The meeting promptly ended. With that connection suddenly cut, I felt the loneliness of spiritual vacuum. “What a great ending to my Sabbath,” I sarcastically remarked to myself.
That episode got me pondering, as my life events frequently do. The answer for spiritual emptiness is to keep reaching after the light, even when confronted with the blackest of darkness. That’s also the answer for emptiness in every other part of life, which is too short for you not to follow your bliss.
In reaching after light to combat the Zoom bomb darkness, I opened The Book of Mormon. There I found this great verse: “And it came to pass that the high priest said unto him: Why do ye go about perverting the ways of the Lord? Why do ye teach this people that there shall be no Christ, to interrupt their rejoicings?” (Alma 30:22, emphasis added).
This is an interrogation of anti-Christ Korihor, who later appeared before Alma, the high priest of the Church. Note the repeated use of that word rejoicing in Alma’s rebuke: “And now, if we do not receive anything for our labors in the church, what doth it profit us to labor in the church save it were to declare the truth, that we may have rejoicings in the joy of our brethren?” (Alma 30:34, emphasis added).
Alma knew what brought rejoicing to his spirit. He rejoiced in maintaining himself within and helping others along the covenant path. And he refused to alter his course. He was determined in his spirit to follow his bliss.
Always do something
We too can follow our bliss, and not just for our spirits but also for our hearts, minds, and bodies. For example, depending on who you’re hearing, 60-80% of all Americans are dissatisfied with their jobs. Clearly many are not following their bliss.
It’s no wonder when you consider the role of habit. We’re biologically hardwired to have a habit. And for many, that habit is to list wherever the waves of life carry them, often away from their bliss. So many are mindlessly marching in a routine routing them to and through a life of mediocrity.
If that describes you, you can break free. You can live your best life, a life of contribution, fulfillment, and meaning. Life is short. Don’t waste it working some job just to pay the bills. Make your move towards making your mark in a job you love! Start moving towards your best life!
“But with massive unemployment from the pandemic,” some of you complain, “it’s harder than ever to find new work.” I’m not advocating stupidity. Keep your job paying the bills until you can upgrade. Just don’t stagnate. Do something every day to move closer to your dreams and goals. Life is short. Follow your bliss.
Keep the faith
That goes for every area of life. If you don’t like your lack of education or a certain skill, change it. If you don’t like your romantic situation, change it. If you don’t like your friends, change that. Quit running through life on autopilot. Life is short. Start using your agency and make the changes you need to follow your bliss.
Of course, when you correctly understand them, your covenants will never obstruct you from following your bliss. If you think they do, then what you think is your bliss really isn’t. The sacred covenants we make at baptism and in the temple will never keep you from your bliss but instead sharpen your focus in following your true bliss.
So keep on keeping your covenants, and within that framework, make the changes you need to follow your bliss. Life is short. Don’t let anything, whether it be little lies excusing you from moving closer to your dreams and goals or big life events like COVID-19, stop you from living your best life. Follow your bliss. When you do, you’ll exercise the power of agency you’ve always had within you. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That said, many of us are still taxing ourselves. We are by nature social creatures, so it’s natural to respond to a crisis by nearing ourselves to others. Yet the current crisis keeps many of us physically apart. And without some plan to provide for needs, that separation is taxing many beyond their capacity.
Focus on ability
We’ve discussed before the basic areas of life, what I call the spirit, the heart, the mind, and the body. Regardless of the names you employ, these areas each have their own needs, which will tax anyone’s reserves when left unmet. And the faith that optimistically inspires us to see beyond the current crisis can guide us to solutions amidst the current crisis.
We achieve that result in large measure by answering this question: “What can I do?” Too many of us, yearning for a return to normal, seek after what we’d like to do had the pandemic not turned the world upside down. But that thinking won’t help us thrive in our new world. We must adapt or die. To thrive in a new reality, we must change our thinking to match the landscape.
For example, before the pandemic hit, I was investigating exercise options. Then the pandemic eliminated the gym as an option. But instead of wallowing in my inability, which would just lead me to inaction and its attendant reality lacking results, I focused on answering “What can I do?” That question led me to using my own body weight for strength training and walking in my neighborhood for cardio. That combined with changes in diet have led to my first real weight loss success in a long time.
