I’ve been thinking recently about what I do here — this program, the blog, and everything connected to it. I’ve had such hopes and plans for helping LDS singles everywhere live better, more joyful lives. I still do.
Bit by bit, it’s all coming together. I’ve come so far since that very first blog post on 12/12/12. I’ve come so far from that first blog post on this website, the post in which I declared my desire for real in my life. I’ve come so far from providing audio clip readings of my posts. And I’ve got farther yet to go before I’m done.
These accomplishments and dreams inspire me. Yet my mind turns to those who could have such accomplishments and dreams but don’t. They don’t believe they’re meant for anything extraordinary. They don’t see how anything approaching greatness could ever involve them. The future they see holds no promise, no hope, and no joy.
If that describes you, I hope you listen closely to the program today. I have a special message just for you. And it’s this: Don’t you dare give up on yourself.
Choose your joy
I know the depths of depression, the darkness that can envelope a soul in despair so devoid of hope that one wonders how life could ever be joyful for any but the luckiest among us. But I also know that vision doesn’t have to represent anyone’s reality. You can choose your joy.
Once, my sense of “logic” would find such statements repugnant, not to mention incomprehensible. What I see now that I didn’t see then are the faulty assumptions underneath that thinking. Just because others believe something doesn’t make it true. Nor does it mean you have to believe it. You can believe what you want to believe.
And you can believe that what you believe and how you think will ultimately determine your reality. That’s how our brains are biologically hardwired. You can choose to think more effectively, to give yourself messages filled with positive energy, to put controls around your emotions, to choose your joy. You can choose your reality.
Let your light shine
Because you can choose your reality, you can choose to be a victim, or you can choose to be a victor. You can choose to wallow within your own self-absorption. Or you can choose to look outside yourself to how you can bless the lives of others.
Think of what that means. We all posses the awesome potential for bringing goodness into the world, for making a real difference in the lives of others. That means you have that potential. You can inspire others to shine their lights bringing goodness into the lives of others when you shine your light bringing goodness into their lives.
But what would happen if you choose not to shine your light, not to make your contribution of goodness into the world? Would others falter because they never had the light you could shine? Would someone surrender to negativity because he or she didn’t have quite enough reserves to resist, reserves that would have been sufficient with your contribution?
The Master taught, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). What distance between God and individual men and women will not be shortened when you choose not to make your contribution?
Partner with Him
That’s why you should never dare to give up on yourself. It’s not about you; it’s about all of us. So when you give up on yourself, you’re giving up on the people who stand to benefit from the contribution you could make, a contribution only you can make. When you give up on yourself, you give up on all of the rest of us.
When many of us look our meager offerings, we wonder how so much could ever hang in the balance. How could our contribution ever be so important? The Lord’s disciples thought this way when they saw they had only five loaves and two fishes (see Matthew 14:17). How could so little feed so many? And yet in the hands of the Master it did. Likewise, the Master can work miracles in the lives of others as you follow His direction to give your contribution.
Don’t you dare give up on yourself! When life looks bleak, partner with the Lord. He will heal you so you believe in yourself and your contribution. He will lead you to those who need your contribution. And His hands will transform your contribution into miracles in their lives. You can bask in their love for you and for the Lord when you make that contribution you can make. And that will bring more joy in your journey.
Elder Uchtdorf’s remarks are no exception. He begins by describing King Solomon’s trappings of worldly success — money, power, fame, prestige. But at the end of his life, King Solomon described his success as vanity. All his advantages weren’t enough to secure his happiness.
Many LDS singles experience something similar. Though they’ve many blessings surrounding them every day, because they focus excessively on the one blessing they lack, they too see life as vanity. They too wonder what really has worth when the blessings they want most continually seem out of reach.
Of course, it need not be that way. Life is wonderful and beautiful. And Elder Uchtdorf describes how we can capture that vision everyday when we believe, love, and do.
Everything starts with belief. That’s why faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel. If we don’t believe, we’ll never receive.
That’s because true belief always motivates to action. You wouldn’t flip a light switch in a room if you didn’t believe the lights would come on. Everything you do is based on a belief that some result connected with your action will occur or could occur.
