The major challenge for me wasn’t the test itself. For me, it was keeping up with everything else. I still had to attend class, submit homework, prepare for exams, and complete all other responsibilities. Overwhelmed, I turned to the Lord for help. The resulting experience has prompted me to wonder if I really understand what it means to partner with the Lord.
I’ve discussed partnering with the Lord before. The essential idea has always been to embrace the Lord as a partner for your life. No matter how good you are, He can make more out of your life than you can. So it just makes sense to counsel with Him and receive guidance as you make your way through mortality.
Yet my qualifying exam showed me an aspect I’d not before considered. As I collected journal articles related to my assigned topic, I began writing summaries of the articles so I could compare and identify any trends as well as gaps in the current research. But the shear quantity of content to summarize so overwhelmed me that by Day 5 it looked like I wouldn’t meet deadline. How could I write a research proposal when I hadn’t even read enough to know what research gaps existed?
Not knowing where to stand, I went to my knees and pleaded with the Lord for help. I’ve offered such pleadings before, but this time was different. This time I surrendered myself completely to God, declaring a sense of dependency upon Him I truly felt inside. I could succeed only with Him. I needed Him to reveal what I should write and to guide me in finding the supporting material for that proposal among all the many articles I had collected.
That sense of dependency took what I thought partnering with the Lord was to another level. I felt it so strongly tears freely accompanied my cries for help. I truly believed what I declared — without Him to support me, I would surely fail.
I remained on my knees after concluding my prayer, listening for His voice as I wiped the tears from my face. At length I arose and returned to my desk, ready to begin working. I didn’t know what to do, but I was willing to do.
It was in that moment ideas began flooding into my mind. I began to understand the direction I should take. As I acted on those ideas, more ideas came. Though the hour was late, I felt a resurgence of strength and energy fill me, allowing me to keep working on implementing the ideas coming to me.
Before long, I had a rough outline. I worked all the next day to finish and then submit the written proposal. I had a similar experience with the presentation, both in preparing and delivering it. Soon afterwards, I received notice I passed the exam.
That same experience played out as I fulfilled my other responsibilities. I continued praying with that same sense of dependency. Not only were my prayers answered, but I began to feel closer to the Lord than I’ve ever felt.
Pondering upon these experiences has led me to realize more what partnering with the Lord really means. It means feeling so dependent upon Him you must have His contribution to succeed. It means laying bare all you have, feel, think, and can see as evidence making the case for your dependency upon Him. And it means rising to your feet after falling to your knees and walking forward in faith He will provide according to your need.
Though my experience was directed towards my studies, I recognize how this same process can apply to every area of life. Don’t wait to feel the security and support the Lord is eager to give the willing. Partner with the Lord anew, and take your relationship with Him to another level. You’ll receive what you need to move forward, and you’ll feel closer to Him than you ever have. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
The year St. Patrick died is in question (some say 461, others say 493), but all seem agreed on the day he died — March 17. St. Patrick’s Day started as a feast held annually to commemorate the man who led Ireland’s conversion to Christianity. The history of how the holiday has evolved is rather interesting, but I found one legend about St. Patrick particularly applicable to LDS singles. And that connection will have me going green on St. Patrick’s Day for years to come.
See the "snakes"
Multiple legends involving St. Patrick abound, but the one catching my attention involves snakes. (And yes, I can hear Indiana Jones right now saying, “Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes?) As legend has it, God’s power was so manifest in St. Patrick as he preached on a hill that all the snakes simply fled from the island.
That’s not likely actual truth, since snakes were never native to Ireland. But there is a Celtic legend of serpent-like spirits called nagas which supply water to trees and make streams and rivers flow. The legend of St. Patrick ridding Ireland of snakes is probably an allegory for the missionary ridding Ireland of old pagan beliefs.
