And speaking of videos, there on the main Light the World web page you can find the latest Nativity video from the Church. This is an expansion of the clips that the Church released last year into a short film lasting around 18 minutes. I’m glad I had a box of tissues nearby when I watched it. I was so overcome with emotion, especially near the end when the three wise men and their cohort kneel before the boy Jesus. It is hands down the absolute best depiction of the Nativity story I have ever seen.
I won’t belabor this because, as the best program the Church has offered yet, it is quite simply self-explanatory. So learn more about the Church’s latest effort, and then decide how you will share the light of Christ this Christmas season. Whether you participate in the Church’s Light the World campaign or you embrace your own effort, you can add your contribution to that of others all over the world in helping others to feel our Savior’s love this Christmas season. Together we can light the world one by one. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
That's the place where many of us live, or rather the place where many of us exist as the walking dead, wandering zombies in lives on autopilot. We want a better life, we want to change for the better, and many of us sincerely intend both to do better and to become better. Yet the smallest good deed is always better than the grandest intention.
Don't just dream
Why such resistance to embracing positive change? We keep dreaming but never doing. Why is that?
It's not because we're lazy, at least not for most of us. We're biologically hardwired to operate out of habit. That means we're naturally designed to maintain a status quo, and that means resisting change because change by definition doesn't maintain a status quo.
Dreams, on the other hand, don't threaten the status quo, because dreams don't really change anything. Dreaming doesn't require any change in habits, so your natural design can continue business as usual while you dream to your heart's content.
And so, many of us dream and dream. And the life we have in return is the same and the same. Then when we recognize some undesired feature of this same but actual life, the only response many give is to complain and dream of a different life.
But only when you consciously choose to act against your biological design to operate out of habit and step towards your dreams will they ever begin to come true. Results come from one thing and one thing only — action. To get a result you've never had, you've got to do things you've never done. You must act!
Have a little faith
And the best part is it doesn't take a lot to get a lot. Goodness has such inherent power that a little can go a long way. Seemingly small actions can produce powerful results.
Nephi once wrote, "And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things" (1 Nephi 16:29). He was speaking about the Liahona, the small compass that guided him and his company to the promised land. Alma later spoke to his son Helaman about that compass, saying, "because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works" (Alma 37:41). By exercising a little faith, the spindles pointed the way those early sojourners should go.
But because the action needed was small, it was also easy to forget. As Alma explained,
It works both ways. Seemingly small actions can produce powerful results.
With as long as I've been single, I've attended literally thousands of singles activities, but the small handful of treasured memories I have of those that actually made a difference in my life are of the small acts of kindness that others extended towards me. Those seemingly small acts produced a powerful result in me that I still carry with me.
Get to work
Each of us could confess to having similar moments in our lives. Seemingly small acts of goodness someone else extended to us have touched us, lifted us, strengthened us, and encouraged us when we needed it. We all can and should pay that forward.
For me, that's the best aspect of these actions. They're so small anyone can do them. You don't need to be terribly gifted in anything. In fact, you already have all the gifts you need to wield the power within seemingly small actions — the gifts of agency and time. When you choose to fill your time with the seemingly small actions that can make a difference in the lives of others and your own, you can effect real change in your life.
So what are you waiting for? Stop wishing and start working. The smallest good deed is always better than the grandest intention. Only action produces results. When you take the seemingly small actions to share goodness with others or to improve yourself, you move yourself closer to making your dreams reality. And with continued, consistent effort over time, you'll begin to see yourself moving closer to your dreams. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Without question, the words that impressed me most were these: We can spend our lives doing many good things, but in the end all those good things won't count for much if they don't help people come unto Christ. Those words have prompted moments of reflection as I've considered my own ways. How much of what I do leads others to Christ?
Find the real question
In that moment of pure revelation, I understood intuitively the Spirit's impressions applied to every area of my life. And there's one part of my life to which the application seemed most clear. That part is Joy in the Journey Radio.
I've sacrificed and labored endlessly for the past eight years in what is now Joy in the Journey Radio. Some of my contributions have been more well received than others. Most of those others haven't been received at all. They are blog posts without comments, videos without views, podcasts without listens.
