Author Archives: Malcolm Ravenclaw

Introducing Paul Green, Advice Columnist for LDS Single Friends


We’re pleased to introduce Paul Green, our new advice columnist for LDS Single Friends. Paul has been well prepared by the Lord to take on this role and we hope that the LDS single adult community will take advantage of his insights and expertise. Here’s his bio below:
Paul Green

Paul Green

Paul Green is a renaissance man in every sense of the word, he is an entrepreneur, actor, comedian, musician, athlete, humanitarian, writer and much more. He served a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in Cleveland Ohio and upon returning noticed a cultural shift in the church regarding marriage, divorce, dating, relationships, and parenting. Through his experience serving in the LDS church, he had the opportunity to meet and associate with many single adults from a variety of circumstances. Many of these singles would confide and open up to him, helping Paul gain a greater and deeper sympathy for the tremendous and heart wrenching challenges associated with being single parents and divorcees and the struggles of trying to date again after having extremely traumatizing experiences in their first marriages.    

As he learned how to listen with his whole heart to the challenges of others, Paul was also facing his own challenges as a single man in the LDS church. At the age of 33, Paul has never been married and has faced his own set of challenges as a single man, striving to live the gospel and serve in the kingdom of God while lacking one of the most significant pieces of a truly gospel centered life, a spouse and children. After struggling with dating and relationships after returning from his mission, he spent several years in intense study of relationships, communication, and human interaction to better understand why dating is such a challenge for so many, while it seems so natural for others. After many personal discoveries he began blogging some of his discoveries in a blog entitled, “dating difficulties.” This was his first attempt at writing for the benefit of others. Many expressed positive appreciation for his insights and comments, and one reader even offered to help him write and publish a book!

At about the same time that Paul began his quest to understand dating, he also discovered he had a natural gift and talent for improvisational comedy and performance. He started performing with a local improv troupe that performed regularly. As an improviser, he began to learn and utilize principles of leadership, communication, team building and creative thinking in his personal and professional relationships. He was also given the opportunity to teach workshops to help others find greater success in their own personal and professional lives. These opportunities, coupled with his life experiences, helped him discover his great passion for helping others find more creative and effective solutions to overcome the many challenges and trials that all of us face in mortality. 

Paul was put on this world to serve and love others with his whole heart, full of compassion, sympathy and understanding of any challenge that anyone can face in life. Whatever you are struggling with at this point in your life, whether it be illness, loneliness, depression, trials of faith, doubt, fear, apprehension, family concerns, divorce, singleness, financial, spiritual, emotional, struggles with same-gender attraction etc., his only desire is to help! Feel free to write in and see if Paul has any advice that will help you push through your current trial to receive the blessing that awaits all after the trial of faith!

To submit an anonymous question to Paul:

1. Send a message to the LDS Single Friends Facebook Page or send an email to paulgreencanhelp@gmail.com

2. Please “like” LDS Single Friends on Facebook and invite your fellow LDS singles to join our online community! 

3. If your question is chosen, look for Paul’s response on this blog and on LDS Single Friends. To make sure that you never miss an advice column from Paul, you can subscribe to this blog through the form below. 

Stay tuned for next week’s column, when Paul will answer the following message from a fellow LDS single:

I’m aging out of the single’s ward and I feel like a failure because I’m still unmarried. I’ve made good choices throughout my life and I’ve worked hard to put myself out there in the dating scene. Despite my best efforts, nothing significant has happened to me in terms of relationships. The gospel is supposed to make us happy, but it’s hard for me to feel that way when each Sunday, I’m constantly reminded that I lack the blessing I want most in my life. How can I motivate myself to continue being active in the church when I feel like a failure?

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Advice Columnist Opening For LDS Single Friends

There’s an immediate opening for an advice columnist for LDS Single Friends, the largest active Facebook Page for LDS single adults. This is a volunteer position and we’d like to publish advice columns once every two weeks, but we can be flexible depending on your availability and the volume of messages that are submitted to our Facebook Page. This is a great opportunity for an insightful, compassionate person to make a positive impact in the lives of LDS single adults worldwide.

