Now I find myself at another crossroads. My father has surgery tomorrow to remove his returned skin cancer. My brother might visit this weekend, which may be the last time we see each other for awhile since I’m preparing to begin a new job on the East Coast. And yet with all these changes about me, one thing remains unchanged. I’m still not a father.
Pondering on a prophet
I remember sitting in the stake center as a young man watching President Ezra Taft Benson address the single men of the Church in General Conference. As he declared that the time would come when those who ignored fatherhood would feel and know their loss, I remember thinking to myself, That won’t be me! I’m going to follow the prophet.
As time passed, however, that commitment challenged me. Sure, I could’ve married one of numerous desperate LDS women. But they interested themselves more in being a wife and mother than in being my companion because that was the only identity they could accept for themselves. My conscience couldn’t accept joining with someone who saw me as filler material, a means to their own end.
Now my mind ponders that prophetic counsel I heard so many years ago as a young man. Am I any closer to compliance? Or have I allowed other pursuits to lull me into a more comfortable place where I substitute the greater growth from fatherhood with the lesser growth of other pursuits?
Searching for balance
Clearly, we single LDS men must walk a fine line. Obsession with marriage will drive us increasingly crazy while driving away quality candidates. At the same time, we can’t become so absorbed in the activities we use to stay that obsession that we don’t progress towards a happy and healthy marriage. We need balance.
Note I said happy and healthy. We’re not interchangeable parts. Compatibility is important. At the same time, compatibility is not a litmus test. The success of any union depends more on the choices of the participants than on any intrinsic characteristics. Again, we need balance.
I think about that balance as I ponder my father’s surgery tomorrow. That surgery isn’t all that different from the previous one, which he survived just fine. Yet when he announced the return of his cancer, my father encouraged my siblings and I to consider what would be done to help Mother should he pass away soon. I find myself balancing his fear against my optimism that everything will work out for the best.
Declaring mighty faith
The faith inviting me to live in that realization encourages me onward with optimism. No, I’m not a father . . . yet. I don’t know how the Lord will bless me, but I know He loves me and will support me as He always has. That knowledge sustains me as I walk by faith through mortality.
I’m also not the same person now I once was. Sure, I’m just as single now as when I came home from my mission, but I’m not the same man that stepped off that plane bringing me home. In more ways than not, I’m a much better man. And as I strive to be phenomenal in every aspect of my life, I’ll become more and more irresistible to that woman with whom the Lord intends to bless me.
I’m still not a father. But that won’t be true forever. The Lord will not abandon me. Nor will He abandon any of you. So if Father’s Day has brought you to serious reflection, be the victor and not the victim. Partner with the Lord, and let Him lead you along. Your path ahead is glorious. When you see with eyes of faith, you’ll recognize the brightness of that light. You’ll capture the optimism born of hope in that bright future. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Halloween! That frightful time of year we embrace with a spirit of good fun means dressing up in costumes and of course eating lots of holiday-themed food. And let's not forget the trick-or-treating.
But while we all spend one day a year approaching fearful sights with a gleeful sort of playfulness, many spend the other 364 days of the year cowering to fear. Can we bring to every day of the year the same sort of playfulness that we bring to Halloween?
We all have our fears. One of the biggest fears many LDS singles have is the fear of never marrying. Whether that fear or another haunts you most, you’ll never conquer your fear by cowering to it. To conquer your fear, you must take and use the power you already have within yourself. You must face your fears.
Believe the Lord
To start, you have great reason for courage. You’re not on your journey alone. Your Heavenly Father has provided a Savior Who loves you so much that He never could abandon you, let alone would. And that Savior Who created the universe is a powerful ally.
If you truly trust in that all-powerful Creator, if you truly have faith in Him, if you truly believe Him, you’ll never feel fear. And that’s simply because you won't be able to. Faith and fear cannot exist in the same space at the same time.
