When I was growing up, I was well aware of the singles in the church. My Dad had been the “ripe old” age of 31 when he met and married my schoolteacher Mom, who was 25. They were “ancient” by the standards of 1960. My Dad had served an LDS mission to Canada, come home and volunteered for the Air Force for the Korean War (and received a “Dear John” letter in the process), then inexplicably graduated from the University of Utah as a fraternity president without getting married; despite what my aunts and uncles described to me as a healthy social life and even a few dates with a granddaughter of the President of the LDS Church at the time.
When my Mom passed away in 1980, my Dad then married my Step Mom, who was also considered an “older” single at the age of 28. My parents were aware of what it felt like to be single in a church filled with families and talk of families. We had the “older” singles over for Thanksgiving and Sunday dinners on more than one occasion, and my Dad would invite his LDS, BYU grad bachelors from work over for dinner too. They were real people to me who had interests and family in other places and wishes for the future.
So, as an “older” and divorced single, recently when I read this excellent article by blogger Katie Bastian in the Deseret News, I did what every good singles blogger would do and (oh no!!) read the comments section. Some of the comments disturbed me. **This blog post is a gentle reminder that marrieds can sometimes develop a sort of amnesia as to what it was like to be single.** Singles, feel free to send ward members here who may be experiencing said amnesia. Or, perhaps, send a link to this page to some of those “scary posters.” My attempt is to try to be patient and civil, since after all, we are all still trying to figure this all out. This may be a meager attempt at putting my two cents in, but I felt like I needed to try something.
The photos here are of friends of mine, all singles, most of them over 40. I also included photos of their parents or grandparents or old photos with friends. They’re good members of the church who serve well in their callings and have been there for me in many a time of need. One of them taught what my teenage son said was “the best Sunday School lesson I’ve ever had.” (My son can be a tough customer. He’s a freshman at an Ivy League school now.) The same friend was my kids’ favorite person to get candy from at the church’s Trunk or Treat, as he served it out of a real hearse with the license plate “LDSGOTH.”
I kept thinking of family history while contemplating this post. All singles have ancestors, the same as the married folk do. And lest you be tempted to quote Elder Hales from today’s Saturday afternoon session of General Conference and wonder why older singles “played through their 20’s,” remember that that quote was for the singles. Excellent, excellent advice. Elder Hales came and spoke to the “Midsingles” in Los Angeles when I was living there. But, if you’re not single, it’s not your job to try and figure out which singles ended up single “because it’s their fault” and they played too much. Let the Lord make that judgment. Make friends with the singles in your ward today and let the Lord and the individual worry about that. It’s not your stewardship, no matter how well-meaning you may be.
These are the singles in your ward: brother, sister, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, mechanic, engineer, teacher, student, co-worker, visiting teacher, home teacher, babysitter, piano player, artist, doodler, volunteer Little League Umpire…. And for some, “mother, father” rather than “Single Mom! Single Dad!”
And family history? Do you think our ancestors care only for their progeny who have had children? I highly doubt that. They are on the other side, cheering all of us on.
The photos are from four friends: one works in insurance, one is a librarian at an inner city library, one a mathematician with a famous scientist for a grandfather, and an office services coordinator who loves to take care of ward beach parties. Their favorite hymns are Our Savior’s Love, The Spirit of God, Nearer My God to Thee, and I Stand All Amazed, respectively.