Monday, April 25, 2011

I am more than my Marital Status

I start out by exclaiming at the top of my lungs, "I am more than a Single Mormon," even if it doesn't seem evident in the title of this blog.

As a young adult who has grown up a Latter-day Saint, I've been exposed to marriage and family since I was a 5-year-old. It's been so deeply ingrained into my psyche that I could almost express the desire for an eternal companion and lively seed over the pulpit (luckily, I will not). I have seen so many friends as they engage, endure and enthusiastically enjoy marriage (Plus-4 alliteration!) that I feel I've almost become an expert on the subject, despite have no experience of my own.

That's what makes the common question and greeting, "Why aren't you married yet?" so enraging. It's like asking a blind man, "Why can't you see that beautiful sunset?" or begging a deaf girl to "Just pay attention to the beautiful chords in this concerto."

You've seen how I feel about various counsel from the Brethren regarding marriage and family. President Monson has implored us. Elder Scott has mercifully deluged us. It seems to be a reoccurring them — not just at General Conference and weekly sacrament meetings — but in CES Firesides, Institute devotionals and other forums of religious learning.

It was even the issue of a marvelous submitted Editorial to the Salt Lake Tribune. And that a  Mormon from outside the Mormon Corridor would take the time to submit his prose to one of the two most influential newspapers in Utah says this is becoming a hot topic of interest around the worldwide church.

My married friends constantly wonder how they can help me "to become married." That's not something I like discussing. It makes me feel inferior to them, simply because I have not yet had the opportunity to seriously court, engage and wed an eternal companion. But I am so much more than my marital status, and so is every young single adult in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Acknowledging us for what we are not diminishes the qualities that we currently possess. Many of us are career-laden, active in charitable and community organizations, and important pieces of various networks in our cities and towns. I've seen lawyers, doctors, teachers, athletes, homeowners, businesspeople and even — gasp — journalists, who are still in bachelorhood.

In other words, we are not all social miscreants who play video games all day, live in our parents' basements and gorge ourselves on Cheetos and Mountain Dew.

If you really want to know how you can help us, this is a good place to start. I know the publication is from an eternity ago (aka 2004), but Bro. Brough's advice is still relevant today.

The following statement made it past church curriculum, so I'm assuming it to be doctrinally sound: "Because many married people found their spouse at an early age, they might not fully appreciate the fact that for others, finding the right partner does not come so soon or so easily." 

Do not assume that what worked during your days of dating and courtship will translate to your single friend or family member; the beauty of the gospel is that God has a plan for each individual. The value of living Prophets and Apostles is that the Lord can continually re-evaluate the counsel He has given to His people. The glory of personal revelation is that we can all receive answers to our soul-burdening questions in our own ways and in their own time.

My single status is not a communicable disease, like leprosy or skin boils. Singles of the church do not need to be ostracized, but rather loved and embraced, regardless of how long it may take us to receive the full blessings of eternity.


Here's a great story from a single convert to the church. This young man is more than a number, more than a statistic, and most importantly, more than a marital status.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

'He is not here: for He is Risen.'

It's Easter morning as I type this, but I can't see bunny rabbits, tall strands of green grass or hidden eggs in front yards, waiting for delighted children to find them and crack them open for candy hidden inside.

Instead, all I can hear is silence. The silence, as if of a graveyard, with none around but those who slumber and wait for that greatly anticipated day of resurrection.

Fitting, I suppose.

For on this Sunday, the world celebrates the greatest miracle ever known. On this special day, exactly 1,979 years ago, the Son of God was raised from the dead — his mortal putting on immortal — in power and glory, that we might be able to follow him and do the same.

Many look for signs of Christ in remembering his suffering in a garden called Gethsemane, or on a cross overlooking a hill named Golgotha — 'Place of the Skull.' But just as an angel of the Lord announced on this day more than two millenia ago, "Here is not here: for HE IS RISEN." Christ is not in the cross; he is not on Golgotha; he doesn't not wait for us as the spirits which look "forward with an eye of faith, and view this body being raised in immortality." Rather, Christ lives; He is not in the symbols of death that enshroud the Christian world's concept of this sacred holiday, but rather in the symbols of Spring time — rebirth, resurrection, and new beginnings. Even as a caterpillar emerges from its cocoon as a butterfly, or a duckling breaks free of its entrapment from within that which once held its form, so too has Christ broken free of the shackles of sin and death.

And he has promised us that we can, too.

The miracle of Easter is not only in His returning from death and sin; it is that we all may do likewise. Even as we try to follow and emulate the Savior, the Son of God and the Master, we can do as He did. Where is the sting of death? Yea, it is swallowed up in Christ Jesus.

May we all remember the true meaning of Easter, even as we contemplate Him who first celebrated it so long ago.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Marriage is What Brings Us Here Today

'Twas a special weekend in April, and not just because the weather here in fabulous Las Vegas was gorgeous. This weekend marked another year's passing with the 181st Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was a special weekend for me, and more than 14 million Mormons around the globe, as we listened to the inspired counsel of Prophets and Apostles, leaders of the church who preside and guide the daily affairs of the Lord's kingdom on Earth.
This one hurt, though.
There are three talks that mentioned the dreaded 'M' word, specifically, and several more that pointedly struck me at several spots, prompting me to cower at my inabilities and wince at my many imperfections. I'm talking, of course, about Marriage (because "Marr-waige is what bwings us two-get'er today"). In particular, a Prophet of God, President Thomas S. Monson called me out.
Two of his Apostles, Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Richard G. Scott, also called me out. One spoke of having a desire to marry. The other used his death-stare to subdue me into dating "those poor sisters in the church." Then, to top it off, Elder D. Todd Christofferson came out to tell me not to murmur, but to accept correction with humility and gratitude.
I know what you're thinking: there's no way he knew he was calling you out specifically. And maybe he wasn't. But in the Saturday evening Priesthood session (for male members of the church), President Monson took a dramatically obtuse tone in directing his remarks to young single adult men in the church around my age — those who had gone through life "just having fun" and "enjoying being single" without "putting any real thought or effort into marriage."
"Nothing in this life will give you greater happiness than marriage," President Monson said. Sounds simple enough, right? It gets better. He then quoted former President Harold B. Lee.
"You are not living up to your priesthood if you purposefully put off marriage to a righteous woman in the House of God."
OUCH! I was struck. I had always considered myself a solid, faithful, active Mormon who fulfilled his priesthood responsibilities (with the occasional Home Teaching gaffe, sure, but who doesn't?) and magnified his calling. Yet because of my reluctance to dive into the forbidden, scary and outright intimidating world of dating, courtship and marriage, I wasn't living up to my promises. I was — in many ways — denying my covenants, and forfeiting blessings that could be had — whether I find true love or not.
Three talks. Three specific examples in which the general church leadership admonished young single men to "get with the program" and focus on finding — or creating — an eternal family. It hurts. It stings. It's the sharpest admonition I've ever received.
I guess I have a lot of work to do. Sigh.

To lighten things up a bit, here's a video made by a BYU student ward about courtship and marriage. How long is too long? How short is too short? This answers it all (well, sort of).