So when the Lord promises He’ll bless you, you can rest assured He’ll fulfill His promises. And He won't just fulfill them in part; He'll fulfill them down to the dot of the last I and the cross of the last T. So great will be your blessing that, when that glorious day finally comes, you’ll wonder how it ever was that you doubted Him.
And many of those promises are not just for the next life but for this life. Yes, a few may have to wait for eternity, but I firmly believe that 99% of us can have their promised blessings here and now in mortality. You may doubt and even laugh as did Abraham's wife Sarah, but the Lord will fulfill every syllable of every word of every promise that He makes to you. Period.
Partner with the Lord
How do you believe that? How do you generate such faith in the Lord and in His promises that you continue to believe fervently even when everything around you seems to say the exact opposite?
First, approach the Lord as did the father with the mentally disturbed son who exclaimed, "Lord, . . . help thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:24). You’re never alone in your journey, so don’t try to go it alone. Walk with Him who gave His all so you could succeed in your ultimate journey.
Second, take action. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that faith is a principle of action. That means you cannot have faith if you just wish and wait. To increase your faith, you must increase your action.
This is why you approach the Lord first. When you partner with Him, He’ll help you understand the next step you need to take in your journey. When you then act on that revelation and take that next step, you walk by faith toward a bright and glorious future, one with the blessings He wants to give you.
Walk with the Lord
Walking by faith doesn't mean never feeling fear, but it can bring courage. And courage means doing what you need to do even though you may feel afraid. When you walk by faith, you can face your fears with the confidence He will never abandon you.
If all of us were to step back and observe the situation, we’d see that all fear does is prevent us from taking the next step in our journey. But whatever your fears are, you still control what response you will provide. Will you allow your fear to control you and cower from your next step? Or will you control you and take that next step?
When you take that next step, your courage grows, your faith grows, and you can walk and take more next steps with more confidence. The more you act, the more your faith grows, the more your confidence grows, and the more you can live with the surety that the Lord will fulfill all of His promises to you. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Many LDS singles feel bereft of hope when they don’t see any obvious opportunities for the eternal marriage they desire. Fundamentally, their lack of hope doesn’t differ from anyone else struggling to realize righteous desires. For example, infertility plagues many righteous married couples desiring biological children.
Yet in all cases hope abounds. If you can’t see the way forward, please consider this question: Are you operating out of your memory or your imagination? Your focus becomes your reality, so when you focus on the failures you’ve known, your reality becomes filled with more of those failures. But when you focus on the success you can imagine, your reality becomes filled with possibility.
We all can access redemption in every sense of the word because of Christ and His glorious Atonement. No matter how dark or bleak your circumstances may appear, you always have reason to hope. There is always hope because there is always Christ.
How do you feel this great truth when all around you seems dismal? Almost all of us believe very readily in miracles that Christ performed among a people most of us don’t know in a land far away which most of us haven’t seen. Yet when it comes to believing in miracles performed in our own lives and in our own backyard, we respond more slowly. We need to start believing Christ.
What do you do when things you don't want to happen do in fact happen? Knowing God has apportioned a time when all wrongs will be righted makes patience easier. Knowing a just God won’t wait to right our wrongs when the time to right them is right also encourages patience. There is always hope because there is always Christ.
Still, longing can pain the heart in the present moment. Because your focus determines your reality, focusing on your pains always yields a reality of pain. Focus instead on the Savior so that He becomes your reality. Believe Him when He said, “Come unto me . . . and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). His strength can give you strength.
Understand the journey
Christ never taught that all of His promised blessings would be distributed like a buffet lunch — first come are first served and everyone else will just have to wait. He wants all to enjoy all of His promised blessings. That means you.
Because you're unique in personality and demeanor, so also are the gifts you've been given to help you achieve your full potential. Just as in the parable of the talents, all who improve upon what they've been given, whatever that original amount may be, will receive the joy of the Lord. That joy can fill you now as well as in times to come. There is always hope because there is always Christ.