One might say all my effort has been for naught. What good is all I've done if no one knows about it? What good is an unreceived gift? Here's my answer: The show isn't over until the fat lady sings, and it's not even close to the time the fat lady takes the stage. By placing it out in the world, my contribution is available to make a difference in someone's life. Just because it hasn't done so to date doesn't mean it never will. God can still use my contribution for His purposes.
Consider what would be had I not made my contribution. I couldn't ever make any difference because nothing would be there to make a difference. The real question at hand is not what difference my contribution does make. The real question is what difference my contribution can make.
Answer the real question
With all we say and do, the most difference to be made is advancing God's eternal purposes. His "work and . . . glory [is] to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). In that light, what difference could be more significant than helping our brothers and sisters progress along the covenant path?
That's why the real question resulting from my reflections is really this: How effective is the way I use my time? In the end, all we really have in life are our will, our relationships, and our time. President Oaks once observed that
How wise is that timely counsel!
Embrace the answer
The contributions I've made thus far through Joy in the Journey Radio can help LDS singles find more joy in their lives. But is that the better or best contribution I can make?
I haven't completely ignored helping others come to Christ. I've dedicated one monologue blog post and its attendant program each month to returning the most recent General Conference. And I always view issues through the lens of the restored gospel. I always support the Brethren and prioritize walking the covenant path. And I always encourage others to do the same.
But I should be more overt about it. Joy in the Journey Radio should be more forward about bringing souls to Christ. The difference I can make through the purposes already expressed through Joy in the Journey Radio are all good. But are they better or best? They can be when they highlight bringing souls to Christ.
And so can be your purposes in your life. What difference will you make with your contribution? Will it be good, or will it be better or best? The Lord has been hastening His work in preparation for His Second Coming. When you surrender your will and your time to advance His purposes, He will advance yours. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
I’m not sure what it was exactly. It’s not like the situation this sister describes is abnormal, extraordinary, or unusual. Confronting loneliness is part of the reality of singleness. I just felt I should address the question posed in this post.
Don’t ask me to compare the loneliness of the never-married versus the divorced versus the widowed. I don’t even know where to begin there, nor am I entirely certain that comparison would provide any real value.
What I do know is that I’ve had my own confrontation with loneliness and overcome it. I know the depths of despair that can enter the heart from prolonged singleness. I’ve been single for over two decades. I also know the pure joy and hope that fill the heart and soul when you change the way you think and adopt a personal ministry. And I know this is true because I’ve lived that joy and am living it now.
Change your thinking
Most of the comments offered in response to this single mother’s question revolved around two approaches: hobbies and renewal activities. They represent two ways of what I see as fundamentally the same approach. And that approach doesn’t address the real issue at hand.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against hobbies. And I’m certainly not against participating in regular activities that renew the spirit, heart, mind, and body. In fact, having regular renewal rituals is a great way to live life. We all need to recharge from time to time.
Yet neither of these methods proposed to combat the loneliness we LDS singles encounter solve the problem. They’re simply bandages covering the problem with a seemingly healthy and often pleasurable distraction. Avoiding problems will never solve them. Real solutions always require us to act.
That action starts when we change the way we think. We need to discard the notion that we have to be married or have some significant other in our lives in order to be happy. We need to stop conditioning our happiness on the choices of others. And we need to throw off any vestige of any victim mentality we have and replace it with a victor mentality. We need to own our lives, taking full responsibility for whatever results we do have and recognizing the power of our own choices in delivering to us the life we want.
Adopt your ministry
Attitude without action will never bring you achievement. Some people get fired up with positive thinking, but then their lives don’t change because they didn’t really change, especially in the way they think. Changed thinking always leads to changed action, which in turn always leads to a changed reality.
One of the best actions more effective ways of thinking always lead one to take is to adopt a personal ministry. Your personal ministry is that unique contribution of goodness you make to the world, the cause through which you uplift and bless the lives of others. We’ve discussed before on the program how adopting a personal ministry can help LDS singles overcome their challenges. Here are just three of those reasons:
Turn yourself outward
When you think about it, it’s not hard to understand why a personal ministry offers so much benefit for LDS singles seeking to overcome loneliness and other challenges we LDS singles face. It aligns us with the path the Savior trod by turning ourselves outward towards others.
