Related: For the strength of single adults
Being single after 25 years of married life and raising nine children was not on my list of things to do. After my husband unexpectedly passed away my thought was: "Now what do I do?"
I knew I had to take care of the five children left at home, but what was the future plan for me? I knew I had to keep my standard of living up to par, but what was next? I knew I needed to keep my own personal life within the bounds of the Lord's commands and gospel principles, but I didn't know how I would accomplish this.
As adults we know we are free to choose for ourselves but also know that we are accountable for our choices. This might seem like too simple a concept for our “old” adult minds, but it is surprising how many adults forget about this great principle of the gospel when they become single.
The choices some make due to overwhelming unhappiness from their newfound situations can be unbelievable. Some adults are so unhappy in their lives and want to change their situations so intensely that they make unfortunate decisions, with sometimes eternal consequences. There is nothing more peaceful than a clear conscience in choosing what is right and living the gospel in all its aspects. Our Father in Heaven knows what good choices are needed in our lives. As single adults we need to follow the Spirit.
Several points to remember through life’s journey can help if, like me, you find yourself single and trying to be happy.
Positive attitude: This is sometimes very difficult and will not come automatically. Anyone who becomes single after being married has either gone through a divorce or experienced the death of a spouse. Both situations are heartbreaking and will require grieving for a long time. After the initial shock, somehow through constant prayer and healing, we can have a positive attitude. It might take five years or five months: everyone experiences life differently.
But whenever you can, remember that Heavenly Father loves you. There are many watching you who love you and want you to keep a song in your heart. You might feel deflated; you might be thinking there is no reason for you to stay on this earth, but try to see a bright side of life and keep a song in your heart. Listen to happy music and keep it inside you all day. You might not be able to do it every day, but whenever you can, hum a tune or play back a song in your mind that will make you happy. It really helps to lighten the load. It might be difficult, but it does help your outlook in life to pick yourself up and try to maintain a positive attitude in just living life.
Prayer and reading scriptures: One constant I have had in my life is prayer and scripture reading. The combination is an anchor in my life that keeps me grounded when everything else around me is falling apart. It is often the difference between night and day. The Spirit stays with me constantly and I am never alone. It is still up to me to motivate myself to pray and read every day, but I have received so much emotional encouragement by doing these two things. I could not do without them. Our leaders are always encouraging us to pray and read scriptures every day, but sometimes the importance of this admonition doesn’t hit home until some disaster happens in our lives and we seek comfort from our Heavenly Father and his words.
Church attendance: Attending church every Sunday is a great source of strength. You can always count on being uplifted by taking the sacrament and listening to the talks. Even if you just sit and feel the Spirit, the time spent helps for the rest of the week and will refill your emotional cup. It does no one any good to stay home. Even if you feel unworthy to go, that is when you most need to go. You might feel awkward attending because of your circumstances, but Heavenly Father loves you, and the good in attending far outweighs the bad. Sit in sacrament meeting, breathe easy and just relax. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10).
Support a singles program: Many single members feel they shouldn’t attend singles activities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because they do not want to meet a mate. They are mistaken if they feel that the main goal of the singles program is to get married. They do themselves and other members a great disservice if they stay away from LDS Church-organized single adult activities for that reason. It is not the intention of priesthood leaders to marry off single members when they plan and proceed with an activity. The main purpose is to bring all single members closer to Jesus Christ. Singles older than 60 have such a wealth of knowledge and experience; they are a blessing in any singles group. Members who have served in many different capacities in the church can contribute so much to a single adult group. Support the singles program by attending when you can. You will not regret it.
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Our standard of living in all aspects of life helps contribute to a more contented lifestyle. If you will remember these suggestions and keep them active in your mind, life will get better every day. Become actively engaged in a good cause, and you will see that the joy you once had in your life will return; it has for me. It’s not perfect, and I still have ups and downs, but overall, life is good!
Valerie Steimle is a mother of nine children living in Alabama and the author of four books, including "Of One Heart: Being Single in the LDS World."