With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s no surprise I’m addressing gratitude. Last Thanksgiving I promoted gratitude as a lifestyle, a way of being that defines who we are. I was all set to dive further into that concept.
But today I feel prompted to move in a slightly different direction. Maybe it’s something I need or (more probably) something someone else needs.
Gratitude is about appreciating what we have, but far too often we LDS singles, influenced by the family-centered culture of the Church, look to escape the singles life we have. It’s hard to appreciate what you have when you’re always looking to run from it.
That means if we LDS singles are going to embrace gratitude as a lifestyle and not just an attitude, we need to be grateful to be single.
You can see it
I can understand singles balking at that prospect, especially if they view singles life as undesirable. And often they’re justified. Who wants to go through life with loneliness, the pain of relationships that were either broken or never took place, and the constant feeling you don’t quite belong at church? No one in their right mind would want any of that.
But gratitude doesn’t mean you stop wanting a better situation for yourself. It means you recognize and cherish the good about your situation. And you can do that regardless of your circumstances.
No matter how bad you may have it, you’ll always have something good in every situation you encounter in life. That’s the design behind mortality.
We often focus on this mortal life as a test with challenges to conquer and assume those challenges are mostly negative. But when we focus too much on overcoming the negative we can miss seeing the positive right there in front of us.
Part of the test in mortality is to distinguish between the bitter and the sweet, the good and the bad. That means we need to be presented with the sweet and the good in order to learn that lesson. In His tender mercy to all of us, the Lord gives us good in every single day.
That’s something to be grateful for.
You can choose it
Because there’s good in every day of every life regardless of one’s circumstances, and we have the glorious gift of agency, we can choose to be grateful for that good. True gratitude doesn’t depend on your circumstances. That’s because it’s a way of being.
Your focus determines your reality. If you look for goodness in every situation, the opportunity in every obstacle, and the tender mercies around you everywhere, then goodness, opportunity, and tender mercies will fill your reality.
If, on the other hand, you constantly see the bad in every situation, the obstacle before you as only an obstacle, and an absence of God’s love even though it’s right there in front of you every single day, then all the negative elements you choose to see will comprise your reality. We choose our reality when we choose our focus.
You can be it
When who we are naturally chooses that better reality, we’ve positioned ourselves to feel gratitude in every circumstance simply because that’s who we are. But if you’re not that way yet, you may be asking, “What’s so good about being single that we should be grateful?”
Speaking for myself, I can come and go as I please. I don’t need to ask for “permission” or tell someone else what I’m doing. There’s been many a weekend when I just got in my car and left.
It’s easier for me to change my life. I just decide what I want and then do it. My married friends need to reach an agreement with their spouse. That’s not always easily won. Changing the course of your ship is easier when that ship is small.
It’s also easier for me to build my career. Not having someone waiting for me at home means I can spend whatever extra time I need at work whenever I want. That’ll put me in a better position for supporting that family when they are there in my home.
If you’re a single parent with kids, none of that probably applies to you. But then you have something I don’t — the constant reminder of God’s love embodied in each and every one of your children.
By no means is my list comprehensive or applicable to all singles, but that’s the point. Gratitude is highly personal, so your combination of elements comprising your gratitude will differ from mine.
What elements comprise your gratitude? When you embrace those positive aspects of your singles life, you’ll feel much better about yourself, your world, and your future. And you’ll have 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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