Tag Archives: divine potential

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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Marc Meeker

Each Life That Touches Ours For Good: Lessons Learned From Marc

As Latter-day Saints, we have high expectations of ourselves. But because we’re human, we stumble and make mistakes, often making us doubt ourselves or feel inadequate.  Sometimes, we might wonder if our efforts are “good enough” or acceptable to the Lord. However, despite our challenges, through us, the Lord can work miracles. I know this first-hand through my experience working with my friend and blog photographer, Marc. 

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When I first met Marc, he was just returning to the church after four years of inactivity. I reached out to him and a friendship developed during the summer. After I met Marc, I received the impression that I should look for fellow LDS single adults to lend their God-given talents to my blog. Marc quickly accepted my invitation to join my team and in the next two months that followed, he became a valuable team member. Marc moved away to Washington, but I learned some life-changing lessons through working with him, which I felt inspired to share with you:

Lesson #1: It doesn’t matter where we’ve been; it matters where we’re going

Elder Dube quote

Picture courtesy of the Ensign

As we got to know each other during the summer, Marc opened up to me and shared with me his background and some of his past burdens. What I found remarkable about Marc was that despite his life challenges, he was remarkably consistent in his spiritual journey.

Marc reactivated himself without knowing anyone in our ward and without having a support system. When he returned to church, Marc also became the only active member in his immediate family. Marc faithfully attended church every Sunday and although his challenges didn’t go away, I sensed that they became easier to bear because he decided to hold fast to his faith. 

Before Marc moved away, I asked him what inspired him to return to church and what gave him the strength to be consistent. Marc’s answer was simple: He told me that he came back to see if he would find joy from being in the church again. He stayed active because he saw that it made him happier and he didn’t want to miss out on these blessings.

Like Marc, we may have challenges in our life that cause us to doubt if we have a place in the church. But the Lord is more concerned about where we’re going than where we’ve been. If we want to be happy, we can’t allow the past to burden us. As long as we learn from it and move on, like Marc, we can find happiness. 

Lesson #2: If you treat people as they currently are, they will remain that way. If you treat people as they could become, they will often rise up to the challenge

Creative LDS quotes - See others as they could become

Picture courtesy of Creative LDS Quotes

A week after Marc accepted my invitation to join the blog team, he seemed uncomfortable and asked to meet with me. We met and to my surprise, Marc confided to me about aspects of the gospel he struggled with. Although he didn’t explicitly state it, I sensed he was questioning his ability to serve on the blog team. For a moment, I felt uncertainty and doubted my prompting to invite Marc to join my team. But immediately, I heard the quiet voice of the Holy Ghost that said, “If you treat people as they currently are, they will remain that way.”

After I recognized that prompting, I expressed confidence that Marc could overcome these challenges he faced and make a difference in helping others through the blog. I expressed my commitment to our friendship and offered to support him in any way I could. Consequently, Marc and I had many gospel discussions over the summer. Because of my zeal for the gospel, there were a few times when I came across more strongly than I intended and when I inadvertently went too far, Marc let me know.

I remember one evening when I felt that I was being unsuccessful at getting through to Marc and I expressed my frustration in prayer. The promptings I received came to me as feelings, rather than words. But if Heavenly Father had responded to me in words, it would have been, “Marc’s my son. Help him to remember that.” After that, I changed the way I approached Marc. Instead of trying to help him gain a testimony of specific gospel principles, I tried to help him understand his divine heritage and how our personal relationship with God impacts our lives. Throughout this process, I noticed positive changes in Marc as he rose to meet his challenges and fulfill his responsibilities with the blog.  

In hindsight, I can see how it would have been damaging and counter-productive if I treated Marc differently. No one wants to be treated as a “project.” No one wants to feel inadequate or that they’re not good enough. Regardless of someone’s background, we have a sacred duty to help others realize who they really are as children of God and what they can accomplish through tapping into their divine potential.

Lesson #3: Each person has unique value and differences should be embraced, not feared

In this church there are no outcasts

Picture courtesy of LDS Creative Quotes

Sometimes, we have a hard time accepting others who don’t fit into the stereotypical “Mormon mold.” We’re often quick to cast judgment – perhaps we might feel uncomfortable, or even threatened by those who are different. However, these feelings of discomfort are often the result of our own uncertainties and should not be projected on others. Because we are all brothers and sisters, everyone has a place in the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Elder Joseph Wirthlin said, “Some are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don’t belong…Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all members of the Church should look, talk, and be alike. The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole.”

If you know someone who has strayed away from the church because he or she feels out of place, or if you are distant from the church because you feel different from the mythical “ideal Mormon” – please know that every member of the church has unique value. We need you to add your personal testimony, life experiences, and perspective to our congregations, which strengthens other members and the church as a whole. For example, Marc’s differences allowed him to become a great resource to me in working on this blog.

As a former less active member, Marc’s insights were invaluable in helping me understand the concerns and needs of my brothers and sisters who are disengaged with the church. Working with Marc helped me become more sensitive to how I could support other members who lacked a support system or came from a difficult personal background. Finally, our friendship helped me better understand how to connect with someone whose personality and interests were very different from mine.

Making a difference

Marc and I were able to work together successfully because I accepted his differences and focused on what we had in common – our shared belief that living a Christ-like life would bring happiness to the lives of our fellow LDS single adults. This acceptance empowered Marc and allowed him to make a significant impact on the blog team.

Marc’s pictures of Boise Institute activities were viewed by more than 1,300 people on Facebook, promoting the LDS lifestyle and Institute activities to a wide audience. His gift for photography helped guide me in using visuals on my blog to effectively tell a story and testify of gospel principles. On a personal level, I benefited from Marc’s friendship and it helped me become more accepting, compassionate, and understanding of people.

The Lord knows who we are and sees our potential

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf - Never Give Up On Anyone

Picture courtesy of LDS Creative Quotes. Quote by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Continue In Patience” conference address

Working with Marc reaffirmed the importance of extending friendship to others and trusting in the Lord’s timing. Although there were people who reached out to Marc when he was less-active, it was four years before he decided to return to church. We need to be patient and remember that the seeds of faith we plant now may bear fruit in the future. Before Marc left Boise, he bore his testimony in our ward. I was touched by seeing his personal growth in the space of a relatively short time.

Although we all have challenges in our lives, the Lord knows who we are and what we’re capable of. Don’t forget who you are truly are – you are a son or daughter of God with unlimited potential. As demonstrated through Marc’s story, if we allow Him to, the Lord can work miracles through us. 

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