CLEANING TOILETS ON FATHER'S DAY
Sunday morning, Cathy
remarked that the toilets were looking bad. Without even thinking, I said, "I'll clean them after Church."
Later in the afternoon, as I was actually cleaning the toilets, I started feeling a little resentful and thinking thoughts like, "Why am I cleaning toilets on Father's Day? Isn't it the Sabbath too? How can I keep it holy when I'm focusing on dirty toilets?" I also thought, a little cynically, "Yep, this is fitting for Father's Day. I get to do the do the dirty work that no one else wants to. That's what being a dad is."
Of course, I realized after a short pity party that these were just thoughts--and these thoughts were not serving me very well. What are the plain facts of the situation? (1) It was Sunday, (2) it was Father's Day, (3) I cleaned the toilets, (3) Cathy didn't ask me to clean them--I offered, and (4) I could have refused to do it or offered to do it Monday. Those are the facts.
The stories are what cause us pain. What stories was I telling myself? (1) Dads are not appreciated, (2) I am entitled to be self-indulgent on Father's Day, (3) If my wife and kids cared about me, I wouldn't have been forced to clean the toilets on Father's Day, and (4) I was breaking the Sabbath and my family was to blame for it.
As I realized that I was telling myself stories, I decided to choose different thoughts. (1) Father's Day didn't work out on Sunday this year because my two sons are grown and out of town, Cathy's string quartet had a gig, and my step-kids were with their dad. (2) We celebrated Father's Day Saturday evening by going out for Mexican food with the kids. (3) No one intended to hurt or disrespect me.
As it happens, while Cathy was playing her gig, both of my grown sons called me to say Happy Father's Day. The younger of them, who used to rarely call me at all, calls me almost every day now. My older son also made a post on Facebook saying that he loved me. My step kids are constantly telling me they love me. I chose to focus on the love of my children, rather than my prior interpretation of my own decision to clean toilets. I decided to cook Cathy dinner so she would have a hot meal when she returned home after playing her gig.
After Cathy returned home and we had dinner, we went for a walk. I shared my experience with her, and how I had shifted my thoughts to things that created gratitude, rather than to the self-indulgent and painful thoughts that arose from trauma. By shifting my thoughts, I shifted my mood. Even though I was no longer feeling sorry for myself, Cathy was sympathetic to my former feelings. She put her arm around me and said she was sorry it was such a busy weekend and that she had a gig scheduled on Father's day. She also said she would not have felt good about asking me to clean the toilets, but was grateful that I offered to do it.
We spent a very pleasant evening together, I called my dad and wished him Happy Father's Day, Cathy gave me a couple of little Father's Day gifts before we went to bed, and I went to bed feeling like a blessed man.
I have thought a lot over the past few months that most people are not naturally very good at relationships. We tend to be self-interested and self-indulgent, and we are looking to our partners to validate us in various ways. The truth is, that is not their job. We validate ourselves by showing up in relationships in the way we intentionally choose to, and by cultivating a relationship with God and understanding that we are His children. Most of us uncritically accept the self-defeating and invalidating thoughts that come into our minds, helplessly blame our partners for them, and feel miserable and short changed in our relationships.
If I had pouted and continued to think painful thoughts about what my cleaning toilets on Father's Day "meant," it could have created conflict with Cathy and ill feelings in me. I could have chosen to feel unhappy and let everyone around me know I was unhappy just to make a point. And you know what? That is what most people do. They believe all of the cognitive distortions that come into their minds, which generates hostility and pain regarding their relationships.
What I needed was not to make a point, or for anyone else to feel bad. What I needed was to love and be loved. When I realized that and chose that path, I created that experience and Cathy cooperated. And when I shared my experience, I received empathy and felt validated in my former feelings, even though I no longer felt I needed it. I felt like Cathy cared about me.