Get your plan
In like manner, we can ask “What can I do?” to address any need in life. By focusing our attention on what we can do, we empower ourselves not only to conquer the challenges before us but to do so with a smile-laden gusto. We really can have joy in life regardless of our circumstances.
That power to transcend our troubles resides in agency, God’s gift made meaningful by Jesus Christ. His Atonement makes it possible to triumph over sin and death, obstacles that separate us from God. Without that Atonement, our overcoming any obstacle in this world would have no meaning. We would all unavoidably perish (Alma 34:9).
Of course, such a key component in our eternity did not come about by chance. It was part of a plan provided before this world was. What we see now created temporally God first created spiritually (Moses 3:5). Following that example as we answer the question “What can I do?” will lead us to the plans we need to meet our needs during the coming months.
Rise above the challenge
With so much unknown at present about coronavirus, we can expect the current situation of sequestering and social distancing to last at least through summer. Do you have the plans and the means in place to meet your own needs during that time?
When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. But you don’t have to fail. You have a choice. You have power within that choice to change your attitude and how you think. And when you change how you think, you change your life. You can feel real joy regardless of what negative or pessimistic circumstances surround you.
Don’t tax yourself by failing to plan appropriately for your changed landscape. Ask yourself, “What can I do?” and then partner with the Lord as you answer that question. Those answers can structure a plan for meeting your needs for as long as the crisis lasts. The storm of pandemic may rage on the outside, but you can live with faith, optimism, and confidence on the inside. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Part of what enabled him to do this is the Restoration’s fulfillment of the hopes of ancient prophets and saints. They looked forward to the Restoration as a time when all gospel blessings would be enjoined together. Indeed, we who live today have the glorious blessing of the fulness of the Lord’s gospel. And those fruits can enable us to have a perfect brightness of hope for ourselves, our world, and our future.
See the blessings
Elder Holland begins with a list of what he would be looking for in religion were he living in 1820. He and his wife imagined themselves transported back in time with the same spiritual longings that many of the world’s inhabitants have possessed throughout time.
Elder’s Holland’s list provides a wonderful review of the glorious truths restored to humanity — the true nature and character of God, a clearer understanding of God’s plan for His children and especially the role of the Savior in that plan, an additional scriptural witness that enhances one’s understanding of the Lord’s life and ministry, and true priesthood authority to dispense every ordinance required for salvation and exaltation.
Elder Holland saved the crowning blessing for last. In his own words, he would have searched
Indeed, the blessings which the temple extends to bind the living and the dead across eternity truly crown the joy which living the restored gospel offers. As Elder Holland declared,
Elder Holland then directs our attention towards the future. The fulfillment of the hope of ancient prophets and saints for their future can give us hope for the fulfillment of blessings in our future.
Conquering the COVID-19 crisis is perhaps the most immediate of those hopes for the world. But once we overcome that challenge — and Elder Holland assures we will — other challenges will remain, such as hunger, poverty, safer schools, and the eradication of prejudice. And of course, truly conquering those physical challenges will require the adoption of spiritual solutions, what Elder Holland called
Elder Holland then gets deeply personal, and here is where he packs his best punch.
Isn’t that what we all hope for? Many LDS singles hope for a more perfect life, yet marriage never made anyone’s life suddenly perfect. You simply exchange one set of challenges for another.
That said, the hope that marriage can improve one’s life is not unrealistic, especially if one (to borrow a phrase from President Oaks) “marries right.” We LDS singles, no matter our individual circumstances, can and should hope for the achievement of righteous blessings, not only even when that fulfillment seems impossible but especially when that fulfillment seems impossible.
Feel the hope
I suppose that’s why this Conference address touched me. I’m in my mid-40s having never been married. What hope do I have not just of finding the right type of person who would want to marry me but also of having a family of my own, not just one I inherit from a now severed relationship?
I think Elder Holland would say I have every reason to hope. And so do you. The God who has performed miracles in the past can and will perform miracles in our present and our future. I echo with Elder Holland the message of a returned sister missionary in Johannesburg: “[We] did not come this far only to come this far.” Great and glorious blessings await each of us as we stand firm in our faith and continually choose hope over despair.
