Tag Archives: testimony

Singled Out: How the Mormon YSA Blog Spot Is Spotlighting LDS Singles

Although single adults make up a growing number of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), their contributions to the blogosphere are often underrepresented and overlooked. Although Mormons are well known for blogging, generally speaking, the most prominent LDS blogs are from “Mormon mommy bloggers.” Alex Hicken, founder of the Mormon YSA Blog Spot, hopes to change this through putting Mormon single adult bloggers in the spotlight through his website and Facebook Page.

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Alex’s project, started in January this year, is entitled the Mormon YSA Blog Spot, which aggregates content from all LDS single adult bloggers across the entire world.  Akin to how the popular Mormon Mommy Blog site serves as an aggregate for Mormon mommy blogs across the world, the Mormon YSA Blog Spot seeks to help connect its readers with Mormon single adult blogs worldwide. When he first started, there was only a handful of blogs that he followed. Now, Alex follows over 100 RSS feeds from Mormon single adult bloggers and has enough content to schedule a new post to run nearly every hour. Through a partnership with LDS Single Friends, the largest Facebook Page for LDS Single Adults, Alex also shares the best blog content on that Facebook Page each week. The Mormon YSA Blog Spot is also active on social media, using Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to share content.

Although the Mormon YSA Blog Spot now shares a wide variety of content from many LDS single adults, it started from humble beginnings. The blog was started through its founder acting on a vision he had after completing his journal. He decided to publish his journal digitally through blogging, and in the process, he wondered what would happen if other LDS single adults also published their content with him. Launching such an ambitious project would be daunting for most, but Alex’s personal experiences well prepared him for this role.

Prior to launching his blog, Alex gained valuable experience promoting many fellow LDS single adults through online media. He ran a blog dedicated to publicizing letters from his brother who was serving a mission and also managed blog for a sister missionary from his home stake. Alex was not originally the promoter of the blog for the sister missionary and he realized that the blog was not effectively reaching out to its target audience.

He reached out to this sister missionary and with her consent, implemented online tactics to make the blog more effective in reaching out to the sister missionary’s friends, the stake, and their single’s branch. Alex was eventually given responsibility to format the blog posts and advertising for the blog. These experiences of managing a blog, promoting online content, and targeting specific audiences were skill sets that served Alex well when launching the Mormon YSA Blog Spot.

Alex’s passion for the Mormon YSA Blog Spot comes from his belief that content from blogs creates a stronger online community. Looking back on his own personal experience managing social media pages for LDS stakes and branches, Alex noted that these pages started to thrive after he posted blog content from fellow LDS single adults. After Alex posted content to these pages, other members also started to add content, creating more engagement and a spirit of unity among the group members.  

Alexander Hickens, founder of the Mormon YSA Blog Spot

Alexander Hickens, founder of the Mormon YSA Blog Spot

Alex also asserted that blogging among LDS single adults is important because they bring a unique perspective to the Mormon blogosphere. LDS single adults are individuals with powerful testimonies, who can deliver a refreshing viewpoint that stands out among the more typical Mormon blogs. Alex explained that through blogging, LDS single adults have the opportunity to testify of the truthfulness of the gospel and share the impact it has made in their personal lives. He explained:

“A blog is the person’s personal ministry and life. Their example should not be preachy. A Brigham Young University – Idaho graduation speech by Elder M. Russell Ballard called “Making Your Influence Felt” taught that we should let our true selves be expressed…Our passions, no matter what they are, will be a great witness that the Gospel has been restored. Don’t hide your testimony.

Although many LDS single adults may feel that they need to be a good writer to blog and be an example of the gospel through the written word, Alex disagrees with this perception. He explained, “Your example is not about the words that you say, but how you live the Gospel. You don’t even need to be good at writing. People will see your effort and example, and they will bear with you.” 

Alex collaborates with LDS single adults around the world and cited an example of working with a LDS single adult, Lesego Mholo, from South Africa. Her English skills were limited and it was difficult to understand the first draft of an article she submitted. However, Alex took the time to go through each sentence in the first draft with her and create a readable article about love. Through their joint efforts, they were able to create a faithful representation of her experiences and give her the opportunity to share her testimony with a worldwide audience outside South Africa.

