Recently I’ve been contacted by some employers with open positions. I wasn’t expecting their phone calls, but it does feel good to be wanted.
Life has been described as what happens while you’re making other plans. As I think back on my past employment, an element of the unexpected always attended each new position. Trying to plan it out so that everything would work out a certain way would have been pointless. I simply couldn’t see everything that required consideration.
Too many of us approach life trying to arrange things to conform to a certain plan. And because our subculture endorses it, we think we have to follow the plan to be validated. But really we just need to let go.
Everyone wants to be happy. We all want our lives to work out. But some of us simply cannot let go of the details. We want an assured result.
So when our subculture hands us this life plan that says go on a mission and go to college and get a job and then somewhere in there find an eternal companion and start a family, we want to manage the details of our lives to conform to plan. And we do it because we want acceptance within the subculture.
That plan is fine if your life can conform to it. But for many of us, this plan just doesn’t represent reality. The gap between our self-ideal (the life plan, or whatever else we think is ideal) and our self-image (how we view ourselves) warps our self-esteem. You can’t feel good about yourself if you constantly fall short of your ideals.
And that’s the real danger with this life plan. Too many of us get depressed when our lives don’t happen according to plan. If we’re single longer than the plan says we should be, we go crazy wondering what’s wrong with us. Or the marriage we had is over. The plan doesn’t address that. We again go crazy wondering what’s wrong with us. Or maybe our eternal companion died. The plan doesn’t say anything about that either.
But if we take a step back and understand our approach is simply a set of instructions programmed into habit, we can transform our lives into ones of joy and meaning.
Adopt a personal ministry
Life has some pretty crazy twists and turns by design. Insisting life conform to whatever image we or our subculture says it should be is like trying to navigate with a map that doesn’t match the landscape. Good luck with that.
Want a better approach? Let go of micromanaging your life. Instead, develop a strong relationship with God and then adopt a personal ministry. This way is harder because you have to trust that someone outside yourself will work out the details. But when you focus your efforts on being your best self and living the best life you can right now, you open doors of opportunity that you couldn’t before access simply because you couldn’t see them.
This counsel doesn’t in any way diminish the role of the family. We should all strive to obtain our next uncompleted essential ordinance, and we should all help those around us to do likewise. For many singles, that ordinance is eternal marriage. So a focused campaign to that end seems logical and righteous. But that’s not reality. Because the agency of another person is involved, you can only encourage the result you want. You cannot directly produce it.
Too many Latter-day Saints get married simply because that’s what the life plan says to do. In their rush for validation, they don’t establish a good foundation for a lasting union. If we’re truly serious about supporting the family, then we need to get serious about building better families from the start.
And we need to support better those who don’t have the ideal situation. We all need to let go of the life plan our subculture has handed us and replace it with a community that cares for each other. Whatever our situation, we can help those around us to strive for the next available essential ordinance. When it comes to marriage, the best help is often to live one’s best life.
That’s where a personal ministry comes in. Your most attractive you is your best you, and you become that best you when you focus on making a positive contribution in the world. Your personal ministry helps you focus your energies in that channel.
Just let go of the way you think your life is supposed to be. Develop a strong relationship with God, and then get to work making your contribution. Only when you let go will you see the true beauty of life unfold for you.
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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