Yes, Christ wants all to enjoy all of His promised blessings. Yet some saints, because of where they are in their life journey, may not be ready for some of those blessings. So if you're yearning for that special someone and wonder why you don't have the blessing you desire, consider that you might not be ready. Or maybe your companion isn’t ready. Or perhaps the time is right for both of you and you simply need to get busy doing the right things. In any case, Christ can help you take the proper next step. There is always hope because there is always Christ.
Expand your vision
If you operate out of your memory, then you're seeing with no more than your physical eyes. That means ultimately you'll have no hope, because you don’t physically see the means to achieve your desires. Even here, there is always hope because there is always Christ.
Christ can help you operate our of your imagination, which means seeing with spiritual eyes. He can help you to see what’s there but not seen with physical eyes. What you want may be right in front of you, but because of how you think, you might not recognize it. Expand your definition of an opportunity, and you’ll see paths you couldn’t see before.
Christ can also help you to see what’s not now in existence because it has yet to be created. What you desire may be something He creates for you. Or maybe you need to create it for yourself. In all cases, Christ will help you to do whatever is needful for you to receive all of the blessings He desires to give to you. There is always hope because there is always Christ.
Don’t ever stop living for the righteous blessings you desire. And don’t ever lose hope. No matter your situation, there’s always something you can do to move forward. There is always hope because there is always Christ. When you feel that hope, you’ll have the comfort of knowing the Savior is right by your side to help you along. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
We all know the LDS single who’s so eager to be married that he or she instantly gravitates towards anyone who appears to promise a blessed end to single status. Maybe you’ve even been that single yourself.
I was once all about finding that eternal companion but never actually finding her. I felt like that hamster down at the pet store, always just spinning my wheels and never getting anywhere. And I felt miserable.
I thought I was doing the right thing. After all, our leaders have talked endlessly about the importance of marriage and family. Our LDS culture is centered around family. It made sense to go after it directly.
But that’s exactly the problem. It doesn’t come when you pursue it directly. It comes when you let it come to you.
Understand how it works
We’re all hard wired to operate out of habit. And what we do determines what we get. So if we entertain less effective habits, we’ll keep getting less effective results. And it won’t end until we replace the less effective habit with a more effective one.
Many LDS singles have the less effective habit of making a beeline for anyone appearing to promise hope for marriage. But when you understand how everything works, you’ll realize you need to ditch the beeline.
Here’s how it works. Marriage means the agency of another person is involved. You can’t choose for others. Someone else has to choose you. That means the most you can do is influence that choice.
That’s why you keep hearing platitudes like “Just be yourself” or “Keep working on yourself.” They’re all true up to a point. Doing these things will influence the right person to choose you.
But beyond that point lies the reality where we all live. This most important choice has many influences in addition to the one you exert. And these other considerations outside your control can drown any hope of acquiring desired blessings. Your challenge, then, is to exert your best influence, trusting the Lord to cross your path with someone who will choose you. Are you up to it?
Rise to the challenge
You can best rise to the challenge by letting go of pursuing marriage directly and adopting a personal ministry. This really is your best approach for exerting your best influence.
Here’s why. When you pursue marriage directly, you broadcast to everyone around you you’re all about marriage. No one really wants to marry someone who’s more interested in some personal agenda. So you come off appearing desperate.
When you drop the beeline and adopt a personal ministry, you’re about something bigger than yourself. You let your best self shine while serving others. Devoting yourself to your own personal ministry shakes off the scales of desperation so that others see you as someone interesting, someone worth getting to know better, maybe even share a life with.
Guess what? Now you’re influencing others to decide in your favor.
Other powerful influences exist, yes, but that’s where walking by faith comes in. When you partner with the Lord, He’ll lead you to those with whom your best influence will be more than good enough. That’s because they’ll hearken to the voice of the Spirit when He says, “Give this one a chance.”