Ultimately, blogging is important because communication is an important part of building Zion in these latter-days. It’s important to share testimonies and personal experiences that can uplift others. Open communication among like-minded people can strengthen relationships, but in contrast, closed communication fosters a sense of isolation that can destroy entire communities. Alex asserted:

“Blogging and journal writing can be a tool of expression, developing integrity, and winning trust because people feel like they need to live up to their word. Being unknown to your peers, family, and friends can let mysterious hidden things happen, if we are not open enough to communicate. Closing off yourself destroys families, friendships, and communities. Let us work together in unity and humility to employ all effective means of communication to coordinating Zion, the pure in heart.” 

If you’re interested in helping coordinate a Zion-like online community for LDS singles, you may contact Alex at alexnhicken@gmail.com to have your blog posts featured at the Mormon YSA Blog Spot. If you don’t have your own blog, but would like to contribute content, Alex will post your articles directly on his blog spot. Even if you don’t fall into the Mormon YSA age bracket (18 – 30), Alex will still allow you to submit your content.  

Your contributions can help Alex make an impact in sharing the testimonies of Mormon single adults across the world. You don’t have to be a master writer to represent your faith and share your story with others. Although the Prophet Ether in the Book of Mormon viewed himself weak in writing, the Lord was able to use him as an instrument in sharing gospel principles with future generations. In a like manner, regardless of our perceived inadequacies, we can make a positive impact through sharing our testimonies and personal experiences online.  

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Ask A Friend: How Can I Keep My Testimony In The Furnace of Affliction?

Dear Paul,

What advice do you have for someone who has struggled in her marriage for many years and was pushed into leaving her husband due to drugs? A woman who had just lost her mom, who was her best friend, from a sudden heart attack? A woman who has four young kids and whose soon to be ex lives at home while she rents a house for her and the kid? A return missionary whose testimony is on the brink and who feels angry at God for taking her mom when she was so young at only 67? A woman who was told for years through the spirit to stay in a marriage which was manipulative and abusive and drug addled? What would you say to that girl?

Dear Reader,

I appreciate you reaching out to me and allowing me the opportunity to hear of your tremendous burdens. Even though you only sent me an email, I can sense through your writing the extreme pain, frustration and sorrow you are experiencing. The trials you have been called to endure seem unbearable and daunting to me as a reader and the only thing of which I am certain in this regard is that I do not know or comprehend the half of what you feel, the extent of your pain, and the depth of your sorrow. I will not pretend that I comprehend it with some cliche, terse statement like, “I know how you feel.” The reality is I don’t know how you feel, and neither does anyone else. This trial is your own and your feelings are your own.

What I would say to such a woman who has been called to endure such tremendous fire and pain in the furnace of affliction is this: Do not lose your testimony! Hold the ground you have already won! Somewhere in the midst of your pain is an ember of testimony that still burns with the fire of the Holy Ghost and has not yet been defeated. If you had lost all hope, you would not have reached out to me. You are reaching out, and I am here to grab your hand and hold on with all my strength to keep you from slipping into the abyss of bitterness.

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The adversary has desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat and drag you down into his endless pit of misery, woe and bitterness. He looks at your pain and laughs with pure contempt! He delights in the suffering and anguish of those who he would seek to control. He binds them with his chains of regret and pulls them steadily to the gates of hell. He will mock your plight and belittle your soul. Do not give him heed!

This earth was created for the glorious purpose of exalting the children of God. It is a laboratory of exaltation, a proving ground of growth, and a hands on education to obtain the highest! You have been chosen by the Lord to obtain your exaltation through the pain and suffering of the mortal experience. This is the same mission that our Savior was called to bear, to come to earth and to suffer. Even Jesus Christ, the greatest of all asked the same question you have asked me, “Father, why hast thou forsaken me?” You have been chosen to enter into an elite group of individuals known as Disciples of Jesus Christ. Do not allow the adversary to deceive you out of the group!

Because I believe in action, I am going to lay out an action plan for you and I want you to report back to me with your thoughts and feelings as we work through this trial together, and as you attempt to fulfill these different action items.

1. Pray, immediately to God and give him thanks for anything that you can muster the courage to be grateful for in your life. Express that gratitude to Heavenly Father. It could you be your children, your job, your health etc. Even if it is small and seemingly insignificant, think of anything and everything you are grateful for, and thank your Heavenly Father for those things. Once you have done that write down those things, and email them to me.

