When the options before you seem untenable, it’s time to get some new ones. Most people simply accept what they’re given, but the truly successful open new doors when the old ones close, even if that means making the new doors themselves. If you feel your dating options are limited or even non-existent, it’s time to expand your horizons, dare to step out, and strike new ground.
Increase your service
The key to increasing your success is thinking probabilistically. Target actions that increase your probability of success. Often that means increasing the likelihood of crossing paths with acceptable prospects. When you know what activities those types of people have in their life, it’s easier to find new opportunities to meet them.
For example, if you want a worthy companion you can take to the temple, you need to cross paths more with temple worthy people. What activities do temple worthy people have in their life? Service is a big one. How do you cross paths more with people who have service in their life? By serving more yourself.
So expand the scope of your service. Really delve into your ministering assignment. Get more active with family history in family history centers. Pray for and be attentive to service opportunities in your ward. Spend more time in the temple. My grandfather met his second wife while serving in the temple.
You get more opportunity to meet quality people when you cross paths more often with quality people. The probability you’ll do that increases substantially when you position yourself for that crossing to happen. And the best way to do that is to identify what the people you want to meet do in their lives and then do the same things in yours.
Leverage social media
The advent of social media offers an amazing opportunity to do just that. The business model social media platforms use lets you leverage them for free. And when you understand the fundamentals of the dating journey, leveraging social media for dating becomes quite natural.
Too many LDS singles frustrate their own progress by thinking huge commitment when considering dating. They aren’t being in the place where they are. The dating journey has various stages, each with more commitment than the one before. The first stage, Friendship, has zero commitment. Guess what stage you’re in when you first meet someone? Yep, Friendship. So focus on building friendship when you meet people since that’s the stage you’re in.
Join groups that attract the type of people you want to meet, get active in group discussions, and you’ll increase your probability of crossing paths with quality prospects. Then be in the place where you are — whatever stage of the dating journey you’re in — as you get to know people. Your journey will go better when you’re in the place where you are.
Adopt a personal ministry
My final suggestion I’ve mentioned before. Long-time audience members will recognize my encouragement to adopt a personal ministry. Find some contribution of goodness you can make, and then devote yourself to making that contribution.
Adopting a personal ministry makes you a more interesting person, which in turn makes you more attractive in dating. And the people who’ll cross your path as you perform your personal ministry are more likely to be quality prospects interested in devoting themselves to causes similar to the one you embrace with your personal ministry. What a wonderful foundation for a friendship that could grow into a wonderful foundation for marriage!
If you’re frustrated with the dating options LDS singles typically pursue, expand your horizons by imagining new options that approach dating in different ways while still based in the fundamentals of what you’re trying to do. We all have opportunities all around us, and when we embrace new and different ways of thinking, we can see more of those opportunities and then take advantage of them. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
As I watched the film again recently, I couldn’t help but think about dating. Johnny Lingo saw in Mahana something no one else saw. Where everyone else saw an ugly woman worthy of mockery, Johnny Lingo saw a woman so beautiful everyone would remember her as such forever. The obvious parallels to dating invite us to see others as they could be and not just as they are. And indeed, we can make more progress in our dating journey when we see with Johnny Lingo eyes.
Exercise your influence
Perhaps the most important dating lesson here is the influence we have over our own dating journey. What we think of ourselves truly makes the biggest difference.
Many LDS singles think other people determine their progress in dating. I used to be one of those, but not any more. Now that I understand my influence over the choices others make, I no longer have the victim mentality that once drove me to blame others for why I’m single.
Johnny Lingo certainly didn’t have a victim mentality. He could have easily chosen to court another woman. All the single women in the island village had their eyes on him. And Mahana thought so poorly of herself she preferred hiding in a tree over facing her suitor.
But Mahana changed her tune after Johnny Lingo exercised his influence. He didn’t make her change how she thought of herself. Rather, he invited her to do so by thinking better himself of her and acting in accordance with that perspective. He exercised his agency to influence others to choose in his favor. That’s a powerful lesson we can apply in our own dating journey.