Elder Uchtdorf agrees. He declared,
I remember a time in my life when I wanted all the trite sayings about having a happy life to be more than just words but something I felt and lived every day. I wanted more than just the same old superficiality, pretending the life I wanted was just around the corner. In short, I wanted real.
I think that point comes into the life of all LDS singles who are single when they thought they wouldn’t be. Whether through divorce or death or just not marrying, LDS singles hunger for real in their lives.
But do you believe — I mean, really believe — you can get it? Do you believe the miracle you want to happen can happen? That it will happen? Belief is always the first step. If you don’t believe, you’ll never receive.
The belief God will perform a miracle for you becomes easier when you feel His love for you. This is why the Prophet Joseph Smith taught one cannot have faith in Christ without a true understanding of God’s character. It’s through God’s love we best realize all of God’s attributes.
That’s because, when we feel God’s love for us, that love simultaneously communicates every other attribute describing God. When you feel God’s love for you, you know more than just that He loves you. You know He’s good because His love is good. You know He’s kind because His love is kind. You know He’s compassionate because His love is compassionate. You know He’s merciful because His love is merciful. You know He’s just because His love is just.
Elder Uchtdorf declared,
John the Beloved spoke truly when he wrote, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:8). When you truly believe, you can reach out to Him and taste of His love.
Of course, love like faith prompts us to action. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the man or woman “filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his [or her] family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” When we fully give ourselves to that effort, we can transcend any of life’s difficulties, including the challenges of LDS singles life.
That’s why I’ve long encouraged LDS singles to adopt a personal ministry. When we partner with the Lord, a personal ministry can increase our belief in God and the miraculous blessings He wants to give us as well as provide opportunity for us to love those we serve the way God loves them. And when we allow the love of God to motivate us in fulfilling our personal ministry, we can feel for them the way God feels for them and see them the way He sees them.
Elder Uchtdorf invites,
I add my testimony to that of Elder Uchtdorft that when we truly believe with all our hearts, love God and others with all our hearts, and do the right things for us with all our hearts, we will not just feel happy but be happy. And that will bring more joy in our journey.
We all know Christmas time as the season of giving, and rightly so. We give gifts to friends and family because Christ gave the greatest gift ever. His sacrifice makes it possible for us all to return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father.
I don’t know how many of us are thinking about Christ’s glorious gift when we gift that awful looking tie to a father, those bunny slippers to a mother, or that special toy to a child. But not all gifts of value come wrapped in paper and ribbon. Many of these gifts are more worthy of reminding us of the real reason why we give gifts this season.
The best part is that we all have those sorts of gifts to give. The worst part is that many of us fail to give those gifts. We compare our gifts with those others have to offer. Seeing ourselves lacking, we heed the persuasions of doubt and fear to hide away our contribution. “Who am I to offer anything meaningful?” we question.
Yet we best embrace the spirit of the season when we kick doubt and fear out the door and just do the good we can. When you ignore any insecurities you may feel about the quality of your gift and just give your gift, you’ll find the light of Christ burning brighter in the world as well as your own life.
Recognize your light
Nature teaches that every child has the potential to become as the parent. As sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father, we have the potential to become as perfect a Giver as He is. And we develop that potential by following Christ’s example.
The Savior always sought out the one. Sure, He fed 5000 with a few fish and five loaves of bread, but we have many more accounts of Him ministering to individuals: The woman at the well, the man born blind, the adulteress caught in the act, the woman with an issue of blood, His disciple Peter whom He instructed to feed His sheep — the list goes on and on.
Surely many of us will not be performing the miracles He performed. But we can all be a miracle in the life of someone who needs lifting to higher ground. We can share a smile, give a hug, offer a listening ear, and reach out with love and understanding. These acts may seem small, but they feed the needs we all have to feel loved, understood, and nourished.
Avoid the comparisons
Here many of us hold back from giving our gifts of love, compassion, hope, and positive energy. We compare our gift with what we see someone else offering, something we judge to be superior to our own gift. “Wouldn’t they want the better gift?” goes the rationalization.
