Faith clarifies vision
We all judge too much by what we see directly around us, and this feature especially manifests itself in dating. Far too often LDS singles look around for someone they’d like to date and, not seeing what they define as acceptable, quickly become discouraged. That scene repeated often enough leads to hopelessness in the future.
Bright futures start with faith. Faith helps you see what’s there but not readily seen. In the context of dating, this could mean, first, you don’t see that acceptable candidates around you because they aren’t doing what you normally do and going where you normally go. When you branch out and see new vistas, you’re more likely to cross paths with them. The world is a bigger place than your own backyard.
Second, faith helps you see the person you discounted may be the one you’re looking for. So many singles insist on having the “perfect” partner that they reject knowing many less-than-top-shelf candidates who’d make good partners. Falsely assuming only the best can produce joy in life has kept and continues to keep many LDS singles single long than need be.
Action feeds power
Lack of hope in the future often attends feeling powerless. A focus there will lead only to despair. To change your reality, you must change your focus. Instead of focusing on the “evidence” for why what you want won’t happen, seek out reasons to believe.
Those reasons to believe will be easier to embrace when you take proper action. I’ve never seen anyone busy working to make his or her dreams a reality feeling powerless, and neither have you. That’s because it’s impossible. When you busy yourself with the business of doing, you’re so immersed in evidence of your own power you can’t feel powerless. It’s when you’re not doing anything that feelings of powerlessness can take hold.
Start feeling that power and savoring your life by listing what makes up your best life. If you could have your best life, what would it look like? What would you be doing? Put those activities on your list. Then start to fill your calendar with those activities.
So if you think your best life involves horse riding, great. When are you going to ride that horse? If you think your best life involves learning how to crochet, great. When will you learn that? Whatever you want your life to be, start doing what you can to live that life. Don’t let what you lack prevent you from embracing — and finding joy in — what you already have.
Partner with Him
While you’re making that list, don’t forget to partner with the Lord. When you include Him in crafting your best life, you’ll get there much more easily than if you go it alone. He might even help you see that what you think is your best life really isn’t. Make the course correction He suggests, and you’ll not leave any joy on the table.
The key to maximizing joy in life is focusing on fundamentals. Far too many LDS singles focus on finding ways to cross paths with that special someone, all the while forgetting that if they aren’t agreeable enough, no quantity of paths crossed will produce the desired result. When you focus first on living your best life as much as you can, you make yourself more agreeable and your life more inviting. That life is also the more joyful one, and that joy will only increase your attractiveness to a potential companion.
The future really is as bright as your faith. When you focus on fundamentals, you can take more effective action. More effective action produces more effective results. More effective results will help you feel more powerful and desirous to do more, and thus the cycle continues ever upward. And that will bring you more joy in your 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.
Sister Newbold acknowledges a common singles attitude: Identifying yourself by what you don’t have. When you do that, you’ll live in a space where you’re deficient. Sister Newbold’s response is an effective one: Live in a space where you see yourself as you’ll be, because that’s how God sees you. By living “as though” God’s promises are fulfilled, you can be joyful now.
Understand the challenge
Sister Newbold recognizes the difficulty of reconciling as yet unfulfilled promises with the reality of LDS singles life. Her answer is to live “as though” those promises have been fulfilled, though she admits that’s challenging. She writes, “Given that God is a God of promises, it becomes hard at times for me to reconcile why certain promises have not yet been fulfilled in my life.”
I’m sure many singles can relate. I myself felt that challenge a few months ago. In the midst of my most challenging semester of school ever, questions about my patriarchal blessing began to feel more demanding. And given my age, I began to wonder how my promised blessings will ever come to me.
Sure, it’s easy to say, “Well, sometimes patriarchal blessings get fulfilled in eternity.” But that doesn’t apply to the married life the Lord promised me. Very clear and unambiguous language speaks of my temple marriage in this life and actions my children and posterity will take in this life. These and other blessings are promised to me in this life, not the next.
Given I’m in my late 40s and not getting any younger, questions of how those promises would be fulfilled troubled me. At the time, I really struggled with those questions. Now I simply feel a quiet confidence somehow it’ll all happen.
Consider three solutions
Sister Newbold’s answer to that challenge, as mentioned earlier, is to live “as though” promised blessings have arrived. How do we do that? Sister Newbold shares three suggestions.