That’s in stark contrast to the bandage solutions mentioned earlier. Again, I’m not against hobbies and renewal rituals. But focusing exclusively here will turn ourselves inward towards ourselves. That’s why they will never really solve the problem of loneliness. Only by turning ourselves outward can we connect with others in ways that remind us we aren’t ever really alone. Only by turning ourselves outward can we connect with the Savior Who fills us with His love that helps us to know we aren’t ever really alone.
If you feel consumed by loneliness, consider your focus. Your focus will always determines your reality. Change your thinking, adopt a personal ministry, and turn yourself outward. You’ll shift your focus towards others and shift your reality away from your problems and into your possibilities. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
You’ll be hard pressed to achieve that result without adopting a new way of thinking that matches your new landscape. In pre-pandemic times, one might hear of souls going the extra mile of the extra mile, literally working themselves to the bone in the name of service to others. Now with the pandemic in place, some have continued that way of thinking, going that extra mile of the extra mile while sheltering in place and social distancing.
But that old way of thinking that giving all of yourself was somehow a virtue was unhealthy before the pandemic. And it’s still unhealthy now. You can’t help others to climb unless you yourself are standing on higher ground. You can’t nourish others when you yourself need nourishing. Yes, other people and meeting their needs matter. But you matter too.
Strive for balance
That idea falls right in line with following after your bliss. Your best life is the one with the best boundaries for you, boundaries that demarcate a balance between what you should do for others and what you should do for yourself.
And balance is not necessarily about equalizing the proportions those areas occupy in your life. It’s about making sure each area is appropriately sized so that they can sufficiently support the other.
Giving service to others satisfies basic needs we all have for sociality. Supporting others in their times of stress can give us strength in dealing with our own stress. But caring for ourselves requires us to meet all our basic needs. You can hardly say your approach is balanced when you neglect other needs to care exclusively for just one need.
That’s where following after your bliss can help you achieve the balance you need between caring for others and caring for yourself. Many out of balance in the service arena feel guilty if they aren’t continually giving of themselves to others all the time. Their life is unbalanced because their thinking is unbalanced. By following after your dreams and helping others you encounter along that path as you can, you establish a healthy balance between doing for others and doing for you.
Avoid both extremes
Of course, not everyone unbalanced is unbalanced in that way. Some go to the other extreme, focusing so much on themselves that they give little if any thought to others. And they structure their lives accordingly. Just chronicle the activities they regularly embrace in their day, and their excessive focus on themselves becomes obviously apparent.
It’s really easy for singles to fall into this practice, especially if they don’t have any children. And avoiding that practice certainly isn’t helped by living in a pandemic requiring social distancing and sequestering. The healthy focus on caring for self can be mutated into an unhealthy consumption of self.
The solution here is the same. Follow after your bliss and help others you encounter along that path. This approach will help you establish a healthy balance between doing for others and doing for you.
In all our efforts to achieve that healthy balance, we should remember that what constitutes a healthy balance for one person may not be that healthy for another. While we all have the same basic needs, the amounts we need to satisfy those needs can differ greatly.
Pandemic may have changed the landscape, but it has not changed our ability to thrive. When we change our thinking to match the landscape in our lives, we allow ourselves to meet better our current challenges, whatever they might be.
So take a step back and evaluate how you’ve structured your life. How much do you give to others? And how much do you give to yourself? Others matter, yes. But you matter too. Those who know their proper balance between caring for others and caring for themselves set themselves up for success. Pandemic or no, they will thrive on the road to their best life. And that will bring them more joy in their journey.
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.
I remember as a missionary reciting D&C 4 every day. I recited it so often I could do it in my sleep. Now, after being home more than two decades, I’d need a little prompting to get through it, especially verse 6.
Notwithstanding, I’ve always been impressed with the idea embodied in verse 3: “Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work” (D&C 4:3). Think of that. Desire is the only requirement to serve. We don’t need any special talent or skill, or look a certain way, or come from a particular part of town. We just need the desire to serve.
Over the past year, the Church has emphasized ministering to one another. We’ve each been called to serve in a higher and holier way, but we’ve always been called to refine our devotion to God through service to our neighbors. And all we need is the desire to serve.