We spend far too much time comparing ourselves to others in just about every way imaginable, so it’s no surprise we compare in the arena of gift giving as well. But the goodness of a gift doesn’t come from its superiority over other gifts. The goodness of a gift comes from the light and love which surround the gift. And only you can offer your unique combination of light and love to others.
Sources of light will vary, but any light is welcome in a dark room, no matter how dim or dispersed. In like manner, anyone living in a dark world will welcome any light into their lives. Any light will provide relief from any ominous burden of darkness. The sooner we quit comparing our gifts with those of others, the sooner we can offer our gifts to others and relieve them of that burden of darkness.
Make your contribution
Perhaps a unique gift of goodness you can make has entered your mind. Don’t suppress that generous thought. Don’t withhold your gift by delving into an endless debate of whether or not that idea came from God or your own thinking. If your offering brings goodness into the world, give your gift.
Just give. That’s the advice we all get from that little stream hurrying down the hill in a popular Primary song. That stream didn’t provide much water to the surrounding fields, and yet those fields grew greener still. Likewise, the gift you have to give, no matter its size, can bring love, light, and goodness into the lives of others.
This Christmas season, just give your gift. What can you do to lift someone’s burdens? What can you do to offer hope in brighter tomorrow? Even if your light is only a glimmer, when you give your gift, you make the world a better place. And that will bring more joy in your journey.
Sooner or later, everyone encounters hard times. It’s called mortality, and it’s part of the reason why we’re here. Overcoming challenges allows us to learn in ways we could not otherwise learn and to become what we otherwise could not become.
If we focus too much on our challenges, however, we can easily succumb to feelings of overwhelm and discouragement, even despair. Some people escape their doldrums by remembering that there is always someone who is worse off than they are. For some LDS singles who have struggled for years without promised blessings, it may seem difficult to believe that anyone has had it worse than they do.
And yet there are those who have had it worse. The scriptures provide an excellent example in Abraham. When you come to realize how much worse he had it, you can find the courage and resiliency to keep walking by faith. After all, most of us can’t touch Abraham’s experience.
By the standards of any age in world history, Abraham had a challenging life. He was once placed on an altar to be sacrificed, only to have an angel save him. He was constantly on the move, and in one of those places to which he moved, his brother died. He had to deal with apostasy in his father, a problem since he longed to have what his father’s ancestors had — priesthood authority passed down from father to son. Having a father who continually returned to idol worship didn’t really help much in that respect.
And yet, like life for all of us, it wasn’t all bad. He obtained priesthood authority from someone more righteous and more advanced in years than his father. He grew to become a rather wealthy man, leading a house with many servants. And somewhere in that mix he married Sarah, a wife he dearly loved.
But try as they might, infertility entered and would not leave. Whatever hopes Abraham had for a son to inherit from him must have slowly faded as the years went by one after the other with no change anywhere in sight. It’s understandable why Abraham fathered a son through Hagar, one of Sarah’s handmaidens. It seemed to be the only way to produce an heir.
Then came the Lord’s promise. After so many years of wanting and not having, Abraham received a promise from the Lord that he would have a son through his wife Sarah. He was 62 years old.
His wife Sarah was ten years his junior, so it’s no surprise that she laughed at the thought of giving birth to a son. Abraham also had his doubts. Those doubts would continue as they each got older. It was during this time that Abraham had a son through Hagar. What seemed incredible when the promise was made seemed even more so with each year passing thereafter.
But the Lord reaffirmed His promise would be fulfilled. And we all know how the story ends. Sarah did give birth to Abraham’s son Isaac. Sarah was ninety years old. Abraham had lived a full century.
I’m not suggesting that we need to live a full century before we see the fulfillment of the promises the Lord has made to each of us. Instead, I’m suggesting we live in faith, faith born from reflecting on Abraham’s position relative to our own.
Abraham was 62 years old when he first received the promise of a son and 100 years old when that promise was fulfilled. That means he had to wait 38 years for the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to him. That’s a long time to wait.
And I’m willing to wager (though I’m not a betting man) that most of us waiting for the fulfillment of our own blessings have a ways to go before we can touch Abraham territory. I myself have been single for more than two decades. As long as that has been to endure, it’s only about half of what Abraham endured. Clearly, I can’t touch this.
