Monday, January 24, 2011

Living a Full and Happy Life as a Single Sister

2011 Women's Conference Class given by Jo Anne Long, West Linn Ward

Being a single woman in a family oriented church can be a real challenge. It also can bring sweet blessings. Following are some ideas for living a full and happy life as a single member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

• Recognize and Honor Your Divine Nature as an Individual. Heavenly Father is no respecter of persons; He loves us completely, regardless of our marital or family status. We are daughters of God and we are His crowning creation. As women, single or otherwise, we have the opportunity to live worthy of inheriting all that He has to offer his children.

• Be Thankful for All Blessings and Challenges. Being single has its blessings, including more freedom to make life decisions and choices, such as where to live, work, worship and recreate. It also has its challenges, including loneliness, feelings of being incomplete or living life at the fringe of our communities. While we should not discount these challenges, we need not be bound by them. Instead, we can recognize that everyone – married, single, with or without children, regardless of economic, cultural or ethnic background – faces obstacles. Maintaining an attitude of gratitude for the good and bad situations that we encounter in life can go a long way toward softening the inevitable disappointment that each of us faces.

• View Your Life as the “Real Thing.” Single women often view their marital or family status as an undesirable, temporary condition that is to be changed as soon as possible. Many sisters believe that being single is both abnormal and an impediment to physical, spiritual, financial and mental progress. This need not be so. We can choose to be pioneers of sorts by living our lives to the fullest measure, while being vibrant members of our families, workplaces and communities and worthy members of the Church.

• Keep Hoping for Marriage, but Stop Obsessing About It. President Hinckley has encouraged us to accentuate the positive when it comes to our marital status. He has said, “Do not give up hope. And do not give up trying. But do give up being obsessed with it. The chances are that if you forget about it and become anxiously engaged in other activities, the prospects will brighten immeasurably.” It also doesn’t hurt to remember that all good things come to those who wait – patiently, if possible.

• Be Passionately Involved in Something that Matters to You. Discover more about yourself and your spiritual gifts by being anxiously engaged in good causes, both inside and outside the Church. To paraphrase Matthew 16:25, whosoever will save her life shall lose it in the service of others; and whosoever will lose her life shall find it. Share your talents, time, means and energy with others freely. Although not always the case, many single women have more time at their disposal to reach out and serve others. If you’re unsure of where to get involved, ask your Relief Society President or Bishop or your family and friends; the needs and opportunities are as varied as the seasons of the year. With little effort, you will find a worthy cause that inspires you and stirs your soul.

• Continue to Enroll in the University of Life. There is so very much to learn here on earth, and so many choice topics to study and enjoy. New skills and knowledge can be acquired at almost any age, which can lead to new work opportunities, hobbies, interests and friends – and can help us to maintain agile minds and interesting personalities. With a wide range of media options available to us – books (particularly, the scriptures), newspapers, magazines, classroom and online instruction, music, DVDs and movies, just to name a few – continuing to learn and grow intellectually has never been so easy.

• Take Charge of Your Own Happiness. Remember that each of us is responsible for our own state of happiness. Often, a happy life is built on a solid, but simple foundation: prayer, scripture study, fulfilling church, family and work obligations, being kind and honest, and being clean in body and mind. What makes each of us happy may vary slightly, though, again, should not depend on our marital status.

• Magnify Your Church Callings and Perform Other Church Service. As single women, we hold a myriad of callings in the Church. Our ability and willingness to magnify these callings is not dependent on our marital status, but rather on the recognition of our obligation and privilege to serve our sisters and brothers in whatever capacity the Lord seeks of us. Achieving the full measure of our callings is one important way to help us to feel and to be fully involved in our ward and stake families. Visiting teaching is a program that is uniquely designed to meet the needs of all sisters, again regardless of marital or family status. Rendering church service also includes completing our family history, participating in single adult programs, serving in the temple and performing other acts of kindness and generosity on behalf of others.

Last, but not least, don’t take yourself too seriously. Life is full of ups and downs, some of the latter being self-inflicted. Having a good sense of humor – including the ability to laugh at ourselves – is a key ingredient to an abundant life. So, leave your “Single Sister” badge at home; in fact, throw it away. Instead, go out and live life fully and happily. It’s precisely what our Heavenly Father wants for each of us.