There is tremendous power in choosing which of our thoughts to accept into our consciousness, and which to discard. This is the essence of what Father Lehi meant when he said that people are "free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon." (2 Nephi 2:26.) We are often acted upon by our thoughts. We cannot help the fact that certain thoughts come to us or certain events trigger us. But we can help what we do with those thoughts. Do we allow painful thoughts and interpretations to linger? Do we waste our effort trying to get someone else to be different from how they are so that we can be happy?
To act instead of being acted upon means to live with intention. It means governing our relationships with intention rather than emotion. It means choosing the emotions we want to experience, rather than letting the panic of our brains dictate them. We are free to choose for ourselves. But if we don't know we can do this, it's easy to walk through life defensively worrying about the things other people say and do and being miserable about it.
This is an important topic because many of us in this group have failed marriages and other relationships in our history. If we are to learn from them and do better next time, it is imperative that we understand the power of our thoughts to create the experiences we want. This applies just as much in dating and friendships as it does during marriage. Think on it.
Friday morning I woke up with severe conjunctivitis in both eyes. My eyes were so light sensitive that I could not look at my computer screen or phone without searing pain. I took some Benadryl and got a prescription for antibiotic eye drops. Thankfully, by afternoon I was much better . We had tickets to see Les Misérables. Thankfully, I was able to see and the pain was much reduced by the time we left for the show.
This little incident got me thinking. I am just amazed by how much a less than 1% change in my body chemistry could literally incapacitate me and throw off my equilibrium so badly. While my eyes were impaired, I could not practice law. I could not drive my car. I could not watch television. I could not post in this group. I could not see my beautiful wife's face. Thankfully, it was a very temporary kind of impairment. However, I know there are many people who live every day with more serious pain and impairments. I am thankful that I am generally pretty healthy. My little episode with severe conjunctivitis helped me to realize how grateful I am that I have not, thus far, had any severe and permanent kinds of health problems.
The point I want to make with this post is about how much we take for granted. Many mid-singles feel deep disappointment because of how their lives have "turned out." I was one of those for several years -- until I realized that I was still alive and my life had not "turned out" yet. I started to see my single status for the opportunities it presented instead of the challenges. Thankfully, I had skills I could use to start a business, and I had the health to enable me to do the work. I still looked pretty young for my age and I enjoy meeting people, so dating was relatively easy for me. These are all blessings that many people too often take for granted.
One of the most important lessons my mid-single years taught me is that we can enjoy anything only to the extent that we are grateful for it. Otherwise, we are blind to the joy (maybe that's a useful pun, given how I started this post). The time this really dawned on me was when I was living in Texas. I had figured out how to make a decent living doing title work for oil companies. For the first time in several years, I had money enough to pay my bills and treat a lady to dinner once in awhile. I bought a nicer and more reliable car, which I enjoyed driving every minute. I was visiting a lot of interesting places. My oldest son was living with me and preparing to go on a mission. I loved having him around. I was finding plenty of good dating opportunities, albeit long distance. I was learning to see how happy my life could be when I just appreciated each little element of it. It all added up to feeling joy. And joy begat more joy. I got a lot more enthusiastic about my life and all of its possibilities. It was infectious and the people around me started being more positive too. I attracted enthusiastic people who brought opportunities into my life.
The last year I spent in Texas, I had a corporate job. There was a downturn in the oil business and I got laid off -- with my son on his mission. I found some $25 an hour briefing work for a law firm in Washington. It wasn't really enough, but I kept doing it until I had enough other business to quit. In the meantime, I returned to Utah and hung out a shingle again. I had the emotional and spiritual strength and enthusiasm to build a business -- unlike the time I tried doing that after my divorce from my kid's mom. At that time I was emotionally depleted and bereft of energy.
I want you to know that genuine gratitude is empowering. It allows you to truly enjoy the good things in your life and build on them. I also believe it is a good habit. It is a good habit when you are driving your car to think about how grateful you are for such a wonderful and reliable machine that takes you where you want to go in comfort. Over the last week, I have been newly thankful for the proper functioning of my eyes, even though I need glasses to read very much. I am hugely thankful for those glasses that make it possible for me to earn a living and live my life with more joy.