Walk beside them
Johnny Lingo saw in Mahana the beautiful woman she really was. And he helped her to see that for herself so she could release that beauty for all to see. He truly walked with her.
So often in dating, we look at potential prospects solely as what they are today. We then assume they’ll always be that way and judge accordingly. And we certainly don’t do anything to help others become what they could be. It’s much easier to reject them then walk with them towards their potential.
That wasn’t Johnny Lingo’s attitude. If he’d taken that approach and viewed Mahana as the ugly woman everyone else saw, he’d have chased after some other woman in the village. But Johnny Lingo saw Mahana as she could be. And he walked by her side to help her get there. In the end, that approach resulted in his wife being the most desirable woman on the island.
Adjust your vision
What if we took that approach to dating? What if we started seeing each other with Johnny Lingo eyes? How different would dating be for us?
Instead of seeing people as they are now, try seeing people as they could become and asking, “If this person were to achieve his or her potential, how attractive of a prospect would he or she be then?” Johnny Lingo didn’t judge Mahana based on what she presented before he married her. He judged her based on what he knew she could become, and he helped he get there. That’s what he married, not the ugly girl hiding in a tree, but the beautiful woman who would elicit the admiration of all who saw her.
We LDS singles need to adopt this approach in dating. We need to see with Johnny Lingo eyes. When we do, we’ll see more opportunity all around us. We’ll make more progress in our dating efforts. And we’ll enjoy both our single and our married lives more. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
How many of us are doing that? How many of us are taking the action needed to improve our lives? Again, only action produces results. And it doesn’t matter how undesired your reality is today. You can flip any reality into something better when you flip your focus.
More than just seeing
Some may find that a bold claim. If you’re engulfed in your own negative experience, you’ll rightly wonder how simply looking at something different can change anything. But we’re talking here about focusing, not just looking.
Just because you look at something doesn’t mean you’re focused on it. When you drive a car, for example, you’ll look ahead for the most part because that’s the direction you’re going. But occasionally, you look in your mirrors to get a sense of what’s around you. That’s part of safe driving. But how safe would you be looking mostly in your rear view mirror? You’d find driving your vehicle safely difficult if you did that.
That’s the difference between focusing and seeing. Everyone has undesired experiences in life. Simply looking at them won’t create a negative reality. Only when you constantly choose to keep your vision fixed on the negative are you focused on the negative. And a focus on the negative means a reality filled with negativity.
How it actually works
Changing a negative reality is as simple as choosing a positive focus. If a negative reality results from a negative focus, then a positive reality will result from a positive focus. But how exactly does that work?
Many think reality is the collection of what happens to you, but this perspective drives a focus on what others do or don’t do, and the resulting reality is one in which you’re disempowered to change your own life for the better.
What happens to you does play a role in shaping reality, but you play a much larger role with the meaning you assign. You’ll get a certain result depending on your actions. And, yes, other people play a role in determining that result. But whatever the result, you choose what that result means. And that meaning plays a larger role in creating your reality than what others do.
The same undesired experience can come to two different people, and you can find one in complete turmoil and the other in complete peace. The same thing happened to both, so why don’t both have the same reality? It’s because reality is more than just what you experience; it’s also what meaning you choose to give your experience. And the way you assign meaning is through your focus. You choose your focus, and thereby you choose the meaning you assign to your experiences, and thereby you choose your reality.
Stand and own it
When you understand how it all works, the ramifications can overwhelm. If you choose your reality, then the one ultimately responsible if you don’t like your reality is you! That realization usually precedes one of two responses: You’ll either cower back and hide, or you’ll stand up and embrace it.
Cowering can be comfortable, but that choice disempowers you, surrendering you to a victim mentality that keeps you in the prison of always blaming others for why your life isn’t what it should be. But your best life has you empowered with a victor mentality that liberates you. And that’s where the harder choice to stand up and embrace the truth comes in. To have your best life, you must stand and own it.