Most LDS singles are in that same boat. As long as you’ve each waited for the fulfillment of your desired blessings, you haven’t waited anywhere near as long as Abraham had to wait. So you can’t touch this either.
The Lord pulled through for Abraham. He’ll pull through for each of us. As we continue to walk in faith that all of His promises will be fulfilled, He will send us many tender mercies to support us. We can feel the confidence that we will receive our promised blessings. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Because it’s always good to know what the living Prophet said in the last Conference, my selection wasn’t difficult to make. In “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” President Russell M. Nelson spoke of our increasing need to include personal revelation in our lives. And he did so by sharing experiences with revelation from his own life.
Later he revealed (pun intended) how we can best receive that revelation in our lives.
We all have questions that can be answered and challenges that can be solved with the divine inspiration that comes from revelation. But do we have the power-packed combination President Nelson offered?
Pure and obedient
Increased purity and exact obedience go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. We increase our purity only by aligning ourselves more closely to standards of truth, and that means obeying the commandments with more exactness.
I remember on my mission we were constantly encouraged to be “Ammon missionaries.” Ammon performed every command given him (Alma 18:10) and as a result had wonderful missionary opportunities open to him. Years later, many of the sons of the converts Ammon taught went to battle under Helaman’s command. Mormon ascribes their miraculous preservation in battle to their faith, which they had because “they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness” (Alma 57:21).
How exact are we in our obedience? Are we unable to receive the revelation we need to do wonderful things because our tolerance for impurity is too low? Are we kept from our best life solely by the essential bits of information we might have received had we been more committed?
Seeking and feasting
Just as purity and obedience go hand in hand, so too do earnest seeking and feasting daily from the Book of Mormon. Earnest seekers of answers to questions and solutions to challenges will look to hear God’s voice through many channels. And an obvious channel is the scriptures.
And in no book of scripture can we hear the voice of heaven more clearly than in the Book of Mormon. This book was prepared for us in our day. The ancient prophet Alma the Younger instructed his son Helaman that the Lord was preparing the plates from which the Book of Mormon was later translated “that he may show forth his power unto future generations” (Alma 37:14). I believe part of that “power” is an increased capacity to hear the voice of God provide answers to our questions and solutions to our challenges.
Of course, we don’t always get answers and solutions just for the asking. Some times we’re left to struggle with our questions and challenges because that struggle will help us to grow in a way we other wouldn’t if we received everything on demand. But, as President Nelson promises,
Certainly these blessings come after we do our part. So how are we doing? Are we earnestly seeking for answers while feasting every day in the Book of Mormon?
Committed to temple and family history work
The final part of President Nelson’s power-packed combination is like icing on a cake. Temples are natural places of revelation, and the family history work that supports temple work naturally invites revelation. Both provide ways for us to practice the increased receptivity to revelation gained from increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, and daily feasting in the Book of Mormon.
I confess that lately I’ve been slacking here. There’s no reason why I can’t attend the temple weekly. In fact, I’ve never before had so little excuse not to attend weekly as I live conveniently to two temples. But like most things in life, if you don’t schedule the time to go and then commit to follow that schedule, life can easily crowd out family history and temple service.
That’s why I like President Nelson’s description: “regular time committed.” We need to establish a time when we will go to the temple and when we will participate in some aspect of family history work. And then we need to commit ourselves to follow through on our plans.
What questions do you need answered? What challenges do you need solved? Revelation can help. When we follow President Nelson’s counsel, that blessing can be ours. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Making conscious choices allows you to overcome the challenges of your life. By breaking you out of autopilot, they break you free of the bonds of a mediocre life.
But your life won’t escape mediocrity if you make conscious choices about only a few things. You must make conscious choices about everything. That can burden just as much as the mediocre life your conscious choices helps you overcome.
Instead of swapping burdens around, you can leverage the power of habit. By working on your life one area at a time, you can adopt the habit of making conscious choices in a way that tips the balance towards liberating you.
For many, personal finances will likely top that list of life areas to reform. New Years resolutions regarding finances enjoy almost as much popularity as losing weight. Plus it’s just hard to feel free in other aspects of your life when this one area has you in bondage.