My life has not been all peaches and cream. I have been divorced twice and lost a little brother to cancer when he was only 17. I have had dengue fever and spinal meningitis. I spent several years in depression after my first divorce, partly because I didn't know the things I know today about alleviating it. Notwithstanding these and many more challenges, I have a great life. Without these challenges, I wouldn't have Cathy
. I wouldn't have my two step kids. I wouldn't have the business I have today, or the knowledge to create one. Love in Later Years would not exist. All In all, I think I have a beautiful life.
In my first marriage, I didn't truly understand the power of gratitude. I did what everyone else was doing in their 20s. I got married. We had a couple of kids. It didn't seem special. It seemed just normal. After I got divorced, I remember laying in bed at night feeling lonely sometimes, and thinking about how I had always taken it for granted when I cuddled with my former wife. With Cathy, I don't take that for granted. I realize how wonderful it is to go to bed with my loved one every night and feel her warmth next to me. I will never take that for granted again. During my mid-single years, every time I took my kids to the airport for a custody exchange I cried on the way home. They are both grown now. But I never take for granted the conversations we have. Every time one of them calls or messages me I feel blessed. I love the people they have become and I am grateful to have an adult relationship with them now. I don't take for granted the moments we get with my step kids, because I know how fleeting childhood is and how precious.
If I had to lose my first marriage and go through a lot of emotional pain to understand and appreciate the joy of loving and being loved, it was worth every moment of suffering.
To our mid-single friends, don't take years to learn this lesson like I did. Learn from my mistakes. Love and appreciate all that you have been given and your life will be abundant. That's the secret folks.
PS from Cathy: Les Misérables was such a great production, I'm so happy we were able to enjoy it together after some much needed self-care and medical intervention. I'm amazed at the body's ability to recover so quickly. It's not always that way so I feel very blessed to have experienced this event with Jeff despite the unexpected last minute obstacle. Jeff Teichert
, I'm glad we are intentionally grateful people, it makes life so much better! Such a great LILY Gem you wrote today. Love it and love you!
When I graduated from law school, my first job was as a law clerk for the Chief Justice of American Samoa. In some ways it was the best job I ever had. I'll never forget the first morning I woke up there after arriving in the night. I walked outside and saw paradise. It was so beautiful I almost couldn't believe it. I learned a lot by living in that culture for two years -- both professionally and in life. My Samoan name is Siafa.
Friends told me that the veil is thinner in Polynesia, and I even sensed this among many Polynesians on my mission in Australia. People told my former wife and me that the Island of Ofu was "haunted." They told us a story about some other palagis (white people) who were snorkeling during Sa (evening prayer hour) and drowned. We did feel the presence of spirits on Ofu, but they seemed kind and welcoming. We didn't snorkel during Sa though.
"Sa" means "sacred." Every evening in Samoa all the church bells ring at about 6:30 p.m. to gather everyone in the village for prayer. It is an important and sacred ritual that they observe. If you are driving and the bells ring, you pull over. If you are in a store, you wait until Sa is over to leave. You show respect and avoid interrupting prayer time. It is a quiet time in the islands. I have profound respect for this ritual. I don't know if it would be possible to get everyone in a town or even in a neighborhood here in America to pray together at one time every single day. But I think having a personal and family prayer ritual when the world stops and we talk with God is a beautiful idea -- particularly in the lives of mid-singles, which can get so easily taken over by the duties of single parenting, while simultaneously bringing loneliness for adult company.
"Sa" is also part of the word Samoa. "Moa" means "center." Some say that Samoa is the sacred center of Polynesia. I think of the sacred center as existing within us. The sacred center is a heart at peace with itself.