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If you would like to apply to the position: 

1. Send a brief letter of introduction that explains your qualifications to malcolmravenclaw208@gmail.com

2. As part of the application process, please include a response to any of the following messages:

A) I’m aging out of the single’s ward and I feel like a failure because I’m still unmarried. I’ve made good choices throughout my life and I’ve worked hard to put myself out there in the dating scene. Despite my best efforts, nothing significant has happened to me in terms of relationships. The gospel is supposed to make us happy, but it’s hard for me to feel that way when each Sunday, I’m constantly reminded that I lack the blessing I want most in my life. How can I motivate myself to continue being active in the church when I feel like a failure?

B) I’m a convert to the church and I’m really frustrated with the dating scene in the LDS culture. I’m a tattooed male who didn’t serve a mission (I was baptized when I was too old to serve). Consequently, I feel like I’m being passed over for dates because I don’t meet the checklist of the single women in the church. Sometimes the rejection is subtle, at other times, it’s more obvious – but it still bothers me, since I’m striving to live the gospel just as valiantly as anyone else. I really want to have my own eternal family someday. What can I do to help LDS women see me as a person instead of looking at me with a checklist?

C) As a single adult, I’m really frustrated with the dynamics in the family ward I attend. I already feel like I don’t belong and it certainly doesn’t help that certain people seem to shun or look down on me. Some of the young couples seem to think that being around me is a threat to their marriages and other people in the ward, although well-intentioned, certainly don’t know how to relate to me. Because of these social dynamics, I often dread Sundays, but I know the church is true and I want to make friends in my ward. How can I better integrate myself in my ward and find acceptance?

 

Rapunzel and the Salt Lake Temple

Being Single And Wondering When Will My Life Begin

Featured art courtesy of Kat Lowry Illustration. If you would like a print, please visit http://shopwithafop.storenvy.com/

In the Disney movie Tangled, Rapunzel sings about being isolated in her tower and wondering when she’ll be able to truly start living her life. Rapunzel fits the profile of a faithful Mormon single adult: She’s a hard worker, she’s morally pure, and she displays a zest for life that is absolutely contagious.  In her opening musical number, she sings:

I’ll reread the books
If I have time to spare
I’ll paint the walls some more,
I’m sure there’s room somewhere.
And then I’ll brush and brush,
and brush and brush my hair
Stuck in the same place I’ve always been.
And I’ll keep wonderin’ and wonderin’
And wonderin’ and wonderin’
When will my life begin?

There are many Mormon single adults who can empathize with Rapunzel’s situation. One of my friends once told me that he feels life doesn’t truly begin until you’re married. Given the strong emphasis on marriage and family in the Mormon Church, I wasn’t surprised he felt this way. There are many single adults that long for marriage, feel “stuck in the same place I’ve always been,” and wonder, just like Rapunzel, “When will my life begin?” However, the attitude that life doesn’t really start until you’re married isn’t just wrong – it’s harmful to your personal growth and search for an eternal companion.  

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Elder John K. Carmack once explained, “Marriage is more likely achieved as a by-product of pursuing other useful activities and goals…while temple marriage and family life would be my ultimate goal, whether in this life or beyond, I would be careful not to make it my central focus. Marriage is more likely to come naturally, from living life fully, than by a direct and pointed campaign to achieve that long-range goal.”  

So if marriage is more likely to come from living life to the fullest, how can we stop waiting for our lives to begin?

The answer is simple: We focus on what we can control. Thankfully, we have more opportunities available to us compared to Rapunzel, who was stuck in her tower with little to do besides reread her books, paint, and brush her hair. Here are some principles that single adults can implement to live their lives to the fullest and prepare themselves to meet their future eternal companions.  

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

Rapunzel at the end of her comfort zone

When Rapunzel finally gets her opportunity to leave her tower, she leaps from her window, only to hesitate before allowing her feet to touch the ground. For Rapunzel, leaving her tower is a literal leap of faith because it means leaving behind the only life she’s ever known. But when she leaves her comfort zone behind, Rapunzel is able to start her journey of personal growth.

As children of God, we have incredible potential that our Heavenly Father wants us to live up to.  He wants us to grow and have experiences that will prepare us for our future endeavors. Staying in our comfort zone is dangerous because it can hold us back from personal growth.