And that got me thinking. What “snakes” in the form of old, defunct ways of thinking do I still have? What habits continue to hold me back from living my best life? Many LDS singles stand in their own way of experiencing the joy surrounding them every day. Instead of fully living life, they live far beneath their privileges.
Banish the "snakes"
St. Patrick didn’t rid Ireland of “snakes” in a single day. He didn’t arrive on the Irish shore greeted by masses of eager converts. Rather he started where he was with what he had. He went from village to village, achieving success one convert at a time. With persistent dedication, over time he stepped into the conversion of the entire island.
It’s not much different for LDS singles (or anyone else for that matter) struggling against the challenges of their lives. You won’t step into your best life all at once as it’s handed to you. You step into your best life one day at a time as you slowly but surely create it. And creating your best life always begins inside you.
What “snakes” inside you prevent you from experiencing the joy all around you? What “spirits” do you need to remove from within you in order to recognize and receive that joy in your life? The way you think determines what you do, and what you do determines the life you live. With persistent dedication, over time you can step into your best life.
Embrace your life
I know this take on St. Patrick’s Day seems odd. Particularly in the United States, Canada, and Australia, St. Patrick’s Day has become associated with parades and parties. We wear green and pinch people who don’t. But behind the frolic lies a fascinating history offering insight into improving your life. And that improvement always begins with changing the way you think.
Often what we need to trigger new thinking is a new experience, and St. Patrick’s Day offers many opportunities for new experiences. Delve into the history of the holiday as well as Ireland and learn something new. Or try your feet at an Irish jig. Or experiment with an Irish dish. St. Patrick’s Day offers many opportunities to have a new experience that can trigger new and different ways of thinking.
Embracing such opportunities can have you going green each and every St. Patrick’s Day. And finding those opportunities every day of the year will open the door to the new ways of thinking you must embrace to experience your best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Covenant men and women, on the other hand, value covenants over all else. When an opportunity to gain something desirable for themselves comes along, they choose to make and keep sacred covenants, despite whatever they may lose for themselves. They in essence say, “Something better may come along, but I choose my covenants. Here I stand, and this is it for me.”
Recognize the natural
That difference may seem obvious. But too many LDS singles prioritize self over sacred covenants. I’m not talking about people going inactive or apostate, although you could apply it that way. I’m talking about singles rejecting great candidates simply because they aren’t the absolute “best.”
What drives this behavior? Singles mistakenly assume if they don’t marry the “best” they’ll be condemned to an unhappy future. Approaching dating with this faulty assumption, the natural mindset either ignores or rejects candidates who would make excellent companions and bring a life of real joy and happiness. That’s because natural men and women believe you must have the absolute “best” to be happy.
That natural mindset also drives behaviors that give dating its all too painful reputation. For instance, ghosting wouldn’t exist without the natural mindset. Singles who ghost dating candidates essentially prioritize their own self-gratification. What they want — be it avoiding an uncomfortable conversation or pursuing a more attractive candidate — matters more than how others feel. This doesn’t mean you should always surrender to what others want. It just means you should be respectful of others as you search for the best path for you.
Recognize the covenant
If the grass is always greener on the other side, natural men and women will look to get to that other side. They gladly chase after anything better for them because to them what they want matters most.
In contrast, covenant men and women may see the same something better, but they value covenants above all. So if pursuing something better means breaking their covenants, they don’t pursue it. To them, making and keeping sacred covenants matters most.
Now I’m not advocating marrying just anyone who’s active. You can have standards while prioritizing covenants. Suppose you’re choosing between two dating options: The first rates a 10 on a 10-point scale (with 10 being the best) but consistently pursues self-interest, and the second rates a 7 but consistently keeps covenants already made. The natural mindset urges choosing the first option, because 10 gratifies self more than 7. The covenant mindset also sees 10 is better than 7, but the covenant mindset encourages choosing the second candidate, because the covenant mindset prioritizes making and keeping sacred covenants.
