The majority of Mormons (not all, but most) love weddings and babies. It’s not uncommon to hear a Mormon introduce him or herself and the family that they come from like this: “Hi, my name is _________, I’m from [Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Washington] and I’m the third of nine siblings”. In any given apartment around BYU campus, and maybe even some in the freshman dorms, you’ll find a refrigerator door strewn with wedding invitations. Minivans and Mormons tend to go together like bacon and eggs (or bacon and really anything for that matter).
Like I said, not all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are like this, but there is a heavy emphasis on family in our church. Why? Simply put, God is our Heavenly Father, we lived with Him as part of a great spiritual family before this life, and in our quest to learn, develop, and return to Him, families can be our greatest God-given tool. In it a child can learn principles of honesty, integrity, faith, and giving service to their community. Parents can go through the refining fire of child raising, teaching them about Heavenly Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the purposes of life during this divinely tailored practicum that no seminar or book could ever give. Families are needed, are beautiful and a gift. I hope we always emphasize and protect them, no matter our beliefs or past circumstances.
So for Latter-Day Saints, having a happy family life is the ideal. For some, though, that ideal is seemingly impossible. For those people, this blog post is for you.
Like I mentioned in a previous post, my service as a missionary changed so many things about me, but one of them was my desire for a family. I had just spent the last two years feeling the most fulfillment and meaning I had ever felt in my life, and shortly after coming home God began burrowing deep in my heart a longing to feel that same feeling but in a family setting. I dreamed of a happy home with lots of kids and a Corgi named Butters. There was nothing I wanted more, and my time at BYU was a great place to continue to cultivate that desire. Dating is an integral part of the social culture there, and I did a lot of it. I did it because it was fun, it was a great opportunity to get to know a lot of people, but I mostly did it to find someone that in the future I could see myself starting a family with.
Things never turned out as I hoped they would, though. I met some incredible, incredible young women, some that I would have happily settled down with and married. Each time, though, after an extended time of dating they would abruptly end the relationship, saying they felt like it wasn’t right. The thing that would confuse me the most was that when I was struggling with accepting each failed attempt I had placed my hope in, they on the other hand felt really at peace. When I would tell a friend about these break-ups the person would say something like, “Well, maybe she just wasn’t mature enough” or “Maybe she just acted with poor judgment” or “Maybe she’s not the girl you thought she was”. I would nod in silence, but I knew better. These were some of the most mature, intelligent, spiritually in-tune women I had met. If they felt this way and if things needed to end, then they did, and it was for a reason.
…For those who struggle with being single or childless or divorced or with all the unideal situation of life, don’t walk away from your faith. To anyone who may feel they are coming up empty handed despite their consistent acts of devotion I would say: stay with Him. There is truly no better place to be. His love is available at the beginning, middle, and end of any faith journey. Although I struggle to understand my life, I have had undeniable experiences where He has reached out to me in very personal ways to let me know, “I’m here, everything is going to be fine”. A relationship with Christ is worth the effort, it is worth the sometimes heartbreaking struggle to cultivate as we let go of our pre-drawn plans and instead learn to put it all in His hands. I fully believe within Him, like He promises, there is no hunger or thirst. There is a sense of fullness and wholeness that can’t be found anywhere else.
So stay with Him. It’ll be worth it.