Sister Elaine Dalton, a former Young Women General President, said, From everything I read in the scriptures, I don’t think the Lord likes us to be in a comfort zone. He repeatedly takes his choicest servants out of their comfort zones and challenges them by their circumstances, their trials, and their opportunities to become more and to do more. In order to do this, we must be willing to move out of our comfort zones—to change. And that change can happen today.”  

Getting married isn’t just a matter of finding the right person – it also involves becoming the right person for someone else. If we have the courage to leave our comfort zone behind, we can grow and develop into the type of person that will attract a righteous spouse.

Develop a zeal for life, regardless of whether you’re single or married

Because of the strong emphasis on marriage and family in the church, there are many single adults who feel “incomplete,” frustrated with being alone, and are unhappy. However, although the greatest potential for joy might exist in a righteous marriage, it doesn’t mean that we can’t find happiness as a single adult or mean that marriage will automatically bring us happiness.  John Bytheway once said, “Happily single? Some might question this statement and say, “Why, you’re not supposed to be happy if you’re single!” Of course you are. Happiness is a choice, whether you’re married or single. And happily single people are more likely to become happily married people.”

Happiness is not dependent on our relationship status. Choosing to be happy helps us to live a life of purpose and attract like-minded people who can add value to our lives. Going back to the Tangled analogy, do you think Rapunzel would have been attractive to Flynn Rider if she was bitter about her situation? I’m sure it must have been a tough childhood to grow up alone in a tower, with no friends aside from a pet chameleon. Given Rapunzel’s limited options for personal growth in her tower, it must have been difficult to find happiness in her situation (after 18 years, there’s only so many times a young woman can reread her books, paint, and brush her hair). But she didn’t allow these challenges to drag her down and change her optimistic perspective about life.

Happy Rapunzel

Because of Rapunzel’s cheerful attitude and happiness about life (Best! Day! Ever!), Flynn ended up falling for her. The next time you’re tempted to feel bitter about your situation, think of Rapunzel’s example. You never know when the Lord will put the right person in your path. When that opportunity comes, you need to be prepared to invite that person into your life by making a good first impression.  (It didn’t make a good impression when Rapunzel justifiably smacked Flynn on the head with a frying pan, but luckily, her personality and cheerful attitude eventually won him over).   

Be fearless in pursuing your dreams

Rapunzel has a dream

In Tangled, there’s a tavern scene in which Rapunzel and a group of ruffians sing about their dreams. Unlike the Gaul thugs, however, what sets Rapunzel apart is how she doesn’t just sing about her dreams – she has the courage to make her dream a reality. When Rapunzel finds the right opportunity to see the floating lights in person, she does whatever it takes to pursue her life-long dream.  She overcomes her personal insecurities, persuades a mob of ruffians to support her quest, and bravely ventures forth into the unknown.   

Like the Gauls in the tavern, we may feel discouraged from pursuing our dreams if our lives haven’t turned out the way we envisioned. However, like Rapunzel, we still have our agency to choose what we want our lives to be like – and we should never let discouragement from being single stop us from pursuing our dreams! Single or married, I believe that God has a plan for us and wants us to achieve the righteous desires of our hearts. (If you don’t believe me, I encourage you to read your patriarchal blessing). If your dream is meaningful enough, you’ll find a way and the Lord will help you make your dream a reality (Philippians 4:13).

Don’t allow the doubts and criticisms of others stop you from living your life

Rapunzel and Gothel

Rapunzel’s manipulative “mother,” Gothel, tried to discourage her from reaching her dreams.  Throughout the entire movie, Gothel constantly criticizes Rapunzel and tries to control her by exploiting her insecurities. Like Rapunzel, along our journey, we’ll inevitably run into people who may fill our minds with doubts and tell us what they think our lives should be like. Taking their comments to heart often holds us back from living the dream we were born for.

It’s important to remember that you are the only person with the ability to receive personal revelation for your life.  If you have the guidance of the Lord, don’t allow doubt to dissuade you from your destiny. Do you want the approval of others or do you want the approval of the Lord? Ultimately, whose approval really matters?
     
Understanding our divine heritage helps us overcome self-doubt

Rapunzel lost princess

After Rapunzel returns home to her tower with Gothel, she finally realizes that she’s the lost princess. As soon as she makes this connection, it gives Rapunzel the courage to stand up for herself and reject Gothel’s lies. In a similar manner, understanding our true heritage as sons and daughters of a Heavenly King helps us overcome our self-doubts and insecurities. When we understand our divine potential, it gives us the confidence to overcome our doubts and live our lives to the fullest.