Embrace your best self
Many LDS singles live in fear that their desired blessings won’t come. But that’s no way to live. It’s much more joyful to let go of directly pursuing marriage and instead pursue what will influence others to choose in your favor.
Devoting yourself to your own personal ministry can make the waiting more joyful, however long that waiting lasts. Do you want just to endure to the end? Or do you want to thrive?
Of course, you should keep looking for and pursuing opportunities that arise. But your universe won’t be rotating around them. So let go of directly pursuing marriage. Let it come to you. When you devote yourself to your personal ministry, you can embrace your best self. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Have you ever wondered why God’s plan is called the plan of happiness when so many LDS singles just aren’t happy? Some would say that’s because they’re single. After all (goes the reasoning), you need to be married to follow the plan.
Some might cry, “But that’s not my fault! I’m keeping the standards!” To these singles, adherents of the you-have-to-be-married perspective usually respond, “Sorry, but that’s not the plan. In order to be happy, you need to be married and raise a family.”
These answers fail to satisfy many LDS singles. They easily despair many who never married at ever feeling accepted with their subculture. The divorced can encounter a discouragement of their own. Once “accepted,” now they find themselves “unaccepted” because now they aren’t following “the plan” anymore. And they aren’t alone; the widowed can experience their own identity crisis.
But plenty of unhappy married people live in this world, proving marriage alone won’t make you happy. Is following the plan of happiness really the only way to be happy?
Follow the right plan
First, we need to clarify what plan we’re talking about. Within LDS subculture, some things exist because they’re essential parts of the gospel, and others exist because they’re cultural traditions that bear some relation to the gospel but aren’t essential parts of it. That means there’s more then one “plan.”
We all know the plan our subculture hands us. After high school, you serve a mission, go to college, get a job, and somewhere in that mix get married. Plenty of people who follow this plan are happy, but not every follower of this plan is.
If you’re one of these unhappy individuals, you can easily think you need to follow the plan to be happy. But are you even following the right plan?
Yes, God wants you to serve a mission if that’s right for you. But missions aren’t for everyone. And college isn’t right for everyone either. You might do better going to a trade school or learning skills in the School of Hard Knocks.
You can follow this line of thinking for the remainder of the life plan our LDS subculture provides. Many of the milestones in this plan aren’t essential to the gospel. Rather, they exist because our traditions have made them essential to our culture.
What about marriage and family life? Marriage and family help us to grow in ways we can’t otherwise. They help us become what we otherwise couldn’t. That’s at least partly why marriage and family are part of God’s plan of happiness. How could we be truly happy if we couldn’t reach our potential?
And generally, you should encounter these milestones when you’re young. But the exact timing will be different for everyone. God’s plan of happiness is not that we check set items off a list as soon as possible. God’s plan of happiness is that we do what’s right for us when it’s right for us.
That truth reveals the nature of happiness itself. Happiness — not the emotion or feeling but the state of being — comes from giving your all to what’s right for you. Timing contributes greatly to what’s right; nothing can be truly right when the time isn’t.
Because not everything is right for everyone at the same time, God’s plan of happiness is in actuality individualized. It contains some general features that apply to all. But the details depend greatly on the individual.
Partner with the Lord
That’s why you need to counsel with the Lord to know if you’re following God’s plan of happiness. And only you and those with stewardship over you can know that. Only by revelation can you or anyone else know what’s truly right for you.
You can’t be happy without that revelation. How can you give your all to what’s right for you unless you first know what’s right for you? And how can you know what’s right for you except it’s revealed to you? And how can you get that revelation unless it falls within the bounds of your stewardship? That’s why you need that revelation about what’s right for you and why only you and those with stewardship over you can know what’s right for you.
You can be happy without following the life plan our LDS culture provides. But you can’t be happy without following God’s plan of happiness for you. Correctly understood, it’s the only way you can be happy.