Lately the program has touched on the need for LDS singles to adopt a personal ministry. All that requires is the desire to serve. And we all have some cause we can serve, because we’ve all been called to care.
Choose to serve
Why do singles adopt the personal ministry they do? I mean, no one’s forcing them to adopt anything. I’ve just been encouraging it since 2016 because I want to help LDS singles everywhere live happier, more joyful lives.
And that’s just it. Joy in the Journey Radio is my personal ministry. I embraced it as such because I wanted to. And so has every LDS single who’s adopted a personal ministry. They adopt their personal ministry because they want to.
That desire to serve propels any meaningful effort. And that’s an essential ingredient for happiness. Happiness is giving your all to the right things for you. When you give your all to the personal ministry that’s right for you, you can’t help but be filled with happiness.
Choose to be happy
That means happiness is a choice. We choose to be happy irrespective of our circumstances. If that sounds impossible or just plain wrong to you, please open your mind while you walk with me a bit.
Happiness comes from giving your all to the right things for you. A personal ministry is one of those right things. All you need to embrace a personal ministry is the desire to serve in that way. That’s a choice. And because you choose to want what in the end brings happiness, happiness must itself be a choice.
Now, just going through the motions won’t bring happiness. Life on autopilot can never bring happiness. Only when we give our all to what’s right for us will we find the happiness we crave.
It’s that choice to give your all to the right end you choose that unlocks the happiness encapsulated in every moment of living. And you can choose that regardless of your circumstances.
Embrace the simple solution
We sometimes speak of choices as belabored events lasting stretches of time, but the actual choice takes less than a second to occur. Why then wait to be happy?
The choice to adopt a personal ministry takes less than a second. The choice to give your all to the right thing in front of you right now takes less than a second. The choice to be happy takes a less than a second. Why then don’t more of us just turn it all on?
Pride masquerading as disbelief often obstructs our way. We don’t believe it could be that simple. We want to believe it’s more complicated because that would explain why we didn’t see it before. We don’t want to appear to be idiots.
But we aren’t the first to travel that road. The Old Testament tells of a servant who wisely advised his unbelieving master, the captain of the Syrian army, to put away his pride and follow the simple instructions of the prophet: “If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” (2 Kings 5:13) That captain washed and was cleansed. Likewise, we should not discount the solution before us because of its simplicity.
In fact, the beauty is in the simplicity. When you truly believe it can be that simple, when you feel God’s love inviting you to make that choice, and when you do what that requires — choose to give your all to all the right things for you — then you’ll find all the happiness that God has wanted you to have all along. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Most people settle for mediocre lives. They become comfortable inside a status quo. That’s human nature — establish a habit and then stay inside that “safe zone.”
Yet that safety lies well beneath the potential we all have to accomplish extraordinary achievements. Greatness abounds in all of us because we’re all children of the greatest measure of greatness in the universe — our Heavenly Father.
Nevertheless, so many of us live every day beneath our potential it’s insane. Instead of contributing goodness to others, we wander within ourselves. Instead of spending time in service to others, we spend time in service to ourselves voraciously consuming content via the Internet, video games, movies, and other forms of entertainment. Instead of taking control of our lives, we simply react as the waves of life toss us to and fro.
Too many of us are just standing on the sidelines of life waiting for extraordinary blessings. That’s not the way life works. To have your best life, you must skip the sidelines and get in the game of making other people’s lives better.
Find your useful passions
We all have talents we can leverage to improve others’ lives, and very often using these talents elicits passion within us — a passion for excellence, a passion to contribute, a passion to serve, and a passion to be the best we can be.
That passion becomes useful when it drives you to use your talents to fulfill a personal ministry bringing goodness to others. Your useful passions can carry you beyond your troubles into a life of joy if you let them. By adopting a personal ministry, you can transcend the challenges of LDS singles life and live your best life.
How do you find your useful passions? Start by separating yourself from daily distractions to gain clarity of vision. The temple is great here, but you should also have somewhere in your home where you can reflect without distraction. Then look inside yourself and ask what you do the best with the least amount of effort. Those are your talents.
