Focus on joy
blog and program immediately afterwards is challenging. But this time around the choice was clear. From the moment I heard President Russell M Nelson speak, I knew his address was the one.
How could it not be? In his address, entitled “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” President Nelson discusses how to feel joy amidst the trials of life. That’s very much in line with Joy in the Journey Radio, a project I developed to spread positive energy into the lives of LDS singles everywhere. President Nelson’s remarks directly promote that purpose.
In addition, those remarks provided unanticipated blessings. Although many of the references are simply scriptural citations, quite a few include comments that elucidate his main address. Including them (as I do in parentheses in the portions I’ll quote) provides helpful perspectives. I also found further answers for the questions I posed last week regarding local leaders who fail to support singles.
Taking my own medicine
Let’s tackle that elephant first. In the middle of his address, President Nelson taught, “Saints can be happy under every circumstance. We can feel joy even while having a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad year! My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives” [emphasis added].
I had the answer in front of me the whole time. How long have I been preaching that your focus determines your reality? It’s a bedrock principles of my blog and this program. By focusing on the lack of support and love from my local leaders, I created a reality in which I felt unsupported and unloved. How thankful I am to President Nelson for reminding me to take my own medicine!
That doesn’t excuse local leaders who fail to support singles. I’ll never excuse inaction due to ignorance. If you need to learn something in order to move ahead, then please accept one word of free advice — learn!
We don’t always have all the answers we need in life, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Looking for those answers helps us to grow. And we can’t always do life alone; that’s why we have each other. We’re supposed to help each other as we journey home.
Seeking the positive
In reality, we all need to balance help we provide ourselves and help from others. Marriage is designed to provide much of the support outside ourselves. Singles by definition aren’t married and so are more out of balance to begin with.
That concept seems simple, yet it never ceases to amaze me how many local leaders don’t seem to realize that a greater measure of imbalance means we singles need a greater measure of help to make up the difference.
Confronted with that situation, we can very easily focus on the injustice of the inequity. But when we do, we compound the problem by preventing ourselves from being part of the solution. We need to help our local leaders just as much as we need them to help us. Where there is ignorance, we should educate. Where they show lack concern, we should show greater concern.
President Nelson hit the nail on the head when he declared,
When we confront the injustices that come naturally from being single in a family-centered culture, we must place our focus on Christ and the positive benefits our challenges can offer. If we see only the obstacles, we’ll never see the opportunities. Every challenge comes with opportunity to bless, to uplift, and to increase goodness in a world starving for it.
True disciples of Christ will always seek those opportunities.
Rejecting the negative
Seeking the positive is only one side of the joy coin. We also need to reject the negative. President Nelson declared, “Anything that opposes Christ or His doctrine will interrupt our joy. That includes the philosophies of men, so abundant online and in the blogosphere.”
President Nelson also taught that the unrighteous can never feel joy “not in this world nor in the world to come” because “joy is a gift for the faithful. (Righteous Saints ‘who have endured the crosses of the world … shall inherit the kingdom of God, … and their joy shall be full forever’ (2 Nephi 9:18).) It is the gift that comes from intentionally trying to live a righteous life, as taught by Jesus Christ. (For examples, see 2 Nephi 27:30; Alma 27:16–18.)”
Christ is the great prototype. Following His example can help us to feel joy even in the midst of great trial. President Nelson declared,
Yes, our local leaders won’t always get it when it comes to ministering to singles. And injustice will often result. But we can better endure those moments by focusing on the Savior and our covenants to follow Him. Doing that places us in a better position to be heard by our local leaders. And doing that can open us to the joy of Christ, a joy that can swallow all of our sufferings and that can be ours every day.
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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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