When you partner with the Lord, you can know what’s right for you. When you know what’s right for you, you can give your all to those right things. And when you do that, you will be truly happy. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
I have a love-hate relationship with RootsTech. I love the energy and excitement which RootsTech generates for family history work. But you can’t really talk about family history work without telling stories about ancestors who did this wonderful thing or left that inspiring heritage. And hearing those stories makes me bawl like a baby every time. Yeah, that’s right. Every time.
Stories connect us to our ancestors and help us discover who we are. Truly our hearts turn towards our fathers when we discover, gather, and share stories of our ancestors with the generations after us. That turning of the children’s hearts aligns very well with our innate yearning for our heavenly home. And that provides for a contribution we need to make.
What will you leave?
When I learned that Family Discovery Day at RootsTech 2018 would feature President Oakes, I could hardly contain my excitement. Here we have the General Authority who’s perhaps more closely identified with LDS singles life and issues than any other General Authority.
Of course the presentation was outstanding. President and Sister Oakes told stories, and I broke yet another water main. But they also touched on a theme similar to Elder Uctdorf. The Oakeses emphasized the need not just to provide ordinances for our ancestors but also to retell the stories about those ancestors continuously for the benefit of future generations.
And they brought examples. President Oakes showed copies of journals from some of his ancestors and told how sharing those journals have benefitted his descendants. Sister Oakes described how the journals of her ancestors gave her a wonderful religious education. The testimonies they bore of the restored gospel taught her much.
It made me wonder, “What stories am I leaving for the generations that come after me?” You don’t need to be married to leave a strong testimony or inspire a wonderful heritage of faith and courage. But future generations will never know it unless someone records it.
Who will you follow?
Hearing the stories of our ancestors stirs a longing inside of us. We yearn to be united with those we love who have passed on before us. Yet the same Spirit which prompts us to turn our hearts towards our fathers also invites us to follow the Savior and return to our heavenly home.
Elder Uchtdorf spoke of how God knows each one of us intimately — “your every thought, your sorrows, and your greatest hopes.” He also declared that following the Lord on the path back to our heavenly home will make our lives better. Said he,
Is there any better way to follow the Savior than participating in family history and temple work? Surely the fruits of the Spirit will be ours when we contribute to this wonderful work. And LDS singles can make very meaningful contributions.
What will you contribute?
Those who embrace this cause on their journey home will reach a wonderful realization. Elder Uchtdorf declared this life isn’t about just you or me but all of us. We all feel the yearning to come home, and that puts all of us on the same journey back to that heavenly home.
President and Sister Oakes shared similar principles in their RootsTech presentation. We must be linked together with our ancestors because we cannot be saved without them, nor can they be saved without us.
If such grandiose visions make you question what role you could possibly have in such a cause, consider Elder Uchtdorf’s remarks when he offered these thoughts:
Family history and temple work isn’t just for old people. And I don’t care how much pioneer ancestry you have; there’s work for you to do! We singles can make mighty, meaningful contributions to advancing this work. We can discover, gather, and share the stories of our ancestors in ways that will inspire those who come after us — whether or not they are our literal descendants.
As Elder Uchtdorf testified,
Let us each move forward and embrace our own contribution to the cause. When we do, we’ll work miracles in the lives of others. And that will bring more joy in our journey.
Life holds many challenges, and LDS singles life is no exception. Whether you never married, are divorced, or are widowed, heartache can cripple you emotionally and obscure your view of a bright future.
But just because you can’t see a bright tomorrow doesn’t mean that bright tomorrow won’t come. Day always follows night; it’s natural law. And it’s always darkest just before the dawn.
It’s easy to believe in that dawn when the light shines over the horizon. It’s harder to believe in the dawn when the darkness is all you can see. How do you resist the call of pessimism to abandon all hope?
You do it with faith. You must have a vision of what you can become. You must believe in that vision and your own ability to realize that vision. And you must have the resiliency to go the distance needed to make that vision reality. You must never say die.
