There really was nothing wrong with me, but there was something wrong with my thinking. Despite seeming natural, these sorts of comparisons with others are never fair. And I wasn’t alone there; many LDS singles unwittingly compare themselves to others. But you should compare you with you and no one else.
Understand how you’re built
Comparing yourself to others is inherently unfair. We all have different backgrounds, different knowledge, different experiences, different ways of seeing the world. Comparing yourself with others is like comparing apples and oranges. They’re both fruits, but beyond that they have few similarities.
Yet recognizing that no good comes from that comparison doesn’t stop anyone from doing it. Why does it seem so natural to compare ourselves with others? Why are we so prone to make these comparisons despite their inherent unfairness?
The answer is biology. We’re all biologically hardwired with a basic desire to be loved and accepted. Since like begets like, that desire translates into a desire to be normal, to fit in, to belong. And so part of our biological hardwiring assesses what’s normal by comparing ourselves with those around us.
Think of that system as a sort of thermostat. We set our “temperature” to match the “temperature” of those around us so we’ll be like them and therefore fit in. This is why fat people who hang out with fat people find it hard to lose weight and fat people who hang out with skinny people find it easier to lose weight. In both cases, biology prompts the individual to be more like those whom that individual spends substantial time.
Leverage how you’re built
The same biological hardwiring works in any situation, including the one in which LDS singles feel like Moroni as they watch their friends leave singles life one by one. They feel out of place because they’re not like those around them. Time’s progressing, but they don’t seem to be.
How do you deal with such situations? If your biological hardwiring has you wanting to be like those around you, and you find yourself stuck and unable to be like those around you, are you doomed to a miserable existence? My response? Only if you want to be.
You can’t change your biological hardwiring, but you can redirect its influence. First, recognize both your propensity to compare and the inherent unfairness in comparing yourself with others. Then accept comparisons only between you and you. Every time you find yourself comparing you with anyone else, stop, remind yourself how unfair that comparison is, and then compare you with you.
Essentially, you compare the person you are today with the person you were previously. It may be the person you were last year, last month, last week, yesterday, or even earlier today. But if you can see a reasonable improvement between the previous and present you, you’re making progress. And that’s what really matters.
Grow into something more
Of course, simply making progress doesn’t necessarily satisfy the basic need to belong, especially if everyone one around you isn’t comparing them with them. But that just highlights the need to choose with caution those with whom you choose to spend your time. Maximize your time around others who’ll help you compare you with you, and minimize your time around others who won’t.
In the end, it won’t matter whether you did this or that within whatever time frame as much as whether the you at the end is better than any previous you, because that will mean you made progress along the eternal path. And making progress along that path will mean your time spent in mortality was worthwhile.
Stop comparing yourself with others. They don’t have the same combination of background, knowledge, experience, and perspective you have. For all we share in common, our individual experience in mortality really is individual. So compare you with you and no one else. You’ll turn your focus more on making the progress you need to make, and that focus will then determine a reality of progress. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
It’s not uncommon to find singles who have extended such expectations to every part of their lives. They include how many kids they will have, where they will live, what kind of career they have, and more. The list of rules their life is supposed to follow is quite long if not endless. Well, I’ve got just one thing to say to that. Your rules are dumb.
Make rules for you
Setting rules for how life is supposed to proceed establishes expectations. And that’s a problem, especially where other people are involved. Everyone is so imperfect that you’re almost certain to be disappointed.
I know that sounds cynical. I’m not trying to be. Successful people take the world as they find it, not as they wish it would be. That means seeing things as they really are and calling them out. Expecting people to act a certain way so your life can unfold according to your fantasy is just dumb.
Instead of establishing rules for how others should act, make rules for how you should. Others will almost certainly disappoint you, but you can choose not to disappoint yourself. You can work towards your best life by becoming your best self, and you do that by exercising the discipline to conform to rules that your best self would follow. That process of struggle as you seek to change not just your behavior but your identity fuels the growth for the transformation into your best self.