How can you use those talents to bring goodness into the lives of others? Which of those ways would you do even if it brought you no personal gain or benefit? Those are your useful passions. They will fuel you to carry out your personal ministry despite the obstacles in your way. And when life overwhelms, postponing your efforts, your useful passions will always bring you back to sit at the table of contribution.
Turn it on
Surely the Lord wants you to make your contribution — one only you can make. Only by following His example of making that unique contribution will you live your best life. When you partner with Him, the Lord will help you discover your useful passions. And once you know what you need to do, get busy. Don’t let others wait for the blessings they’ll receive because of your contribution of goodness.
Throughout his career, my father has supervised others. Often when inquiring after an undone task, he’s heard,“I haven’t got around to it yet.” In response, my father would obtain small wooden discs and write the letters T-O-I-T on them. Then whenever someone would tell him, “I haven’t got around to it yet,” my father would give that person one of his special wooden discs and say, “There’s your round ‘to-it.’ Now get to work!”
Once you’ve identified your personal ministry, turn it on and get to work. “We all have work,” the hymn teaches. “Let no one shirk. Put your shoulder to the wheel” (Hymns, #252). When you allow your useful passions to drive your personal ministry, you can more easily find your life by losing it (see Matthew 10:39).
Stay in the game
Of course, life has a way of distracting or sometimes outright knocking us off course, thereby obstructing our personal ministry and restricting our contribution. When that happens, we’ve got to get back in the game.
Life will always present challenges. That’s by design; it’s partly why we’re here. But if you know who you are, if you’ve identified your useful passions, and if you have a personal ministry, then keep on keeping on that road of service. Your contribution may not change the world, but it will mean the world to those whose lives you change for the better.
Don’t just sit on the sidelines of life waiting for your best life to come to you. Make your best life happen! Skip the sidelines and find your useful passions that can fuel your own personal ministry. When you lose yourself in that effort, you’ll find your best life, because you’ll become the best version of you that you can be. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Christmas was yesterday, so yes, it’s technically over. But reflecting on my experience this year leaves me wanting something of the essence of Christmas to linger and continue into the coming year.
This past Sunday my bishop shared a few remarks at the end of the ward Christmas program. He recognized some in the congregation were friends of other faiths, and he spoke for a moment specifically to them. He acknowledged some recent changes in the Church, particularly the new meeting schedule starting next year. And then he promised that those who would faithfully attend our worship services each Sunday would find peace for at least that one hour.
In reflecting upon his words, I realize what many of us really want in our lives is peace. We want to get away from the fighting that fills our communities. We want to escape the turbulence troubled times give to us and those we love most. We want to remove the frustrating circumstances life can provide. We all want peace.
As a popular song teaches, let there be peace, and let it begin with me. When we take the proper action inside ourselves first and then promote peace in others, we can have peace in our lives, regardless of our circumstances or what is happening in the world around us.
Follow after peace
I’ve long spoken both on this program and in the blog about how singles can feel peace in a family-centered culture while not having the marker of belonging in that culture. Your focus determines your reality, so when you change your focus, you change your realty. When you change the way you think, you change your life.
That principle applies to everyone, not just singles. All of us can create a reality of peace in our lives when we focus on what brings peace. And the ultimate source of peace is the Prince of Peace. He suffered our pains and troubles so that He would know how to be compassionate in our hour of need. He died so that we could live.
That life Christ gives isn’t just eternal life in the realm beyond the veil. He gives life here and now in mortality. He can lighten our load and light the way before us. He can lift us when we are low. He can give hope amidst despair.
The Christmas spirit of peace can continue on in us when we increase our discipleship to the Prince of Peace. It’s when we ignore His teachings or forget our covenants that we bring ourselves the opposite of peace. Aligning ourselves with His teachings and our covenants with Him brings a harmony with truth that makes a natural home for peace.
Once we have peace within ourselves, we can then spread peace to others around us. Our continued walk after the Prince of Peace can inspire others to follow His enlightened example. Once they align themselves with truth, others can have the same peace in their lives.
But deep, lasting peace comes from more than just keeping the standards. Just as true happiness comes from giving yourself to all the right things for you, deep, lasting peace comes when you align yourself with all the right things for you. By all means, strive to keep the commandments and your covenants. Those things are right for everyone. But beyond the standards reside what’s right for each of us individually — goodness related to your personal ministry and the contribution only you can make in the lives of others.
