Some things never change as we get older. There will always be death and taxes. The coolest toys always come out after you grow up. And the grass is always greener on the other side.
At least that how it appears. So many of us look at others and think their lives are much better than our own because they don’t appear to have our problems. If only we could be like them, we think, our own lives would be so much better.
But that’s a lie we should never heed. The truth is everyone has challenges. When you solve one problem, you’ll find a completely new problem just around the corner. Or you’ll merely swap your old problem for a new one. Life wasn’t meant to be problem-free for anyone.
And that’s good. We’ll never grow as we need to grow and learn what we need to learn without opposition. To become what we’re meant to become, we must overcome our challenges. So you shouldn’t want what the other half of the world has. Just keep your half because it’s what you need.
Don’t run away
The longing after what appears to be greener grass on the other side of the fence is often just a desire to escape from our current challenges rather than overcome them. If we simply ran away from those challenges, we’d certainly not progress towards becoming what we’re meant to become.
I know I wouldn’t be the man I am today if I’d decided to run away. For example, on my mission in Guatemala, I constantly battled illness. Had I agreed to come home early, I wouldn’t have had the blessing of teaching the gospel in my own language and to people from different parts of the world in the neighboring country of Belize. I wouldn’t have had the companions I had, each one of whom taught me something. My mission experiences continue to bless me and benefit my life decades after my service.
Facing our trials and working to overcome them have changed us all for the better. We’re better people because we decided not to run away from those experiences but rather to embrace them and allow them to change us into something more than what we were before.
Embrace the opportunity
In addition, those challenges themselves can be blessings in their own right. But we’re not likely to see that as long as we keep wanting to cross to where the grass appears greener. We’ve got to learn to want what we’ve already got. And that means changing the way we think in order to see the blessings our challenges are.
Sometimes that blessing comes as opportunity to bless the lives of others. For instance, my experience being single for more than two decades has, to say the least, increased my compassion for those who struggle with the challenges of LDS singles life. And that compassion is a large portion of the fuel that drives me in producing Joy in the Journey Radio. How many lives have been and will be blessed because of my personal ministry?
If you feel the siren call of grass that appears to be greener, ask yourself who could be blessed because you stayed on your side of the fence. Someone there may need your contribution, a contribution only you can make because only you have your unique personality paired with your challenges.
Confront your challenge
In the end, we are our choices. The grass may indeed seem greener on the other side, but there’s much value in the greenness of the grass we already have. We can all choose to lift where we stand, thereby blessing others while growing from the confrontation with our challenges.
Besides, nothing good comes from wishing we could exchange places with that other half of the world that seems to have a better life. The results we want will never come from wishing because they can come from one and only one thing — action. Better to spend our time confronting our challenges and learning how to overcome them than to waste away wishing for what will never come with the wish alone.
When you choose to keep your half instead of longing after the half someone else appears to have, when you choose to embrace challenges rather than seek ways to escape them, when you choose to see them for the blessings they are in and of themselves, then you’ll see that the grass on the other side of the fence isn’t that much greener after all. That will increase your gratitude to God for His bounteous blessings you already have. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Last week I talked about my mother's suicide attempt. I also talked about some of the reflections that event inspired. I've searched for the big-picture view not only of what's happening but also of my life up to this point.
And what I see fills me with awe. Obviously I see the trial of my mother's suicide attempt and her subsequent hospitalization. But I also see that trial as the latest episode in a series of trials. And I remember the experience we gain from trials is one of the reasons why we’re here in mortality.
I could start listing what I've endured, but it wouldn't mean much because we all have trials in life. As much as we might feel our particular trial makes us special, it doesn’t. Everyone has trials. And everyone can learn from those experiences. When I realize what I've learned from my trials, I can't help but be grateful for trials.
Essential to happiness
How could I be the man I am today without the trials I've experienced? It's impossible. I’d never have the depth of compassion I have for LDS singles were I not single myself for so long. I’d never have positive energy ruling my life if I hadn’t experienced the self-inflicted negative energy so many LDS singles experience. And I’d never feel the confidence I feel in my future without overcoming the despair of hopelessness.