Leverage life’s little surprises
Your rules for how your life should proceed are dumb for another reason. By staking out an expectation of what will or even should happen, you cut off all other possibilities from being acceptable. And that removes much of the beauty your life could have.
Life is wonderful not because it conforms with some plan of perfection but because of possibility. Variety and spontaneity are the spices of life because they highlight possibilities. It’s the possibility of surprise that helps make it interesting.
Of course, some of those surprises would be more interesting if they didn’t invade your life. For example, my place recently flooded for the third time in the last two months. A surprise to be sure, but I don’t wallow in playing the victim. I choose to leverage the event to fuel my drive to improve my situation. Those improvements require me to think creatively about possible solutions and to work hard to realize them.
If I insisted that my place wasn’t supposed to flood because that’s not how my life is supposed to be, I’d cut off the creativity I need to find solutions. I’d spend far too much time focusing on the problem, which creates a reality filled with problems. I’d miss out on how beautiful my life could be by truly living it — taking it by the reins and making it the best it can be.
Open yourself to possibility
What would happen if you suspended your rules and opened yourself to possibility? Instead of insisting that your life proceed according to some pre-determined expectation, what if you had the humility to embrace an alternative?
I recall in a previous ward receiving an invitation to dinner. The family had invited another family to join us. As we waited for the women to finish preparations, the children were playing outside, and we men were conversing.
Speaking of his wife, one of the men said, “I never thought I’d be happy with a red head, but I am.” When single, he expected he needed to marry a blonde to be happy. What he found by releasing that expectation and embracing possibility was true happiness found not in what he had but in what he gave. And the life he described living was truly beautiful.
Your rules are dumb. Let go of the expectations that life must unfold a certain way in order for it to work for you. Your life will work for you when you do the work your best life requires. And that will bring your more joy in your journey.
Check your thinking
Elder Christofferson starts with Job, recounting how Job’s sufferings tried him so deeply he began to condemn God for “wronging” him. God then reminded Job of His omnipotence and omniscience. Job, realizing he couldn’t hold a candle to his Maker, humbly let God prevail. In the end, “the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12).
Often the suffering of LDS singles leads them down the road of Job. They can feel wronged when they do their best to keep the standards of righteousness and yet desired righteous blessings don’t materialize. Worse yet, those blessings don’t show any sign of ever materializing.
But the problem here is in how we think. We need to correct the faulty assumption that keeping the standards means we’ll have our desired blessings and certainly not in our way and on our schedule. Elder Christofferson taught,
The idea that “I’m not happy so God must be doing something wrong” assumes God’s main job is to make our lives blissfully care free. But God’s work is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). As we discussed last week, growth is often uncomfortable. Sometimes that discomfort comes from living without desired righteous blessings.
Correct your assumptions
How then do the blessings we want come? Many LDS singles simply shrug their shoulders as they give the most common response: “I don’t know.” But other responses abound.
In recent years, as the proportion of singles in the Church has grown, leaders have increasingly suggested the receipt of righteous blessings is largely out of our hands. They say God has an individualized and personalized plan for each of His children, and righteous blessings are dispensed as God executes that plan.
Elder Christofferson appears to be in that camp when he taught,
I agree blessings which don’t conform to God’s will won’t materialize. However, I don’t think that means the lack of a particular blessing means it’s God’s will that blessing isn’t there. D&C 130:21 teaches every blessing is predicted upon obedience to the law connected with that blessing. If you don’t keep the particular law, you don’t get the particular blessing.
Thus, any lack of companionship and marriage lies not in failing to keep the standards good enough but rather in the assumption that keeping the standards should yield the blessing of companionship and marriage. Those desired righteous blessings are predicated on a different law.
Partner with Him
You may well ask, “What is that different law?” The blessings of companionship and marriage come as singles progress through the stages of the dating journey. When singles follow the fundamental principles of that journey, they make progress in that journey. When they don’t follow fundamentals, they don’t progress. Period.
