With 2017 almost upon us, many are reflecting back upon 2016 and making plans for the new year. I’m doing more than that, though. I’m comparing my intention for 2016 in January with what I actually have in December.
I had such high hopes in January. I was convinced that this year would be my year in so many ways. And I did make a valiant effort. But comparing my hopes with the reality, I find myself wanting, and not by a small amount.
In some ways many LDS singles feel similarly about their lives. They had such high hopes when they began adulthood. But as years go by without any achievement or even apparent progress on the road to eternity, they find their lives working our very differently from that cultural life plan.
I understand that sentiment. I can look upon the intervening years in my life and see how far I haven’t come. That career hasn’t quite worked out for me, and that companion is still missing from my life. If I see nothing but these cold facts, I’ll easily find despair and feel like a failure.
But I don’t have to stay that way if I remember the power of yet.
Learn a lesson
We can get so fixated on timetables for anything to happen that we set ourselves up for discouragement when reality differs. In my new career as an educator, I’ve noticed an emerging discussion around this topic. We insist that students learn on our timetable. If they don’t learn what they need to learn within a semester, students receive a grade that reflects that performance.
That’s fine for students who don’t make any effort. But what about the ones who did and still couldn’t make the mark? These students can be easily discouraged from ever trying again.
Does it matter in the long run that they couldn’t learn quick enough? Yes, some jobs require employees to ride steep learning curves, but not every job demands that. And students who take longer to learn aren’t going for those types of jobs anyway.
That’s where the power of yet comes in. What if students received a grade of “Not Yet” instead of a failing grade? Would this nurture the potential of students who would otherwise waste it in surrender to discouragement and false identities of being a failure?
Apply the lesson
Many LDS singles aren’t very different from the students discussed in education circles. We all know the life plan our culture gives us. But what happens if your career and/or your companion don’t materialize according to that timetable? Just like the students who wrongly label themselves as stupid and unable to learn, many LDS singles wrongly label themselves as failures and unable to achieve their righteous desires.
That all changes when we invoke the power of yet. If we are not now what or where we want to be, then our performance alone is the failure, not us. We haven’t done all that we need to do to be what or where we want to be. We just haven’t arrived yet.
That word yet offers hope that the future can be different than the past. And so it can! We truly fail in any endeavor only when we stop trying. By telling ourselves we haven’t succeeded yet, instead of declaring simply that we haven’t succeeded, we orient ourselves towards the light of a brighter tomorrow.
Of course, we can’t simply use the same approach and expect different results. If we want different results, we need to adopt a different approach. And that means learning from our previous approach what we need to do differently so that each next attempt is better than our last.
Feel the power
Looking back on 2016, I see the excitement I felt in January to put a dent in the universe differs substantially from the reality in December. Although discouraged, I remain undaunted because I remember the power of yet.
I simply haven’t yet achieved all that I want to achieve.
That’s the great promise of 2017 and every new year we encounter. We have the chance to review our approach and identify ways to improve. We have another opportunity to renew our effort and keep pushing forward.
If you’re looking at your life and feeling far from what or where you want to be, what are you going to do about it? Will you tell yourself you haven’t succeeded before you lie down to die? Or will you tell yourself that you haven’t succeeded yet as you improve your approach and keep trying? With the power of yet, we can all take hope as we work towards a brighter tomorrow. And that will certainly provide us 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 since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet 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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