Choose your vision
It takes faith to a have a vision of what you can become. It takes even more faith to believe you can achieve that vision. Where does such faith originate?
It comes from the source of all true faith — the Lord Jesus Christ. His restored gospel teaches us that through Him we can all become something more and return to live with our Heavenly Father. And in what must be the grandest glorification of God, we can also be like Him.
Indeed, the realization of such a vision is a commandment:
Just like every other commandment, the Lord will provide the way to accomplish it.
As I’ve pointed out earlier, Nephi was single when he uttered those inspirational words. He went on to achieve great things. We who are single can be just as inspirational and achieve just as great things in our own lives.
Choose your road
Walking that path of faith isn’t easy. But it’s not impossible. And it’s a lot more joyful than any alternative.
The Lord won’t abandon you. He loves you so much He willingly suffered a tortuous death. Love that strong means He won’t stop until you have every blessing you will receive.
Note that I said “will receive.” Great as His love is for you, the Lord will not violate individual agency. He won’t force blessings upon you. That means you have to choose.
You must choose light over darkness. You must choose optimism over pessimism. You must choose confidence over doubt. You must choose faith over fear.
Many are so much more comfortable with pessimism, doubt, and fear that choosing this low road is much easier. But that choice also means accepting darkness and all its attendant disillusionment and despair as your reality.
Don’t sell yourself short or live beneath your potential! Don’t give up on yourself! The Lord believes in you and your potential. He could never lead you into everlasting failure. Everything He has done and continues to do is so that you can become everything you were meant to become.
God never stopped believing in you. Will you not take Him at His word?
Choose your difference
Your blessings are real. They’re not vain imaginations of your yearning soul nor wishful whims of fancy. They are real, and you can achieve them because God has decreed it.
Don’t you dare give up on yourself! You and your contributions are far too valuable to sit idly on the sidelines of history. God has reserved you for this time and place because you have goodness which only you can give. Choose to make that difference by leaning on He Who is the difference for all of us.
Darkness may surround you now, but that darkness will not last forever. No trial comes into our lives to stay; sooner or later they all pass. Partner with the Lord and let His strength become your strength. Let His faith become your faith. Let His confidence become your confidence.
Never say die. It’s not over until you win. When you adopt that attitude, you can do the impossible. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
This past weekend I’ve had the best vacation I’ve ever had in my entire life. Most people hearing that declaration will wonder where I went to have such a great time. But my vacation was great not so much for where I went as for what I did.
I went to Afton, Wyoming. “Why would you go there?” some of you undoubtedly wonder. “There’s nothing there.” To which I answer, “Precisely.”
Recently I’ve felt my life dead end in so many ways. I wanted to search my soul and think deeply about my life. I wanted to re-calibrate myself with a sense of hope that all isn’t lost for me. And I wanted a game plan for taking every part of my life to the next level.
For me, that’s all best done surrounded by mountains, fresh air, and as few people as possible. Wyoming’s Star Valley fits that bill to a T.
Start with the temple
My first order of business was a session in the Star Valley temple. This has to be the absolutely smallest temple I’ve ever seen. There’s only one endowment room, one sealing room, and four sessions per day.
I arrived hoping to join the last session. Every seat was already reserved, so the front desk called someone to see what work I might do. I took a seat and waited patiently.
Very soon, a temple presidency member came out and greeted me. We shook hands as I expressed my hope in doing a session. Instantly this kind man put his arm around my shoulder. He thanked me for coming in a way that made me feel truly welcome. Then, turning to the attendant at the front desk, he instructed a space be made for me to attend a session.
He then offered to show me where to go. I accepted, although the building is so small I couldn’t possibly get lost. Early during my session I began to feel a quiet confidence the blessings I desire are still available and the Lord will walk with me towards their attainment. What a wonderful start to my vacation!