Following fundamentals means becoming more agreeable, and that means changing you. Partnering with the Lord is the best way to know what changes you need to make now to become more agreeable. Partnering with the Lord also provides guidance, courage, and strength in making those changes. So a failure to see desired blessings in our lives should motivate us to increase our relationship with God, not diminish it. Elder Christofferson taught,
God hasn’t abandoned us simply because desired blessings haven’t come how or when we want. But we abandon Him when we lose faith in Him and allow that loss of faith to tolerate a lack of devotion to our covenants and our place in His work. That work is not about making life easy and comfortable but about helping others progress along a path that stretches into eternity.
When life doesn’t go as planned, we need to increase our relationship with God. Hard times are a call to deepen discipleship. By heeding that call, we’ll find the guidance we need to know the next step as well as the faith and courage to take it. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility” (2 Nephi 2:11).
To Father Lehi’s list of essential opposites we can add this pair: comfort and growth. We all want growth, but growth by its very nature is often uncomfortable. And if we avoid the discomfort, we’ll never grow. There’s no comfort in growth but also no growth in comfort.
Understand the nature
We’d all do well to remember these essential opposites as we encounter challenges in our lives. Many LDS singles naturally retract from the discomfort their challenges bring. That has nothing to do with being single and everything to do with being human. But the growth they want can’t come without discomfort.
Many of the challenges of LDS singles life come from the nature of singleness. You’re made to connect with another half, but you have only the half you are. Everything in your life has to come from you. All your financial support has to come from you. Maintaining everything in your life has to come from you. If something doesn’t work, the fix has to come from you. If you have children to raise, then that too has to come from you.
We’ve all been there in Singleland. Some of us have been there longer than others, and others more are still there. In fact, that’s where the majority of the adult Church membership is. And the majority of that majority is stuck right there in Singleland because they keep looking for the comfortable exit in the futile hope they can grow without discomfort.
Embrace the discomfort
That hope is futile because growth and comfort are essential opposites. You can’t grow if you stay comfortable. To have growth, you must be willing to embrace discomfort.
Notice I said embrace. A mere acceptance will not do. You must put your arms around the pain and take it in. You must channel it into the molding of your character. You must leverage it to your advantage. You must take what appears to hold you back and turn it into the very impetus that propels you forward.
Most people don’t think this way, which is why most people when presented with challenge will whimper and wallow in self-pity. Those who successfully transcend — not just overcome but transcend — their challenges are those who embrace the discomfort. And that embrace is what allows them to experience the most growth from their challenges.
Experience maximum growth
We’ve all had the experience not just of trials but also of realization after the trial that the uncomfortable experience made us stronger. We learned something we didn’t know before. We have a perspective that’s more complete because of the experience the trial provided. We grew because of the discomfort.
But most of us leave it there, taking just what life has forced upon us. We’re leaving some growth on the table when we do that. There’s so much more growth we could experience if only we embraced the discomfort.
And that discomfort is something LDS singles especially should want to embrace. We’ve talked often about the fundamentals of the dating journey and how you must become more agreeable by changing you. That change you most need is almost always uncomfortable. But embracing that growth by being all in with both your circumstances and what you do in those circumstances will bring that change to you more quickly and more completely. And maximum growth leads to maximum joy.
There’s no comfort in growth but also no growth in comfort. May we each remember that truth as we each consider our response to the challenges in our own lives. And may we each embrace the discomfort in those challenges. Doing so will maximize the growth we’ll experience. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Thinking back on my experiences with LDS singles over the years (in addition to being one myself), I’ve selected some questions that appear over and over again yet yield poor results. Also, for each one I’ve better questions that lead to better answers that yield better results. At the end of the day, we all want results, but tackling your challenges often begins with asking the right questions.
Change your thinking
Let’s start with what’s probably the leader of the pack. Many of us are just trying to do the right thing while we find our way in this world, and yet many of us just keep getting beat down. Over and over again, when things don’t work out, we ask, “Why me?”
I was like that in my 20s. “I don’t understand,” I’d say to myself. “I’m trying to do what’s right. Why is dating so hard? Why can’t they see what a good person I am? Why does this have to happen to me?”
With questions like those guiding my thinking, I didn’t get desired results. And my struggles intensified because I kept doing what I’d been doing. I kept asking the same questions, which led to the same answers, which brought the same results.