First, she suggests considering a variety of promises. LDS singles tend to fixate on the marriage they by definition don’t have right now. That focus blinds them from seeing other promised blessings they already have, many of which they take for granted. Recognizing these less appreciated but bountiful blessings invites gratitude and trust God will keep all His promises.
Second, she suggests recognizing God’s hand in our lives. Many in today’s world focus on what they lack, and as long-time audience members will tell you, your focus becomes your reality. Focusing on lack creates a reality of scarcity, which inhibits the ability to feel joy. But focusing on what you have creates a reality of abundance. I really like how Sister Newbold extends that idea to the sacrament.
Third, Sister Newbold suggests helping the Lord keep His promises to others through Spirit-directed service. When you follow the Spirit’s promptings to help others, you can help answer their prayers. You can find joy in being the Lord’s hands.
Trust in Him
Honestly, I appreciate a perspective centered on our focus rather than the traditional and highly unhelpful ”Just hold faithful, and everything will be right in the next life.” Additionally, Sister Newbold readily admits that “trusting in His promises is not always an easy choice.”
She also says “living ‘as though’ will look different for everyone.” I suspect that’s only true in the particulars. I could summarize what that looks like for her as making and keeping as many covenants as she can, in essence living all of the gospel she can. I think that would describe living “as though” for any LDS single.
God will keep every promise made to every one of us. He has thousands of years of experience doing just that for the generations that came before us. And the Spirit can remind us of moments when He’s kept promises in our own lives. So we can trust He’ll keep every as yet unfulfilled promise. When we live“as though” by walking with faith He’ll do just that, we can be instruments in fulfilling His purposes, all the while experiencing the quiet confidence that somehow it’ll all happen for us. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
See the situation
The story begins with Phil Connors, the weatherman for Channel 9 News in Pittsburgh. The man is clearly full of himself, so it’s no surprise no one really likes him, not even himself. He’s a rather disgruntled man who thinks covering the Groundhog Day Festival is beneath him.
So imagine his shock when he wakes up thinking it’s February 3rd only to find out it’s February 2nd again. The bewilderment continues as each morning he wakes up to find that somehow in his sleep he went back in time by one day. He keeps living the same day over and over again.
His first reaction is denial. This can’t be happening to me! Denial drives resistance, but no matter how he fights against his situation, the next morning is always February 2nd again. His denial then turns into despair. This report he gives at the festival summarizes his condition rather well.
That day ended in suicide, but it doesn’t end him. In despair, Phil keeps trying to kill himself in different ways trying unsuccessfully to escape his never-ending cycle.
Note the pivot
And then one of those February 2nd days becomes a pivot day when everything changes. Phil doesn’t escape the never-ending cycle, but he does find a new perspective on his situation. And what changed everything was Rita.
Rita is Phil’s producer. She’s also the apple of his eye. Previously he spent God knows how many successive February 2nd days trying to get into her pants. But on his pivot day, Phil approaches Rita with a different agenda. Instead of trying to satiate his lust, he sincerely cries for help. (Why do I have a Rick Astley song in my head right now?) Rita helps him and in the process begins to fall for him.
Of course, that disappears when everything resets the next morning. But Phil remains changed, and he starts spending his February 2nd days improving upon himself, working to become a better, more quality person. He takes up reading all kinds of books. He learns to play the piano. He takes up ice sculpting! Not only do his efforts make him a better person, they make his life more interesting.
And the proof is in this report. It’s the same day, same festival, but a completely different Phil.
Once he stopped trying to escape his situation and embraced it, Phil was able to tap into the joy life has to offer every single day. In the end, he escapes the cycle and gets the girl.
Take a lesson
The allegory here to LDS singles is so clear I wonder why I didn’t see it earlier. How many of us singles are in denial? No, I can’t be single. This can’t be happening to me! And no matter what we do to fight it, we seem caught in a never-ending cycle of singleness from which we cannot escape.
But if we’d stop trying to escape from it and start embracing it, we could turn everything around. We could start looking inside ourselves and working to become better, more quality people. We can do things to make our lives more interesting. We could tap into the joy God wants us to have every single day.
And we could help other singles to have their pivot day. Just as Rita helped turn things around for Phil, we can reach out to one another. Instead of looking only to satiate our own agendas when we interact with each other, we could help each other live better lives.