I could go on, but the point remains. Everything positive about us, anything indicating growth in us, and anything proving we’re better today than we were yesterday is possible because of trials. Without trials, there’s no opposition. Without opposition, there’s no growth. Without growth, we can’t be our best. If we can’t be our best, we can't be happy. And if we can't be happy, then what else is there?
Of course, I'm not actively looking for trials. I've lived long enough to know trouble never has trouble finding each of us eventually. And yes, sometimes trials have negative impacts that overwhelm in the moment. But every obstacle also comes with opportunity — the opportunity to yield something positive from the experience. It's that possibility for the positive for which I'm grateful.
Dependent on the right perspective
As I look back on the trials I've experienced in life, I recognize that the possibility for the positive creates a space necessary for growth and personal enrichment. Life has a way of beating everyone down. And the only way getting beat down could ever be positive is if that action shapes us into something better.
But that only happens if we choose a perspective that allows that to happen. The existence of the opportunity to yield something positive will mean nothing unless we take advantage of that opportunity. We do that by choosing to be positive.
That brings us to gratitude, because gratitude is always the first choice in creating a positive life from whatever trials we each experience. Gratitude breeds appreciation, and appreciation opens the door to faith, hope, and charity. Appreciating what we have leads us to believe we can be further blessed. That gives us hope we will be further blessed and inspires us to bless the lives of others.
But just as gratitude feeds a mentality of abundance, the lack of gratitude feeds a mentality of scarcity. We don't want to share what we have with others out of fear there won't be enough for ourselves. We begin to believe there are no further blessings, and therefore there’s no hope tomorrow can be better than today. In the end, we become very insular and absorbed in self.
Foundational for a new tradition
That's why I'm grateful for trials. It's the School of Hard Knocks that beats me down enough to learn what I need to learn in order to grow. Without the challenges that trials provide, I wouldn't be nearly as motivated to seek after the solutions that transform me into a better man.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and if your day will include any traditional performance, you're likely to mention or at least think about what you're grateful for. That list, no matter how long, usually includes obvious blessings like friends, family, good food, and a warm place to sleep at night, just to name a few.
But this year, can we also be thankful for the trials that have shaped us into something more than we were before? Can we be grateful for lessons learned the hard way and for growth that would come to us in no other way? We’re more open to further blessings when we’re grateful for the trials that provide opportunities for positive growth and enrichment. Being grateful for trials can help us accept that truth. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Birthdays are a particular time of year for everyone. But for many LDS singles, birthdays remind them they’re another year older and no less single. That particular aspect gives me pause as I see another birthday approaching me.
I get reflective around birthdays. I think about my experiences over the past year. I think about the relationships I have as well as the ones for which I am still searching. Most of all, I think about how I've changed. Am I a better person than I was a year ago?
I'd like to think I am. But in truth I’m never quite sure. There is one thing, however, about which I am sure. Whatever comes my way, I know the Lord has prepared me for it. I know that the hardship, whatever it may be, will only leave me stronger so long as I choose not to be defeated by it. I know I’ve been prepared for such a time as this.
My mother’s condition drives part of my reflections. I've spoken before about my mother in this forum. But now things have taken a severe turn for the worse. A few days ago, my mother tried to kill herself.
Although it failed to end her life, her attempt has rocked the world of all who know and love her. It's not the dying part that's disturbing. Everyone dies eventually. It's her choosing to leave all of us that's disturbing.
I don't think anyone can really know exactly what's going on in anyone else's head. But I do feel the pain my mother has experienced over the past few years – pain the doctors can't diagnose and have never treated effectively – drove my mother to her disturbing choice. Whether or not that drove her, I don’t blame her.
That said, I can't begin to describe all the emotions that have run through me. But I can begin to have faith that the Lord is still in control and ultimately won't allow anything to veer too far outside His plan.
Feeling after faith
Of course, along with the emotional roller coaster come reflective moments. The reflection I would engage normally with a birthday around the corner is now deepened. And that's not altogether a bad deal.