Things kept getting worse until I reached a turning point: I realized I was responsible for my life and whatever it was. Most turn away from such thoughts, but I embraced it. And as a result, I started asking different questions. Instead of asking “Why me?” I started to ask “What do I do now?”
Question your questions
I can’t begin to tell you how fundamental that flip in thinking was. Instead of playing the victim, I started playing the victor. Instead of feeling all was hopeless and lost, I began feeling hopeful that everything could change in my favor. The blessings I wanted could come to me.
That’s another question I started asking. Many singles wonder when their blessings will come to them, especially as the years being single begin to accumulate. But instead of asking “When will my blessings come?” it’s far more productive to ask “What can I do to near myself towards my blessings?” So many want their struggles to end, but they want the solution to come on demand without doing any real work to get it. The true joy in life unfolds when you use your agency to quit wallowing in the wanting and start wading in the working.
That’s one major difference between less and more effective questions. Less effective questions assume you don’t need to change you, and therefore you don’t need to act. But results come only from action, so taking no or poor action means getting no or poor results. More effective questions, conversely, assume you must change you, and thus their answers encourage you to exercise the power of your agency and act. Better action always produces better results.
Claim your power
That’s why asking poor questions never delivers rich rewards. I’m sure many if not most of us have asked, “Why does it have to be so hard?” But how many of us have stopped to examine the assumptions behind that question? Those who do are more likely to encounter the better question: “How can I get better?”
It’s one thing to wish things were better. Everyone does that. It’s another to wish you were better, and most don’t do that. They focus on what’s outside of themselves, and in so doing they disempower themselves because the power they seek to change their life is already inside of them and by looking outside themselves they focus away from the very power they seek. When you continually focus on what you can do to grow into something that isn’t challenged by what currently challenges you now, you can achieve amazing results. You’ll always get better answers by asking better questions.
So when you find yourself asking questions about the state of your life, step outside yourself and ask if you’re asking the right questions. Only by asking the right questions will you find the right answers, and that will bring you more joy in your journey.
The gospel has the answers
I freely admit my ignorance. I’ve never been married or a parent, so I don’t fully understand the challenges of single parenting. But I do understand singleness and recognize several principles Brother Romney shared that apply to all LDS singles, regardless of age or circumstance.
First, and perhaps most importantly, the restored gospel holds the solutions to life’s problems. You’ll see many of those solutions only after adopting the perspectives the restored gospel encourages. Far too many LDS singles think a solution will eliminate their problem so they can live more comfortably. Often real solutions instead allow you to leverage your problems so you can grow and become more than you were before.
Brother Romney brought out that perspective beautifully. The hope, joy, and strength which he found as a single father came from “small, simple things” like family prayer, expressions of encouragement, magnifying callings, and seeking direction from inspired leaders. Our Heavenly Father has a plan of happiness for you. That plan might not resemble the one you’d make, but His plan will best help you attain maximum happiness.
You’re not in it alone
In his article, Brother Romney raised an excellent question: “I was a father trying to raise daughters on my own. . . . How could I help them prepare to become women?” This variation on the more common theme of “How can I meet the challenge when I don’t seem fit for it?” has troubled many LDS singles.
Yet the answer again lies in perspective. No matter your situation, you’re in this alone only if you want to be. Brother Romney found many resources of support for his situation, including family members, neighbors, and ministering brothers and Church leaders. We all have more resources than we think we do. We just need to apply the Savior’s teaching: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7).
Brother Romney rightly mentions that “not everyone will experience this same level of support.” Wards are people, and people are all at different points of progression along the eternal path. Some just haven’t yet progressed that far.
Notwithstanding, the Lord won’t leave you comfortless. He’s provided people around you, sometimes in and sometimes out of the Church, who’ll help in some way. You just need ask, seek, and knock. As Brother Romney acknowledges, “until we let others know the gaps we see . . . those individuals may not understand how they can help.” The squeaky wheel does indeed get the grease.