Now what if the second candidate rated a 3 instead? The covenant mindset could turn that candidate away, because a partner who doesn’t bring something to the table and serves as little more than filler material will make it harder to keep the covenants which the covenant mindset prizes. Clearly we need a sense of balance, but prioritizing covenants doesn’t mean other standards have no importance.
In reality, no one of us is entirely natural or covenant. We’re all a combination of both, just as we are all mixtures of good and evil, light and darkness, strength and weakness. The real question is “Which one will dominate your choices?”
Many LDS singles stand in their own way of marriage because they allow the natural man or woman to govern their dating choices. True joy in married life comes from living the covenant mindset that says, “Something better may come along, but I make my stand here. For me, this is it.” This means you could “settle” for an allegedly “lesser” candidate and yet have the maximum amount of joy life offers.
So be a covenant man or a covenant woman who will say, “Something better for me may come along, but I make my stand here. For me, this is it.” When you do, you’ll find your dating life as well as your married life more enjoyable. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
These false assumptions actually create the struggle with knowing who to marry. That’s why singles looking for the presence of yes should instead look for the absence of no.
Take your responsibility
We’re here in mortality to exercise agency. Our choices in this life determine our situation in the next stage of our eternal journey. We therefore bear the responsibility for our choices.
That’s precisely why singles who look for some significant spiritual confirmation often struggle with knowing who to marry. Insisting God provide some unmistakable sign you should marry So-and-so means God carries responsibility for that decision. That’s not how it works, so insisting it should work that way only ends in frustration.
We’re here in mortality to make choices. And we have responsibility for those choices. Pushing that responsibility back to God defies His plan for His children. Insisting on some definite spiritual sign says we don’t accept So-and-so until God tells us marrying So-and-so will work out well. It pushes back to God the responsibility for our choices that rightly belongs to us.
Make your choice
We naturally want the security that would come from God revealing to us So-and-so is someone we should marry. But that’s not how it works. A river journey tends to go smoother when you don’t fight the current by paddling upstream. You can paddle downstream by aligning your assumptions with eternally true principles. Instead of fighting God’s design for mortality by pushing the responsibility for your choices onto Him, go with the way it’s supposed to work by accepting that responsibility.
Revelation from God comes after you make your own decision and then bring that decision you made to God to seek His counsel on your decision. God will then respond with yes, no, or maybe. If He answers yes, you’ll feel the strong, unmistakable impression He approves of your decision. If He answers no, you’ll feel a similarly unmistakable impression He doesn’t approve. And if you don’t get any strong impression one way or the other, He answers maybe, which means He trusts you to make your own decision.
So unless the Lord answers no, you should go forward with your decision. If He answers yes, going forward is obvious. But you should also go forward if He answers maybe. If your choice would take you too far away from where He wants you, God answers no. So when He doesn’t answer no, you can walk forward in faith following through on your decision. Only if He answers no do you need to change course. So all you really need is the absence of no.
Walk in faith
Singles stand in their own way when they insist on the presence of yes when approaching marriage decisions. But that faulty assumption also retards progress at any stage of the dating journey. So unless you get that overwhelming sense of no from the Spirit, you should include more people in your circle of friends, and you should casually date more of those friends more often.
Especially in the early stages of the dating journey, you don’t need to receive revelation for every choice you make. Some might extend that to deciding who to marry. Regardless of how you feel about that idea, looking for the absence of no will have you making more progress more quickly in your dating journey.
So if you’ve been waiting for the presence of yes before you move forward, it’s time to change your assumptions. Stop looking for the presence of yes, and start looking for the absence of no. Walk in faith the Lord will tell you when you’re traveling too far from the path He wants for you. That walk will breathe confidence in your gait as you gain more experience. With that experience, you’ll learn, grow, and make more and more better choices. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That’s why it didn’t take me long to identify “Eyes to See” by Michelle D. Craig as the Conference address to use for the program today. In her remarks, Sister Craig spoke of the need we all have both to see others deeply and to be seen deeply by others. And that’s possible for you when you acquire eyes to see.