My first impression is to follow Nephi's example and say I don't know the meaning of all things but I do know the Lord loves me (see 1 Nephi 11:17). And I feel fine with that. My experiences as an LDS single that lead me not to need to know the end from the beginning with regards to my eternal companion translate very well here. Trust in the Lord in any context is still trust in the Lord.
I also know my experiences in learning how to respond positively to the challenges of LDS singles life have made me a better man. And those improvements have prepared me for this moment in which I need to be strong not only for myself but also for others I love.
For instance, I’ve supported my father as he struggles with these events. More than anything, I’ve provided a listening ear. But I’ve also translated what I've learned from being single so long — the knowledge gained from experience that has made me a better man — into the lives of others as well as my own. The result is a new perspective that provides strength, hope, and courage for everyone.
Shining a light
To say things could be better is the understatement of the year. Yet overall I don't feel discouraged or depressed. I have the quiet confidence within me everything will somehow result in good for everyone.
Many of us tend to get so caught up in our own lives we don’t see the great tapestry God is weaving with us. He is preparing each of us not only for the challenges we’ll face ahead. He is preparing each of us to be a light that can shine brightly for those whose hope is dimming. He’s preparing us for times such as these.
People do not light candles to hide light but rather to let light shine so that all may see (Matthew 5:15). We all have goodness to share, gifts the Lord has endowed within each of us not only to help ourselves grow but also to help others along in their journey. When we share those gifts with others, we give the light of hope to others and the light of courage to ourselves. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
counterfeits, Sister Michelle Craig spoke of counterfeits in the women’s meeting of the last General Conference. Though I'm not a woman, I read the talks from that session after Conference, just like the sisters have been doing with the priesthood session for years. And I found Sister Craig’s address entitled “Divine Discount” quite applicable for LDS singles everywhere.
Recognize the gap
Everyone at one time or another feels they exist beneath their own capacity. Depending on our chosen perspective, recognizing that gap can motivate us to action or paralyze us into inaction. Action feeds divine discontent, a yearning that propels us to reach higher and become something more than we were before. Inaction feeds disillusioned discouragement, Satan’s counterfeit for divine discontent.
As Sister Craig shared,
How many of us have heard that message before, that we aren’t good enough? Of course, the Atonement of Jesus Christ says we are good enough. But if we still have habits of negative self talk, it can be all too easy to believe Satan’s lying counterfeits.
Action is the key
Sister Craig teaches the importance of action. When the Prophet Joseph felt concerned as a boy about his shortcomings, he asked, “What is to be done?” (JS-H 1:10) and then acted in faith. He went to the scriptures, responded to the invitation in James 1:5 to “ask of God” and ushered in the Restoration.
Likewise, when we feel the gap between what we are and what we would like to become, we should take action. In my own life, I’ve found that staying inactive just breeds more disillusionment and discouragement. It’s easier to talk yourself into deeper negative emotions like doubt, despair, and hopelessness when you aren’t doing anything. But when we do something — anything — that action can open the door of possibility, which can help us to believe our tomorrow can be brighter than our today, that our lives really can improve. That belief is the first step to hope, encouragement, and happiness.
We embrace another source of inaction when we entertain endless debates over whether the promptings we receive to do good come from the Spirit or our own thoughts. Again, action is the key. When we receive an idea to bring goodness into the world, we should focus less on the source of the idea and more on executing it. Sister Craig tells a wonderful story about a seamstress named Susan who followed a prompting to make a tie for President Spencer W. Kimball but then backed off while en route to deliver it. President Kimball’s wife Camille saw Susan at that critical moment and invited her forward, telling her “never [to] suppress a generous thought.” Sister Craig loves that, and so do I. “Never suppress a generous thought.”
Sister Craig continues,
I love that perspective on time management. How often in our focus on getting things done do we miss the opportunity to make people’s lives better? Becoming something more is about the quality of what we are and not just the quantity of what we can accomplish.
