The following article is an opinion piece written by Kevin Brown, editor-in-chief of the Ke Alaka'i.
In a church system designed to match up singles in every aspect of their church experience through YSA wards and activities, many members of the church find only despair and shortcomings during their dating process.
They are reminded of their marital status during sacrament meeting talks, in Sunday School lessons, during Relief Society and in meetings with their ecclesiastical leaders. However, the hardest hits may be taken from outside the walls of meetinghouses during holidays, weekends and during weddings of their friends and siblings.
In the back of their heads, they feel their time is ticking closer to possibly not finding their eternal companion, and closer to having their choices narrowed by having to attend older single branches.
It’s of epidemic concern within members of our church body. The pressure to get married is so intense that singles within the church suffer from heartache and depression as their journey to find love takes longer than those around them. They desire for families of their own, but haven’t found the “one.”
Out of reasons beyond their control, singles are also talked about by other members of the church as they mingle amongst themselves: “Why isn’t he or she married yet? What is wrong with them that would keep them from getting a spouse?” This type of ridicule is synonymous of when a priesthood holder of age doesn’t serve a mission or comes home early from his service.
During a commencement ceremony I attended at BYU-Idaho in 2015, instead of expounding on the academic success of the graduates, the conductor began speaking of statistical information on the number of graduating students that were able to get married, and those who were not able to get married.
For many of those graduates, including my sister, they were once again notified of their singleness. They were reminded yet again they live single in a church pushing marriage and children to the greatest extent.
For members of the church who have followed a normal Mormon trajectory by getting married in the temple and then divorced, the emotions they feel are probably ones of regression.
Single members are very aware of God’s plan. They spend countless hours reviewing scriptures, conference talks and their patriarchal blessings. They know the decree the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles announced in 1995: “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”
This proclamation states, “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”
The brethren of the church, inspired by Heavenly Father, tell us here that happiness is founded upon faith, love, and work. However, there are things in life that drag us away from that vision.
A major drive of unhappiness and loss of confidence in our lives appears to come from the large social media presence of the new generation, according to psychcologytoday.com, especially when couples post photos of themselves.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, then serving as a counselor in the First Presidency, said in his October 2011 General Conference discourse, “We spend so much time and energy comparing ourselves to others- usually comparing our weakness to their strengths. This drives us to create expectations for ourselves that are impossible to meet.
“As a result, we never celebrate our good efforts because they seem to be less than what someone else does.” For this reason, social media can have a negative effect on your ability to find a soulmate.
In this same conference address, Elder Uchtdorf spoke of a woman who all of her life had desired to find the “golden ticket” of what she thought happiness would be. He said the ticket for her was marriage.
“It was the one thing in all the world for which she most desperately yearned. But it never happened. And, as the years went on, she became more and more withdrawn, bitter, and even angry. She could not understand why God would not grant her this righteous desire,” he said.
Like many of God’s children in the same situation, Elder Uchtdorf said we fall short of noticing all the “sweetness of the everyday moments” around us. He said, “The lesson here is that if we spend our days waiting for fabulous roses, we could miss the beauty and wonder of the tiny forget-me-nots that are all around us.”
The current void in happiness provided by a soulmate can be replaced by personal passion. Find a love for a favorite hobby where you can find satisfaction in the progress of skills obtained, or a love of creating memories to be cherished forever with friends and family members through wholesome activities or travel experiences.
Find a love for enjoying God’s wonderful creations and relish in the fact that you get to be a part of it. Remember that you are one of his wonderful creations. You are known personally by Heavenly Father, and your life is unique among his billions of children. Your path in life is also unique.
Most importantly, what happens in life, or doesn’t happen in life, always comes with a purpose. Heavenly Father has given us complete control of our happiness, no matter what our circumstances.
He is beyond mindful of our desires and struggles in life, and we, at the least, must have trust in Him to get us to where we are destined to be. In that process, we must however learn to be happy with where we are at. Everything is by design, created by the divine.