Maintain a loving perspective and help others realize their true potential

It’s fascinating to see how Rapunzel and Flynn’s relationship evolves throughout the movie. When Flynn is first introduced, he’s certainly no Prince Charming. He’s cocky, narcissistic, and self-centered.  However, Rapunzel’s influence gradually helps Flynn to become a more compassionate, chivalrous and trustworthy person. Rapunzel never judges Flynn or treats him like a “project.” Instead, she chooses to bring out the best in him and to treat him not as he currently is, but as he could be.

Rapunzel at last I see the light

Ultimately, Rapunzel’s influence helps Flynn see himself for who he really is. He isn’t Flynn Rider, the wanted thief – he’s really Eugene Fitzherbert. He’s the one who reassures Rapunzel when she expresses apprehension about finally living her dream. He’s the one who races out of prison to save Rapunzel. In the end, he’s the one who sacrifices his life to protect the woman he loves. Because of Eugene’s selflessness and the changes he makes in his life, he wins Rapunzel’s heart.  

Rapunzel’s experience can be easily applied to LDS single adults seeking their eternal companions. It can be easy to make quick judgments of others. However, we benefit through seeking to recognize and bring out the good in others, rather than simply evaluating prospective romantic partners from a trite checklist.     

Elder John K. Cormack said,Remember that even spiritual giants begin in embryo. If you are not careful, the ideal—what you hope your spouse will be—can blind you to the numerous good qualities in potential partners. Many eligible Latter-day Saint singles who now might not measure up to your checklist will someday be fine fathers and mothers and respected Church and community leaders. Learn to see potential in people and to help them develop it. That is what you would want a loving partner to do for you. One young woman found her responses to the man she had been dating were altered when she changed her own perspective and looked at his potential. Their friendship blossomed into love, and they were married.”

Every person we meet has divine potential as a son or daughter of God and should be treated accordingly. Just to clarify, it’s generally not a good idea to date others in the hope we can change them - Rapunzel doesn’t get together with Eugene until after he makes significant changes in his life. However, Rapunzel’s example shows that we should look for and bring out the good in everyone we meet. After all, you never know who might benefit from your light and turn out to be someone’s Prince or Princess in disguise.     

When seeking a companion, find someone willing to champion your dreams

Rapunzel and Eugene both have different dreams they’re pursuing. However, as the bonds deepen between these characters, Eugene realizes that the dream he’s been pursing ultimately falls short compared to Rapunzel. Eugene adopts Rapunzel’s dreams as his own and at the end of the movie, he lays down his own life to allow Rapunzel to pursue her dreams. With his dying breath, he tells Rapunzel, “You were my new dream” and she tearfully responds, “And you were mine.” Thankfully, due to the last traces of magic from Rapunzel’s tears, Eugene is revived and they both happily create a new dream together.

There are some single adults who mistakenly think that being married means they’ll have to give up on their dreams. However, if you choose the right partner, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your dreams. Instead, it means that you gain a best friend who believes in you and has adopted your dream as his or her own. Working together, with a shared dream in hand, you and your spouse can create the type of happy ending that will put even the greatest fairy tale to shame.  

Don’t allow being single to stop you from living life to the fullest

Rapunzel’s courage to pursue her dreams allowed her to live life on her own terms. She didn’t leave her tower with the intent of finding a significant other. However, because Rapunzel wanted to live life to the fullest, it allowed her to attract the right person who could add value to her life.

You don’t have to be married before your life truly begins. Learn the lessons God wants you to learn right now, regardless of whether your life turned out the way you expected. The lessons you learn will remain with you throughout the eternities.

With the right perspective, the things you learn while single will make you a better person and ultimately, prepare you to be a better spouse.  If you faithfully live your life, you will be prepared to be the best spouse possible – regardless of whether you find your eternal companion in this life or the next. So don’t wait until marriage before you start living your life to the fullest.

Your future spouse will thank you for it. 