Trust in the Lord
Of course, becoming more is meaningless if it doesn’t near us to the Lord. Sister Craig taught that divine discontent will lead us to humility and a recognition that with Christ we can be and do anything. Such a recognition opposes Satan’s counterfeit message that we’re not enough, that we’ll never achieve our righteous desires or accomplish anything worthwhile in this life.
I love Sister Craig’s perspective on the miracles the Savior performed. They “often begin with a recognition of want, need, failure, or inadequacy,” but when individuals gave the Lord their all anyway, He provided the miracle.
Sister Craig expounds,
We can achieve our righteous desires if we approach the Lord in humility, give our all to whatever instructions He reveals to us through the Spirit, and then rely upon Him to make the miracle happen. Whenever we feel we are far beneath our potential, divine discontent can bring us closer to the Lord as we act in faith, follow promptings to do good, and trust in the Lord. And doing that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Halloween! That frightful time of year we embrace with a spirit of good fun means dressing up in costumes and of course eating lots of holiday-themed food. And let's not forget the trick-or-treating.
But while we all spend one day a year approaching fearful sights with a gleeful sort of playfulness, many spend the other 364 days of the year cowering to fear. Can we bring to every day of the year the same sort of playfulness that we bring to Halloween?
We all have our fears. One of the biggest fears many LDS singles have is the fear of never marrying. Whether that fear or another haunts you most, you’ll never conquer your fear by cowering to it. To conquer your fear, you must take and use the power you already have within yourself. You must face your fears.
Believe the Lord
To start, you have great reason for courage. You’re not on your journey alone. Your Heavenly Father has provided a Savior Who loves you so much that He never could abandon you, let alone would. And that Savior Who created the universe is a powerful ally.
If you truly trust in that all-powerful Creator, if you truly have faith in Him, if you truly believe Him, you’ll never feel fear. And that’s simply because you won't be able to. Faith and fear cannot exist in the same space at the same time.
So when the Lord promises He’ll bless you, you can rest assured He’ll fulfill His promises. And He won't just fulfill them in part; He'll fulfill them down to the dot of the last I and the cross of the last T. So great will be your blessing that, when that glorious day finally comes, you’ll wonder how it ever was that you doubted Him.
And many of those promises are not just for the next life but for this life. Yes, a few may have to wait for eternity, but I firmly believe that 99% of us can have their promised blessings here and now in mortality. You may doubt and even laugh as did Abraham's wife Sarah, but the Lord will fulfill every syllable of every word of every promise that He makes to you. Period.
Partner with the Lord
How do you believe that? How do you generate such faith in the Lord and in His promises that you continue to believe fervently even when everything around you seems to say the exact opposite?
First, approach the Lord as did the father with the mentally disturbed son who exclaimed, "Lord, . . . help thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:24). You’re never alone in your journey, so don’t try to go it alone. Walk with Him who gave His all so you could succeed in your ultimate journey.
Second, take action. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that faith is a principle of action. That means you cannot have faith if you just wish and wait. To increase your faith, you must increase your action.
This is why you approach the Lord first. When you partner with Him, He’ll help you understand the next step you need to take in your journey. When you then act on that revelation and take that next step, you walk by faith toward a bright and glorious future, one with the blessings He wants to give you.
Walk with the Lord
Walking by faith doesn't mean never feeling fear, but it can bring courage. And courage means doing what you need to do even though you may feel afraid. When you walk by faith, you can face your fears with the confidence He will never abandon you.
If all of us were to step back and observe the situation, we’d see that all fear does is prevent us from taking the next step in our journey. But whatever your fears are, you still control what response you will provide. Will you allow your fear to control you and cower from your next step? Or will you control you and take that next step?
When you take that next step, your courage grows, your faith grows, and you can walk and take more next steps with more confidence. The more you act, the more your faith grows, the more your confidence grows, and the more you can live with the surety that the Lord will fulfill all of His promises to you. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Many LDS singles feel bereft of hope when they don’t see any obvious opportunities for the eternal marriage they desire. Fundamentally, their lack of hope doesn’t differ from anyone else struggling to realize righteous desires. For example, infertility plagues many righteous married couples desiring biological children.