If you don’t like your current reality, you can flip it when you flip your focus. Stand up, own your life, and start making intentional choices to seize your power of agency and move yourself towards your best life. You’ll feel the empowerment that comes from taking control of your life. You’ll feel the satisfaction that comes from making progress towards your goals. And you’ll learn how to stay positive no matter what negative experiences come your way. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
I’m thankful President Oaks publicly declared those ideas. I’m also thankful he focused on eternal principles throughout his remarks, especially the principle of moral agency. The Constitution certainly isn’t perfect, but it does support that society most free to exercise agency. Thus, we should all be defending our Constitution, despite its flaws and limitations.
Understand the threats to agency
President Oaks began his remarks by establishing his authority. A former clerk to the chief justice of the US Supreme Court, law professor, and justice on the Utah Supreme Court, he’s certainly more than amply qualified to have a platform.
But the qualification he listed last and “most important” intrigued me most. He’s been an Apostle of Jesus Christ for 37 years. As President Oaks described, that means he’s “responsible to study the meaning of the divinely inspired United States Constitution to the work of His restored Church.”
Here he segues into a discussion of moral agency. God inspired the Founding Fathers to assemble a system of government that would maximize the exercise of moral agency. And as we know, agency is key in our Heavenly Father’s eternal plan for His children. Defending the Constitution therefore promotes God’s plan of happiness.
President Oaks then mentioned some of the threats to the undergirding principles of the Constitution. Said he,
The threats to the Constitution, and by extension to our Heavenly Father’s plan, are very real and very much growing.
Learn and perform your duty
So can we do about it? What should we do to defend the Constitution? President Oaks provides some answers. I love how he starts by encouraging optimism, declaring “we should trust in the Lord and be positive about this nation’s future.”
Founded in faith and positive thinking, we should pray for leaders in all nations and then seek to exercise a righteous influence civilly, peacefully, and legally. Also, in these divisive times, “we should seek to moderate and unify.”
These days, everyone loves to talk about their rights and what they’re entitled to receive. But few speak of their duties and what they should give. It’s people performing their duties that make the rights of all available. That’s why I applaud President Oaks in listing three duties every good citizen has.
That power-packed list reveals more I need to do to support the Constitution. And I love how President Oaks reiterated King Benjamin’s counsel not to do everything at once (Mosiah 4:27). We all have different seasons in life, and the combination of actions appropriate in one season may not be appropriate in another.
Get busy doing your part
Let’s truly celebrate Independence Day by defending our Constitution. Perhaps the best place for you to start is where I’m starting — by reading and becoming more familiar with the actual document itself. Or perhaps you need to consider running for a position in an upcoming election. Or maybe you need to call or email an elected official about a current issue.
What you do today may not be what you do tomorrow, but we should always be doing something. The threats to the Constitution President Oaks described have grown precisely because far too many of us have been doing nothing in civic life. We’ve been busy focusing on our careers, our loved ones, and our own lives, and enough responsible people have been so absorbed in that busyness that we’ve allowed irresponsible people to hold office.
The Constitution has imperfections, but one thing it does right is give ultimate power to the people. Let’s celebrate the birth of our nation by learning about and then committing to safeguard that power. And the best way to safeguard it is to exercise it civilly, peacefully, and legally. When we persist in so doing, we can enjoy the fruits of freedom to exercise the moral agency essential to God’s plan and preserve that gift for the next generation. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Take God’s approach to the Creation, for example. He knew what He wanted, and He took action to make it happen. He didn’t sit around believing everything would somehow work out just because He was righteous. He took action that brought about what He wanted.
Likewise, you can sit around and pretend the blessings you want will come simply because you’re righteous. Or you can follow God’s example and take action to create your best life.
Own your life
I love how the Creation starts the scriptural record. That placement reinforces the metaphor that story is for creating your best life. And anyone can follow God’s example to do just that.
God didn’t simply start creating. He worked from a plan requiring action. In so doing, God took responsibility for producing desired results. And He remained resolute in executing that plan. How is simply staying on the covenant path hoping your blessings come “when the time is right” working from an action plan? That choice places responsibility for how your life results in God’s hands. That’s not the example God set.