Rapunzel and Flynn kiss

 

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The Mormon glow in action

How to Use the Mormon Glow to Attract and Influence People

When we have the Light of Christ, it shows in our countenance. (Thanks to my sister for letting me use her picture for this article)

In the Mormon world, there are a lot of single adults eagerly looking for their eternal companion. In places where there are a lot of LDS members, or perhaps few members at all, many LDS single adults feel pressured to make a strong impression on a prospective eternal companion. There’s an important way to stand out that’s often overlooked or underemphasized – the “Mormon glow.”    Continue reading

What is the Mormon glow?

The Mormon glow is a term commonly used to describe how members striving to live the gospel seem to have a light that shines from within them. Anecdotally, it’s common to hear stories of how people have identified practicing Mormons from the “glow” about them. The Mormon glow has actually been scientifically proven to exist and church leaders have explained that this effect occurs because of the influence of the Holy Ghost.  President James E. Faust once explained that a “sacred light comes to our eyes and countenances when we have a personal bond with our loving Heavenly Father and His Son.” He then recounted a fascinating story:

I recently recalled a historic meeting in Jerusalem about 17 years ago. It was regarding the lease for the land on which the Brigham Young University’s Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies was later built. Before this lease could be signed, President Ezra Taft Benson and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, then president of Brigham Young University, agreed with the Israeli government on behalf of the Church and the university not to proselyte in Israel. You might wonder why we agreed not to proselyte. We were required to do so in order to get the building permit to build that magnificent building which stands in the historic city of Jerusalem. To our knowledge the Church and BYU have scrupulously and honorably kept that non-proselyting commitment. After the lease had been signed, one of our friends insightfully remarked, ‘Oh, we know that you are not going to proselyte, but what are you going to do about the light that is in their eyes?’ He was referring to our students who were studying in Jerusalem.”

It’s clear that the Mormon glow is no myth – it exists and it’s important for LDS single adults to develop this type of countenance.  

Why is the Mormon glow important to LDS single adults?

The Mormon glow is an attractive quality! Church leaders have explained that the influence of the Holy Spirit has an invigorating effect on the physical body. Brigham Young once said:

“Mormonism” keeps men and women young and handsome; and when they are full of the Spirit of God, there are none of them but what will have a glow upon their countenances; and that is what makes you and me young; for the Spirit of God is with us and within us. (Journal of Discourses, Volume 5, Discourse 34.)

Why are Mormons so hotInterestingly enough, Google predictive searches have confirmed President Young’s remarks. In many states, typing in “Why are Mormons…” on Google often lead to revealing search terms. More often than not, one of the top search terms suggested is, “Why are Mormons so hot?”

However, even if you feel that you’re not quite like Ryan Gosling or Amy Adams, the Mormon glow can give you a type of beauty that goes far beyond surface appearances. Every person is beautiful in the Lord’s eyes because of their divine heritage. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to realize the unique beauty and worth of each person we meet because of our limited human perspective. That’s why radiating the Light of Christ gives us a unique type of beauty – because it makes it easier for others to see us the way our Heavenly Father does.  

Through the influence of the Spirit, people will feel drawn to your light. A non-member once commented on Yahoo! Answers that he was perplexed that he was drawn to a seemingly plain looking Mormon young woman with a certain glow about her. The explanation he received was simply that he was attracted to her purity of heart which was easily observed through her countenance.    

I’ve seen this phenomenon demonstrated in my own life. I’ve met Mormon women that I haven’t been interested in at first. However, when I’ve gotten to know them better and felt the radiance of their Spirit, it’s helped me realize how attractive they really are. This is not an unusual phenomenon, which is why it’s vital for us to radiate the Light of Christ at all times.

Developing the Mormon glow also helps us see ourselves the way the Lord sees us. All too often, it’s easy to be our own worst critics. However, when we stay close to the Spirit, we can see ourselves and our eternal potential through the Lord’s eyes. In turn, this gives us a renewed sense of confidence that helps us attract people who can add value to our lives. 

However, the benefits of radiating the Mormon glow go far beyond simply attracting a prospective spouse. Through shining with the Light of Christ, we can make a positive impact on the entire world, which is why the Savior commanded us to share His light with others. In Matthew 5:14-16, it reads:  

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Just as a light source isn’t fulfilling its true purpose if it’s concealed, as children of God, we are not fulfilling our purpose if we hide the spiritual light we’ve received. All of us wield a personal influence that should not be underestimated, which is why it’s so important for us to share the light we’ve received with others.