Yet in all cases hope abounds. If you can’t see the way forward, please consider this question: Are you operating out of your memory or your imagination? Your focus becomes your reality, so when you focus on the failures you’ve known, your reality becomes filled with more of those failures. But when you focus on the success you can imagine, your reality becomes filled with possibility.
We all can access redemption in every sense of the word because of Christ and His glorious Atonement. No matter how dark or bleak your circumstances may appear, you always have reason to hope. There is always hope because there is always Christ.
How do you feel this great truth when all around you seems dismal? Almost all of us believe very readily in miracles that Christ performed among a people most of us don’t know in a land far away which most of us haven’t seen. Yet when it comes to believing in miracles performed in our own lives and in our own backyard, we respond more slowly. We need to start believing Christ.
What do you do when things you don't want to happen do in fact happen? Knowing God has apportioned a time when all wrongs will be righted makes patience easier. Knowing a just God won’t wait to right our wrongs when the time to right them is right also encourages patience. There is always hope because there is always Christ.
Still, longing can pain the heart in the present moment. Because your focus determines your reality, focusing on your pains always yields a reality of pain. Focus instead on the Savior so that He becomes your reality. Believe Him when He said, “Come unto me . . . and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). His strength can give you strength.
Understand the journey
Christ never taught that all of His promised blessings would be distributed like a buffet lunch — first come are first served and everyone else will just have to wait. He wants all to enjoy all of His promised blessings. That means you.
Because you're unique in personality and demeanor, so also are the gifts you've been given to help you achieve your full potential. Just as in the parable of the talents, all who improve upon what they've been given, whatever that original amount may be, will receive the joy of the Lord. That joy can fill you now as well as in times to come. There is always hope because there is always Christ.
Yes, Christ wants all to enjoy all of His promised blessings. Yet some saints, because of where they are in their life journey, may not be ready for some of those blessings. So if you're yearning for that special someone and wonder why you don't have the blessing you desire, consider that you might not be ready. Or maybe your companion isn’t ready. Or perhaps the time is right for both of you and you simply need to get busy doing the right things. In any case, Christ can help you take the proper next step. There is always hope because there is always Christ.
Expand your vision
If you operate out of your memory, then you're seeing with no more than your physical eyes. That means ultimately you'll have no hope, because you don’t physically see the means to achieve your desires. Even here, there is always hope because there is always Christ.
Christ can help you operate our of your imagination, which means seeing with spiritual eyes. He can help you to see what’s there but not seen with physical eyes. What you want may be right in front of you, but because of how you think, you might not recognize it. Expand your definition of an opportunity, and you’ll see paths you couldn’t see before.
Christ can also help you to see what’s not now in existence because it has yet to be created. What you desire may be something He creates for you. Or maybe you need to create it for yourself. In all cases, Christ will help you to do whatever is needful for you to receive all of the blessings He desires to give to you. There is always hope because there is always Christ.
Don’t ever stop living for the righteous blessings you desire. And don’t ever lose hope. No matter your situation, there’s always something you can do to move forward. There is always hope because there is always Christ. When you feel that hope, you’ll have the comfort of knowing the Savior is right by your side to help you along. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
For over two centuries, Americans have celebrated freedom on Independence Day. And yet most Americans don’t call the holiday by its name. To them, it’s the Fourth of July. That wording may seem innocent enough, but is it?
I sincerely hope many think about their freedom and the price paid to purchase it. But it seems like more and more people have their minds elsewhere. Far too many see the day as a time off from work when they grill their favorite meats and shoot fireworks in their neighborhoods late into the night. In short, they celebrate the freedom to party. There’s more to freedom than that.
Many LDS singles live similar lives of dissonance. Mortality is intended to be a time of growth and progress along a more eternal journey. Yet many LDS singles aren’t growing or progressing towards eternal blessings. Like that hamster down at the pet store running endlessly inside its own wheel, many LDS singles are constantly doing, doing, doing, but not really getting anywhere.