When we take a lesson from Groundhog Day, we can make the most of what seems to be a never-ending cycle of singleness. By embracing our situation instead of trying to escape from it, we can live our best life and help others to do the same. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
That vote of no confidence really punched me in the gut. Initially I was in a daze, uncertain of my path forward. But as time lifted that fog, I began to gain some clarity and regain some perspective. If you feel that way, know that all is not lost. There’s always hope because there’s always Christ. That hope says you can change for the better. And you can keep that optimism when you treat every day like it’s your birthday.
Live like a kid
At my age, birthdays just don’t seem as special to me as they did when I was a kid. I’ve been there, done that, got the shirt and the hat, plus I chair the membership committee. (Would you like to join? We have jackets!)
And that’s part of the problem. Something about becoming an adult sacrifices that childhood perspective of optimism and possibility on the altar of pessimistic reality. We’re more prone to point out barriers to justify why we won’t or can’t achieve than to believe that achievement is possible and look for a way to overcome the obstacle.
We also lose the joy of childhood. The adult perspective is so often serious. Kids naturally approach their day looking for fun. They don’t worry much beyond the present; they live in the moment. Certainly there are times when we need to buckle down and do some serious work. But we could all benefit from introducing an element of fun into what we do and living in the moment.
That’s what birthdays are all about for kids. They get absorbed in enjoying the moment. If we lived life like a kid, maybe some of our obstacles would disappear because our overly serious perspective that created them would be gone.
Treat each day special
Treating every day like it’s your birthday also recognizes the special gift each day really is. Too often we go through our days playing out habits that carry us from one moment to the next. And that lull of life lacks the joy each day can and does bring.
That’s why a life on autopilot will never lead you to your best life. There’s nothing to savor in simply going through the motions. Very often, we go through those motions without any awareness of what we’re doing. That’s how we’re biologically hardwired to operate.
Treating every day like it’s your birthday breaks you out of that mold. Because it’s not something you normally do, it doesn’t conform to routine or habit, which takes what you do out of the shadows and into the light of awareness. Being fully aware of what you’re doing does two things: (1) It opens you to the joy to be found in each moment of living, and (2) it increases your sensitivity to possibilities, allowing for creativity in finding solutions to overcome obstacles.
Overcome your current challenges
Applying these ideas to my current challenge, I can see a path ahead. I need to find someone knowledgeable I can trust to give me objective counsel and help me construct a plan going forward. And strangely I feel excited about that.
Treating today like it’s my birthday brought me there. I’m looking for the joy instead of wallowing in the mire of misery. I’m embracing optimism in a brighter future that I can forge. I’m opening myself to the hope that always is because Christ always is. I’m tempering the responsibilities of adulthood with the perspectives of childhood.
So treat every day like it’s your birthday. You’ll invite yourself to open more to possibility. You’ll do more to take care of yourself. You’ll experience more creativity as you embrace more optimism. And you’ll live your life more hopeful of the future that has you living your best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
I’ve felt free like I haven’t felt in quite some time. I still have lots to do, and I still don’t know how I’m going to accomplish it all. But I feel as though I have more than enough time to do everything needful, even though I did the math and know the numbers don’t fit. It’s a great blessing from the Lord, and I realize my choice to chase purpose, not proof, paved the way for my blessings.
Commit to purpose
Part of the difficulty I wrestled last week was feeling I needed to do more than time would allow. Meeting with my advisor helped resolve that by providing some clarity around exactly what effort was needed. And I felt the Lord’s guiding and supporting hand.
But the floodgates of feeling truly free and empowered opened only after I committed to my purpose. Don’t get me wrong. I committed to my PhD program back when I gave up my employment, got rid of two thirds of my belongings, moved the remaining third clear across the country, and accepted a lower standard of living — all to pursue a step towards my dream job.
But I hadn’t committed myself completely. I was busy with so many different things, all of them valuable but not all of them conducive to my commitment. Complete commitment is always reflected in completely prioritized time pursuing it.
Once I made that complete commitment in how I would spend my time, that’s when freedom swept over me. That’s when I felt I had the time I needed to do what was needed. That’s when I felt I could truly achieve my potential.