Probably the most profound thing I learned from the fa'asamoa ("the Samoan way") is commitment to family -- and Samoans have big extended family organizations called "aigas." When you drive through a Samoan village at night and see 20 kids playing volleyball together or swimming in the ocean, you can bet they are all cousins. The village is not just a collection of random people. They live together because they are all related. Sometimes a child will become bonded to an uncle or aunt or grandparent or some other family member, and end up being raised mostly by that person. They call that a Samoan adoption. It is informal. The natural parents don't object to it, because the child is right there in the village and they can see him or her everyday if they want to. I knew a middle-aged woman who had never married who had a "daughter" who was essentially a niece who had just become very close to her, and she was basically raising her. But in a large sense the village was raising her all together.
For single parents especially, we need a village too. We need our church families, our extended families, and our mid-singles community.
Because of the way families are organized in Samoa, nursing homes are virtually non-existent. In fact, people there believe it is shameful to leave the elderly alone to die without their families around. In Samoa, the elderly are the most respected people, and their wisdom is sought after. I think America could learn a lot from that.
Special lifecycle events called "fa'alavelaves," such as weddings and funerals, are highly celebrated in Polynesia. It is not uncommon for Polynesians to cross oceans for the wedding of a second cousin. It's not something we relate well to in America. I hope your wedding feels like a celebration of life for your whole family, rather than just a legal formality.
The hallmark of their culture is to love and be loved. I have often found that the most commonly selected hymns in a particular ward often tell you a lot about the culture. In Cokeville, Wyoming, the ranching town where my dad grew up, they commonly pick hymns about hard work like "Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel" or "wake up and do something more than dream of your mansions above." In Samoa, the hymn people always wanted to sing was "Love at Home." Tells you something doesn't it?
Another thing I learned from Polynesia is how to relax. (I could actually use a couple of months in Polynesia now to help me relearn that lesson.) Polynesians don't live to work. They work to live. Everyone on the island from the governor on down is off work by 4:00 p.m. and they spend long evenings together with their families. They have a special way of roasting pig called an "umu" which gives it a delicious smoky taste and makes it really tender. It takes several hours to roast that way -- providing people with a long conversation while the food is cooking. Big family dinners are always a celebration, and they prepare enough so everyone has a huge plate of leftovers to take home. Julia and I went to a wedding once where we literally lived on the leftovers for a week.
Sometimes we Americans are just busy being busy -- and we forget that life should be about joy and feeling good inside. Polynesia can help you to gain real perspective on that. Very few people there are lonely because everyone is surrounded by lots of family and loved ones.
One final thought about polynesians is that they hate to hurt anyone's feelings. They don't generally come to the point very readily. We Americans are often pretty blunt. Samoans take their time in communication and often talk around and around something rather than coming directly to the point -- because they want to be understood without shaming or contradicting the other person. They believe every person is important and a gift from God.
The local matai and village council system in Samoa operates on the principle of consensus, kind of like the Quorum of the 12 Apostles. On any major change, they continue talking until all objections are resolved or at least withdrawn. It takes a long time for them to make decisions, but when they do, the decisions always command popular support because everyone had their say and no one was left behind. What if we could run our marriages that way? What if we decided that having our own way at the other person's expense was not acceptable, and that we wouldn't move forward with a decision or end a discussion until both people were satisfied with the outcome? What if our spouses knew we would not be satisfied with the result until they were? It is more time consuming and it requires more discussion, but it is also an important way for both spouses to feel valued and to have a life they are satisfied with. Perhaps we can use more intention in both dating relationships and in marriage to use the principle of consensus in making decisions.
I don't know how many of you have experience with Polynesian culture, or how well you relate to this essay, but I hope it provided a little insight and perspective that will help in your life.