Stop doing what you shouldn’t
I’ve long spoken about self-talk. We all give messages to ourselves every day out of habit. For most of us, at least 80% of those messages are negative. A constant barrage of negative messaging can hold anyone back from fully living the joy to be had in life.
The cure for that, of course, is embracing habits of positive self-talk. But you’ll find that next to impossible without first deeply seeing yourself the way God sees you. If you see yourself in any lesser light, it’ll be harder to accept your divine nature and heritage as a child of God. And you’ll feel awkward acting on what you don’t really believe.
That’s why I love how Sister Craig began her remarks with the story of Elisha’s servant seeing a threatening army surround him and his master. But the servant set aside his fears when the Lord opened his eyes to see the truth of his master’s words: “They that be with us are more than they that be with them.” Sister Craig then declared,
If what you’re doing keeps you from living the joy surrounding you every single day, then the obvious first step to experiencing that joy is to remove the obstacle. Get out of your own way. Stop doing what you shouldn’t, and stop thinking in ways that lead you to do what you shouldn’t.
Start doing what you should
Of course, you can’t just stop the bad you think and do. We’re all biologically hardwired to operate out of habit. Our self-talk and most other thoughts and actions we play out of habit. Our habits feed us the instructions we follow to navigate everyday life.
But habits don’t change just because you stop executing bad instructions. Again, you’re biologically hardwired to have a habit, so when you encounter the trigger connected with that habit you stopped, your brain looks for a habit. Not finding one, it kicks in the default response, which is always to go back to the last habit you had.
That’s why you don’t just quit bad habits. You must replace them with better ones. So once you stop doing what you shouldn’t, start doing what you should. And you can begin by partnering with the Lord and allowing Him to show the way.
Sister Craig shared some beautiful stories of how people were blessed and uplifted when others stopped their normal routines, looked around them, and acted on promptings to go and do. She declared,
See the beauty all around you
When you replace less effective habits of thinking and doing with more effective ones, you position yourself to see and to receive the deep joy that really does surround you every single day. That joy comes when you give your all to your true identity and purpose. But you can’t do that if you don’t first see your true identity and purpose.
So start today to develop eyes to see. Stop thinking and doing what prevents you from seeing yourself and others as the children of God we all are. Start thinking and doing what opens your view to the marvelous truths of the restored gospel and the reality of the Savior’s marvelous Atonement.
With a clearer vision of your true reality, you can press forward with joy amidst any challenge. You can feel better about yourself because you’ll see yourself in the splendid potential for glory bequeathed to every child of God. You can feel better about life because you’ll see the beauty that really is all around you. You’ll see more clearly the Lord’s hand working in your life and the lives of others. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That story greatly resembles dating for many LDS singles. Try as they might nothing they do seems to work. And days like Singles Awareness Day (otherwise known as Valentine’s Day) only highlight the struggles many LDS singles experience daily. In such circumstances, it’s easy to surrender to despair and embrace the pity party. But if you pity anything, you should never pity yourself. Pity the pity party instead.
Recognize your choice
I can talk because I’ve been there. After being single for more than 25 years, I’ve walked the lonely road. I know the heartache when everything you do seems to end in pain. If anyone should have justification to throw a pity party, it should be me.
And yet I’m not throwing one. To the contrary, I’m very optimistic about the future and my future in particular. How can I be so positive amidst so much reason for despair? After all, I’m still single. Nothing has ever worked out for me. True, I’ve had wonderful moments with girlfriends over the years, but it’s all come to nothing but pain every single time. At my age, how can I expect my life will ever be different?
Quite simply, I believe my future is more the product of my choices than my past. I believe fundamental truths which the restored gospel of Jesus Christ teaches me. And my beliefs run more than just skin deep. They permeate the very fabric of my character to define who I am and what I intend to become.