Truly, the Restoration has blessed us all. The hope of past believers fulfilled gives us hope our present desires for righteous blessings will not be in vain. Choose that faith over fear. Choose that hope over despair. When we walk in the perfect brightness of that hope, we’ll progress towards our best life. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
But you can still own your life. You can still take responsibility for yourself and the results you have in your life. And today is the perfect opportunity to do just that because today is April Fool’s Day. Now, I’ll admit social distancing and sequestering have radically changed the landscape. But a change in landscape should never signal us to surrender positive energy. Now more than ever we should be always up for fun.
Change your habits of thinking
Many people don’t associate staying at home with fun. They think about going out to restaurants, stores, malls, parks, concert venues, and the like. Many of us approach April Fool’s Day the same way, conjuring images of practical jokes played on people and often in front of other people.
But that was yesterday. Today the landscape is different. We need to practice social distancing and sequester ourselves in our homes as much as possible. And those who refuse to change their thinking to match this new landscape will experience untold and unnecessary hardship.
Long time listeners to this program are familiar with these principles in relation to helping LDS singles find joy regardless of their circumstances. For example, many singles who leave YSA land without getting married experience a difficult transition into SA world. Some don’t even transition; they go inactive or leave the Church altogether.
That’s because their YSA thinking doesn’t match the new SA landscape, and they simply respond to their biological hardwiring which encourages them to maintain the status quo. They keep thinking the same way, and that just leads them to leave. But if these singes would change their thinking to match their new landscape, they could experience a greater amount of joy despite their circumstances.
Look for opportunity
We can begin to capture much of the joy we’ve been missing by owning our lives and looking for the opportunity amidst the obstacle. I demonstrated that attitude this morning in my Daily Dose video. Is it cheesy and silly? Absolutely. And that’s OK, because I refused to let my current situation keep me from having a spot of fun.
You too can refuse to allow your current situation to keep you from experiencing joy amidst adversity. You can still celebrate April Fools Day. Will it be the same? Of course not. But joy is still joy, no matter how it comes.
Own your life
Presented with this knowledge, each of us now confronts this question: Will you own your life? Or put another way, will you take responsibility for the results you experience in your life? Will you refuse to allow your circumstances to dictate your attitude and perspective?
I choose to own my life. My circumstances will be what they will be, but they will never dictate my choices. I choose to live with intention, not on autopilot. I choose to produce more than I consume, not just consume. I choose phenomenal, not mediocre. I choose life, not death. I choose faith, not fear. I choose hope, not despair. I choose love, not hate. I choose joy, not sorrow.
And so can you. Decide today you will own your life. Decide that no matter your circumstances you will be always up for fun. Then follow through with that decision by taking advantage however you can of the moments for fun that come your way. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Over the years I’ve occasionally heard LDS singles complain that the Brethren don’t address singles and singles issues very often in Conference. I strongly disagree. True, they don’t always package their content with wrappings identifying their offerings “For Singles.” But if you dig a little deeper and really think about what’s being said, you can find many messages in every Conference that apply to singles.
Such are President Ballard’s remarks. By digging a little deeper, we can find messages that apply to singles. And they all center around the idea of giving control to the spirit over the body.
Remember God’s plan
President Ballard began by reminiscing over the previous year and his Conference address in October 2018 about the 100th anniversary of Joseph F. Smith’s vision of the spirit world.
Note that was October 1918. At that time, war on an unprecedented scale had ravaged the globe for the previous four years, resulting in tens of millions of deaths. And the Spanish flu pandemic was sweeping the globe, driving the death toll even higher. In fact, October 1918 was the deadliest month of the entire pandemic. It truly looked like the end of days.
That’s where President Smith’s vision of the spiritual world so beautifully provides hope. This same hope President Ballard expressed in his most recent Conference address. Our Heavenly Father has an eternal plan for His children — that’s all of us living here on this planet as well as everyone who ever lived or will live on it. That plan provides for reunion — that’s the word President Ballard used — uniting generations of family members together forever.