This afternoon, we were privileged to watch the FIRST EVER Face to Face Event for Single Adults (ages 31+). This event had a different approach than others before, considering it’s for a more mature and experienced audience. It will be a blessing for so many! We have a friend currently serving on the Single Adult group committee for the Church who was involved in the planning process. Please watch this online for inspired words of counsel/comfort, specifically for singles of our Faith. It’s an invite for ALL singles - never married, divorced, or widowed. We highly recommend watching this. Here's a link to watch the playback anytime:
The first presidency asked us to also study President Nelson’s talk: “Christ Is Risen; Faith in Him Will Move Mountains” from Apr 2021 General Conference, which you can find here:
After watching the premier of this special event this afternoon, we had so much to say about it that we did a podcast. Listen to our thoughts on this first ever churchwide mid-single devotional on LILY Pod:
14. The First Churchwide Devotional for Mid-Singles by LILY Pod • A podcast on Anchor
Jeff and Cathy discuss the first churchwide devotional for single adults over the age of 30 in a Face to Face with Relief Society President Jean Bingham, Sister Sharon Eubank, and Elder Neil L. Anderson.
In light of Sister Bingham's comments on Face to Face, we would really like to increase our effort to make our Love In Later Years (LILY) Facebook Group a gathering place for mid-singles and those who are interested in their welfare to fellowship, receive edifying thoughts, and alleviate loneliness. The more the merrier! We would like to have 1,000 members by the end of July 2021! 💕 Come join us and please share with friends and family:
A SIGN OF GRACE
I took this picture during a lunar eclipse on February 21, 2008 from the balcony of my home in Washington. 2008 was the last year my former wife and I were together.
As I look back on the night that moon appeared, I am reminded of a couple of things. Even when our circumstances are difficult, there is beauty in our world. We can gaze on it in wonder and focus on what we have been given. The things we choose to focus on become bigger in our minds and manifest in our lives. I don't know if that beautiful moon had that meaning for me at the time. I just thought it was cool and was trying to capture it on camera. With the wisdom of another decade of life, I can see that a loving father in Heaven gave me an opportunity to see that He still loved me and was blessing me with the radiant beauty of His creation.
I think this picture also reminds me of the elegant order in our galaxy. No matter what is happening in our lives and relationships, the sun will still come out in the morning and the moon will rise when the sun sets. An eclipse like the one in this picture is predictable and follows the rules given by the creator. All of His creation obeys him (except sometimes His children).
In Section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Prophet Joseph Smith refers to the Moon as female -- as it is referred to in many ancient mythologies such as the Toltec and the Egyptians. Could it be that God had that glorious moon shining down on me that night with a message that he would be sending a beautiful woman into my life at the proper time? There are times and seasons for everything in life, and for some our permanent and loving marriage comes later than for others.
I have a friend who went through a very bad divorce who sometimes cynically refers to life as a "big juicy peach" whenever someone else is trying to be optimistic. But maybe the appearance of this moon during a very difficult time in my life could have reminded me that life is, indeed, a big juicy peach. It is full of blessings and opportunities and joys if we know where to look.
Miraculous events only have the meaning we allow them to have. Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah saw angels and it changed their lives completely. Laman and Lemuel saw angels and pretty soon went back to murmuring and being bitter. Why? Because "they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them." (1 Nephi 2:12.) They missed the point because they did not know (or seek) the divine meaning in the events of their lives. They had totally blinded themselves to it.
When we are weighed down with sorrow, our view can become very myopic. It is hard to see beyond the crisis of the moment, and that crisis grows in proportion to the rest of the world. We can become very narrow-minded without even meaning to. This causes us to focus on suffering and suffer more.
If you are still suffering from the loss of a spouse to death or divorce, consider when might be the time to refocus on the opportunities and blessings that can still be yours in this life, and even in the life to come. I think the scriptural injunction, "seek and ye shall find" profoundly applies to finding the divine meaning in the world around us. So next time you see a sign of grace in the heavens, don't forget to notice and contemplate God's eternal love, and His promises to those that love Him.
11 is a very special number to us. In marriage, it represents the synergy that we intentionally create as a couple because 1+1 is not 2 but 11 (our whole is greater than the sum of it's parts).