Does that describe your life right now? Then declare your own independence. It starts when you exercise the power God gave you — the power of agency.
Decide enough is enough
Here’s the first step: Decide enough is enough. Yes, it really is that simple. Often we want complicated because that strokes the ego. It’s OK we can’t figure it out if it’s complicated. But not figuring out simple makes us look like idiots. No one wants to look like an idiot.
Once you accept it really is that simple and then own your life by accepting responsibility for whatever your life currently is, you can more easily embrace the path that leads to success. And that path begins for you when you decide enough is enough.
Are you frustrated with constantly trying to do the right thing but never succeeding at having righteous blessings? Tired of always doing but never making any progress? Disgusted with being stuck in a life far beneath your dreams? Know this: You have the power to change. It all starts when you decide enough is enough.
Commit yourself to greatness
Once you’ve decided to change, the next step is to commit yourself to that change. This is where many people falter. Everyone wants a better life, and many have decided to pursue that better life. But most don’t have the commitment to do what is necessary to achieve that better life.
Committing means accepting nothing but the one result outlined in your commitment, and that means cutting off all possible avenues of “escape” — every road except the one leading to success. That’s the key to commitment. You must cut from your life everything preventing you from fulfilling your commitment.
That’s why most say they want change but don’t commit. They don’t remove from their environment the temptations that dissuade them from success. They don’t remove from their social circles the false friends that accept lives of mediocrity. And they don’t step out of their own way when they feel the enticement of the many fun but futile activities that don’t make anyone’s life any better.
The result? They don’t follow through on their decision to change. They don’t get the prize.
And that’s why many LDS singles stay single longer than they need to be. Afraid of their own greatness, they commit to the lesser life they have instead of doing whatever is necessary to have the life they could have. That’ll be really hard to hear if you haven’t yet owned your life. But all who have owned their life readily see the truth of it.
Execute with passion
Whatever you commit to do, you need to be all in. You need to give everything you have to following through on your decision and keeping your commitment. Whatever it takes, that’s what you do.
What books do you need to read? What knowledge or skills do you need to acquire? What mentors do you need? What support systems will help you keep your commitment? Whatever it is, go after it. Within the bounds of righteousness, do what you need to do to get the knowledge and skills you need.
Then with knowledge and skills in place, execute with passion. Give your all. Only when you give your all to the right things for you will you find true happiness in your life.
You need not be imprisoned by fear, ignorance, or mediocrity. You can free yourself from a life lacking progress. You can declare your independence. When you decide enough is enough, commit yourself to greatness, and then execute with passion, you’ll see life unfolding for you in ways you never imagined. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Sooner or later, everyone encounters hard times. It’s called mortality, and it’s part of the reason why we’re here. Overcoming challenges allows us to learn in ways we could not otherwise learn and to become what we otherwise could not become.
If we focus too much on our challenges, however, we can easily succumb to feelings of overwhelm and discouragement, even despair. Some people escape their doldrums by remembering that there is always someone who is worse off than they are. For some LDS singles who have struggled for years without promised blessings, it may seem difficult to believe that anyone has had it worse than they do.
And yet there are those who have had it worse. The scriptures provide an excellent example in Abraham. When you come to realize how much worse he had it, you can find the courage and resiliency to keep walking by faith. After all, most of us can’t touch Abraham’s experience.
By the standards of any age in world history, Abraham had a challenging life. He was once placed on an altar to be sacrificed, only to have an angel save him. He was constantly on the move, and in one of those places to which he moved, his brother died. He had to deal with apostasy in his father, a problem since he longed to have what his father’s ancestors had — priesthood authority passed down from father to son. Having a father who continually returned to idol worship didn’t really help much in that respect.
And yet, like life for all of us, it wasn’t all bad. He obtained priesthood authority from someone more righteous and more advanced in years than his father. He grew to become a rather wealthy man, leading a house with many servants. And somewhere in that mix he married Sarah, a wife he dearly loved.