Get down to the nitty gritty
I spent the next four days writing in a Moleskine notebook. I wanted to take my life to the next level, and I had a plan for how I would proceed.
I started by listing every part of my life I wanted to take to the next level — my spiritual life, my relationships (both ones I had and ones I wanted), my career, my own businesses, my residence, my finances — literally everything.
Then for each of those individual items, I followed a five step process:
I followed these steps for every individual part of my life, so little wonder I filled 71 pages in my notebook. From those pages I extracted the individual action items (271 in all) that get me started taking my life to the next level.
Feel the power
Admittedly, 271 action items is a lot, but I need do only one item at a time. And having lots to do is great. It gives hope I’ve got endless opportunity to turn my life around, a realization that brings with it great empowerment.
I returned home feeling very powerful and very hopeful I can secure eternal blessings and live the life I want. I now have a new attitude. In that sense, my vacation was truly recreational because I came back re-created. This truly was the best vacation I’ve ever had.
If you feel your life has approached a dead end in any or all its aspects, find your own quiet place to search your soul and get back to basics. You’ll find you can do so much to turn your life around. And that feeling of empowerment will bring you more joy in your journey.
Back in college I prided myself on being able to procrastinate assignments until the last minute and then pull out my magic wand (also known as an all-nighter) and bring home a win. I actually prided myself on being a professional procrastinator!
Then I got older, my metabolism shifted — more than once, I think — and now I just can’t go late night after late night. My body cries out for sleep!
I also find it easier to hearken to that siren voice tempting me to seek instant gratification now at the expense of more worthwhile pursuits. Whenever I succumb, I’ll eventually look around and ask, “How did I end up here, so far beneath what I intended to accomplish?” Procrastination is truly the thief of life.
It’s normal to play the grasshopper fiddling away the summer while the ants labor to prepare for winter. Playing the grasshopper is easy. Playing the part of the ant takes self-discipline and dedication — in short, hard work.
We encounter these struggles with everything in life, including how we live the gospel. For many, being active in the gospel is little more than following a script, a set routine that repeats itself over and over again. But you can’t live life fully on autopilot. Living your best life requires you to choose consciously. That’s the only way you can get real.
I’ve spoken time and again about our need to partner with the Lord. If you read those words, you probably think they sound right. But you won’t actually feel their rightness until you live them.
It’s easy to think, “Yeah, I know that’s what I should do. But I’ll do it tomorrow.” That’s the voice of procrastination inviting us along the easy path leading us far beneath what we intend to accomplish.
That’s not the path we extol when we sing, “I need thee every hour.” Every hour includes all the time yet to come tomorrow and all the time we live right now. Is there ever really a time when we don’t need the Lord? Why then wait to partner with Him?
Yes, living life consciously is hard. Resisting that natural tendency to let our autopilot coast us along is hard. But if we do what is easy, life will be hard.
Don’t let any single tomorrow rob you of the fulfillment you could enjoy today. Partner with the Lord now.
Visit your default future
Often it’s easy to procrastinate until tomorrow what we should do today because the cares of the present moment obscure our view of reality. Visiting our default future cuts through those clouds, allowing us to see more clearly and choose more wisely.
Your default future is the one you’ll have if nothing changes. If you keep doing what you’re doing, where will you end up? That is your default future.
What is our default future if we don’t partner with the Lord now? Where does that path lead us? The Lord Himself informs us.
Our default future will be suffering with unmet needs, suffering we can prevent today by partnering with the Lord now and taking counsel from His hand.
Do it now
If we do what is easy, life will be hard. But if we do what is hard, life will be easy. If we partner now with the Lord, do the work required to receive the revelation that can guide our lives, and then follow that counsel, our lives will be easy.
In that scenario, our default future will still be one filled with challenges. But the burden of facing those challenges alone will be lifted from our shoulders. We will have strength to take each next step in our journey. And we will find joy in each of those steps.
