Loading color scheme
Author & American athlete Jeremy C. Holm has spent over half his life in the fast-paced winter sport of bobsled, including as the Head Coach for the US Adaptive Bobsled Team. He has a degree in Journalism and is pursuing a degree in Military History at the American Military University. In addition to motivational speaking and corporate appearances around the world, Jeremy is the author of three books and spends his time camping, hiking, writing and trying to make history, one day at a time.
As part of this year's emphasis on personal and family home study of the Savior's life, this week's lesson stems from Matthew 13 as outlined in the Come, Follow Me manual published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
While reading this morning about the Parable of the Sower, I was taken back by the insights that came into my mind relating to this parable and the powerful demographic within The Church referred to as "Midsingles." While we midsingles may joke among ourselves that we are the "misfits", "cast off toys" or even "Rejects", all of which are 100% untrue, what IS true is that while single, Latter-day Midsingles carry tremendous potential for good. The amount of service provided by this group around the world is astounding, as are the depths of the lessons and testimonies shared on Sundays and in private conversation as midsingles seek to "(go) about doing good" as disciples of Jesus Christ. They are faithful friends, devoted mothers and fathers, hard workers, and at the end of the day, dedicated members of the Lord's restored church, even if plenty of midsingles battle weaknesses, fears, insecurities and yes, gasp, even sin.
That is why when I was reading in Matthew 13 today and the thoughts started pouring in about how it relates to dating in today's crazy world, I wanted to jot down the things I learned. While I always recommend grabbing your scriptures to mark down anything that stands out as you read on, more important is to mark down the thoughts that come to you from the Spirit in the process.
I'm hoping the graph below will help me share the impressions that I felt and will be easy to follow along:
They say that when the student is ready, the master will appear. Well, I am by no means a master; rather, I still feel like the perpetual student who is doing his best to study for one quiz only to find that life has another one prepared for him!
That said, I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. Maybe too much; I have been known to over-analyze and even trip myself up by thinking too much for my own good.
But I do that. My patriarchal blessing says I have a "keen, alert mind" which is sometimes both a blessing and a curse. And recently, because of my own station in the dating world, I have had to really take a look at myself in the mirror. Some good, long, hard looks. And I haven't always liked what I've seen. It can be empowering, yet a little embarrassing when you notice just how full of the "natural man" you may be. While sometimes the best things for us are those that bring about the toughest changes, they are still hard to make and I am humbly striving to make them the best that I can in order to make the most of this life and a recent opportunity that Heavenly Father brought into my life.
That said, here are three general observations that I have had lately about some common struggles that the midsingles community has seen or currently wrestles with. We often hold to the belief that God will bring the right person into our life; that is a good exercise in faith, but we may actually be preventing this occurrence through our own behaviors, beliefs, expectations and self-preserving patterns.
I do not mean to sound judgmental here because in reality I have had to deal with all three to some extent in my own heart and life. What I am writing is to both help and strengthen myself and also to perhaps help you take a look at some mental habits, patterns, expectations or fears that are holding you back.
Several years ago I was a member of a young single adult ward that was known across the United States as "The 90210 Ward" and "The Fashion Show." I remember my first few weeks in the ward, I would sit in the chapel before Sacrament and watch my brothers and sisters walk in as if they were headed to Fashion Week in Milan. Suits that cost $1,000 or more, outfits that must have been carefully cultivated to match both style and body type. While I wasn't exactly a starving student, I couldn't believe how much money was spent on clothes by these amazing men and women in their desire to stand out from the crowd. Yes, it is part of the dating ritual, to look your best to catch the eye and appear healthy, successful, stylish and even sexy. Shoes that cost more than some people make in a week, handbags that cost several day's worth of pay and enough jewelry to make Mr. T proud.