To follow God’s example, own your life. Don’t push responsibility for the results in your life to anyone else. You take responsibility for your results in your life. Every result you want in life comes by obedience to its respective principle (D&C 130:20-21). Only action produces results. So get your action plan together and start taking action.
Include the right people
Many LDS singles stop here. They just don’t know the specific actions they need to take in order to produce the result they desire. It’s hard to have a plan when you don’t know what to put in the plan.
Again, let’s “look to God and live” (Alma 37:47). God had helpers during the Creation. He gave them His vision of what He wanted, and then He worked with them as they together performed the Creation. God didn’t work alone and didn’t force anyone to do what He wanted. Instead, He exercised His influence and respected agency.
You shouldn’t go it alone, either. Make sure you include the right people in your action plan who’ll help you achieve your results. Of course, the most important helper in your plan should be the Lord. When you partner with Him, He can help you make more out of your life than you can without Him.
And there’s others you should consider. Family, friends, and Church leaders can provide valuable support along your journey. Especially helpful is an advocate, someone who provides counsel, support, and accountability for specific actions. Some will trust their bishop or a ministering brother or sister with that role. Others might look to a sibling or special friend. Still others might find that help in Joy in the Journey Radio, and we’re here for you if that’s your choice.
Do you see how just going through the motions of being righteous and waiting for the “right time” doesn’t match how God acts? Following His example of taking ownership, developing a plan, and then securing a team to work towards a common result will more likely produce the best life we all seek.
And yes, not everyone will be on board. Some people will disappoint you, but let’s again look to God’s example. He always respected agency. He never forced anyone to help Him achieve His plan. Instead, He chose to act in ways that would influence others positively in their choices. You can do likewise. As you achieve your potential by making needed changes in you, you can radiate an energy that will influence others positively in their choices.
So quit sitting on the sidelines and get in the game of life! You’ll never score any points unless you’re on the field. Don’t sit around pretending the blessings you want will come simply because you’re righteous. Follow God’s example, own your life, get your plan together, and take action to create your best life. When you take responsibility for your results and then take the right actions, you’ll get the right results. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Early in the broadcast I got the feeling there was an elephant in the room no one was talking about. As time progressed, it seemed participants danced around the edge of that elephant while never wanting to go so much as near it with a 50-foot pole. And here’s all the answers they gave in just two words: more church. For LDS singles in pain, more church is not the answer.
Service should heal, not cover
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not against church. I’m just recognizing for anything in life there’s less effective thinking and more effective thinking. Often broadcast participants approached the more effective perspectives LDS singles need but then refused to go all in, opting instead to dance around the edges.
Here I am watching them approach a more effective perspective, cheering them on, shouting, “Yes! Yes! Now dive on in!” only to watch them sit on the dock, smile, and say, “Just stay on the covenant path. It’ll all work out!” It left me with the amplified mixed feelings cited earlier.
Take service, for example. Service is great, but service alone is not the answer. Yes, it’s true far too many singles are far too self absorbed. Your focus determines your reality, so if you’re super focused on your problem, you’re reality will be super problematic. When you focus on the obstacle, you create a reality of obstruction, limitation, and frustration.
Service can and should be part of the solution. But just going through the motions doesn’t flip your focus, and that’s what’s needed to flip your reality. The way many push service in counseling singles turns it into a bandage, and singles feeling pain want healing, not a bandage. It’s more effective to show how service can help solve the problem. But how do you do that when you won’t even go near the elephant in the room with a 50-foot pole?
Community should be felt, not just mentioned
The idea of community is another example of broadcast participants approaching a great idea and then just dancing on the edges. I love Sister Eubank in this broadcast because she speaks from a place of experience; she’s actually living LDS singles life. But even she seemed to stop short.
I was all giddy when early in the event Sister Eubank started talking about how she loves belonging to a community. “Yes!” I screamed. “Now dive in! Talk about how we need to create and grow that sense of community! Talk about personal ministries!”
