THERE IS LOVE -- THE WEDDING SONG
In 1969, "Paul" (Noel Paul Stookey) of the singing trio "Peter, Paul, and Mary" wrote a song for Peter's wedding. Peter asked him to bring some "inspiration" to the ceremony. Noel prayed to God about it and the words came to him immediately. He wrote them down as the Spirit dictated and then translated them into third person so it wouldn't sound like he was personally claiming to be the Second Coming. (There is a version of him on YouTube singing it in God's original words, with him explaining.)
Noel has never felt right about receiving royalties for this particular song because he believes that God is the author and not him. It was a huge hit, so he created a charitable organization to spend the royalties.
The words of this song are profound. "He" refers to God:
He is now to be among you
At the calling of your hearts
Rest assured this troubadour
Is acting on His part.
The union of your spirits, here,
Has caused Him to remain
For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name
There is Love, there is Love.
A man shall leave his mother
And a woman leave her home
And they shall travel on
to where the two shall be as one.
As it was in the beginning
Is now and til the end
Woman draws her life from man
And gives it back again.
And there is Love, there is Love.
Well then what's to be the reason
For becoming man and wife?
Is it love that brings you here
Or love that brings you life?
And if loving is the answer,
Then who's the giving for?
Do you believe in something
That you've never seen before?
Oh there is Love, there is Love.
Oh the marriage of your spirits here
Has caused Him to remain
For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name
There is Love, there is Love.
Is there a better way to describe a wedding and, indeed, a marriage than "the calling of your hearts"? It is "calling" all in attendance to join in this sacred moment when love is celebrated. It is "calling" the two at the altar to become one. In fact the song continues, "they shall travel on to where the two shall be as one." There is a lot of scriptural imagery in this song. In this sacred moment, God is promising, "I am now to be among you." And the "union of your spirits here has caused Me to remain." The imagery of a union of spirits has a hint of eternity doesn't it? And he says that whenever two or more are gathered in His name, there He will be also. One of the reasons we get married is that God has promised to be with us whenever two or more are gathered in His name. What are these times? Family prayer, the dinner table, the marital bed and countless others.
There is more I could say about the lyrics of "There is Love." I'll let you discover them for yourself. The message that this song leaves me with is that the love of a man and woman is holy. It is sanctified in marriage, and has the potential to exalt us to a higher plane of existence. Do most marriages live up to this? No. Most involve a pretty large quantity of bickering and dissatisfaction. So how can we live up to our privileges? With intention. Instead of just letting life happen, decide together what marriage is, and intentionally try to behave differently. When we have something special, we treat it differently. We separate the holy from the common and treat holy things with more care. Your spouse is not just someone to provide money, a home, or help you with tasks. As meaningful as those things can be for each other, your spouse is more than that. He or she is your king or queen -- and the person with whom you will explore all the heights and depths of eternity.
To mid-singles, I suggest pondering deeply about the presence of God in marriage -- the union of your spirits as well as your bodies, and becoming one with each other and with the Creator. The rest of the world may not see anything special about either a wedding or a marriage. I encourage you to see the deeply profound purpose and meaning in it -- and look forward with joyful anticipation. Thinking of it this way will lead you to better choices.
You were young once and longed for this joy. You believed in it and believed you were meant for it. As the song says:
Well then what's to be the reason
For becoming man and wife?
Is it love that brings you here
Or love that brings you life?
Love is what brings us to a wedding, and physical love is what gives life to children. In a larger sense, love IS the life force in the universe. The opportunity to create that transcendent experience with one special person is bigger and more majestic than anything in the way.
Think on it, and dream on!
THOUGHTS ON DATING (Written by Jeff as a Mid-Single in 2013):
Dating is far easier in my 40s than it was in my 20s. (If you married in your 20s and have remained married, chances are that you are scratching your head.) I am far more comfortable in my own skin now. I long ago abandoned the need to save face or to alter who I am to please someone else. I no longer need the validation of being liked back by everyone that I like. I no longer care what anyone else thinks of the women I date or, ultimately, who I choose to marry. They will not have to live with the decision--at least not every day as I will. If I choose to love you, it is because I truly feel that way, and not because a committee of people I have the need to please has approved you. It is liberating to love for my own reasons and on my own terms. Having said all of this, though, I hasten to add that 20 more years does not make it any less painful to get my heart broken when a relationship ends. I approach relationships at this stage of life with much more confidence and less fear. But I am just as capable of getting hurt as ever. I think that means that I am still alive, still human, and still capable of deep love.