You need not feel imprisoned. Just as you can free yourself from the shackles of old, defunct ways of thinking, you can remove the chains of financial servitude. You can put your house in order.
Pay your tithing
The first step is to give the Creator of the universe what He’s marked as His. In so doing, you access the powers of heaven. Given the strong, thick cords that often comprise financial bonds, getting all the help you can just makes sense.
In my life, I’ve almost always paid tithing. Yes, I said almost. And yes, there’s a story behind that.
When I switched my career to education, I couldn’t find a job. So I made my own by starting a tutoring business. I learned lots in that experience, but I also didn’t make any money. And when you don’t make any money, you don’t pay tithing.
I had that business for just over a year — plenty of time to develop a habit of not paying tithing. So when I finally found a job in education, I followed my default habit and didn’t pay tithing. And, as I look back now upon that time, I see I didn’t have the blessings that come with paying tithing.
I’ve worked hard to re-establish the habit I once had, and now I’m seeing the blessings from paying tithing. The Lord has provided miracle after miracle in providing me financial support once I first walk by faith and pay my tithing. No financial house can be in order where tithing is not paid.
Eliminate your debt
Of course, excessive debt also indicates a financial house out of order. No matter how hard you work, interest will always work harder. Interest never sleeps. Interest never eats. Interest never stops.
Just like turning off the faucet stops an overflowing bathtub, the first step to clearing debt is to stop the flow of new charges to your existing debt. This requires a huge amount of discipline which many people don’t have (which is why they have financial problems to begin with).
But there’s good news. If you pay your tithing, you can access the powers of heaven to turn things around. I can’t tell you how amazing it felt to write the last check that paid off my student loans. I also remember when I received the title for my car. Those were wonderful moments when I savored freedom.
They didn’t come all at once. They came as I exercised the discipline month after month to pay the small portions I could every month. Step by step, I achieved my freedom.
Save what you can
Once you get out of debt, it’s best to stay out. And part of that is having enough in store to weather the rainy days that will surely come your way. One accident, one job loss, or one other unfortunate event can quickly bring you back into the bondage of indebtedness.
Again, the end result doesn’t happen overnight. You need the discipline month after month to set aside what little you can every month into savings. And you need the discipline not to touch that money outside of legitimate emergency need.
I’ve never been a profligate spender, so I’ve always saved by default. Most people aren’t that way; they spend most of what they earn every month. Still, I can see some wisdom in making the conscious choice to set aside a certain amount for savings every month. There’s a difference between simply letting something happen and acting to ensure it happens.
In the end, the conscious choices we make in managing our money reveal the discipline we have in managing ourselves. By making the right conscious choices, we can have a house in order. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Everyone dreams of living a better life, yet we all respond to those dreams differently. Some while away the days not doing much to move closer to those dreams. Others are doing something, only they’re stuck. Try as they might, they just can’t seem to succeed. Either way, it seems like everyone needs a miracle for their dreams to come true.
And then there’s those I call patient fools. They believe the absence of the miracle they need means it must not be the right time. And so they patiently wait, expecting their miracle to deliver their dreams when the time becomes right.
For many LDS singles, that miracle is finding an eternal companion. Some dream about the day it will happen but never take action to move towards it. Others take action but can’t seem to make any progress. Still others simply wait, thinking the time is somehow not yet right.
Whatever miracle you want in your life, that miracle won’t happen by itself. Someone needs to act, and that someone is you! If you truly want it, you can make your miracle happen.
Dreams inspire us with a vision of possibility. They animate the imagination and stir something within the soul. Yet no dream enters reality on its own. We must take action!
The world didn’t just appear out of nowhere. Under the direction of our Creator, heavenly workers took action. Those workers then returned to report their labors. The miracle that is Earth did not happen all at once but step by step as action was taken.
In like manner, your dreams will never happen unless you take action. Yes, taking action introduces change, and with change comes new challenges and new concerns. But only through action will your dreams become reality.