But she didn’t dive in. She backed off, leaving me to wonder what if any sense of community I and many other LDS singles can expect with the other LDS singles who live where we do. Very often, that answer is none, further feeding my mixed feelings about the broadcast.
We need more effective thinking
I’m not trying to tear down. I extremely appreciate and celebrate the Church, which hasn’t done much for this specific demographic, for finally doing something more. I just wish they’d do something more effective and not just something more.
Certainly the broadcast touched multiples times on how singles can find more joy in their journey. But many singles won’t be helped by platitudes that simply dance around the edges of more effective thinking. By itself, more church is not the answer. We’ll dive deeper in the program today into all that.
The solutions we seek won’t come at the same level of thinking that produced our problems. We need higher, more effective thinking. Service and staying on the covenant path are certainly parts of that, but they won’t get singles far who don’t live with intention and take actions designed to encourage the results they want.
Happiness is giving your all to all the right things for you. When you partner with the Lord, He can show you all that’s right for you and support you in giving your all to that all. Doing that will bless your life and the lives of those you touch. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
But you get to choose your identity. You choose who and what you’ll be. Understanding this principle is key to making positive changes in your life. If you want to live your best life, learn how identity precedes behavior.
Understand the source
You always act consistent with who you think you are. And you’ll always feel good about yourself when who you think you are is who you think you should be.
This is self esteem, how well your self image (how you see yourself) matches your self ideal (how you think you should be). When you live up to what you think you should be, how you see yourself matches how you think you should be, yielding high self esteem. Conversely, when you see yourself very differently than what you think you should be, your self image and your self ideal don’t match. That mismatch creates a dissonance you feel as low self esteem.
Matches don’t require exactness. You don’t need to see yourself exactly as you idealize yourself. You can see yourself as mostly there and have a healthy self esteem provided you forgive yourself for coming up short. Lacking that forgiveness leads to a rigid disposition that prevents a robust sense of mental health. As in other areas of life, you don’t need perfect, just good enough.
Understand the choice
Understanding these ideas sets the stage for positive change. But to effect that change, you need to add agency into the mix.
You choose whether or not you have self-esteem. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter how well your self image matches your self ideal. That’s not the way it works. We’re all built to operate based on the match between our self image and our self ideal. But you can choose your self ideal. And you can choose to bridge whatever gap exists between your self image and your self ideal.
Our culture hands us norms that we then adopt in constructing our self ideal. For many singles, for example, that includes being married by a certain age. If you aren’t married by then, it’s easy to get down on yourself because your self image (seeing yourself as single) doesn’t match your self ideal (you should be married by now). Low self esteem leads to feeling worthless, and you won’t think any effort worthwhile when you see yourself as worthless.
But you can choose your self ideal, one that doesn’t necessitate being married by a certain age. And you can choose to bridge the gap by taking action — learn the fundamentals of the dating journey and then change yourself to become more agreeable to a potential partner.
Make your choice
When it comes to bridging the gap, Christ is the ultimate bridge builder. His Atonement allows all to cross the chasm between how we see ourselves in mortality and what we can be in the eternities. Christ can help you achieve your greatest potential.
He does this by transforming you inside, effectively changing your identity. He lifts your vision towards a higher standard and provides strength to lift your performance to match that standard. In essence, he changes your self image to match a higher self ideal.
In contrast, the world would have us lower our standards to match lower performance. Rejecting covenant living may appease the natural man and woman, but only covenant living yields the fulfillment of eternal growth. Settling for low performance always invites a medium of mediocrity. Christ wants to raise us out of that mire into a more glorious state of being.
We all want positive change in life, but you won’t act inconsistent with how you see yourself. Identity precedes behavior. So partner with the Lord and let Him lift your self image to eternal heights and strengthen you to do the daily tasks your positive change requires. Laying your daily brick will eventually result in the very fine structure that is your best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Christ is of course the ultimate source of hope for anything good in this life or the next. No matter your background or situation, there is always hope because there is always Christ. That doesn’t mean you won’t have challenges, but it does mean every problem has some solution in Him. With hope in Christ, you can joyfully rise above any challenge.