Choose your focus
For example, I believe the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi when he said everything has its opposite (2 Nephi 2:11). Everything includes the obstacles in our dating lives. What’s the opposite of an obstacle if not an opportunity? Thus, with every obstacle comes an opportunity.
Then consider your focus determines your reality. Focusing on your obstacles creates an obstructed reality. You’ll feel unfairly held back and oppressed by circumstances outside your control. But focusing on the opportunity that must exist with every obstacle turns your reality around. You’ll feel liberated and empowered to pursue whatever passion fascinates your imagination.
Either way you’re not one jot more or less single than you were before. But how you feel inside about yourself, your life, and your future is as different as the bright day is from the dark night. I’ve experienced that difference in my own life. And I’ve seen countless others experience it in their lives as well.
Embrace your reality
Those who surrender to the pity party simply fail to see the opportunities and reasons for optimism and hope truly surrounding them. We should therefore pity them for their lack of understanding and perspective and not their circumstances. We all came to mortality to have hard experiences. Indeed, we wanted the challenge because we knew that was the only way we could grow in eternity.
If Singles Awareness Day has you feeling as burned and failing as my experimental churro crisps were, you don’t have to be that way forever, or even for one more single day. Every day, you choose your focus by what you choose to feed yourself. And your chosen focus then brings you your reality.
Don’t throw the pity party. Instead, pity the pity party. Take the truths of the restored gospel deep into your soul. Let the miracle the Savior can and wants to perform inside of you happen. You can embrace pure joy and happiness without being one iota less single.
Of course hard times will come, as they always will. That’s part of the plan. But when you seek out the opportunities instead of the obstacles, the Lord will open your eyes to what truly surrounds you every day. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
This woman says she disavows soul mates. But she also confesses both liking some of her current boyfriend’s traits and wishing he had other traits her former boyfriends have. She says she’s not being picky, but when you refuse to accept good enough I beg to differ. But how do you know when you have good enough?
In my view, this woman stands in her own way. She’s so focused on what her potential partner has today she doesn’t seem to consider what he’ll have tomorrow. How can you avoid confusion when you try to decide for tomorrow using only the indications of today? Here we see the problem with position.
If you marry someone today, you don’t get the person you marry today. The person you marry today is the one you get 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the road. It’s not about position; it’s about direction.
I’ve seen this in all my friends who got married. Invariably it’s the same story. Each partner is positioned at different points along the spectrum, which can be for anything from money to children to work ethic to whatever. As the two partners live with each other, each exerts a force on the other pulling the other closer. Eventually, they both end up somewhere in the middle between their original positions.
The most satisfying marriages have each partner pulling the other in a desirable shared direction. When you and your partner want to go in different directions, tension will always be in the relationship. But when you align yourselves to go in the same direction, the energy that went into tension now goes into propelling each of you towards perfection together. Becoming better partners makes you better people.
That’s where I see this woman having her biggest problem. Her considerations don’t seem focused on direction. Her comparison of different boyfriends seems focused on position, like asking, “What can my partner offer me today?”
A focus on position is incredibly shortsighted. Your position today says nothing about your position tomorrow. You could have the best position today, but with a bad direction, tomorrow you’ll be worse off. Conversely, even if you’re in a very bad position today, with a good direction you’ll be in a good position tomorrow. Position means nothing. Direction means everything.
Yet most LDS singles assess dating partners almost universally on position. It’s like using the wrong tool for the job. Sure, you can fell a tree with a pocket knife, but it’d be much easier with a chain saw. Likewise, in making a decision that will affect your life tomorrow, you should consideration where your life will be tomorrow. Direction gives a far more accurate indication of that than does position.
Now I’m not advocating you ignore position. You can’t progress in your dating journey without an agreeable enough partner — that’s a fundamental principle of dating. Often that means your partner should bring something to the table today. Having nothing to offer just doesn’t make anyone agreeable to anybody.