Alma the Younger counseled his son,
Partnering with the Lord means He’ll direct us for good, so of course we’ll be lifted up at the last day if we stay on that path. And the best time to start down that path is right now.
Partnering with the Lord now while we’re single will makes it easier to partner with Him when we’re married, because He’ll guide us to that companion we need, one with whom partnering with the Lord is easier. That will make partnering with the Lord even easier when the children come along — and oh, how you will need Him when the children come along!
Don’t let any single tomorrow rob you of the fulfillment you could enjoy today. Partner with the Lord now, and let His counsel light your way. If you do only what is easy, your life will be hard. But if you do what is hard, your life will be easy. And that will bring more joy in your journey.
Last week I extolled the virtue of exercising patience with leaders who mostly don’t understand our LDS singles experience. Patience is often a conscious choice, one not made out of habit. Patience helps us to live more in the moment.
Living in the moment is where we find the true joy of living, regardless of our individual circumstances. Life doesn’t have to be everything we want it to be for us to enjoy it. That joy starts when we consciously choose to live in the moment.
Living in the moment means being present in the now. Too often LDS singles aren’t present in the now. Rather they’re present in the future — a future when an eternal companion provides them with the rite of passage that brings acceptance within LDS subculture.
But living in the future (and one which for many LDS singles never seems to come) forfeits the joy of living found only in the present moment. The joy of living now comes only by living in the now. And that’s true regardless of your circumstances.
You need a choice, not a plan
I remember a singles conference where one speaker talked about living in the moment. She encouraged intentional living. Living with intention can lead you to own your life. And I’m a big fan of owning your life.
Then the speaker defined intentional to mean having a plan. The joy of living in the moment, she declared, comes from following a plan.
I couldn’t disagree more.
Due to our design as human beings to follow habits, I define intentional to mean choosing consciously. Living with intent means you choose in the moment to do what you do. Conscious choices in the moment refuse to let your habits simply play themselves out, allowing you to embrace life and all the true joy of living.
You don’t need a plan for any of that to unfold for you. All you need is to use the one gift from God we all have — agency. You simply make a conscious choice.
Make the happy life
Happiness comes not from just doing the right things but from giving your all to the right things. That giving your all is a conscious choice. And when you choose that path with full awareness and intent to pursue it, the true joy of being alive can come to you.
Life on autopilot offers comfort and a sense of stability, but true joy isn’t found in comfort and stability alone. True joy comes from consciously embracing the right things.
I use that word embracing intentionally. You can’t just execute a routine of righteous activity and expect happiness to find you. The happy life doesn’t find you. You have to make it. That requires choosing the right things with intention. That means breaking out of the habit of routine living. And that means embracing the right things in your life.
Choose to lift yourself
Too often we LDS singles don’t. Eager for acceptance within a culture that prizes marriage and family as the door to belonging, we LDS singles often focus on the future to that eternal companion we all yearn to have.
Yet your focus always determines your reality. Focusing on what you don’t have now always fills your reality with a heightened awareness of what you don’t have now. A life that feels lacking is never enjoyable.
However, the same principles work in the other direction. Focusing on what you do have now fills your reality with gratitude. You begin to see how richly the Lord has blessed you. Life starts feeling plentiful.
That focus on what you have now is key to living in the moment. Focusing on the present and not the future is a conscious choice that helps you live with intention. And the gift of agency from a loving Heavenly Father brings that choice within reach of us all.
You don’t need a plan to live with intention. You need simply to focus on what you’re doing in the present moment. Then you can breathe with confidence. You can walk with boldness. You can let go of everything drawing your focus to the future and bring your focus to the present moment. When you make these choices consciously, you open yourself to a life you can savor regardless of your circumstances.
Righteous intentional choices lift what you do to a new level because in so doing you give your all to the right things. And when you give your all to the right things, life in return gives back to you all the joy and satisfaction of a life well lived. You’ll always get what you give, so give your all to the right things and get the life that’s right in all ways for you.
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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