But try as they might, infertility entered and would not leave. Whatever hopes Abraham had for a son to inherit from him must have slowly faded as the years went by one after the other with no change anywhere in sight. It’s understandable why Abraham fathered a son through Hagar, one of Sarah’s handmaidens. It seemed to be the only way to produce an heir.
Then came the Lord’s promise. After so many years of wanting and not having, Abraham received a promise from the Lord that he would have a son through his wife Sarah. He was 62 years old.
His wife Sarah was ten years his junior, so it’s no surprise that she laughed at the thought of giving birth to a son. Abraham also had his doubts. Those doubts would continue as they each got older. It was during this time that Abraham had a son through Hagar. What seemed incredible when the promise was made seemed even more so with each year passing thereafter.
But the Lord reaffirmed His promise would be fulfilled. And we all know how the story ends. Sarah did give birth to Abraham’s son Isaac. Sarah was ninety years old. Abraham had lived a full century.
I’m not suggesting that we need to live a full century before we see the fulfillment of the promises the Lord has made to each of us. Instead, I’m suggesting we live in faith, faith born from reflecting on Abraham’s position relative to our own.
Abraham was 62 years old when he first received the promise of a son and 100 years old when that promise was fulfilled. That means he had to wait 38 years for the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to him. That’s a long time to wait.
And I’m willing to wager (though I’m not a betting man) that most of us waiting for the fulfillment of our own blessings have a ways to go before we can touch Abraham territory. I myself have been single for more than two decades. As long as that has been to endure, it’s only about half of what Abraham endured. Clearly, I can’t touch this.
Most LDS singles are in that same boat. As long as you’ve each waited for the fulfillment of your desired blessings, you haven’t waited anywhere near as long as Abraham had to wait. So you can’t touch this either.
The Lord pulled through for Abraham. He’ll pull through for each of us. As we continue to walk in faith that all of His promises will be fulfilled, He will send us many tender mercies to support us. We can feel the confidence that we will receive our promised blessings. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
The many changes announced in the most recent General Conference bring a feeling of starting a new chapter in LDS history. I’m not certain most of us anticipated such sweeping announcements. Yet those of us with faith will embrace the new reality and run with it.
In like manner, life brings to each of us sweeping, unanticipated changes. Perhaps you’ve reached a certain age without getting married. Or that marriage you thought would last forever won’t. Or you experience a job loss. The variety of surprises life can bring has no end. And they often come when we least expect them.
I believe the best response to unanticipated, unwanted events is the same best response to the most recent General Conference. We need to have faith to embrace the new reality and run with it. And when that new reality radically differs from our past, we need to let go of the past and start again.
Make it work
Letting go can be one of the most difficult challenges in life. You like the way things were. You were comfortable. And you don’t want to have the extra work changes often requires.
Yet successful people never confront life as they wish it would be. They confront life as it really is. They do the best they can with what they have. And they make it work.
And what exactly do you have? You have your Heavenly Father, with Whom you can counsel through prayer. You have the Lord Jesus Christ, Who suffered so you could have new life. You have the Holy Ghost, Who can provide revelation, comfort, and strength. You have angels and the powers of heaven upon which you can call when you keep your covenants. You have family, friends, and the Church which can each provide their own measure of support.
Considering what you have, is there any challenge you cannot overcome? As the apostle Paul declared, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).
Let it go
Letting go of the past is often the first step in embracing a new reality. It can also be one of the most difficult.
Earlier in my life, I had a really sweet job. I worked remotely for an East Coast company while living on the West Coast. I had complete mobility both with my physical location and (within reason) my schedule during the day. I also made some good money with the gig. I had residences in two different states and traveled between them at will. Life was sweet.
Then came the word from HQ. Financial conditions necessitated massive layoffs. Half of my peers would lose their jobs. I thought my superior job performance and delivery record would keep me safe.
Then I got my notice. I was the first to lose his job. The shock left me speechless. For some time thereafter I was paralyzed. That paralysis evolved into a deep depression as other life events knocked me down. You can tell I’m not depressed today, so what happened? How did I leave my depression?