11 has shown up a lot in our life as a couple...shortly after setting our wedding date for the 11th (because we love the symbolism of that number), we discovered that we are exactly 11 years and 11 months apart in age. It also worked out that Jeff's oldest son got home from his mission on May 11th (2017) the year before we got married on May 11th (2018) and that same son married his sweetheart on May 11th the following year (2019). My first niece was born on the 11th about a year later (2020). The year married my young boys were 7/11 and now that 7-year-old is 11. When picking up birthday food from the grocery store for his festivities (including these 11 candles), the change was $11.11. 💕 How awesome is that!?!
We see divine design in symbolism and such synchronicities as a sign from heaven that we are loved and being watched over.
Do you want to intentionally transform your life for the better? When it comes to the mind, everything beyond verifiable fact is perspective. The stories we tell have the power to influence our emotions, energy, behaviors, and ultimately our outcomes. We often choose our stories unconsciously and begin to believe our perspective as if it is fact and don’t even question it. Yet there is another option. We can choose our stories consciously to create intentional transformation. Our emotions, energy, behaviors, and outcomes can shift when we choose different stories. We are creators. It all begins with the thoughts we choose to focus on.
We have developed a LILY Coaching Model that we believe will be very helpful in our coaching practice. It provides a framework we as humans each need to do in order to create our best life. The acronym for our model is FSEEBO – so remember to “Forget SEEBO!” Forget the stories that don’t serve you, so you can forget the emotion/energy that doesn’t elevate you, and as a result you will forget each behavior/outcome that doesn’t benefit you! Doing this important thought work with firm intention, over time, will lead you to more purposefully create your life and find greater joy in your journey.
Here’s the breakdown:
Facts – verifiable (every thought beyond the facts is OPTIONAL)
Stories – our own perceptions and adaptations of the facts, the thoughts we choose to subscribe to and focus on
Emotions – the result of our stories, greatly influenced by our thoughts in the moment and in accumulation
Energy – the vibration we approach our day with and the world around us, also influenced by our thoughts/stories
Behaviors – naturally follow stories/emotions/energy, unless we use will-power to counteract it, which isn't sustainable
Outcomes – what our lives look like, as a result of our behaviors, which are influenced by our emotions/energy, and ultimately from our stories – the thoughts we attach to about the facts of our life experience.
Enjoy a more in depth discussion on LILY Pod Episode 11: Our F-SEEBO Model
Listen to "Our F-SEEBO Model" podcast on LILY Pod as many times as it takes to really get it down. Take notes and make a commitment to do this work in your own life. You can do a lot of this work yourself. Yet we all have blind spots so it is very helpful to meet with a coach and get personal assistance. We are happy to support you along the way! Let us know if you’d like a FREE coaching consultation by emailing us at loveinlateryears.com.
Those of us who are "culturally safe" can choose to be spiritually mature, loving, and kind.
We echo what was said in this article, written June 1st. For our LGTBQ+ mid-single members.
This is my Zoom coaching space. I had a great session this morning with one of my awesome clients. It feels so good to connect with and assist mid-singles as they intentionally create the life they desire. It's rewarding and we are so thankful for every opportunity we have to make a positive difference in the lives of those who are ready for positive change through our LILY Coaching program.
If you are interested in booking a free consult with Jeff or Cathy, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
ON THOUGHTS AND ADVERSITY
In 1 Nephi 17:1, Nephi described the adversity he and his family went through as they traveled in the wilderness after their exodus: "And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness; and our women did bear children in the wilderness."
Yet his prevailing thoughts were overwhelmingly positive and hopeful. Immediately following these words, Nephi exclaims:
"And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings. And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; wherefore, he did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness."
