|Photo by K. Crookston, BYU Photo|
It's not that I'm "anti-" marriage; it's just that I've been discouraged at my chances of finding a suitable soulmate after a quarter century of searching. If you know many Mormons, you would know that (usually) by the time they are my age, it's common to be married with at least two kids, a minivan, an oversized mortgage and too many student loans.
I don't have any of those: the wife, the kids, the mortgage or the loan payments. That can be good, and bad. With regards to the marriage part, it makes me fairly normal for my ward (congregation) of Young Single Adults in the Las Vegas valley.
On Sunday, Sept. 12, a church Apostle, a Prophet of God, started to nudge me away from that.
Elder Richard G. Scott, who was ordained an Apostle in 1988, spoke at a Church Educational System fireside broadcast to millions of young adults, both single and married, around the world. His address began to center on marriage and the family, which he called "vital pillars of in God's plan of happiness." Normally, this is where I tune out. This time, however, I didn't.
Elder Scott's wife died in 1995, leaving a gaping hole in the heart of a man called to help lead a church that places significant emphasis on the family. I can barely imagine the pain he's borne through the past 15 years — well, maybe a little now, as he shared some of the experiences with us. The Spirit was so strong, that even a Single Mormon in Las Vegas could feel its shockwaves more than 400 miles away.
Elder Scott also provided plenty of LOL moments, such as when he referred to going to the movies on a date as "stupid." "If you're a young man, and trying to get to know a young woman, don't take her to the movies."
Of course, he gave wise counsel to married couples, such as "Happiness in marriage comes when both spouses are equal partners" and "Always respect her feelings" when dealing with extremely emotional situations.
But he wasn't afraid to address the crowd of singles boldly. He told us that we should be constantly striving and preparing for marriage, even admonishing the men to, first and foremost, serve an honorable full-time mission, and then dedicate yourself to finding an eternal companion. I must admit that — while I did complete the first requirement admirably, even serving in two separate missions — I have been less-than-diligent in striving toward the second task.
"Marriage enables you to find out who you really are," Elder Scott pointed out. How much of myself do I not know, because I haven't had the opportunity to grow while being connected to another living being? How much is my eternal progression stunted because I can't get over the hurdle of constant dating and courtship? How much more could I learn about myself through continuously striving to find a suitable partner?
However, while marriage and family are vital pillars in life, the lack of them shouldn't define us. Despite the current status of our Facebook page, we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father, and he wants us to be happy. And true happiness comes from keeping the His commandments.
"Whether you are single or married, the best way to live life is to seek to know the will of the Lord," Elder Scott said. As we strive to keep his commandments, study the scriptures and cultivate a relationship with God, He helps us overcome our weaknesses and trials, whether they be in marriage, dating, educational outlook, employment concerns or any of the other thousands of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual pressures that might afflict our souls.
Our job is the easy one.
"All things are possible to the Lord, and He keeps the promises He inspires His prophets to declare. .... With certainty, you will receive every promised blessing for which you are worthy."
Prophets and Apostles live today. They speak, we listen, and by following their counsel, we are blessed. No matter how many times I disagree with conventionally Mormon thought, I can't deny those basic tenants.