Hope has power
I especially like President Ballard’s reliance upon eternal principles of truth. He doesn’t really talk about singles until halfway through his address. He spends the first half laying out the foundational principles that support his remarks on singles. That’s significant.
Equally significant is his repetition of what Elder Gong shared earlier. The majority of LDS adults are single. The public recognition of this demographic change precedes a new thrust by the Church to change LDS culture. Leaders might not describe it that way, but the Church is certainly publicly reaching more after those who by definition don’t have the traditional marker of belonging in LDS culture, namely being married with kids.
And it’s more than just Conference talks. Have you seen the Church website lately? The website has been promoting an upcoming broadcast for singles over 30, the first ever Church-wide broadcast tailored entirely and specifically for this demographic. There’s also an excellent article in the latest Liahona providing practical advice on helping singles feel more included at church.
This is the power of hope in Christ. How long have I discussed in blog posts and this radio program the need to embrace a Christ-centered culture in which the mark of belonging is discipleship? For the past seven years I’ve expressed my faith such a change would come, even amidst the challenges of feeling included in a culture that didn’t always welcome me. And now I rejoice to see the Lord rewarding the faith I and many others have held all this time.
Hope means action
President Ballard extolled singles everywhere to have such faith. Said he, “I speak of hope in Christ not as wishful thinking. Instead, I speak of hope as an expectation that will be realized. Such hope is essential to overcoming adversity, fostering spiritual resilience and strength, and coming to know that we are loved by our Eternal Father and that we are His children, who belong to His family.”
How does one achieve such hope? It comes by faith in Christ who grants that hope to those who wait patiently upon Him. Because faith is a principle of action, so is waiting upon the Lord.
President Ballard said as much. He declared,
I love his declaration of increased hope through needed contribution, a concept we’ve long discussed here — the need for singles to have a personal ministry. When you devote yourself to sharing your unique goodness and light with others, you focus on what you can do. That focus in turn creates a reality of possibility and potential, which naturally leads to hope.
Hope is yours
President Ballard shared other principles that engender hope — the truth no blessing will be denied those who keep covenants, the assurance blessings will be ours though we don’t know all the details, the inclusion of exaltation in God’s plan for all the willing, and faith the Lord will eventually right every wrong experienced in mortality. Each of these principles encourage us to hold to the promise of better days ahead.
And that promise is true. It’s not just wishful thinking. Better days are ahead! Whether those days come tomorrow, two years from tomorrow, or two centuries from tomorrow, better days will come. Faith helps us to see those better days, and hope helps us hold true until those days arrive.
There is always hope because there is always Christ. Let your hope in Christ kindle a fire of faith that promised blessings will be yours. Let your hope in Christ inspire you to share the light of your goodness with others. As you embrace your own personal ministry, you’ll see that light grow ever brighter and brighter. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
The rest and renewal you need won’t come to you on its own. You need to own your life and make what you need happen. That’s why every so often it’s good to separate yourself from your usual world and bask in the beauty of the world God gave you.
Refresh yourself in nature
Of course, the first thing that pops into the head of most people when I say that is nature. And yes, the natural world God created is filled with beauty. I for one am always moved by the majestic sight of real mountains. For me they represent so much strength I feel more confident and secure just being around them.
There’s also something refreshing in separating yourself from the artificial world people created and reconnecting yourself with the natural world God created. For some reason I just find it easier to get grounded when I immerse myself for a time in nature. There’s an extra renewal I gain when I reconnect with what’s most important while surrounded in natural beauty.
That’s why for the past few years I’ve held a tradition called Retreat. Every May I plan a day for being out in nature to meditate and write. The meditation helps me clear away everything not directly connected with the essence of my character, my true identity, and my purpose. Writing serves as an additional filter to clear away the bad. But writing also provides cement to solidify the good in place and fortify me to return to the artificial world renewed and ready to face the challenges that await.
Refresh yourself in the Lord
Of course, you don’t need to go into the woods on a special trip to reconnect with the essential. With enough intent, you can do that anywhere. And you should be getting that every week with the Sabbath.