How do we radiate the Mormon glow?

Because the Mormon glow comes through the influence of the Holy Ghost, here are just a few principles that can help us develop a Christ-like countenance:   

  • Live in a way that invites the Holy Ghost as your constant companion. Because the Mormon glow comes through the Spirit, it is impossible for us to glow if we are making choices that drive the Holy Ghost away from us.
  • Cultivate a reverence for sacred things. Reverence is profound respect mingled with love. Showing reverence invites the Mormon glow because the Lord pours out His Spirit in greater abundance to those who are reverent.
  • Choosing to be happy. There is a huge difference in the countenance of a person who hides from the storm compared to the person who chooses to dance in the rain. If we strive to have a joyful attitude about life, it will shine in our appearance.
  • Seeing others the way the Savior does and treating them accordingly. The Savior made each person he ministered to feel loved and valued. If we strive to do the same, His image will shine in our countenance.
  • Associating with people who radiate the Light of Christ. Surrounding ourselves with Christ-like friends will inspire us and help bring out the best qualities within us. Christ-like friends will help us shine through seeing our divine potential and encouraging us to live up to it.

These are just a few ways we can invite the Mormon glow to be with us, which is a tangible force that brings light, warmth, and peace to everyone it comes into contact with. I know it exists because I’ve experienced the glow firsthand through Christ-like friends who have influenced me with their light.  

Lessons learned about the Mormon glow from Erich’s photoshoot

My roommates Daniel and Erich

My roommates Daniel and Erich

Recently, I had the opportunity to take an executive headshot of my roommate Erich, who is looking for new employment opportunities. Because I wanted to present Erich in the best possible light, I knew it was critical to make him appear professional, but also friendly and approachable. In preparing for the photoshoot, I looked at past pictures of Erich to determine how I could capture his best qualities in his headshot.

Erich's grin

Erich’s grin during one of our game nights

Erich and I have been friends for almost five years, so I was fortunate to have a lot of pictures to thoughtfully review. When it comes to facial expressions, Erich is among the most interesting people I’ve known. However, I knew that creating a successful portrait would also be strongly influenced by other factors.

 

Erich at temple with friends

Myself, Daniel, Erich, and Tiffany at the Boise temple

Erich has a lot of Christ-like qualities I admire and I’ve seen the Mormon glow around him before, which I wanted to capture in the photoshoot. I felt that if I conveyed the purity of his heart in a photo, it would help him stand out to recruiters. Because spiritual things can’t be forced, I thoughtfully pondered what I could do to help set Erich at ease and invite the Mormon glow to radiate from him during our photoshoot. As I considered this issue, I heard a quiet voice that said, ask Erich to bear his testimony to you.   

Initially, I was concerned that this might be awkward. Despite my reservations, when I explained to Erich what I hoped to accomplish, he understood my intent and agreed that it would be a good idea. We took a few minutes to share testimonies and spiritual experiences with each other, which helped set Erich at ease and created a good environment for our photoshoot. At the end of our session, we were pleased with how the photos turned out and it was a good case study of how the influence of the Spirit affects our countenance.     

We were born to shine

Developing the Mormon glow isn’t easy and it doesn’t happen overnight. But when we have the image of the Savior in our countenance, people recognize it. In an increasingly dark world, we have a responsibility to bring light to everyone we meet. As LDS single adults, having the Mormon glow is especially important because it helps us attract people who can add value to our lives.   

In D&C 88:40, it reads that light cleaveth unto light. In other words, if we want to attract an eternal companion who radiates the light of Christ, we need to glow ourselves. So don’t be afraid to shine. Don’t be afraid to live your life in a way that allows the Light of Christ to radiate from your countenance. People you meet will be drawn to the light in your eyes – including your future spouse. 

Erich's final portrait

Erich’s final portrait. Can you see the Mormon glow?

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280e85c6-518f-406a-83b0-72dfeb6f788d_hunger-games-catching-fire-poster-630

Top 7 Ways That The Hunger Games Applies to LDS Youth and Single Adults

Featured image courtesy of http://hungergamesdwtc.net

Set in a dystopian future, the Hunger Games series have captivated millions through its portrayal of how courage, compassion, and selflessness can endure in the face of heartbreaking cruelty. With the new Hunger Games movie in theatres, I felt it would be appropriate to pay tribute to the series through this blog post (You saw what I did there).  Here are seven ways that lessons from the Hunger Games apply to LDS youth and single adults.

