Those tips at the end are the real icing on the cake. They’re very detailed and specific — not to mention they suggest actions I’ve been recommending for years, like sitting next to people. But the real delight is seeing the Church change its culture to be more inclusive of everyone, especially singles.
Of course, that change won’t happen on its own. And we LDS singles can help that along. When we include everyone — at church, at singles activities, and in our lives — we can bolster the movement to create a culture in which everyone can feel they belong.
The Liahona article focuses on interactions at church, and rightly so. It’s in the title of the article, which appears in an official Church publication. What I really appreciate are the calls to action and their applicability to anyone, single or married.
For example, the article advises, “Don’t always sit by the same people in church.” We’re all creatures of habit, so it’s not surprising everyone has “their spot” in the chapel. But as I’ve changed my seat week to week, I’ve noticed I get different perspectives from sacrament meeting that make it more enjoyable. And sitting by different people provides opportunity to interact with different people.
That’s just one example of a single adult applying one tip. We could provide many such examples for the other tips because we singles have ample opportunity to take action. We can change the culture within LDS society such that our traditional challenges will either disappear or be greatly minimized.
At singles activities
Of course, the tips offered for fostering inclusion at church apply just as readily to our singles activities. Many would agree they’re needed just as much there. I think they’re needed there even more.
With a few exceptions, singles activities are typically poorly attended. That’s because we’ve transformed what should be a platform for ministering to one another into a meat market. This is why I’ve decried the dating forum mentality.
We all know the drill. When new people show up, instantly everyone in the room evaluates them for dating potential. Since most people aren’t superstars on the surface, no one shows interest in having them there, and they’re left to fend for themselves to meet any needs for friendship and sociality.
I and many other LDS singles have experienced this. But we have the opportunity to be the change we seek. Instead of complaining about the meat market, we should employ our energies into creating the culture of inclusion we need. When inspired by sincere love, our actions can transform singles programs focused on calendaring activities into singles groups focused on meeting individual needs by including every single one.
In our lives
And it shouldn’t stop there. The Prophet Joseph once taught, “A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” When the spirit of inclusion infuses within us a desire to love people at church and singles activities, we can’t help but extend that love to everyone else in our lives.
For example, the Liahona article advises, “When we enter our church building, we can look around and observe whom the Lord would have us bring into our circle of friendship that day.” We can and should do that everywhere. Doing so will bless us as well as others, filling our lives with joy.
Whether at church, at singles activities, or in our lives, let us do more to include everyone. We will create the culture that transcends our current challenges. And we will fill ourselves and those around us with the love of God. 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 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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