Dear LDS Midsingle Competitors:
You are hereby officially invited to attend this year's Dating Games being held right in your own city! These exciting events will challenge your intellect, patience, inner strength, determination, motivation, and perhaps your very sanity. But, I can promise you that if you hold true and faithful to your core values, focus on your goals and keep moving towards the finish line and exercise all the faculties within your possession that the prize at the end of this "race" is more than worth it.
Along the way you will meet your fellow competitors on the field of play. Many of these individuals have given their best in life and found themselves here at the same station you are in; be patient with them, and remember that they are human beings who come to the table with flaws and strengths, courage and fears, love and pains. That said, we remind all competitors that cheating, unsportsmanlike conduct, and unnecessary roughness of any type will not be tolerated. Indeed, those who attend these Games merely to play for their own amusement at the expense of others will find themselves answering to the highest authority, our chief judge.
Now, that said, remember that these Games are meant to be fun and productive; don't overthink them or place all your value in their outcome. You were meant for wonderful things in this life and your participation in these events are just a piece of that journey. While we all dream of wearing those special rings, know that your day in the sun will come and that all the glory you have worked for all these years will be yours.
It was happening again. No matter how hard I tried to avoid it, change it, deter the circumstances from occurring, it was happening again. They were going to ask THAT question, the one that I had smiled and shrugged my shoulders at so often throughout my life, the same inquiry you get from friends, family members, neighbors, coworkers, teachers, the grocery store clerk, your mailman, strangers on the street and visiting aliens from outer space: "Why are you single?" Even Facebook, that beloved social network/big brother, asks our status. "Single"; thanks for pointing that out, Mark Zuckerberg.
It's a question that has no great answer. We may say, "Oh, I'm focusing on me (or my family or career or education) right now", but even those are not satisfying responses for others (plus, President Spencer W. Kimball was pretty direct about marriage-avoiding rationalizations). Others may smile and nod, yet the look in their eyes belies continued concern, as if we may actually be "menaces to society". It's as if our single-hood is a problem to be solved, a disease to be cured. In all seriousness, these loving parties usually ask because they care and want us to be happy and we should demonstrate gratitude and humility for their desires to see us blessed with love.
Yes, we can live a happy, productive, and satisfying life as singles. And yet, not a week passes that I do not hear about midsingles' plights when it comes to dating and relationships (or think of my own). There are tears, anger, frustration, disappointment, discouragement, plenty of wisecracks, some depression and far too often a resignation to living the single life because "dating is too hard" and "I'll never get married (or re-married)." So yes, we throw ourselves into careers, educations, service projects, the kids, talents, hobbies, and so on. We tell ourselves that we are doing OK because we still attend the midsingle wards and trips, the cruises or the dances, not to mention the fantastic conferences; we like the "fun" stuff of our single-life culture, but if we were being truly honest with ourselves, they may be good activities we partake in without really wanting the potentially-there solution to our single status. As my friend who visited from out of town asked at a recent midsingles activity, "How are all the beautiful and handsome people not married? My ward has sixty people. This valley has thousands of potential dates for them to pick from."
We enjoy our incredible friendships and the good memories we share along the way, but my friend was hinting at a hidden truth that many singles do not want to look at: we could be avoiding the level of dating that has the specific intention of finding someone to marry. We play the game without a committed desire for the game to end, like neighborhood kids playing ball on Summer's last night before school starts.
On December 25, 1944 a long line of ragged American paratroopers of the 11th Airborne "Angels" Division made their way down a slippery jungle trail. They had been fighting non-stop since November 22 and estimates state that the Angels destroyed over 5,700 of the enemy. They were hungry, tired, and ready for rest. They had buried their dead by the trail-side, marking graves the best they could, and all were suffering from undernourishment with ulcers on their feet and legs.
They slowly, yet carefully, plodded along the trail, ready to put the demands and dangers of combat behind them. As each trooper moved forward, lost in his own thoughts, a quite whisper slowly made its way down the line.
