I well remember the experience attending my first SA activity after being officially booted from the YSA program. It was a fireside. I was in my 30s, still single, and wondering what the future held for me.
As I entered the room, I saw four ladies seated. Before you start thinking how great a 4:1 ratio is in addition to being the only guy in the room, let me add that each of these sisters was old enough to be my grandmother.
You can imagine my sense of shock. It was like the part of me that felt young and hopeful had been violently knocked out of me. Though I might chase after it and longed to catch it, I was now unable to do so.
I had a similar experience when I turned 40 and still no companion. What spark of hope I had left in me died. This combined with other unfortunate life events at that time led me into a mild but serious depression.
As hard as that was, reaching rock bottom prepared me to learn some life lessons.
There’s nothing wrong with you
Our family-centered culture has given many LDS singles the expectation they would go to college and go on a mission and get a job and somewhere in that mix (after the mission, of course) they would get married and start a family.
You don’t think to question that life plan if your life turns out that way. But if you’re one of the many LDS singles whose life hasn’t exactly followed that plan, you’ve asked a lot of questions.
Many of those questions are completely understandable and yet completely unwarranted. I kept asking “What is wrong with me?” and “Where are the blessings I was promised for being righteous?” As understandable as these questions are, they’re the wrong ones to ask.
First, there was never anything wrong with me. I sure felt like there was, though, especially with the way most ladies responded to my dating invitations. But that’s the thing right there. That evidence I used to conclude there was something wrong with me really said there was something wrong with my approach.
Second. the Lord has always wanted to bless me, but He’ll never violate anyone’s agency. How could I get the result I wanted when my approach was all wrong? Of course my invitations had a low success rate; a poor approach always yields poor results.
All the fairy godmothers are dead
It can be difficult to step outside oneself and question underlying assumptions. I assumed the life plan I received in my youth would work for me. I assumed the scriptures my leaders quoted about God blessing the righteous because of their righteousness meant somehow everything would magically work out for me.
But the scriptures also contain stories of people who weren’t prospered even though they were righteous. Abinadi comes quickly to mind. Expecting some fairy godmother to appear magically and make everything right with the wave of a wand just isn’t realistic.
Here’s the truth: All the fairy godmothers are dead, assuming they were ever alive. The pain I experienced from turning 30 and 40 with no spouse came from holding onto an unmet unrealistic expectation. Once I let that go and owned my life, which includes accepting responsibility to make my own life plan, much of that pain subsided.
In making my own plan, I aim for eternal blessings. I still strive for gospel standards. But I’ve let go of the time table and my preconceived notions of how life is supposed to be. And it’s made a tremendous difference.
Since that time, I’ve had some better experiences and some even more painful ones. Although I’m still single, I’m a better man now than I once was because of what I’ve learned and what I’ve become.
Recently I’ve encountered the need to get out of town to take some time to myself for some soul searching and serious thinking. And I’m sure to let you know more about it next week after I get back.
For now, I just wanted to leave you with the life lessons I’ve just shared. If you’re getting poor results, it means there’s something wrong with your approach, not with you. And all the fairy godmothers are dead. Don’t wait for some magical event to fix everything. Own your life.
Life is largely what you make of it. If you want your life to change, then first you must change. Let go of whatever life plan was handed to you and make your own plan to reach eternal blessings in the way the Lord reveals is best for you. Doing that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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