Even in the darkest tragedy there are blessings, and losing sight of these blessings and forsaking God will only perpetuate the bitterness and pain.

2. Forgive. I suspect this will be most challenging. Seek with all your heart to forgive the terrible offenses that the people in your life have committed against you. It will take tremendous courage and faith, but remember that all people on this earth, even the most vile and sinful are sons and daughters of God. Holding on to the bitterness and pain they have caused you by the misuse of their agency will only allow their sins to continue their damage. The only way to true peace and healing is to forgive them and to free yourself from the shackles of the pain. Remember Jesus Christ on the cross, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

If it is appropriate to express your forgiveness in person, or through text/email, then let those individuals who have wronged you know that they are forgiven. If it is not appropriate to express your forgiveness, then allow yourself to forgive them in your heart and in your mind and feel the freedom of releasing their hold on your heart and your soul. Email me the individuals who you expressed forgiveness to, what manner you forgave them, and if they responded. Keep in mind, not everyone will accept your expression of forgiveness, but that is their agency to remain in bitterness and it is your agency to be free.

3. Serve. Finally, find someone to serve. Reach out. You have been given a perspective on life that will make you a saint and savior to others who find themselves likewise burdened with pain. As you allow your heart to be filled with compassion for others, magnified by your increased capacity to experience empathy for those who are in pain, you will find healing in your own heart. Email me the individuals who the Lord has brought and will bring into your life that you were able to serve and reach out to because of your understanding of their trials.

I cannot remove your trials, I cannot bring back your mother, I cannot change your ex-husband or force him to use agency properly, but I can reach out and do all I can to share and lighten your burdens. You have my love, my empathy, my support and my prayers. Feel free to contact me with your victories and failures, your highs and your lows. I’ll be here to listen and to encourage.

Through faith all things are possible unto God, and I testify this is true.

Your Brother in the Gospel,

Paul Green

 

Paul Green

Paul Green

Paul Green, is a real estate broker and professional improvisational comedian, actor and trainer. He has trained thousands of professionals and teenagers on principles of leadership, communication, team building and creative thinking and has provided heart-filled advice and encouragement to all who he has had an opportunity to interact. His greatest passion is helping individuals find creative and uplifting solutions to the many challenges of life by applying the principles and doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He looks forward to hearing and understanding the challenges of his readers and helping them to overcome these challenges.  For his full bio, click here

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. 

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Single, but not singled out

Single, but not singled out: Why a gospel-centered life is the best choice for a single adult

As an active Mormon, being single is not the lifestyle I would have chosen for myself. Having been taught about family relationships at an early age, I never doubted the importance of marriage. Yet despite choosing to follow the path laid out to me through the church – a mission, education, and career – I’ve found myself alone in a family-oriented religion.

My situation is hardly unique. Single adults are a growing demographic in the United States, and about half of American adults, or 100 million, are single. Even within the Mormon Church, it’s estimated that at least one-third of its adult members are single.

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Single adults have many challenges during these formative years as they prepare for careers, marriage, and family life. It’s easy to be distracted by the temptations of the world, to take the seemingly easy route through life that leads to instant gratification. Being a Mormon single adult also creates unique expectations and challenges to overcome.

Being Mormon and Single

Because of the culture of the Mormon Church, it’s sometimes easy to feel alone and isolated simply because of your marital status. In a church that highly values marriage and family, people are often critical of singles because they assume that something must be “wrong” with us. It’s tough to remain single while you see people around you marry and settle down, especially when you can’t figure out exactly what makes them better marriage material than you. It hurts to feel that despite doing everything you can to be eligible for the Lord’s blessings, you have not yet received the earnest desire of your heart.   

As a Mormon single adult, I also have fears I have to live with:

The fear of not being able to find an eternal companion and having to face life alone.

The fear of being ostracized by other church members and not fitting in because of the shallow judgments of others. 

Or worst of all, the fear that perhaps the problem is me and that I’m still single because there’s something wrong with me I haven’t yet recognized.