Treasure family now
What strength and comfort that hope provides! Though death is certain for all and death from COVID-19 is possible for many, God has prepared a way for us to be reunited with those we love most.
He has also provided opportunities for us to treasure those relationships before death. Spending more time sequestered at home provides more opportunities for families to strengthen those treasured relationships. And don’t think that doesn’t apply to singles without families of their own. The only thing stopping us from reaching out to family during this time is ourselves. President Ballard pleaded,
But there’s a caveat: We don’t get a family reunion just because we have love for them. God is as just and orderly as He is merciful and loving. He cannot deny justice when it has its claim (Alma 42:22-25). But President Ballard quotes President Gordon B. Hinckley who tells how we can claim the family reunion we’ll surely seek on the other side of the veil.
Marrying right means marriage for time and all eternity in the house of the Lord. Living right is an entirely different matter. Whereas marrying right takes place within a single day, living right takes place every day over an entire lifetime. And while singles by definition haven’t married right (because they aren’t now married), singles can strive every day to live right.
How did President Ballard approach living right? He referenced a talk his grandfather, Elder Melvin J. Ballard, gave entitled “Struggle for the Soul.” In that talk, Elder Ballard addressed “the ongoing battle between our physical bodies and our physical spirits.” President Ballard then summarized his grandfather’s talk in one sentence: “The primary battle is between our divine and spiritual nature and the carnal natural man.”
How is that battle going for you? That’s the question President Ballard asked. And in considering how we each might answer that question, he provided some added perspective. He recognized our spirits have existed long before our physical bodies and that we’ve already made righteous choices before entering mortality — what President Ballard called “a proven track record of a successful spiritual nature and eternal destiny.”
He then shared these thoughts:
Living right is really about choosing the spirit over the body. And that’s a choice all of us — single or married — can make every day. We can also choose to strengthen treasured relationships now. And when we do, that will bring us more joy in our journey.
It’s hard not to be concerned about the growing pandemic, especially if one listens to the fearmongers who seem to swarm everywhere. But we need not live in fear. We can live by faith, not fear.
Resist the fear
When I first heard about COVID-19 spreading beyond China’s borders, I began wondering if perhaps this would be the pandemic public health officials have been warning for years would eventually come. As the situation escalated, very quickly everything changed.
Some seem intent on assessing blame, saying many will suffer for the insufficiencies of our initial response. Others clearly intend to use the situation to further their own agenda. I have zero interest in such efforts, since they don’t help anyone deal effectively with the current situation.
Neither will we deal effectively with the current situation if we succumb to Chicken Little Syndrome — surrendering to the fear spread by many that dark days have befallen us and prelude darker days directly ahead. Indeed, as the Lord foretold, “... and the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them” (D&C 45:26).
Yet I defy every fearmonger by declaring we need not fear.
Promote the faith
How can I make such a bold declaration? How can I be confident now is not a time for fear when the “evidence” for fear appears all around us? Quite simply, I walk by faith.
And my faith is simple. I know God lives. I know He has a plan for His children, and that includes me. And I know He will keep all His promises and fulfill all His words.
That doesn’t mean we can get away with being stupid. If we ignore the counsel from competent public health officials, we risk infecting ourselves and those we love. We should follow sound instruction and then walk in faith all will be as it should.
Notice I said “as it should.” We don’t always know what “should” be in our lives. But God knows, and we can walk in that faith.
Walking by faith in the midst of fear doesn’t mean believing you won’t be infected because you have faith. But it does mean living with confidence God will not allow events to stray too far from His purposes. That may mean I won’t get ill. But it could also mean I will. After all, I don’t know all of God’s purposes for me.
I do know, however, that in either event I can have confidence God’s plan to bless me with whatever is best for me will unfold. And whatever happens, He will not abandon me. His tender mercies will always surround me.
Shine your light
That faith which fills me can fill you as well. We can all walk by faith, not fear. And the opportunities before us extend well beyond our own selves. Because we have the light of the restored gospel, we can shine our light to others. We can inspire them to walk by faith, not fear.
Can we see beyond ourselves to grasp the opportunity to share the light we have with all around us? We can if we walk by faith, not fear. I had just such a moment yesterday speaking with my landlord and his wife. She expressed a fear to go anywhere outside her house. I gently rebutted her comment with faith, saying if we take proper precautions to limit our exposure, we need not fret. You could feel the reassurance which my simple, gentle faith promoted.
