Last week I extolled surrendering to love. Need a refresher? Go get one. I’ll wait right here for you.
Habit governs most of what we do on a daily basis. It’s how we’re designed to function. And usually it works very well.
But sometimes habits obstruct our progress. To grow, we need to leave our comfort zones. In those moments, habits designed to keep us “safe” hinder more than help.
Many singles habitually embrace the attitudes of the activity club (“I’m just here to have fun”) and the dating forum (“I’m looking for someone to marry”). These attitudes — expressed in habits directing how we interact with others — prevent us from transforming singles groups into the support networks they should be. And that means the needs of many go unmet.
That's not the path of love.
How do you get on that train? First, recognize what habits steer you away from the path of love. Then replace those bad habits with better ones designed to keep you on the path of love.
What habits steer us away from love? Here’s three examples common amongst singles.
Who you talk to
It’s human nature to associate only with those we like. Yet the path of love, often uncomfortable, beckons us to associate with those we don’t like. The Savior taught this very principle in the Sermon on the Mount.
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
Then follows this verse:
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
An alternate Greek translation of perfect is whole or complete. In other words, we aren’t really complete unless we offer fellowship to everyone. This is the path of love.
Too often we singles have more concern about our own agendas. We don’t want to give others reason to think they interest us romantically when they don’t. When such attitudes become encoded in habits, they provide automated responses that steer us away from the path of love.
If you recognize this habit in yourself, embrace a different habit. Consciously choose to meet new people and help them feel welcome. Yes, even if that might create difficulty for you later.
Where you sit
Take a look around in church on Sunday. Most people tend to sit in the same place week after week.
We singles tend to do likewise, and not just at church. Whenever we sit in groups in any context, we have habits much like the ones that guide our selection in who we talk to.
We concern ourselves habitually with what others will think. And yet by not following the path of love, by leaving those who sit alone to sit alone, we inadvertently send the message that they are alone.
Again, the Lord’s teachings apply. The path of love invites us to include others. Including some people will be very uncomfortable. Yet we can’t really be whole or complete unless we seek to include everyone.
Nothing quite says “You belong” like sitting next to someone. Let’s consciously choose to include those sitting by themselves. What if everyone embraced such an attitude? Imagine the unity and support we’d have if only we all surrendered to love!
Who you date
Think the first two were hard? You better buckle up! The path of love invites us to be more inclusive in who we date.
We LDS singles tend to place too many filters too soon in the process. We make the front part way more serious than it should be. And that attitude — often encoded in habit! — closes us off from the very opportunities we say we want.
Correctly understood, dating comes in two flavors: casual dating and serious dating. Casual dating is just that — casual! It involves multiple partners and low levels of commitment that expire with the date activity.
Yet too often we bung everything by skipping casual and going straight to serious. We often make things so serious that we don’t even start.
What results from jumbling the process? Many people stay single unnecessarily, and many others have less than satisfying marriages.
I’m not suggesting we abandon standards when dating. I’m suggesting we stop making the front end so serious. There’s a time and place for serious. It’s called serious dating. And that comes after friendship and casual dating. Dating becomes much easier when you abandon the faulty assumptions and attitudes that hold many back.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
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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