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1. You can beat the odds

“The odds are against me, but I have something in my favor—desire and faith.” – Cliff Cushman, a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic team.

Dating at BYU

Picture courtesy of Mormon Memes

We all have our own trials in life and for many LDS single adults, one of the most common challenges is finding their eternal companion. It’s sometimes easy to be discouraged and feel that we have a better chance of winning the Hunger Games compared to finding a spouse. However, discouraged LDS singles can benefit from the example of Katniss.

One of the defining characteristics of Katniss is that she never gives up. Despite being faced with fierce opposition, her courage, tenacity, and determination give her the strength to defy the odds and win the Hunger Games. Likewise, despite our personal challenges that may cause the odds to be against us, we can also triumph if we persevere and trust in the Lord.

2. Just like Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire, we need to let our convictions shine forth to inspire others

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. “ – Matthew 5:16

LDS Girl on Fire

Picture courtesy of Mormon Memes

From the very beginning, Katniss distinguishes herself from the other tributes. Although her grand entrance as the “Girl on Fire” turns heads, what ultimately makes Katniss stand out is how her convictions influence the way she competes in the Hunger Games. In the midst of human brutality, Katniss shows compassion when she sings to her dying ally, Rue, before she buries her with flowers. By refusing to turn on Peeta at the end of the first Hunger Games, Katniss inspires thousands of people through her act of love and defiance.  

Because Katniss allows her courage, faith, and personal convictions to shine through to the people around her, she becomes the Mockingjay – a symbol of hope to the oppressed people of Panem. As Latter-day Saints, we can follow Katniss’ example through living in a way that allows the light of Christ to shine forth and inspire those around us. If we have the courage to stand for truth and righteousness, like Katniss, we can light a flame for others to follow. 

3. Love is unselfish and requires sacrifice

 “True love is based on personal unselfishness, but our modern world does not seem to understand this.”-Elder Theodore M. Burton

Katniss volunteers as tribute

Image courtesy of http://hungergamesdwtc.net/

Throughout the series, Katniss demonstrates an unselfish, Christ-like love for the people she cares about. Katniss volunteers for the Hunger Games to protect her sister Prim, she shields Gale when he’s being whipped, and during her second Hunger Games, she decides to sacrifice herself to save Peeta. This unselfish love is also demonstrated by Peeta, who tries to persuade Katniss to save herself during their second Hunger Games. After Peeta’s confession, it is only then that Katniss starts to realize her feelings for him. This love demonstrated in the Hunger Games is a stark contrast to the love often demonstrated in our society. 

Sadly, all too often, the type of so-called love we see is based on personal gratification and selfishness. But that’s not what true love really is – it’s about being unselfish and making personal sacrifices. As demonstrated by Katniss, if we develop this type of love, we can build a relationship strong enough to withstand any trial that threatens to tear us apart from the people we care for.

4. Katniss maintains her standards under pressure

“I do not believe there is a double standard of morality.” – President James E. Faust

Katniss maintains her composure

Image courtesy of http://hungergamesdwtc.net/

Throughout the series, Katniss is under a great deal of pressure to compromise her personal standards to survive. In the second Hunger Games, the tyrannical leaders of the Capitol hope that Katniss will compete mercilessly, and by doing so, discredit herself in the eyes of her supporters. Despite their cunning plan, Katniss refuses to play by the rules of someone else’s game. Although Katniss competes in the Hunger Games, she retains her humanity. She declines teaming up with bloodthirsty Career tributes, never kills anyone in cold blood, and refuses to betray her allies, even when it might be expedient to do so.

Katniss’ example is relevant to LDS youth and single adults, who are encouraged to maintain high standards in an increasingly wicked world. Because of the pressures we face, we might feel tempted to disregard our standards for the sake of worldly success or personal gratification. But as Katniss demonstrates, we don’t have to compromise who we are and what we stand for in order to win.  

5. Never underestimate the power of your influence

“One virtuous young woman, led by the spirit, can change the world.” – Sister Elaine Dalton, former General President of the Young Women’s organization.