Align with happiness
Too many never do that. Even if they have a purpose they say they pursue, they aren’t really chasing after it. Instead, they chase after proof.
By proof, I mean evidence they’re accepted. They devote more time and energy to acquiring validation and belonging than to any life purpose. And by going off the path of their purpose, they go off the path of their potential.
We all have a deep-seated need for acceptance. We all want to belong, and we all want to be loved. There’s nothing wrong with those desires. But there is something wrong with not prioritizing your potential.
And here’s what’s wrong with it. You’re leaving happiness on the table. You think you’re chasing happiness, but you’ll never capture it by seeking to have something. Happiness isn’t about having; it’s about giving. Happiness is giving your all to all the right things for you. And one of those right things is achieving your potential.
Pursue your potential
Let’s look at an example. What do typical LDS singles do with their time, especially the time they aren’t compelled to do anything? Many spend their so-called “free time” consuming content or soaking in social media, looking for love and belonging, pursuing proof not purpose.
Happiness doesn’t come from having that special someone or having social media likes or indeed having anything. Happiness isn’t about having; it’s about giving. That’s why pursuing your potential is linked to happiness. The more of your potential you achieve, the more you have to give and the more happy you can be.
And you maximize your happiness by committing completely to your purpose, a commitment you demonstrate with the time you devote to that commitment. So take a look at how you spend your time and make adjustments where needed. Chase purpose, not proof. You’ll find yourself feeling more free and more connected with the Lord. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Everything works that way. We all dream of having our best life, but to have that life, you must pay a price in faith, diligence, patience, and longsuffering in daily doing the small acts that over time will aggregate into a harvest of success. Most people don’t do that because it’s hard. But that’s precisely why it’s worth doing. With great diligence, you can have the positive changes you want in your life.
Diligent in faith
Success isn’t complicated. Do the right things day after day, and eventually you get what you want. But like the seed in Alma’s parable, you don’t reap a harvest overnight. And that’s probably the hardest part of achieving success.
We all have changes we want in our lives. But taking action day after day and not seeing the results you want can wear you down. Many quit the fight too soon. Because only action produces results, quitting the fight means taking no action, which means getting no results. So what can keep you in the fight when it gets hard?
Alma provides an answer. He mentions diligence, but first he mentions faith. And that’s what can pull you through. With a vision of your life after you pay your price for what you want, you can keep on keeping on.
I’ve used that in my PhD program. As I’ve felt the challenge increase, I remember teaching as an adjunct and relive how good it felt to work my dream job. My faith that overcoming my present difficulty will get me closer to the result I seek drives me through the difficulty. So it is with anything in life. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is really the other side of the mountain and not an oncoming train can help you push forward no matter how bleak your present position.
Diligent in patience
As you push on in the darkness of the moment, the difficulty separating you from your desired best life isn’t just in doing what’s needed everyday but also in having to wait for results to materialize. We all want results on our schedule, and our schedule often screams now.
So it’s not surprising Alma, to faith and diligence, adds patience. It takes patience to nourish a seed into maturity. Part of the price you’ll pay for what you want is in patience. You must take the small steps required day after day, continually putting forth effort with faith those results will come, especially when they don’t come instantly.
Faith helps me have patience, but so does celebrating small wins. Recognizing a victory, no matter how small, helps me feel I’m making progress and moving closer to my best life.
Having patience in the overall journey and not just the task before me also helps. When one approach fails, I don’t lose hope. I have faith the approach I need exists, and I keep searching with the determination to do so until I find the approach that will work for me.
Diligent in longsuffering
That attitude necessitates a lot of trial and error, which requires longsuffering. Often you must pay your price over a long time without seeing desired results. Little wonder Alma includes longsuffering in his parable of the seed.
Suffering must be endured; it makes your harvest much more precious. But suffering doesn’t mean you must be miserable. You can have sincere joy while suffering if you strengthen your faith and focus on the blessings and opportunities along your way.
Whatever positive changes you want can be yours if you pay in full and in advance the price you must pay. That requires diligence in doing the small daily actions that over time will accumulate into your success. But you also need faith to see the glory awaiting you, patience to allow the natural workings of the universe to operate, and longsuffering to endure well the time before results come. With those three attributes married to diligence, you can make whatever positive change you want. You can have your best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Conference provides a great opportunity to reflect and recommit ourselves to a better path. But truth be told, every single day holds the same opportunity. Each day provides a new opportunity to consider your ways and act to change your life.