The Lord knows you intimately
Ultimately, the Lord won’t abandon you. He loves you too much to do that. Not only will He walk by your side, the Lord will provide a strength to persevere only He can provide.
The same Lord Who’s assembled a plan for your maximum happiness, restored His gospel offering needed perspective, and provided resources to support you is also intimately aware of you. He knows what you need in the moment you need it.
He knows how overwhelming your specific combination of challenges and circumstances can feel. He submitted Himself to all things “that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:12). Through the enabling power of His Atonement, Christ can help you do what you otherwise could not.
No matter the challenge, whether it be raising daughters as a single dad, raising sons as a single mother, or simply finding joy in LDS singles life, you can partner with the Lord and leverage your challenges to grow and become something more than you were before. When you do, you’ll grow so much you’ll transcend your challenges. What once seemed overwhelming will be no more than an afterthought. And all along the way, you’ll feel the strength of the Lord abiding with you. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Yes, I know how incredible that may sound to some, especially if your life hasn’t gone the way you expected. You’ve probably also had some painful experiences involving either someone else deciding against you in a single instance or many others using their agency across multiple instances. Maybe you’ve experienced both. But even if you’ve had the whole world against you, I still say seek and expect miracles.
Believe in miracles
We typically think of miracles as events that defy the laws of nature. For me, miracles are manifestations of one or more universal laws we don’t understand fully.
This shift in perspective is essential to why I say we should seek and expect miracles. The perspectives we take and the assumptions we embrace are everything; they’re key components of our thinking, which produces our actions, which in turn produces our results. In the end, we all want results, so when we don’t get desired results, we need to examine our thinking.
President Nelson begins his comments on miracles with this declaration:
First, he illustrates his concept with the words of a single adult! And this wasn’t just any single. No, Moroni had everything ripped from him. He witnessed the destruction of his people in a horrible war, leaving him to wander alone for the safety of his own life. Yet he still declared fervent belief in miracles.
All lives have painful disappointments, but most don’t compare to Moroni’s. If in his circumstances he could find the strength to believe in miracles, could we not muster the courage to do the same?
President Nelson continued,
It’s not just Moroni but every book of scripture declaring belief in miracles — all the more reason to question our perspectives and assumptions leading us to disbelieve in miracles. While we question, we should remember the Prophet’s caveat: Miracles can take time and may not unfold how we expect. So often LDS singles seeking a miracle expect something so inconsistent with universal law they take the absence of their miracle as evidence against miracles.
Do the work
That last phrase caught my attention. How many LDS singles have approached their desire for a miracle “doubting nothing”? Most of us have doubts, some so much so they’re consumed by them. And yet “doubting nothing” is part of the price of faith we must pay for admission to the miracle show.
That means we’ve got work to do. It’s no surprise then to see President Nelson’s next words:
How often have we advocated taking ownership of your life, or doing what’s in your power, or partnering with the Lord? Results come from only one thing — action. To score points, you must quit sitting on the sidelines and get on the field. So often the miracle we want is perfection delivered to our doorstep. In reality, we need to partner with the Lord, accept His guidance, and do the work that will create our miracle.
Trust His promises
So many LDS singles wanting a miracle are faint. They’re weary. They’re beat down by the vicissitudes of life that point their gaze towards their weaknesses and imperfections, leaving them to wonder how their miracle could ever happen.
But none of that matters when you partner with the Lord, for He “giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.” With Him, we can do anything, even move the mountain seemingly standing before us.
So yes, even if you’ve had the whole world against you, I still say seek and expect miracles. Believe they can happen for you. Partner with the Lord and do the work you must do to have your miracle. You can then live with confidence that in time your miracle will happen. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Put the Lord first
Understandably, the weight of life presses on us all. For many LDS singles who’ve lived years without the righteous blessings they desire, that weight can be heavy indeed. A pessimistic outlook on the future that often attends that weight doesn’t help.
But there is always hope because there is always Christ. He can help us go forward when we feel there is no way forward because He is the Way. When we give our heartfelt all to Him, He gives us access to His power. And with His power, we can do all things.