CLEANING TOILETS ON FATHER'S DAY
Sunday morning, Cathy
remarked that the toilets were looking bad. Without even thinking, I said, "I'll clean them after Church."
Later in the afternoon, as I was actually cleaning the toilets, I started feeling a little resentful and thinking thoughts like, "Why am I cleaning toilets on Father's Day? Isn't it the Sabbath too? How can I keep it holy when I'm focusing on dirty toilets?" I also thought, a little cynically, "Yep, this is fitting for Father's Day. I get to do the do the dirty work that no one else wants to. That's what being a dad is."
Of course, I realized after a short pity party that these were just thoughts--and these thoughts were not serving me very well. What are the plain facts of the situation? (1) It was Sunday, (2) it was Father's Day, (3) I cleaned the toilets, (3) Cathy didn't ask me to clean them--I offered, and (4) I could have refused to do it or offered to do it Monday. Those are the facts.
The stories are what cause us pain. What stories was I telling myself? (1) Dads are not appreciated, (2) I am entitled to be self-indulgent on Father's Day, (3) If my wife and kids cared about me, I wouldn't have been forced to clean the toilets on Father's Day, and (4) I was breaking the Sabbath and my family was to blame for it.
As I realized that I was telling myself stories, I decided to choose different thoughts. (1) Father's Day didn't work out on Sunday this year because my two sons are grown and out of town, Cathy's string quartet had a gig, and my step-kids were with their dad. (2) We celebrated Father's Day Saturday evening by going out for Mexican food with the kids. (3) No one intended to hurt or disrespect me.
As it happens, while Cathy was playing her gig, both of my grown sons called me to say Happy Father's Day. The younger of them, who used to rarely call me at all, calls me almost every day now. My older son also made a post on Facebook saying that he loved me. My step kids are constantly telling me they love me. I chose to focus on the love of my children, rather than my prior interpretation of my own decision to clean toilets. I decided to cook Cathy dinner so she would have a hot meal when she returned home after playing her gig.
After Cathy returned home and we had dinner, we went for a walk. I shared my experience with her, and how I had shifted my thoughts to things that created gratitude, rather than to the self-indulgent and painful thoughts that arose from trauma. By shifting my thoughts, I shifted my mood. Even though I was no longer feeling sorry for myself, Cathy was sympathetic to my former feelings. She put her arm around me and said she was sorry it was such a busy weekend and that she had a gig scheduled on Father's day. She also said she would not have felt good about asking me to clean the toilets, but was grateful that I offered to do it.
We spent a very pleasant evening together, I called my dad and wished him Happy Father's Day, Cathy gave me a couple of little Father's Day gifts before we went to bed, and I went to bed feeling like a blessed man.
I have thought a lot over the past few months that most people are not naturally very good at relationships. We tend to be self-interested and self-indulgent, and we are looking to our partners to validate us in various ways. The truth is, that is not their job. We validate ourselves by showing up in relationships in the way we intentionally choose to, and by cultivating a relationship with God and understanding that we are His children. Most of us uncritically accept the self-defeating and invalidating thoughts that come into our minds, helplessly blame our partners for them, and feel miserable and short changed in our relationships.
If I had pouted and continued to think painful thoughts about what my cleaning toilets on Father's Day "meant," it could have created conflict with Cathy and ill feelings in me. I could have chosen to feel unhappy and let everyone around me know I was unhappy just to make a point. And you know what? That is what most people do. They believe all of the cognitive distortions that come into their minds, which generates hostility and pain regarding their relationships.
What I needed was not to make a point, or for anyone else to feel bad. What I needed was to love and be loved. When I realized that and chose that path, I created that experience and Cathy cooperated. And when I shared my experience, I received empathy and felt validated in my former feelings, even though I no longer felt I needed it. I felt like Cathy cared about me.
There is tremendous power in choosing which of our thoughts to accept into our consciousness, and which to discard. This is the essence of what Father Lehi meant when he said that people are "free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon." (2 Nephi 2:26.) We are often acted upon by our thoughts. We cannot help the fact that certain thoughts come to us or certain events trigger us. But we can help what we do with those thoughts. Do we allow painful thoughts and interpretations to linger? Do we waste our effort trying to get someone else to be different from how they are so that we can be happy?
To act instead of being acted upon means to live with intention. It means governing our relationships with intention rather than emotion. It means choosing the emotions we want to experience, rather than letting the panic of our brains dictate them. We are free to choose for ourselves. But if we don't know we can do this, it's easy to walk through life defensively worrying about the things other people say and do and being miserable about it.
