This week I’m going to share a struggle I’ve entertained for some time. I don’t have complete answers. But I’ll share what I’ve found so far.
I’ve felt a tension between two extremes. On one hand, we hear people need to be independent and able to meet their own needs. On the other hand, we hear people need a larger community. Like so many other things in life, the truth is likely somewhere in the middle, but where exactly? I’ve struggled to find that location. And considering the question in terms of singles — those who have no one but themselves but are trying to become a part of something bigger — increases that struggle considerably.
Your own person
Leaders support single members by helping them draw near to the Lord, strengthen their testimonies, and take responsibility for their own spiritual, social, and temporal well-being.
That’s beautiful. That suggests a balanced approach of some community and some individuality, with the ultimate accountability placed on the individual. So right on.
Sooner or later you need to act your adult age and own your life. That means accepting the good and the bad, everything that your life is and has become. Facing that truth is a hard row to hoe. But it leads to so much freedom and joyful living that to encourage anything less would cheat you.
We’ve entered this mortal probation with purpose. We aren’t here to have everything handed to us. We’re here to make choices for ourselves. When any community attempts to provide all our needs, that “help” actually hinders our growth because we aren’t choosing for ourselves as we were intended. Instead, we abdicate our power to others outside of ourselves. We choose to be acted upon rather than to act.
That’s a large part of why the ultimate responsibility for meeting the needs of an individual rests with that individual. Only by making choices for yourself and then acting in conformity with those choices do you feel empowered to create something worthwhile with your life. Having the community meet all of your needs simply can’t supply that empowerment.
Part of a community
That doesn’t mean that the community itself doesn’t hold great, even essential, value. You can’t meet all your needs on your own. No one can.
We all have the need to socialize with others. It’s hard wired into our design as human beings. We all have times in life when we need someone else, be it a friend or family member, to cheer us on or lift us up because we struggle to do so on our own. And we all need to feel loved. You can make yourself feel pampered, satisfied, even important. But you can never make yourself feel loved. That has to come from someone outside yourself.
Seriously, if we didn’t need the community at all, then why even have wards and stakes? Why would the family be the central unit of eternity if we needed no one outside of ourselves? Clearly, God intended a different arrangement for us to thrive in life.
Striking the balance
And that’s what I’ve really been struggling with here — striking the balance so that everyone thrives in life. We don’t want to disempower anyone by doing for others what they can and should do for themselves. At the same time, we need to help and support those who have difficulty doing it alone.
That support will differ with each individual. I think that was part of my problem. I was looking for a solution that would work for everyone. But there isn’t one. The approach each person needs most will be unique to each person.
That means you need familiarity with the person who needs help. And that’s hard to do above the local ward level. I’ve touched before (and no doubt will again) on some of the separations between singles and marrieds within the Church. What roles should everyone play so that individual singles feel like they belong to the family-centric community of the Church?
I’m becoming more and more convinced that singles wards are not the answer. I also feel we singles can do much to help ourselves. I’ll be posting about these ideas during the coming year, so feel free to join in the discussion. I’m looking forward to finding some answers together.
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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