Katniss Girl on Fire

Picture from Nonvieta, originally from http://nonvieta.deviantart.com/art/Burning-293063361

When Katniss first volunteered for the Hunger Games, she had no way of knowing how her actions would shape the lives of thousands of people. Ironically, Katniss doesn’t see herself as a role model to anyone – she has a stoic personality and feels that she has a hard time fitting in and making friends. Yet despite her perceived shortcomings, Katniss impresses the Gamemakers, wins the support of sponsors, and inspires thousands of people across the country. The courage, compassion, and humanity that Katniss demonstrates ultimately start a revolution that leads to the downfall of the Capitol.     

Like Katniss, we may not fully realize how our actions can influence the people around us for good. Although we probably won’t be responsible for starting an uprising, our personal influence should never be underestimated. That’s why it’s important to live each day as a courageous disciple of Christ. Just like Katniss, our actions can bless the lives of others in ways we may not anticipate.

6. Surround yourself with the right type of people

 “Choose friends who share your values so you can strengthen and encourage each other in living high standards.” – From the Strength of Youth

Katniss and tributes

Image courtesy of http://hungergamesdwtc.net/

In the second Hunger Games, Katniss impresses the other tributes with her archery skills, leading half of the tributes to request Katniss as an ally. Although Katniss has a wide selection to choose from, she chooses not to ally with the “cool kids” – the lethal Careers. Instead, Katniss decides to ally herself with people she deems trustworthy. This decision pays off, as throughout the second Hunger Games, her allies make personal sacrifices to protect Katniss and Peeta.  

Often, it can be easy to find ourselves attracted to the wrong type of people simply because they seem cool, popular, or charismatic. However, it’s critical for us to choose friends who are loyal and have our best interests at heart. Katniss survived the Hunger Games because she put her trust in the right people. Likewise, we need to be selective in choosing friends who are trustworthy and will support us in making good decisions.

7. It’s critical to act, rather than to be acted upon

 “As you and I come to understand and employ the enabling power of the Atonement in our personal lives, we will pray and seek for strength to change our circumstances rather than praying for our circumstances to be changed.” – Elder David A. Bednar

I volunteer for the opening prayer

Picture courtesy of Mormon Memes

Elder Bednar once explained that choosing to act, rather than to be acted upon, means we use our agency to impact our circumstances. We see this clearly demonstrated in the Hunger Games, as despite her personal trials, Katniss refuses to allow herself to be victimized. After her father dies, Katniss takes up hunting to provide for her family. When selected for the second Hunger Games, she does everything she can to prepare herself for the arena. Despite the destruction of District 12, Katniss presses forward through inspiring the rebellion against the Capitol.

Like Katniss, we need to be equally courageous in using our agency to make good life decisions. We need to keep moving forward, work hard, and be willing to make personal sacrifices to reach our goals. Regardless of your life circumstances, be like Katniss and find a way to win.  

Do you want the (marital) odds to be ever in your favor?  

In closing, I’d like to encourage my readers to keep working towards the ultimate goal of every LDS single adult – marriage in the House of the Lord. A temple marriage will make your love last throughout the eternities, make you eligible to receive a fullness of blessings, and make it more likely that your marriage will endure the trials and tribulations of life.

For example, the Ensign reports, “Nontemple marriages are about five times more likely to end in divorce than temple marriages. About 5.4 percent of LDS males who married in the temple were later divorced, and about 6.5 percent of the females. By comparison, some 27.8 percent of nontemple LDS marriages ended in divorce for men, and about 32.7 percent for women.”

Although a temple marriage is no guarantee you’ll stay married, it certainly makes a big impact on your relationship. It seems that couples who marry in the temple are more committed because they recognize that their marriage can endure throughout eternity. Clearly, if you get married in the temple, it’s safe to say that the odds will be ever in your favor.

Despite whatever changes or personal sacrifices you may need to make for a temple marriage, don’t give up on this goal. It’s worth fighting for. So as you get out there and look for your eternal companion, may the odds be for time and eternally in your favor:

Katniss and Peeta Temple Wedding

Picture courtesy of Mormon Memes, credit to Megan Rene Delizo

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A huge thank you to Mormon Memes for allowing me to repost their images for this blog post! (https://www.facebook.com/mormonxmemes