Let us all walk by faith, not fear. Let us radiate faith, lighting the world around us with confidence that, come what may, God will see each of us to our best end. When we do, we can increase faith in the earth. We can expand the boundaries of hope. We can multiply love in the hearts of all people. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Now I’m struggling with page layout problems. What I thought was settled in my word processor apparently isn’t. And when that’s done, who knows what unforseen obstacle I will encounter next?
That said, I’m not discouraged. I know in the end I’ll succeed in publishing my book as well as many more in the future. I just need to keep looking for the next opportunity and then pounce on it.
That’s how anything worthwhile in life works. The world owes you nothing. No one will deliver the life you want on a silver platter. If you want something, you need to go get it.
That’s where most people falter, because going to get it means work, and most aren’t willing to work. After all, most already work just to pay the bills, so the last thing they want is more work. Thus, when the next opportunity to move closer to their dreams and goals appears, they opt instead to watch TV or surrender to social media or diverge into some other distraction.
Such distractions come to all of us. But those who heed their siren call soon find themselves off potential. They waste time they could have spent helping others and moving closer to their dreams and goals. And at the end of the day, their dreams are nothing but wishes.
But we can all choose differently. We can all choose to look for the opportunity to move closer to making our dreams reality. We can choose to exercise discipline and pursue that opportunity even when we’re tired or don’t feel like doing it. And at the end of the day, that choice allows us to rest our head on our pillow with satisfaction because we accomplished something. Even if it’s only something small, we accomplished something.
That gives me hope. I know an opportunity to near myself to the life I want will always come my way. And when it does, I know I can pounce on it and reap the satisfaction that can come only after action.
How do I know opportunity will always come? The Lord loves me and wants me to succeed. I can’t succeed without opportunity. And so the Lord will bless me with opportunity. And because He loves me, He’ll bless me generously with opportunity after opportunity after opportunity. But I have to do the work. So I look for the next opportunity and then pounce on it when I see it.
And I’m OK with doing the work. I own my life. I accept I’ll need to work hard and work smart to get my best life. And I embrace doing what I can to move even a little bit closer to my dreams and goals, because I know the closer I get to my dreams and goals, the sooner I’ll see them become reality.
That’s just as true for you. Every movement towards your dreams and goals, no matter how small, carries with it a momentum. So even small movements count a great deal.
This is, after all, how the Lord works. Small movements produce small momentum, true. But working that small momentum allows a slightly bigger movement, which carries its own slightly bigger momentum that allows an even slightly bigger movement and so on. Before you know it, you’re not just splashing a small street puddle; you’re roaring a tidal wave that totals the coastline!
So what tidal wave will you create? What dreams and goals will you approach? What opportunity will you pounce on today? No matter how large or small, take what steps you can today to move yourself closer to your dreams and goals. Then get up tomorrow and do it again. Then get up the next day and do it again. And keep doing that until you win. When you do, you’ll know the satisfaction of making your dreams reality. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
But I chose to refrain from any action, and that gave me the space needed to take a second perspective and reflect. Like many widows and widowers who’ve married in the temple, this older brother didn’t think of himself as single. Yet that’s exactly what he was. And that means he’s part of the audience for Joy in the Journey Radio!
Reflection brought me to another conclusion. Why was this individual derailing the meeting? Because he was taking the first opportunity presented to him to fill an unmet need. He’s not the first to do so, but he could be the last if LDS singles everywhere get an outlet to fill that need.
Secure your release valve
We all have pressure building within us from the stresses of life. Add in the pressures from the challenges of LDS singles life, and you have a real pressure cooker. Without a release valve to vent the steam building inside us, we could easily crack or even explode.
And so taking care of ourselves means getting and regularly using an outlet. This could be a blog, a journal, or talking with a family member or friend. Whether it occurs in an analog space or a digital one, an outlet provides a healthy way of dealing with the pressures mounting from the challenges of LDS singles life.