That said, direction always has more importance than position. Yet in our instant gratification microwave world, we’re often not patient enough to assess a quality like direction that takes time to assess. The problem with position is one of patience.
Patience is then the ready solution. Get to know people. Stay in that dreaded “friend zone” with someone, because it’s more important you like rather than love your partner. Spend some more time getting to know more people in the casual dating stage. That experience will help you better assess the direction of each potential partner.
And so it goes for the rest of your dating journey. Prize direction over position by taking the time to assess direction. With that priority, you set yourself up for success because the person you get 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the road after you marry will be more aligned with your own direction in life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That’s because if you always get back up and keep pressing forward, sooner or later you’ll achieve your goals and live your dreams. You don’t get that staying down. So if you’ve been knocked down, get back up and let the journey begin again.
Always get back up
It is about the journey, after all. The destination is essential in that it determines the direction; it sets the course for your sails. But no destination ever changed anyone. It’s the journey that does that.
And it does that job well, but only if you embrace it, only if you choose to be changed by it. If you stay down when life knocks you down, you essentially choose to stay separated from the destination embodied in your goals and dreams. You essentially choose to stay unchanged.
But when you get back up after life knocks you down, when you refuse to stay defeated, you choose to be changed by your challenges into something that overcomes those challenges. Is it easy? Of course not. If it were, everyone would be doing it. Most don’t do it because they aren’t willing to pay the price for what they want. They prefer the easy choice of staying down. They prefer the fade out of failure to the surge of success.
Perhaps they console themselves in being normal. Everyone does fail, after all. So failure doesn’t make you defective or deficient. It just says you’re normal.
Even those who succeed start out as failures, and many of them failed over and over ad nauseam. Take Stephen King, for instance, one of the most prolific and popular American authors from the last century. Publishers rejected his first book Carrie 30 times. And when that 30th rejection came, King was so disheartened he promptly placed his draft in the circular file.
Life had knocked King down, and left to his own devices, he would’ve chosen to stay down. But he wasn’t alone. His wife removed the draft from the circular file, handed it back to him, and asked, “Why don’t you try just one more time?” That one more time was all King needed. He published his first novel, and the rest is history.
Every success story I’ve ever encountered goes the same way. Everyone fails initially, and often abysmally. But those who succeed choose not to stay down when life knocks them down. They pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and start all over again. They rise and declare, “Let the journey begin.” And off they go to begin again.
Just start over
All of us can do that, and yes, that includes you. And here’s the best part. You don’t need to wait for the first day of the week, month, or year to begin choosing better. Every day offers the opportunity to begin again. So if you’re normal and find yourself knocked to the ground before January is through, just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start over again.
Did you fall off that exercise train you committed to ride at the start of the year? Hop back on. If you messed up that diet, forgive yourself and get back on it. Trying to gain a new skill and missed a day or two or more? Pick up where you left off. Struggling with adopting some new positive habit? Keep struggling, keep fighting, and every time you fail keep starting over.
Whatever goal you set for yourself this year, don’t let failure settle you back into staying your old you. Let the journey begin again. Embracing the confrontation with challenge lets you grow into something that transcends your challenge. You’ll probably fail countless times, and that’s OK. Just keep punching. Keep getting back up every time you get knocked down, and eventually you will succeed. You’ll achieve your goals, you’ll live your dreams, and however many failures you had won’t matter at all. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That said, the smart tough get going long before the going gets tough. They don’t just wait for the waves of life to crash against them and hope for the best. They anticipate their challenges and prepare for them. They embrace a vision that drives them to do more and to be more. They don’t just perform; they super-perform. They understand that life is so short and so marvelous the only real decision is to go big or go home.
To start, let’s step back from the whole making-goals-for-the-new-year routine and adjust our approach. Quite frankly, too many of us have simply played out ineffective habits that don’t produce the results we really want in life. You need to step outside yourself and see everything anew.
