That’s because the road to marriage is correlative, not causal. We’d all like it to be as simple as making waffles. But it just doesn’t work that way.
Our success in finding the right spouse will more likely come as we make our lives something that someone special will want to share with us. By making ourselves more attractive and taking advantage of opportunities we find, we can make eternity our goal.
The problem is the plan
I can run with Elder Ballard here because of how he defines goals and plans: “A goal is a destination or an end, while a plan is the route by which you get there.” There’s nothing wrong with the goal to get married. Our problem in making that goal is the plan.
For LDS singles, making eternity the goal means making celestial marriage a goal. However, everyone will have a different path — and hence a different plan — to get there.
Elder Ballard described that path further when he declared,
Again, the problem isn’t the goal. We should make every essential covenant we can. The problem is the plan — how we get the right type of person to decide in our favor. We can better accomplish that when we craft the short-term plans we have for our lives within the long-term plans our Heavenly Father has for our eternity.
Return and receive
Elder Ballard believes the words return and receive “symbolize God’s goals for us and our most important goals for ourselves.” Focusing our attention on these words can provide us with a clarity guiding what we do.
That clarity becomes ever more important in a world full of voices distracting us from our eternal goals. Some voices are intentionally evil. Other voices are simply blinded by the philosophies of men and women. However well-intentioned those other voices, listening to them results in the same deviations from our eternal goals.
That’s why it’s important to have some type of feedback. Elder Ballard suggests a regular interview with yourself. I suggest some of us may also benefit from having at least one trusted friend who’ll be brutally honest with us. Sometimes family members can serve this role as well. Partnering with the Lord will help each of us to know what feedback will be best for us.
Center on the Savior
I love how Elder Ballard tied in goals with "The Living Christ," a testimony of the Savior which the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve published in 2000. I especially love how he put it into context with the more often referenced Family Proclamation.
Elder Ballard said, “We speak often about the family proclamation, but please remember to read it in light of the saving power of the living Christ. Without the living Christ, our fondest expectations will be unfulfilled.” I love that because it speaks to our need to replace our family-centered culture with a Christ-centered one. Christ is the center of everything in the gospel.
The Savior and His marvelous Atonement are what make our Heavenly Father’s goals and plans possible. Given we should make our goals and plans within the broader confines of our Heavenly Father’s goals and plans, we should center what we do on the Savior.
How do we do that in the context of dating? Remember there are two types of dating. For casual dating, centering on the Savior means partnering with the Lord as you determine who among your options you should investigate more closely. For committed dating, it means inquiring well into your partner’s potential to help you realize your eternal potential.
In all cases, it means participating in activities that don’t offend the Spirit or violate our covenants. It also means counseling with the Lord regarding timing. We should always plan what we’ll do to work towards our eternal goals. But we shouldn’t have a plan prescribing a specific date for achieving eternal blessings.
Elder Ballard concluded his remarks with this testimony:
Our goals for dating should align with our Heavenly Father’s goals to save and exalt us. Time spent aligning our goals with our Heavenly Father’s is time well spent. Let’s each examine how well we’ve each made eternity our goal. Then let’s repent and make corrections where needed. Doing so will bring 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 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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