Consider your time
We all have the same 24 hours each day, but we all choose to spend it differently. And how you spend your time reveals what you value most in life.
Me? I’ve always been a big fan of sleep. There’s no way it’s overrated. It’s fantastic! But you can pursue many things to excess, and sleep is no exception. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the admonition in D&C 88:124 to “arise early.” I’m actually still working on that.
But I’ve found, when I can do it, an early start radically changes the entire day. I’m way more productive, producing more value more easily. I feel more focused and energized throughout the day. And at the end of the day, I’m just more satisfied with myself.
I don’t get those benefits if I prioritize personal playtime and consuming content, and neither will you. If you want your best life, you need to answer these questions: Do you devote more time to worthy causes or frivolous pursuits? Are you the captain of your life’s ship, or do you just float wherever the waves of life take you?
Consider the consequences
Speaking of sleep, what does “retire to thy bed early” mean? I think we each must find our own way. For myself, the sooner I get to sleep, the easier it is to beat the sun up. My body simply takes what sleep it needs, so staying up late doesn’t help me “arise early.” And if I don’t get up early, I won’t get the resultant benefits.
In fact, getting up late usually means getting the exact opposite. I get tons more desire to play and waste the day. If I do manage to drag myself into some productive pursuit, I’m anything but focused. My mind goes all over the map. At the end of the day, I’m left with nothing but the shame of having wasted the day.
On my mission, I heard an African story. Every morning a gazelle awakens. He knows his best chance of escaping the tiger hunting him is to get as much of a head start as he can. But every morning that tiger also awakens. He knows his best chance of eating that day depends on catching the gazelle before he starts running. Thus, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a gazelle or a tiger. When the sun comes up, you had better be running.
Consider your needs
Your sleep schedule is just one of many ways you should consider. We should all reflect on what we need to get where we each want to go and then consider getting what we don’t have but need. Sometimes that means gaining new knowledge. Sometimes that means acquiring a new tool. Sometimes that means having the right people in your life. Your Heavenly Father, the Lord, and the Spirit are indispensable members of that support team. Don’t forget to include them in your plans for success.
In the end, you won’t get the most out of life unless you live intentionally. Only by choosing your activities with intention can you get the most juice for your squeeze. And the best intention for your time includes your own personal ministry by which you contribute to making the world a better place.
So consider your ways. Are you making the most of every day? Are you living with intention? I can’t say I always have. But I can say I’ve experienced real joy in living when I’ve consciously chosen how to spend my time to achieve worthy goals. And I’m grateful to be reminded of the opportunity each day brings to consider my ways and make changes where necessary.
If you haven’t considered your ways recently, do so now. You’ll open the door to feeling more satisfied with yourself each and every day. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That attitude has everyone accepting only “top shelf,” which is great if you can get it but isn’t essential to maximizing your joy in life. That maximum joy comes from embracing good enough. And just like worthiness is not flawlessness, good enough is not flawless.
Embrace change in you
How incredibly ironic that many LDS singles expect perfection in an eternal companion but then also expect they’ll be completely acceptable in their imperfection. They expect the “perfect” person to love them for who they are as they are. It’s as though change has no place in their equation.
But change is at the heart of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, the idea we need to change or be lost forever is core to the Atonement, the central part of our Heavenly Father’s plan. Expecting a companion who doesn’t need to change isn’t just unrealistic; it stands at odds with the gospel plan. That plan has us here in mortality with imperfections galore. We’ll all have many flaws as we journey through this mortal life.
Elder Wilcox noted the same principles as he responded to this hypothetical question:
Too many LDS singles aren’t progressing in their dating journey because they insist on not changing, that anyone who can’t love them as they are obviously isn’t the perfect companion. But the truly perfect companion is one who will both love you as you are today and not leave you as you are today. The perfect marriage is the union of two imperfect people who work together to perfect each other. They accept each other as they each are today, but they don’t accept staying that way.
Embrace the longer road
Some LDS singles undoubtedly reject the idea of change because they know what change will mean. Seeing themselves in all their imperfections, they know how much work correcting those imperfections will require. It’s much easier to cling to the thought of a “perfect” companion than to put the hammer down and do the work which change in self requires.