(1Nephi 17:2-3.) It is amazing that Nephi was so positive under these conditions, while Laman and Lemuel murmured in dissatisfaction and misery. This scriptural passage fits the promise given by President Monson that, "The Lord shapes the back to bear the burden placed upon it." As a single parent, you may have felt the miracle of receiving unnatural strength to bear the burdens of parenthood alone. You may have been given miracles that allow you to feed your children better than you thought you could while being both mother and father in some ways. Your ”wilderness" is no less real than the one Lehi's family wandered in.
The truth is, most of you mid-singles are survivors. You have figured out how to survive trials and trauma. Your bigger problem, in many cases, is figuring out how to thrive and be happy. And make no mistake, they are entirely different skill sets.
Your brain is wired for survival. It stays on alert for danger. It does not distinguish between physical and emotional peril. In fact, it desperately wants acceptance and belonging. In primitive times, being rejected by your tribe would probably mean starvation and vulnerability to predators and the elements. Your brain knows this and intuitively responds with fear when you are rejected by someone you may have offered love (or to possibly create love). This survival instinct is very powerful, and it has a tendency to override our happiness. It often keeps us survivors stuck in anxiety. Happiness depends, in no small degree, on being able to switch off that survival instinct in situations that do not truly require it. If you are like me, you may have found that all of your prior success in life was based on fear. I think I got through law school and motivated myself to study by fearing failure. That is one example. There are thousands. If you try to find a deeper and more healthy source of motivation, it can feel like giving up your security blanket. You may cling to your anxiety and pain even harder for awhile.
Nephi demonstrated this skill when he focused on the blessings of the Lord, and showed faith in Him to take care of his family in the wilderness. The result was that he could relax into his situation, celebrate the blessings of the Lord, and create inner peace that his older brothers could not. Nephi demonstrates this positive quality again in the same chapter, stating, "notwithstanding we had suffered many afflictions and much difficulty, yea, even so much that we cannot write them all, we were exceedingly rejoiced when we came to the seashore; and we called the place Bountiful, because of its much fruit.” (1Nephi 17:6.) He "exceedingly rejoiced" notwithstanding great afflictions.
We often hear people say things like, " I am not a pessimist. I am a realist." They will then go on to paint a very gloomy picture of life or their circumstances -- not even realizing that most of it is interpretation rather than fact, and it's just a story they are telling themselves.
What kind of stories do mid-singles tell themselves?
"There are no good men out there."
"Women are all drama queens and crazy."
"Dating is hard and it's not worth the struggle."
"No one finds me attractive."
"I am past my prime and not beautiful / handsome anymore."
"Men are only after one thing."
"All women want is a guy with money."
"Being a single parent is hard because you're totally on your own."
"I have no time to take care of myself, because my whole life is about other people."
We could go on, but this is enough to illustrate the point. Are these Nephi kinds of words, or Laman and Lemuel kinds of words? Do these beliefs lead to happiness or to misery?
Let's try on some different beliefs:
"God has a loving plan for me, and everything I've suffered is taking me to a better place."
"My losses have prepared me for a better love."
"I have many friends in my life, and there are plenty of other people who are willing to be my friends and lend mutual love and support."
"There are many good single men in the church."
"There is an abundance of amazing women in the church."
"Most people want to love and be loved, aside from material things."
"Sex is a beautiful and holy part of married life, and I eagerly await the arrival of this gift."
"I owe it to myself and my children to take good care of myself, and to show love and compassion to myself as a child of God."
Which of these thoughts is more elevating? Which is more calculated to lead to happiness and peace? Do you feel more peace when you believe that you are on your own in a cruel world, or when you believe that a loving God has a plan for you, and you are surrounded by friends who love and support you? You might even ask yourself which of these sets of beliefs is more in harmony with how the gospel sees us as children of God with the potential to become like Him. Nephi understood that gratitude for God's blessings, and seeing them as abundant, created more joy and light.
As mid-singles, many of you have learned to survive. You have already won that medal. You have learned to survive by feeling anxious and fearful, and trying to solve everything that is wrong. Now, move into the light and learn better how to be happy and thrive by shifting your thoughts from fear and lack to abundance, joy, and love.