And you can respond to those challenges and concerns with faith. Partner with the Lord. By returning to Him every day to report the actions you’ve taken, you can receive counsel and direction regarding your next steps. When you take those steps and then return and report again, you can counsel with Him regarding the next steps. By walking consistently in faith, you can make your miracle happen.
Take the right action
Many of us aren’t just sitting on the sidelines of life twiddling our thumbs. No, we’re out there taking action. The problem is we don’t seem to be going anywhere.
The pursuit for eternal companionship leaves many LDS singles feeling like that hamster down at the local pet store. That hamster takes action, exerting tons of energy to run faster and go farther. But in the end, running inside a wheel doesn’t move the hamster that far.
Likewise, many LDS singles exert tons of energy running between conferences and other activities. But in the end, they don’t move very far.
If this describes you, stop running inside a wheel, and start doing the right things for you. You must take action, but not just any action will produce your miracle. You must take the right action. You must do what’s right for you.
I’ve talked before about how the right things are more than just the standards for being active LDS. They include owning your life, opening yourself to possibilities, partnering with the Lord, and embracing a personal ministry by which you bring goodness into the world. Each of these right actions contribute to making your miracle happen.
Take the right action now
Some LDS singles have trouble accepting that truth. They live under the myth that their blessings will come if they just live a righteous life. They’re fine waiting until the “right” time for their miracle when it will just happen.
These patient fools have grown comfortable in their complacency. They fool themselves into thinking their patience is rooted in faith. But faith is a principle of action. Patience truly rooted in faith is not passive, but active!
Patient fools also fool themselves into thinking the time for their miracle isn’t right just because it hasn’t happened yet. I’ve previously described how many LDS singles use the concept of timing as a crutch. Yes, the Lord has a timetable, but just because something hasn’t happened doesn’t mean the time isn’t right for it to happen. The time can be as right as rain, but miracles require action to happen.
If you truly want it, you can make your miracle happen when you take the required action now. Own your life. Embrace a personal ministry. Partner with the Lord. Counsel with Him regarding your next steps. Work hard and be open to possibility. Then return and report to Him. When you make the right things for you a lifestyle, you can make your miracle happen. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Recently I’ve been considering how I arrived where I am today. I remember a really dramatic episode from several years ago involving a woman I loved with all my heart. I was in my mid-30s and considered her as my last chance to secure the blessings I’d been wanting for over a decade.
Everything seemed OK until my rose-colored glasses could no longer obscure the truth. She called to tell me she was seeing another guy. I still held hope things could turn around. After all, we’re supposed to believe in miracles, right?
Only deep down I didn’t really believe a miracle would happen for me. Instead I felt desperate. It seemed my last hope was slipping away from me. I kept thinking about what I didn’t want to have happen. So what happened next shouldn’t surprise anyone.
She called on my birthday to say she was engaged to be married in two weeks. She knew it was my birthday because earlier she sang “Happy birthday” into my voicemail. As if stabbing me through the heart wasn’t enough, she twisted the knife by bluntly telling me I wasn’t invited to the wedding.
The excruciating emotional turmoil that ensued felt unbearable. The anguish of being lost for eternity tortured me. I felt more alone and forsaken than at any point in my life. I entered a depression that took literal months to overcome.
See the opportunity
I’ve learned in the years since my tragic episode I wasn’t alone in seeing a specific relationship as my only hope for securing eternal blessings. And I’ve also learned I created much of the pain and anguish I felt from losing that relationship. I hurt like I did because of the way I was thinking.
That concept may shock some, but it’s no less true. Sure, other people make choices, sometimes against us. But we construct much of our reality, including our emotional reality, with our thinking.
The story has been told of two salesman who get up one morning and see a very wet and windy storm. The first one says, “Wow, what a storm! No one can expect us to go out and make sales today.” He stays home. The second one says, “Wow, what a storm! And what a great day to make sales. Everyone will be home, even the other salesmen!” Both men saw the same storm, but each had a different reality because each choose to see the same storm differently. Where one saw an obstacle, the other saw an opportunity.
That’s what my experiences have taught me over the years. As much as it once felt like I blew my last chance, God has provided others. I just needed to see the opportunities instead of the obstacles.
