Yet when I applied this common cure, I found it didn’t really cure anything. All it did was make me forget myself for a time. When my service was done, I still lacked a companion, and the associated feelings with that lack returned all the more poignantly. Eventually, I learned why I felt the way I did and why service isn’t the difference.
The apparent problem
Service is bandied about as the bandage for lonely souls, and sure, I’ve felt better for a while as I forgot my problems for a time. But after serving I was always returned to my reality. The “problem” of being single and lonely was still there.
So if it doesn’t really work, why is service dispensed so often to singles as the answer for their challenges? I’ve learned most people don’t want to get too involved because that means taking on their burdens and most have enough of their own to bear. It’s easier to give some glib advice so they feel like they’re helping without getting too involved.
But there’s a complication: The advice is partially true. It’s not like service doesn’t have any effect. My problems did seem to go away while I served, even if it was only temporarily. That benefit evidences some effect from service.
What dissatisfied me was the incompleteness of that influence. When the service was done, I was always left with myself and my life and the feelings associated with lacking a companion. My underlying condition was unchanged.
The real difference
Eventually something did change for me, resulting in a realization of what makes the real difference. What changed? It was my thinking, of course!
I began to see a new perspective on my situation. Service didn’t solve my problem because my problem wasn’t a lack of service. My problem was a lack of giving my all to what I did.
As we’ve discussed countless times on the broadcast, happiness is giving your all to all the right things for you. Service is right for everyone, but I wasn’t happy from my service because I wasn’t giving my all to it. Thus, service became little more than a distraction from my real life, a way to fill time and momentarily escape my challenges.
Changing the way I thought about service made all the difference. By giving my all to what I did while serving, I found a sense of fulfillment previously unknown. And that fulfillment yielded satisfaction long after the service moment had ended. The loneliness of being single had been replaced with a sense of connection to something much larger than myself. And it was all because I gave my all to what I did.
The true answer
In the end, fulfillment comes from what you give of yourself while you do it. The Savior extolled the example of the widow who cast her last two mites into the treasury because, unlike the rich who gave some smaller portion of their greater wealth, she had given her all. And it was giving her all that made the difference.
Likewise, LDS singles can make a difference in their lives when they give their all to what they do. Service isn’t the difference, but what we give of ourselves while we serve is. So instead of advising others to combat loneliness with service, we should advise them to give their all in contributions to others. That’s something we at Joy in the Journey Radio call a personal ministry.
Ultimately, giving our all can bring us closer to the Savior Who gave His all for all of us. The meaning of His sacrifice comes not from His life but His willingly giving that life. When we give our all to what is right for us, we follow in those footsteps.
Service isn’t the difference, but giving your all to what you do is. So don’t hold back. Give your all to all that is right for you. Not only will you find greater happiness, but you’ll fortify yourself against the challenges of life. And that will bring you 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 since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet radio show and podcast 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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