That includes maximizing our joy in LDS singles life. We can find balance amongst all the tensions of life when we put the Savior and our discipleship to Him first and give our all to Him and His work. As Elder Uchtdorf explained,
This is how LDS singles can move their lives forward.
Find a new approach
This doesn’t mean your solution to the challenges of LDS singles life is more church. The solution is more you. When you give more of yourself to what you do, you create the space in which you can have more joy in your life.
It’s that giving more of yourself that actually creates that space for more joy. That’s why time and time again I’ve defined happiness as giving your all to all the right things for you. That’s why for years I’ve encouraged LDS singles to embrace a personal ministry. Like the widow’s mite which Elder Uchtdorf referenced to begin his remarks, your contribution to making the world a better place is worthwhile when it represents your all because it’s only in giving your all that you become a better you.
I can understand why so many LDS singles want to give up on their lives. Dating often results in frustration and other negative emotions. Then there’s loneliness. And those singles who are also parents have double duty in raising their children. I get it.
But I also get that frustration is a sign you’re going about something the wrong way. So when you feel life isn’t working right, it’s really you that isn’t working right. You need a new approach! Elder Uchtdorf explained how putting the Lord first helps us each find the new approach we need.
Just keep moving forward
When you partner with the Lord by putting Him and His work first and then taking counsel from Him, He Who is the Way will show you the way. This principle works in every aspect of life, not just discipleship. When you give more of you to all you do, you can get more out of what you do.
So if you aren’t getting what you want out of dating, give more of you to it. Start by learning the fundamentals. If you aren’t getting more of what you want from your occupation, give more of you to it. And so it goes for every aspect of life.
You can find the balance and lift you need when you give your all and keep moving forward. So don’t stop. Don’t stagnate. Don’t wallow in the mire of despair. Don’t wrap yourself in pity. Focus on where you want to go and keep moving forward. As Elder Uchtdorf taught,
Give your heartfelt all to all you do. You’ll create the space for more joy in your life. You’ll see life turning around for you. And you’ll find more balance and lift in your life as you come closer to the Lord. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Sister Newbold acknowledges a common singles attitude: Identifying yourself by what you don’t have. When you do that, you’ll live in a space where you’re deficient. Sister Newbold’s response is an effective one: Live in a space where you see yourself as you’ll be, because that’s how God sees you. By living “as though” God’s promises are fulfilled, you can be joyful now.
Understand the challenge
Sister Newbold recognizes the difficulty of reconciling as yet unfulfilled promises with the reality of LDS singles life. Her answer is to live “as though” those promises have been fulfilled, though she admits that’s challenging. She writes, “Given that God is a God of promises, it becomes hard at times for me to reconcile why certain promises have not yet been fulfilled in my life.”
I’m sure many singles can relate. I myself felt that challenge a few months ago. In the midst of my most challenging semester of school ever, questions about my patriarchal blessing began to feel more demanding. And given my age, I began to wonder how my promised blessings will ever come to me.
Sure, it’s easy to say, “Well, sometimes patriarchal blessings get fulfilled in eternity.” But that doesn’t apply to the married life the Lord promised me. Very clear and unambiguous language speaks of my temple marriage in this life and actions my children and posterity will take in this life. These and other blessings are promised to me in this life, not the next.
Given I’m in my late 40s and not getting any younger, questions of how those promises would be fulfilled troubled me. At the time, I really struggled with those questions. Now I simply feel a quiet confidence somehow it’ll all happen.
Consider three solutions
Sister Newbold’s answer to that challenge, as mentioned earlier, is to live “as though” promised blessings have arrived. How do we do that? Sister Newbold shares three suggestions.
First, she suggests considering a variety of promises. LDS singles tend to fixate on the marriage they by definition don’t have right now. That focus blinds them from seeing other promised blessings they already have, many of which they take for granted. Recognizing these less appreciated but bountiful blessings invites gratitude and trust God will keep all His promises.
Second, she suggests recognizing God’s hand in our lives. Many in today’s world focus on what they lack, and as long-time audience members will tell you, your focus becomes your reality. Focusing on lack creates a reality of scarcity, which inhibits the ability to feel joy. But focusing on what you have creates a reality of abundance. I really like how Sister Newbold extends that idea to the sacrament.