*Note: This essay is the seventh of seven authored by Jeremy for the LDS Midsingle (31-45+) community. The opinions and thoughts shared therein are his own and unless otherwise noted all names and circumstances of stories have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
My dear friends, I know it has been a few weeks (months?) since my last post and for that I apologize. This Summer has been, well, shall we say a little hectic. In fact, I'm not sure I have ever faced a period as difficult as this one has been. In a way, I understand what Rocky felt like when he was fighting Drago in "Rocky IV"; it was just punch after punch after punch.
At the risk of sounding like a whiny baby, there have been days, even weeks, where I was not sure I could keep going. I wanted to throw in the towel in moments, moments when the fears or tears were almost too much. Despite my attempts to dig deep into faith and optimism and trust in God,...life has almost felt like it was repeating Drago's words to Rocky when he said, "I must break you."
Maybe I'm not as strong as the world thinks, or as I thought. Despite training for the Olympics, publishing books, speaking on stage, graduating college and all the "great works" that I've tried to do...I'm still 100% human. And as the punches kept coming, as the adversities kept growing, as the fears rolled over me like waves, as the dark nights grew darker... I guess I felt like the prophet Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail when he cried out, "Oh, God, where art thou?" And while I know that God was helping me make changes, to grow, to leave old ways behind, and that for that I should drop to my knees in gratitude (which I have), there is also the truth that my soul, my heart, even my body and mind have felt pushed beyond their limits.
I also know that many strong, beautiful souls in this world can relate. Maybe you can. Maybe it is your coworker or roommate or friend or a family member who feels the weight of some burden on their shoulders. And that is ok; we are in this life to be tested, and to be tested you have to have resistance and opposition. But that does not mean that we have to do it alone. Ever.
*Note: This essay is the sixth of seven authored by Jeremy for the LDS Midsingle (31-45+) community. The opinions and thoughts shared therein are his own and unless otherwise noted all names and circumstances of stories have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
Having just returned from seven glorious days on an Alaska cruise with an amazing group of midsingles, I believe my waistline suffers from post-cruise poundage. But the views were incredible, the wildlife breathtaking and the memories will last a lifetime. So thank you everyone who joined us! We are already working on our next adventure: a Western Caribbean Cruise.
The Alaska cruise gave me a lot of time to think, perhaps too much. Like many of you, my thoughts flutter between faith and the burdens I carry, hope and the fears about the future. As an LDS midsingle I have a sure foundation through our religious beliefs, but life has a way of giving us exhilarating highs mixed with heart-wrenching lows.
I had to laugh when the other day someone said, "Jeremy, you've had such an amazing life, the kind I wish I had!" I smiled, but my thoughts turned to all the trials and fires and fears and adversities that I have gone through. I think that sometimes as midsingles we look on other midsingles's lives with perhaps a touch of envy. I get it. Sometimes it is the job, the appearance, the family, the spirit, the joy, and so on. I think that is a very human trait, albeit one that Heavenly Father has asked us to resist because it usually leads to sorrow, perhaps even depression, and a certain blindness to the blessings that He has given us already.
Let's face it: adversity can be hard. Whether it is a brutal divorce, the loss of a job, a wayward child, financial stress, or just a dream we reached for but have yet to achieve, trials can pierce our hearts and like a weary boxer leave us struggling to stay on our feet.
I feel like this year has been a year of painful growth for me. Perhaps I better understand Job and everything he went through. Luckily I have had some great friends, good family, Priesthood leaders and support to get through everything so far. But as they say, I'm not out of the woods yet so my heart and my soul feel a bit of the weight of this world. And it is that weight that I want to write about.
*Note: This essay is the fifth of seven authored by Jeremy for the LDS Midsingle (31-45+) community. The opinions and thoughts shared therein are his own and unless otherwise noted all names and circumstances of stories have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
As an LDS midsingle, I have heard quite a bit of talk about "walls" lately. I don't mean Donald Trump's Mexico Wall, Pink Floyd's album, or even the Great Wall of China. No, these walls are of a more personal nature for each of us as human beings and children of God.