And the first thing you need to see anew is yourself. Too many people refuse to go big because that vision doesn’t match how they see themselves. Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar often said, “You cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself.”
So are your dreams of your best life small or big? And how do they compare with how you see yourself? Do you see yourself as capable of accomplishing great things? Or do you see yourself as a nobody, a failure, or someone who’ll just never have success? If you find it hard to dream big, examine your self-image. If you see yourself as unworthy or incapable, you’ll struggle to believe — and I mean really believe — you can achieve anything great in your life. So before you start setting goals, you need to get good with you.
Once you’re good with you so the way you see yourself matches big dreams, only then can you truly dream big. That’s because a poor self-image fetters your dreams within self-imposed restrictions. When you free yourself from those self-imposed restrictions, you feel liberated to achieve the full measure of your potential. And it’s an empowering feeling.
However, most never get to that point. They keep listening to their biological hardwiring say, “Yeah, but ....” Truly, that voice is designed to keep you safe. But the longer you listen to that voice, the more your self-imposed restrictions that begin with “Yeah, but” will keep you living far beneath your potential. “Safe” isn’t really safe. Risky is the real safe.
Let go of your fears, your disappointments, your inadequacies, your failures, your excuses, and everything else keeping you from the life you want. No one achieves anything big by accident. Big results call for intentional choices, and big dreams can drive the choices that produce big results.
Notice I haven’t said anything yet about setting goals. That’s because it’s pointless to go after a target before you’re properly prepared. If you want to climb Mount Everest, for example, don’t wear shorts and sandals. Be smart and bundle up.
The same is true about goals. Before you announce any New Year resolutions — or really any goal at any time — make sure you have the right foundation of being good with you and unchaining yourself from the self-imposed limitations of small dreams. Only when you think big and dream big can you then live big.
Living big doesn’t mean what it appears on the surface. It doesn’t mean living outside your means or suddenly achieving greatness in a single bound. Living big means taking small steps every day and celebrating the daily wins you encounter along the way. Real success is the daily accumulation of those seemingly insignificant small wins.
So go big or go home. Life is too short and too marvelous to waste on small potatoes. Supersize your life by getting good with you, releasing the restrictions on your dreams, and then setting goals to achieve and celebrate the daily wins in your life. When you do, you’ll grow yourself into living big. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
But in reflecting upon my situation, I’ve come to realize my faulty assumption. I’ve been assuming I can find peace only outside myself. I want to get away from the fighting that fills our communities. I want to escape the turbulence of these troubled times. I want to resolve the circumstances outside myself that I’ve erroneously connected with how I feel inside myself.
But peace doesn’t come from outside ourselves. Peace comes from within. As a popular song teaches, let there be peace, and let it begin with me. When we take proper action, we can have peace within even though the world around us has anything but.
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.
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. But in order to make His lift, His light, and His love our reality, we must focus upon Him.
The Christmas spirit of peace lives in us when we increase our discipleship to the Prince of Peace. It’s when we ignore His teachings or turn our focus away from the weightier matters of covenant living that we bring ourselves the opposite of peace. Aligning our will with His brings a harmony with truth that makes our hearts a natural home for peace.
And only when we have peace within ourselves can we effectively promote peace outside ourselves. Only a continued walk after the Prince of Peace can inspire others to follow His enlightened example and find peace within themselves.
But deep, lasting peace never comes from just going through the motions. Just as true happiness comes from giving yourself to all the right things for you, deep, lasting peace comes only when you align yourself with all the right things for you.
Of course you should 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 bring greater peace to you as well.
You can’t really share with others what you yourself don’t have. It all starts where the song says it starts. Let there be peace. And let it begin with me.
Peace comes from within, so let each of us align ourselves with God. Let each of us be true to our covenants. Let each of us give what only we can give. Let each of us focus on Christ and feel the peace that comes from following after 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 when we cultivate peace within our own hearts like we have never before done. And doing that will bring us more joy in our 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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