I took action. I started doing what the Lord inspired me to do, whatever it was. Completing even small tasks built my confidence and helped me to regain my faith in myself and my future. Slowly but surely, with the help of the Lord, I began to process of rebuilding my life. I started again.
Accepting that whatever bad thing happened to you actually happened to you requires a great deal of courage. But holding on to a past that doesn’t resemble the present reality is just extra baggage holding you back from moving forward in life.
Sometimes you need to take a new approach. And sometimes that new approach involves starting again.
I’ve had to start again in my own life at least seven times. That’s just the number of unanticipated change events from my life that come quickly to mind. I might find more if I really stop and think about it.
Still, it’s fair to say I’ve got a fair amount of experience with starting again. Here’s one of the lessons I’ve learned — starting again usually seems daunting and overwhelming at first but always gets easier once you dig in and start embracing the change with a positive attitude and effective actions.
It’s also helpful to remember everything you have. As I mentioned earlier, you have many in your corner rooting for you because they love you and want you to succeed. You can conquer any life-altering challenge before you when you start again. Embracing the change and making the most of it will help you to become everything your Heavenly Father wants you to become. And that will bring you more joy in our journey.
Life holds many challenges, and LDS singles life is no exception. Whether you never married, are divorced, or are widowed, heartache can cripple you emotionally and obscure your view of a bright future.
But just because you can’t see a bright tomorrow doesn’t mean that bright tomorrow won’t come. Day always follows night; it’s natural law. And it’s always darkest just before the dawn.
It’s easy to believe in that dawn when the light shines over the horizon. It’s harder to believe in the dawn when the darkness is all you can see. How do you resist the call of pessimism to abandon all hope?
You do it with faith. You must have a vision of what you can become. You must believe in that vision and your own ability to realize that vision. And you must have the resiliency to go the distance needed to make that vision reality. You must never say die.
Choose your vision
It takes faith to a have a vision of what you can become. It takes even more faith to believe you can achieve that vision. Where does such faith originate?
It comes from the source of all true faith — the Lord Jesus Christ. His restored gospel teaches us that through Him we can all become something more and return to live with our Heavenly Father. And in what must be the grandest glorification of God, we can also be like Him.
Indeed, the realization of such a vision is a commandment:
Just like every other commandment, the Lord will provide the way to accomplish it.
As I’ve pointed out earlier, Nephi was single when he uttered those inspirational words. He went on to achieve great things. We who are single can be just as inspirational and achieve just as great things in our own lives.
Choose your road
Walking that path of faith isn’t easy. But it’s not impossible. And it’s a lot more joyful than any alternative.
The Lord won’t abandon you. He loves you so much He willingly suffered a tortuous death. Love that strong means He won’t stop until you have every blessing you will receive.
Note that I said “will receive.” Great as His love is for you, the Lord will not violate individual agency. He won’t force blessings upon you. That means you have to choose.
You must choose light over darkness. You must choose optimism over pessimism. You must choose confidence over doubt. You must choose faith over fear.
Many are so much more comfortable with pessimism, doubt, and fear that choosing this low road is much easier. But that choice also means accepting darkness and all its attendant disillusionment and despair as your reality.
Don’t sell yourself short or live beneath your potential! Don’t give up on yourself! The Lord believes in you and your potential. He could never lead you into everlasting failure. Everything He has done and continues to do is so that you can become everything you were meant to become.
God never stopped believing in you. Will you not take Him at His word?
Choose your difference
Your blessings are real. They’re not vain imaginations of your yearning soul nor wishful whims of fancy. They are real, and you can achieve them because God has decreed it.
Don’t you dare give up on yourself! You and your contributions are far too valuable to sit idly on the sidelines of history. God has reserved you for this time and place because you have goodness which only you can give. Choose to make that difference by leaning on He Who is the difference for all of us.
Darkness may surround you now, but that darkness will not last forever. No trial comes into our lives to stay; sooner or later they all pass. Partner with the Lord and let His strength become your strength. Let His faith become your faith. Let His confidence become your confidence.
Never say die. It’s not over until you win. When you adopt that attitude, you can do the impossible. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and now I produce a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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