Yet doing the work is the more practical approach. No matter your approach to your dating journey, the fundamentals will always operate. You don’t progress without the necessary agreement, and you don’t get that agreement unless you’re agreeable enough. So progress in the dating journey often means traversing a longer road of change through hard work.
That’s how all of life is designed to be. Elder Wilcox recognized that design when he declared,
Just as worthiness isn’t about perfection but about patience and persistence in walking the covenant path, so your dating journey isn’t about finding the perfect person but about finding the type of person who’ll walk with you as you help each other become perfect together.
Embrace all the joy
If you’ve sincerely tried to walk that path yet feel beaten down by failure after failure, don’t succumb to surrender and change your destination away from eternal blessings. When the destination is eternity, it’s always better to deal with frustration by changing your approach.
Many share impatience as an imperfection, so it’s not surprising many LDS singles want the changes they seek to happen now. Yet often the changes we seek will not come overnight or all at once. Elder Wilcox taught this principle as he shared the story of Damon, a young man who struggled with his own changes. In the end, Elder Wilcox recommended,
Good enough is not flawless but is committed to positive change. Embrace needed changes in you and others as well as the work those changes will require. And embrace the Lord by partnering with Him for your journey. You’ll find it easier to make progress and more support as you do. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
I believe there is. Our enemies aren’t just people determined to act against our beliefs. “For,” wrote the Apostle Paul, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). We wrestle against the natural man and woman, our imperfections, and ourselves.
And yet the Lord’s command remains the same: Love your enemies. Though it may seem completely backwards, this path brings the greatest joys LDS singles can experience in their single years. And they can be yours when you love all your enemies.
Love your natural self
You’re thinking that’s totally crazy. How can we possibly love the natural man and woman when King Benjamin famously declared, “For the natural man [and woman] is an enemy to God” (Mosiah 3:19)? And how could that possibly bring more joy to LDS singles?
The natural man and woman are indeed enemies to God, so I’m in no way proposing you love that aspect. I’m proposing you love your natural self, the person you really are inside.
You’re not just the product of evolutionary biology, although we all coexist with that aspect. You’re a beloved child of God with quirks — features of your personality and disposition that you’ve always had. They’re part of what makes you . . . well, you. But we often want to hide our quirks to fit in. We view them as an enemy.
The greatest joy in life comes from embracing all the right things for you. Of course, keeping the commandments and your covenants will always be among those right things. But there’s more that’s right for each of us. And your quirks — the unique expressions of who you naturally always have been, even before mortality — definitely qualify. So love your quirks and that part of your natural eternal self.
Love your imperfections
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to embrace your imperfections. That’s not what you’d normally hear from a booming self-improvement industry fueled by the assumption that tolerating imperfections equals acceptance of a miserable life, or at best a mediocre one.
Yet I’d never be a better man without my imperfections. It’s the struggle to overcome challenge that facilitates growth. My imperfections provide me with that challenge. My imperfections help me become my best self, and thus, they help me live my best life.
Your imperfections can likewise help you. I’m not suggesting you stop trying to eliminate your imperfections. By all means put them on the next bus, train, boat, or plane out of town. What I’m suggesting is your imperfections provide opportunity for the struggle that makes you your best you. And being your best self lets you live your best life.
But having your best life means loving yourself. Too often we don’t live the life we most want because we’re in our own way. The best way to get out of your own way and stay out of it is to love yourself.
Many singles yearn for the companion who’d make them not so single anymore. But they don’t love themselves — and by love I mean care for themselves the way God cares for them. We all broadcast our inner selves to others, who intuitively pick up those broadcasts. Others will sense if you don’t love yourself and want little if anything to do with you if you don’t, because they want to be loved, not used and certainly not despised.
In encouraging you to love yourself, I’m not suggesting you prioritize selfish desires. I’m suggesting you get good with you, that you sincerely love the deepest part of who you are, because that will then broadcast to others. And that can lead to joy you can’t have while you’re single.
So, yes, love all your enemies. Love your quirks that communicate your natural eternal self. Love your imperfections that provide opportunity for growth. And love yourself in the deepest part of who you really are. When you do, you’ll enjoy your single years more because you’ll embrace all the good they have to offer you. 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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