Third, Sister Newbold suggests helping the Lord keep His promises to others through Spirit-directed service. When you follow the Spirit’s promptings to help others, you can help answer their prayers. You can find joy in being the Lord’s hands.
Trust in Him
Honestly, I appreciate a perspective centered on our focus rather than the traditional and highly unhelpful ”Just hold faithful, and everything will be right in the next life.” Additionally, Sister Newbold readily admits that “trusting in His promises is not always an easy choice.”
She also says “living ‘as though’ will look different for everyone.” I suspect that’s only true in the particulars. I could summarize what that looks like for her as making and keeping as many covenants as she can, in essence living all of the gospel she can. I think that would describe living “as though” for any LDS single.
God will keep every promise made to every one of us. He has thousands of years of experience doing just that for the generations that came before us. And the Spirit can remind us of moments when He’s kept promises in our own lives. So we can trust He’ll keep every as yet unfulfilled promise. When we live“as though” by walking with faith He’ll do just that, we can be instruments in fulfilling His purposes, all the while experiencing the quiet confidence that somehow it’ll all happen for us. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
See the situation
The story begins with Phil Connors, the weatherman for Channel 9 News in Pittsburgh. The man is clearly full of himself, so it’s no surprise no one really likes him, not even himself. He’s a rather disgruntled man who thinks covering the Groundhog Day Festival is beneath him.
So imagine his shock when he wakes up thinking it’s February 3rd only to find out it’s February 2nd again. The bewilderment continues as each morning he wakes up to find that somehow in his sleep he went back in time by one day. He keeps living the same day over and over again.
His first reaction is denial. This can’t be happening to me! Denial drives resistance, but no matter how he fights against his situation, the next morning is always February 2nd again. His denial then turns into despair. This report he gives at the festival summarizes his condition rather well.
That day ended in suicide, but it doesn’t end him. In despair, Phil keeps trying to kill himself in different ways trying unsuccessfully to escape his never-ending cycle.
Note the pivot
And then one of those February 2nd days becomes a pivot day when everything changes. Phil doesn’t escape the never-ending cycle, but he does find a new perspective on his situation. And what changed everything was Rita.
Rita is Phil’s producer. She’s also the apple of his eye. Previously he spent God knows how many successive February 2nd days trying to get into her pants. But on his pivot day, Phil approaches Rita with a different agenda. Instead of trying to satiate his lust, he sincerely cries for help. (Why do I have a Rick Astley song in my head right now?) Rita helps him and in the process begins to fall for him.
Of course, that disappears when everything resets the next morning. But Phil remains changed, and he starts spending his February 2nd days improving upon himself, working to become a better, more quality person. He takes up reading all kinds of books. He learns to play the piano. He takes up ice sculpting! Not only do his efforts make him a better person, they make his life more interesting.
And the proof is in this report. It’s the same day, same festival, but a completely different Phil.
Once he stopped trying to escape his situation and embraced it, Phil was able to tap into the joy life has to offer every single day. In the end, he escapes the cycle and gets the girl.
Take a lesson
The allegory here to LDS singles is so clear I wonder why I didn’t see it earlier. How many of us singles are in denial? No, I can’t be single. This can’t be happening to me! And no matter what we do to fight it, we seem caught in a never-ending cycle of singleness from which we cannot escape.
But if we’d stop trying to escape from it and start embracing it, we could turn everything around. We could start looking inside ourselves and working to become better, more quality people. We can do things to make our lives more interesting. We could tap into the joy God wants us to have every single day.
And we could help other singles to have their pivot day. Just as Rita helped turn things around for Phil, we can reach out to one another. Instead of looking only to satiate our own agendas when we interact with each other, we could help each other live better lives.
When we take a lesson from Groundhog Day, we can make the most of what seems to be a never-ending cycle of singleness. By embracing our situation instead of trying to escape from it, we can live our best life and help others to do the same. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet radio show and podcast to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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