When you give yourself to those right things that only you can do, you promote peace. You become a city shining on a hill giving goodness, light, and love to an increasingly darkened world desperately in need. And that peace you bring to others can come to you as well.
It all starts where the song says it starts. Let there be peace. And let it begin with me.
Let each of us align ourselves with truth. Let each of us keep the commandments. Let each of us be true to our covenants. Let each of us embrace our own personal ministry and contribute what only we can give. Let each of us feel the peace that comes from following more completely the Prince of Peace.
Then let us all go forward and share that peace with others. Let us light their lives. Let us give them hope. Let us lighten their load. Let there be peace. And let it begin with me and you. We will find a peace we have never before known if we promote peace within our own hearts and the hearts of others like we have never before done. And when we do that, we’ll have more joy in our journey.
Christmas is right around the corner, and as long-time members of the audience know, Christmas is my favorite holiday. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And we know why. There’s the time with family and friends, the food, the presents, the lights everywhere, and the general feeling of goodwill, just to name a few.
In addition, many of us will have our own slight adjustments to that list because we each have our own traditions for celebrating the season. Those traditions create memories that can last a lifetime. We can reflect back and relive the goodness of those moments, an experience bringing us joy again and again.
Yet we truly treasure those old memories when we allow them to motivate us in creating new memories to treasure and recording them in some way that allows us to bring these memories to future generations. By creating new memories as well as the means to share those memories with those coming after us, we truly treasure our memories of the season.
Relive past memories
We can all capture joy by reflecting back on treasured memories of past Christmases, particularly those that involve family traditions. Some of my most treasured memories of Christmas as I grew up involved two special traditions: Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas morning breakfast.
Dinner on Christmas Eve was a huge smorgasbord. We would list everything we wanted to eat — pizza, sandwiches, fried chicken, Chinese, whatever. We’d intentionally get more than we could possibly eat in one setting so we’d have leftovers over the next 2-3 days and my mother wouldn’t have to cook. It was my father’s annual present to my mother.
But we needed to have Christmas breakfast before getting to that point, and that was also a feast in its own right. We’d have waffles, eggs, bacon, sausage, hashbrowns — pretty much anything you’d want for a big breakfast. And just like the night before we’d have leftovers to eat the next couple of days.
What make these memories so treasured for me is that they required us to work together. Our Christmas Eve smorgasbord usually required 2-3 of us each traveling a different route to secure a portion of the whole feast. And we’d each take turns helping to fix parts of Christmas breakfast so each of us could shower and dress to get ready for it all. By the time we were all dressed and ready, so was breakfast.
Share past memories
Of course, treasured memories will die with us unless we create a channel to transmit them across the generations. It’s great that my treasured memories bring goodness into my life whenever I relive them. But how much more goodness can I bring into the world by recording my memories so that future generations can share in my joy?
Modern technology provides many options for all of us to record the memories we make each Christmas season. I’m something of an old school fan here; I prefer handwritten journals. But there’s plenty of other options. You can record audio conversations with family members, or take photos of family being together, or record video of family members participating in family traditions. Modern technology makes it really easy to capture the moments that make great memories.
And you don’t have to settle on just one channel for preserving and transmitting memories. Again, modern technology makes it super easy to utilize multiple channels. Some careful planning can maximize your readiness to capture the memory making moments you don’t anticipate as well the ones you do.
Don’t miss the opportunity
However you choose to proceed, don’t miss the opportunity to make the most of your moments. The memories that bring us joy from years past and the memories that will bring us joy in years to come arise from the actions we take now. We truly treasure the memories we have today by working to make more memories we’ll have tomorrow.
And we amplify the goodness contained in those memories by creating channels for sharing it with future generations. Don’t make the mistake of allowing your circumstances to decide your level of activity. Even if you’re single without any direct descendants, don’t think there aren’t others in succeeding generations who’ll be interested in knowing more about your goodness. Like light that shines for all to see, the goodness we each have can make memories everyone can treasure for years to come.
So treasure the memories you have by making new ones and recording them in some way for future generations. When you do, you’ll expand the goodness you experience in our your own life and transmit that goodness to those who come after you. And that will bring 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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