Another single man I knew and liked just got engaged. He is responsible, attractive in both personality and looks. He takes the Church seriously, and truly cares about God. And he wasn’t interested in me, even a little. He is only the latest in a long line of engaged people I've seen marry over the years since I divorced. At this point, every LDS male I’ve ever dated or been interested in is married or engaged to be married. There are no more for me.
I’m sure you might ask yourself how I can be so sure. Things happen, right? Well, in order for things to happen, you have to be in a place for them to happen. And I don’t have time for that. Because, while I am a single LDS woman whose faith has been tempered in the furnaces of mortality and who wants to be a good wife, I am first and foremost a mother, with everything that symbolizes and everything that means. I don't have time for singles' activities. My calling in the ward I can actually belong to makes it impossible to even go to singles ward.
And I am a mother, which means I have a past. I am not the dewy-eyed girl that good men of the priesthood have been promised as their prize for a well-spent mission. I am not innocent. I have scars, and many of them still hurt. My wounds are too deep. I am too jaded. Too overweight, too tall, too much, or too little. And as long as I do what the Church spent eighteen years teaching me to do, marrying only a return missionary in the temple, I will be alone. I am quickly getting too old to be the stay-at-home mom He commanded me to be with the large family He commanded me to have.
In the words of Taylor Swift, I’m not a princess, and this ain’t a fairytale. Or, as the great wizard Schmendrick said, there are no happy endings, because nothing ends.
I believe in the Church. I believe in marrying only in the temple. Even though holding out for a temple marriage didn't help me before. I still know that the only real marriage for me is a marriage that includes God from the beginning. But I'm finding out that what is worse than being lied to is being told the truth, and realizing it doesn’t apply to you.
I believe in this Church. I have tried to do what God and the Spirit have asked of me. It has been my first priority for more than half my life, when I decided to try to turn my whole heart and mind to the service of God. I adopted advice such as President Hinckley's to "watch the switches." I haven't had the heart to write posts for the General Conference Odyssey lately, because the advice has burned too painfully. What can I say about all the things the prophets taught us since before I was born, when they have not worked out for me?
It doesn’t matter how hard and long I have tried to fulfill what God has commanded me, even though it was diametrically opposed to what I wanted for myself. Because I am not acceptable to the sons of God, the blessings of eternal life are forever closed to me. The blessings of the priesthood cannot exist in my home. I may be a daughter of God, but I will never be a mother in Zion, or the support to my husband I have covenanted to become.
I know Mother Eve and how she must have felt as she discovered the only way to fulfill one commandment of the Almighty God was to break another. Knowing, even as she made the choice, that she was condemning herself to a life of hardship. She may have had Adam as a partner later, but in that moment, she made the choice alone.
I don’t want to hear anything about how the words of the doctrine can be twisted to look like they fit me. That does neither me nor the doctrine any favors. I’m here, as a member of the Church, because I believe it. Not because I belong in it. And I need to mourn. I need to mourn how trying to follow the advice such as President Hinckley's to "be clean...be obedient...[and] be prayerful" has left me cold and wondering where I went wrong.
I need to mourn the naíve choices of a 25-year-old girl, who married someone who said he loved God first, and then loved her, but taught her that words of love can never be trusted and that love looks an awful lot like contempt. I need to mourn the choices of a culture which exalts the qualities in a woman which I can never obtain, despite being born a girl. I need to mourn once again feeling like I have nothing of value to offer the sort of man I was told I should marry.
How long must I wear a mask of good cheer, and put on the “stiff upper lip” of my English ancestors, pretending that the gospel is purely a gospel of joy? It is not, and never has been since the God Almighty taught His recalcitrant children that the price of their disobedience was the life of a God.
Sometimes, things wound us when we have no right to be wounded. Sometimes the rejection isn’t personal, but hurts just the same. Sometimes, you have to wonder why you’re even here, when everything you touch turns to dust. When will I "come to a realization...that [God has] heard and responded" to my prayers? It has nothing to do with "how [I] wish Him to answer." I only want what I can never have because He commanded me to want it. If I had never changed myself to fit what I thought He expected of me, I might be happy. So I ask again, where did I go wrong? And...can it ever be fixed? The change I've worked is permanent, at this point. There is no going back, and I can see no way forward.
Sometimes, you have to have faith that God knows what is best, and that maybe His plan hurts you so much because He trusts you to love Him anyways. You have to come to terms with the reality that faith is the only thing pushing one foot in front of the other in this long trek for the cause of a war you no longer remember. That you may never be anything more than a grimy and forgotten foot soldier, but at least you have chosen the right side of the fight.
Looking back, I would change nothing. Because I prayed for charity. I prayed to be a disciple. And if this is the price, I would pay it again. But being willing to pay the price does not make it easy. It hurts, but despite everything, I still trust in Him and His power to heal.
- The Pebbles in Our Shoes by Nathaniel Givens
- The Antidote for the Venom by G
- It is the Modern Scripture by which we are Judged by Daniel Ortner
- A Warning against Wolves and Delusions among the Saints by Ralph Hancock
- Obedience-Start Where You Are by Michelle Linford
- Mow the Lawn, Do the Dishes, Save Your Soul by Walker Wright
- Gospel Messages: Take It and Run With It by Jan Tolman
- Voices and Friends "IRL" by Marilyn Nielson