I’ve often pondered on the words of the Lord to Moses: “...for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed” (Exodus 31:17). That final word refreshed has always caught my attention. The Sabbath should leave me feeling refreshed. I’ve come to learn that if I don’t feel refreshed from my Sabbath day, then I’m probably not keeping it very well.
And I find that’s more of a challenge as life goes on. My calling keeps me busy, and often I find so much needing my attention on Sundays I wonder if the day of rest isn’t a misnomer. But I’ve also found when I devote myself with intention to keep the Sabbath day, I do feel refreshed. I feel renewed and ready to tackle the challenges of another grinding week. There’s something very beautiful in that, and I can bask in that beauty every week.
Open yourself to beauty
There’s other beauty we can bask in regularly. For example, raising children alone challenges many single mothers, but I’ve heard many talk about moments when they realize how blessed they are to have their children. That’s beauty to bask in.
I could go on with other examples, but I think you get the point. We all have challenges in our lives, things we would rather do without. But we all also have great blessings, things we wouldn’t dream of not having. Whatever those blessings are, those tender mercies from the Lord are there to make your life more beautiful.
When you open your eyes to see the wonder all around you, you open yourself to wonderful possibilities of joy along your road in life. And you open the door to many more blessings God wants to give you if you will but open yourself to Him. So bask in the beauty you have all around you. Own your life and fill yourself with the refreshment and renewal you need. You’ll refresh yourself in the blessings you have around you. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
The answer my stake president gave included a twist. He extended the ideas of agency and God’s respect for agency in a way that promotes faith in our use of agency. And the conclusion, if you honestly desire to do right, is to let faith guide you through whatever challenges you face in life.
We all have the choice of how we’ll act when confronted with challenges; that’s agency. And agency means not everyone will choose unicorns and rainbows. Some will choose to inflict hardship and even pain on others.
But agency is independent, meaning the choices others make don’t determine our own. We might choose in response to what others choose, but we don’t have to. We can make a completely irrational choice, because the agency we each have is independent.
That independence is vitally important because it transforms this life into a test to “prove [us] herewith, to see if [we] will do all things whatsoever the Lord [our] God shall command [us]” (Abraham 3:25). That independence allows every choice we make in life to be one of faith. Will we choose to exercise faith in God? Or will we choose a different path?
The question we ultimately face in the midst of any challenge is one of faith. In many cases, not knowing the end from the beginning contributes to the challenge confronting us. If we choose the path of faith, will we have a happy ending? That question speaks to the essential part of walking by faith; how could faith be faith if you always knew how your choice would result before you made it? In this way, every choice we make in life is one of faith.
When we view our choices through this lens, choosing faith becomes easier regardless of the challenge confronting us. For example, the older I get as an LDS single, the more I face the question of whether the blessings of marriage and family will ever be mine. My patriarchal blessing describes those promises, worded such that the fulfillment is in this life, not the next. But the older I get, the more single I seem to be and the less likely those promises seem to be true.
So what do I do? Do I continue in the path of faith believing in promises that seem less and less likely to come true with each passing day? Or do I surrender to doubt, discouragement, and despair in the belief those promises are not true? Ultimately my question of what to choose in the face of my challenge is a question of faith. Will I choose faith in God? Or will I choose another path?
You could extend that application to any challenge. Ultimately there comes a moment in any challenge when you must decide what you believe. Will you choose to believe God? Or will you choose to believe a different voice?
I’ve faced that point multiple times in my life. I haven’t been perfect, but ultimately I’ve always chosen to believe God, even when that choice meant great sacrifice or hardship. And God has always supported me. Moreover, God hasn’t just seen me through; the man I am on the other side has always been better than the one I was before.
Ultimately every choice you make is one of faith. Will you choose faith in God? Or will you choose a different path? Thinking on your life and remembering times when God supported you after you chose Him makes it easier to choose Him again. So let faith guide you through whatever challenge you face in your life. Walking in faith will open you to feel God’s love for you, see God’s hand move to support you, and allow God to make more out of your life than you can yourself. 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 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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