Part of that required me to recognize what an opportunity actually is. So many of us LDS singles think so narrowly in that regard we’re standing in our own way. We place too many and too stringent filters up front, removing qualified candidates from our consideration. And we view the whole dating journey through binary lenses which blind us from seeing any value in relationships that for whatever reason don’t end in marriage.
Last week I provided the key to changing our perspective. We need to believe the gospel — I mean, really believe it. We know God loves us, but when you truly believe it, you’ll have the confidence He’s constantly working on clearing the next best pathway to your blessings. We know God is all-knowing, all-powerful, etc., but when you truly believe He has His characteristics, you’ll walk in faith He’ll turn everything bad in your life into everything good. All your mourning will turn into joy.
In truth, there is no Obi Wan. There’s never a last and only chance for eternal happiness. God loves you so much He’ll never stop providing you with opportunities to secure your blessings. You just need to set your thinking straight. You need to see the opportunities instead of the obstacles. You need to believe what you know is true. And you need to start doing the right things. The sooner you get on that train, the sooner you’ll savor the joy you can have in life.
My mother has been diagnosed with anxiety as a mental illness. So hearing a General Authority — and an Apostle no less — openly embrace mental illness as the subject of his address needless to say piqued my curiosity.
But I also found some wise counsel that applies to many of us LDS singles.
Focusing on depression
Elder Holland mentions an array of mental disorders but then narrows his remarks to depression. He then quickly defines what he means by that word:
But today I am speaking of something more serious, of an affliction so severe that it significantly restricts a person’s ability to function fully, a crater in the mind so deep that no one can responsibly suggest it would surely go away if those victims would just square their shoulders and think more positively—though I am a vigorous advocate of square shoulders and positive thinking!
I think that this description applies very aptly to many LDS singles today. I saw it at a recent singles fireside held in my stake. Only a handful of people were in attendance, and I quickly ascertained why no more than a handful had made an appearance. Everyone seemed so discouraged as to be half dead! Ironically, the subject of that fireside was hope, and I freely admit that I left with most of my own hope and optimism stripped from me.
Fortunately, Elder Holland had very much the opposite effect.
Believe in miracles
I devote several parts of my upcoming book to this very subject. And I can sum it all up — there is always hope because there is always Christ. Elder Holland says no less.
Believe in miracles. I have seen so many of them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost. Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead.
Don't be afraid to ask for help
Elder Holland advises us to seek help when our problems persist.
If things continue to be debilitating, seek the advice of reputable people with certified training, professional skills, and good values. Be honest with them about your history and your struggles. Prayerfully and responsibly consider the counsel they give and the solutions they prescribe. If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a priesthood blessing and get the best medical care available. So too with emotional disorders. Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation.
We singles too often don’t ask for help. Maybe it’s because our leaders very often don’t understand what we experience, especially if they married while they were young. Or maybe it’s because we singles spend too much time focused on what we want that we remove ourselves from being able to help. If we filter everything through dating considerations, we won’t associate much if at all with those who aren’t “marriage material”. Very often those who need our help the most are those who we know the least, or those we want to know the least.
The sun is always shining
As much as the challenges of LDS singles life I've witnessed discourages me, I'm continually amazed at how optimistic I am for the future. So I'm glad that Elder Holland reminded us that
Also let us remember that through any illness or difficult challenge, there is still much in life to be hopeful about and grateful for. We are infinitely more than our limitations or our afflictions!
Sound familiar? Where have we heard that before? Oh, yes! You are not your circumstances!
It also reminds me of some of the weirdest weather I've ever experienced. I remember one day driving in Northern Idaho and suddenly encountering a blinding snowstorm. I had to slow down because the snow was coming down so thick and fast.
And yet the funny thing is I could see the sun shining at the same time!
Too often when difficulties come we see only the blizzard and how it obstructs us or makes our journey more difficult. Yet the sun is always shining. We can see it if we'll look for it. God still loves us, and we can feel that love more fully when we open ourselves to it.
Our focus becomes our reality, so when we focus on the storm, guess what our life feels like? But when we focus on the sunshine, guess how we feel then?
I love the way Conference messages intertwine with my life experiences to root me further in gospel truth. How thankful I am for Conference!
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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