focus will determine your reality regardless of what you choose. The universe obeys its laws irrespective of any of us. Time is continually moving forward. You can choose to use that time to embrace the negative or the positive.
The choice is yours, so make the positive choice. Choose to celebrate the best in you each and every day. By insisting on making your focus more and more positive, you’ll make your reality more and more positive. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Watch your focus
And yes, I said singles should ask that question of themselves. Your focus determines your reality, so if you don’t like your reality, take a look at your focus. Making that change on the inside can make all the difference in your world on the outside.
And because we’re all designed to operate out of habit, whatever focus we do have we’ll continue to use over and over again. That’s great if your focus creates a reality you want and not so great if your focus creates a reality you don’t want.
But it all starts within, so to change your reality on the outside, change your focus on the inside. If your focus in dating is all about you and what someone else is going to bring you, then you’ll likely attract only those with a similar focus. And the only reason they’ll want you is more because of what they think they can get from you and not so much with who you really are.
Dating isn’t shopping
It’s little wonder we think this way. Modern dating has an increasingly online component, so much so that we bring to dating the same thinking — the assumptions, perspectives, attitudes, and habits — that comprise our online life in other aspects. And pretty much everyone spends a substantial proportion of that life online shopping.
The Internet makes getting pretty much whatever you want so very easy. You look around at options from different offerings, compare prices, read and weigh reviews, and make a purchase. A couple or so days later, your order arrives right at your door. There’s no need to go anywhere. And if what you get isn’t really what you want, you get rid of it.
We do the same thing with dating. We swipe past photos of potential candidates who aren’t cream of the crop, filter profile details, and maybe read what others write. We’d never reach out to a company offering an inferior product; we simply wouldn’t buy. So why would we even think about talking to a dating candidate offering what appears to be an inferior candidacy? The “right” one will arrive on our door in a timely manner and just lift us into bliss, because isn’t that what happens when your relationship is really right?
Find real happiness
Are you catching the focus in this common approach? It treats people like things, which of course trips us up because people are not things. But it’s also all about what you get. And that’s completely backwards because happiness in marriage is more about what you give than what you get.
Long time audience members will know I define happiness as giving your all to all the right things for you. Notice there’s no getting in that definition. It’s all about what you give, and it’s giving all of you to all that’s right for you. Certainly your spouse counts as one of those right things.
Now I’m not suggesting we’re all interchangeable parts who can just marry anyone and be blissfully happy based entirely on what we give. The relationship we’re talking about here is a two-way street; it can’t be all give and no get, for either partner. But too often we focus so much on the getting that we ignore the more major contribution of the giving.
So instead of asking, “What will this person bring?” when evaluating a dating prospect, ask yourself, “What will you bring?” When you focus on getting good with you on the inside and making the changes to make you the best you you can be, in that process you’ll cross paths with someone who’ll want to share the life you’re creating, a life in which you each give to each other the best you each have to give. 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.
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.
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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