Unfortunately, many singles don’t think ahead to prepare in this regard. The result has played itself out time and time again. They take whatever first opportunity comes their way as their release valve. Everything comes gushing out, overwhelming most who hear the onslaught. They in turn respond by avoiding that subject with the single adult, thereby closing off a potential means of supporting that single adult.
Attend to your habits
You don’t have to be that way. With some awareness of the mechanisms operating within you, you can prepare for your needs and live a healthier, happier life. This is beyond getting an outlet to vent. This is understanding why you need to vent at all.
That means understanding habit, because habit governs most of what we do, including how we address our need to vent. Our widower friend in the gospel study class had difficulty because his habit matched a different reality. He still had the habit of conversing with his wife to vent, even though his wife is no longer here.
That’s the thing about habits. They continue to operate even when they don’t match the local landscape, even if the circumstances under which they were created no longer apply, and even if performing the actions encoded in those habits cause discomfort or even pain. We are biologically hardwired to operate out of habit.
And so we see many widowed and divorced singles facing difficulty because they continue to operate out of habits matching a married reality that no longer exists. They all need to replace the habits they made when they were married with habits that better match their new landscape.
Minister to the need
I wanted to talk with our widower friend after the meeting, but I had to rush to other commitments. I did look for him at church but didn’t see him. I’ll keep looking until I find him. After all, he needs to get an outlet. And he needs the new perspectives Joy in the Journey Radio can bring.
That’s something more of us LDS singles could do to support each other. We can recognize our shared need to get an outlet and then be that outlet for the singles around us. This is one way we can build our singles groups into the communities of support they should be.
Ultimately, though, you’re responsible for yourself and your care. So get an outlet. Provide yourself with the release valve you need and use it regularly. Take care of yourself, and then you’ll be better able to take care of others. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
We’re all unique enough that my list of needed changes will be different from yours, because my truth about why I’m single is probably different than yours. We both need to face our own truth, but the actual steps we take to apply that shared principle may be quite different.
I can provide tools and teach you how to use them, but I can’t use them for you. You must build your life. And building your best life won’t happen until you own your life and accept that the change you need to make is not just one thing.
Examine your assumptions
The memory of that phone conversation has stuck with me. Maybe it’s because the question asked is a common one. "OK, so what's the one thing I need to do in order to . . . . ?" It seems like an intelligent question to ask, but I've got a serious problem with it.
You see, it's really not that intelligent at all.
Run with me for a moment. The question assumes you need to change only one thing in order to transport your world into a new and higher dimension of existence. Seriously, what sense does that make? I know that’s what we all want, but it’s just not realistic.
Here’s real: I've got more imperfections than Swiss cheese has holes and certainly more than most people. And the vast majority of people aren’t that far behind me. We all have many ways in which we can improve.
Ask a better question
Here’s a better question: What is everything I need to do to improve myself? With that answer, you take a more holistic approach towards making needed changes in yourself.
Of course, the answer to that question will likely overwhelm; we’re all so imperfect that the list of needed changes is quite long. I recall the experience I had taking notes during General Conference. The resulting list of changes I obtained overwhelmed me to the point that I didn’t want to take any action. Making any progress seemed hopeless.
That’s why you should ask yourself this best question: What one thing can I do today to improve myself? The answer to that question won’t overwhelm because it’s just one thing. At the same time, this question doesn’t assume you need to do only one thing to improve. The approach is well balanced.
Get to work
Of course, simply knowing what you must do won’t bring the results you seek in life. Results come from one thing and one thing only, and that is action. You must do.
When you take action, you can begin to understand yourself better. You can make better sense of the terrain of LDS singles life. You open yourself to receiving the tools you need. And action leads to a sense of progress that is truly liberating. You may have a lot to do, but conquering the one thing you need to do today will give you confidence from knowing you’re on your way. And that knowledge makes the journey so much more joyful.
Don’t wait to feel free. Don’t wait to feel better about yourself and your life. No matter how much you need to improve, we all need to practice what President Oakes has described as “the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.” We make the journey to eternal glory one step at a time.
Never assume your list of needed improvements has only one item. It’s not just one thing. But take that understanding with you as you tackle the one thing you need to do today. Doing so will help you walk by faith. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
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.
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 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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