It’s easy to lose faith, to question if God really does have a plan for you, to wonder if you’ll fit in as an active single Mormon. Perhaps in part for these reasons, it’s estimated that half of the Mormon single adult population is not active in the church. But although I have these fears, they’ve become manageable through knowing and living gospel principles.

Despite the challenges that face Mormon single adults, I choose to remain active in the gospel for three specific reasons.

First, I choose to be active because the gospel is true for everyone, married or single. Because of the teachings of the gospel, I understand that being married or single doesn’t change your value in the eyes of the Lord. Being a single adult in the church does not make you a second class citizen; it simply means that you have not yet had the opportunity of finding a companion.

Everyone’s path in life is different and we all have unique challenges to overcome as we work towards becoming like our Heavenly Father. What really matters is how we choose to face these challenges. When I feel discouraged, I remind myself of a story told by Elder Anderson about a convert who sacrificed everything – his family relationships, his career, and other opportunities in life – just so he could be baptized. When questioned about why he made his decision, with tears in his eyes, he said, “It’s true, isn’t it? Then what else matters?”

My personal testimony has helped sustain me as a Mormon single adult. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “When [an individual] is motivated by great and powerful convictions of truth, he disciplines himself, not because of the demands made by the church but because of the knowledge within his heart.” Because I know the gospel is true, it helps me stay active in the church – no matter how difficult or lonely the path might be.

Second, I choose to be active in the gospel because it creates the best possible lifestyle for a single adult. The teachings of Jesus Christ allow me to anchor my life to something that stays constant in a world of change. It’s given me the guidance and support to make the best possible life decisions. It’s given me the ability to go through life and make choices that will bring lasting happiness, rather than be satisfied with short-term, temporary pleasure.

It’s true that living the gospel doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a life free of pain, loneliness, or trials. Being an active Mormon single adult can be difficult sometimes. But it’s worth it. Living the gospel has brought purpose to my life as a single adult and it’s brought me lasting happiness that can’t be found anywhere else. It’s allowed me to experience sacred moments of pure joy that only come through obeying gospel principles.  

It’s brought me joy from knowing about my divine potential and that I can become more like my Heavenly Father.

It’s allowed me to feel peace from knowing that although my life may not have turned out the way I envisioned, it’s still acceptable to God.

It’s helped me obtain serenity when my heartfelt prayers are answered, even when it’s not necessarily in the way and timeframe I would have liked.

When I have these sacred experiences, it gives me a brief taste of the eternal joy that awaits me if I’m faithful in this life. The gospel is called the plan of happiness for good reason and I wouldn’t trade these blessings for anything else.

Third, I choose to be active in the gospel because it gives me an eternal perspective. This means that I make choices in life that will bring me happiness for eternity, not just for the relatively short timeframe of mortality. Ten years, twenty years, even a hundred years is less than a blink of an eye compared to eternity.

Because whatever choices we make in this life will determine our destiny for eternity, we have so much to lose if we allow our focus to hang on our marital status. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen from single adults is losing sight of our place in God’s kingdom simply because we haven’t yet found an eternal companion. We are a chosen generation and we should act accordingly – single or not, married or not.

Having an eternal perspective means that we’re willing to accept the Lord’s timetable for our lives. If we recognize that the Lord wants to bless us in His own time, we earnestly strive to prepare ourselves for eternal marriage, keep a positive attitude, and make the most of our available opportunities.

The Lord's blessings will come

Image courtesy of www.creativeldsquotes.com/‎

It’s challenging to keep an eternal perspective when faced with disappointment, heartache, and a sense of loss. But we need to remind ourselves that this life is a test, an opportunity to prove ourselves. If we live faithfully, whatever blessings go unfulfilled in this life will be made up for in the next. Because of my perspective, each year that goes by isn’t viewed as another year being single – it’s viewed as another year in keeping myself worthy to receive the Lord’s blessings, regardless of whether these blessings happen in this life or the next.

Conclusion

I know that regardless of our marital status, the gospel is worth living. I truly believe that despite the challenges we face as single adults, we are on a path that leads to eternal joy. The gospel has given me a purpose in life, the strength to persevere, and the ability to stay optimistic about my future. As a great man once said, “the future is as bright as your faith.”

Image courtesy of www.creativeldsquotes.com

Image courtesy of www.creativeldsquotes.com

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