I am, of course, referring to those emotional and mental walls that form around our hearts.
As someone who is all too familiar with such walls, I have spent the past few years seeking out the right tools to break down some of my own. Contrary to popular (unpopular?) opinion, dating is not easy for me (I blame it on the cultural Oklahoma/Utah conflicts). Like many of you, when asked "Why are you not married yet?", I have no honest response (although many pithy ones that I do not verbally express). There are a myriad of ways to respond: it could be Heaven's timing (for which I'd love a calendar), I haven't found the right "one" (no, I don't believe in a soul-mate), or a thousand other "reasons" it could be. Chances are it is a combination of many of them; only you and the Lord can know what those particulars may be.
But one factor that could be contributing (in part) to some of the singleness, yours and mine, are these darn walls around our hearts. I don't like them, you don't like them, none of us like them. And yet, due to past hurts, current fears of rejection, perhaps previous abandonment or abuse or whatever other trauma we endured, we have them. I do, you do, we all do. They don't make any of us "broken", they make us mortal.
*Note: This essay is the fourth of seven authored by Jeremy for the LDS Midsingle (31-45+) community. The opinions and thoughts shared therein are his own and unless otherwise noted all names and circumstances of stories have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
While is Christmas Eve, I write this essay with a heavy heart. Yes, it is truly "the most wonderful time of the year" and yes, although there is much unrest in the world, there is also "peace on earth, goodwill towards man."
And yet, while I know all the promises and prophecies and blessings to be obtained through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I am also starkly aware of just how hard this life can be. As much as we as midsingles do our best to have faith, move forward, serve others and otherwise put on a happy face, the truth is that each of our hearts carry deep hurts, unrelenting fears, annoying inadequacies and maddening weaknesses. When they told us in Primary and Sunday School that we were a "choice generation" and that "God has held you in reserve to come forth at this time for a special purpose" because we were some of the strongest spirits, I used to think that it was because we would be strong enough to resist all the world's temptations as society becomes more wicked. But now... I can't help but wonder if we are considered "strong" by Heaven because we have to deal with all the additional mental, emotional, physical and even spiritual burdens that come with modern life.
*Note: This essay is the third of seven authored by Jeremy for the LDS Midsingle (31-45+) community. The opinions and thoughts shared therein are his own and unless otherwise noted all names and circumstances of stories have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
Unless you've been living under a rock these past few weeks, you've probably noticed that the world is going crazy right now. As a former journalist I try to stay current on the happenings in the news and the more I watch or read, the more I think of the Lord's warning that "nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows." (Matthew 24:7-8).
As Paul so succinctly said, "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come." (2 Timothy 3:1). Indeed, as I study what is happening in current events, I would have to say: perilous times (have) come.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been warned for generations now that the world is going to go one way while the Lord leads his people in another. I shake my head when church members are surprised that the prophet and apostles who guide the church today under Christ's direction (D&C 1:38) give counsel and policies that contradict the world's opinion. Jesus really did not say or do what was popular in his day (and if you think he accepted everyone's behavior/lifestyles, you might want to reread the Gospels). The Lord's doctrine was very unpopular with the leadership in his day (in case you missed it, they killed him for it) and upset what was culturally accepted. He even said quite clearly that he came to "to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household." (Matthew 10:35-36). This is not a division brought about by hate or bigotry or judgement (which seems to be what Satan is inspiring in worldly movements today), but rather the "variance" the Lord spoke of will come down to a simple choice: will we "do all things whatsoever the Lord (our) God shall command (us)..." (Abraham 3:25) or will we be "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and the cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive..." (Ephesians 4:14)?
As the world's opinion of what is acceptable behavior continues to grow more and more liberal (that's a description, not a political statement), the greater will grow the distance between God's law and mortal approval. And that is where the "variance" the Lord spoke of will become starkly apparent. One side will say that everything is permitted legally (man's laws) and the other will say, "God has declared some things are not permitted according to His laws."