This is an important topic because many of us in this group have failed marriages and other relationships in our history. If we are to learn from them and do better next time, it is imperative that we understand the power of our thoughts to create the experiences we want. This applies just as much in dating and friendships as it does during marriage. Think on it.
TALKING TO KIDS ABOUT SEX
In a recent lesson from "Come Follow Me," we discussed "lust" and its potentially damaging influence, particularly with regard to pornography. We also talked about how sex between a married couple who love each other is a beautiful thing. We encouraged my two stepsons to come to us if they had questions about sex, rather than going to friends who probably don't really know anything or to pornography, which does not give an accurate picture.
Well, this morning, my 11 year-old stepson came to me and asked, "have you guys ever had sex?" I said, "me and your mom?" He replied, "yeah." I said, "yes, we have it often, usually about two or three times a week." He asked, "Is it only when we aren't here?" (They are at their dad's half of the time.) I replied, "We keep it private, but it is sometimes when you guys are here."
I tried not to chuckle at these sincere questions. But I am glad he came to me instead of asking school friends or finding heaven knows what on the internet.
The truth is, I WANT him to know that his mom and I have a sexual relationship and that we enjoy our sexual relationship. I want him to know that his mom is a whole person and not just a provider of services for him. I want him to know that Barney Stinson and Jerry Seinfeld are not having all the fun. He doesn't need to know the details of our sex life course. We wouldn't expose him to that in any way. He wouldn't be allowed to ask every day whether something happened the night before. Those details are more private. But I don't want the kids growing up thinking there is something shameful about lovemaking between married people who love each other deeply or believing that this is a dangerous or evil part of their natures. I want them to understand that sex is a bonding experience and an important and even a sacred sacrament of the marital relationship.
Friends, especially you who are single parents, you have a sacred responsibility to teach this subject. Many of us, in an effort to discourage our kids from getting involved in sex too early, unwittingly teach them that it is dangerous and evil, and it causes problems in a lot of marriages later on because people are taught to think of it as carnal, sensual, and devilish. Compared to that point of view, Jerry Seinfeld's TV personality seems to be a lot more fun. Single parents who are trying to live the law of chastity are limited in how much they can model the fruits of a satisfying and exclusive sexual relationship. However, you can teach and be an example of someone who keeps the law of chastity, while longing for that kind of love that you can only give and receive in marriage.
There are literally millions of voices talking about sex to our kids everyday. They are exposed to a variety of different beliefs and ideas from casual sex on TV sitcoms to violent pornography. The exposure of latter-day Saint children to pornography before the age of 18, is 100%. So they need a perspective from you that is uplifting and grounded in creating a future marriage that is united and loving. They need to know that dating and sex is not a competitive sport. It is a way of expressing feelings so powerful that words are not enough. It is also an important way of smoothing out some of the rough spots in marriage. Our children are not going to get these positive messages from the world. They are not going to get them on the Internet, on television, or in movies. If they are to get them, it has to come from you. Please, let it come from you.
Friday morning I woke up with severe conjunctivitis in both eyes. My eyes were so light sensitive that I could not look at my computer screen or phone without searing pain. I took some Benadryl and got a prescription for antibiotic eye drops. Thankfully, by afternoon I was much better . We had tickets to see Les Misérables. Thankfully, I was able to see and the pain was much reduced by the time we left for the show.
This little incident got me thinking. I am just amazed by how much a less than 1% change in my body chemistry could literally incapacitate me and throw off my equilibrium so badly. While my eyes were impaired, I could not practice law. I could not drive my car. I could not watch television. I could not post in this group. I could not see my beautiful wife's face. Thankfully, it was a very temporary kind of impairment. However, I know there are many people who live every day with more serious pain and impairments. I am thankful that I am generally pretty healthy. My little episode with severe conjunctivitis helped me to realize how grateful I am that I have not, thus far, had any severe and permanent kinds of health problems.
The point I want to make with this post is about how much we take for granted. Many mid-singles feel deep disappointment because of how their lives have "turned out." I was one of those for several years -- until I realized that I was still alive and my life had not "turned out" yet. I started to see my single status for the opportunities it presented instead of the challenges. Thankfully, I had skills I could use to start a business, and I had the health to enable me to do the work. I still looked pretty young for my age and I enjoy meeting people, so dating was relatively easy for me. These are all blessings that many people too often take for granted.
One of the most important lessons my mid-single years taught me is that we can enjoy anything only to the extent that we are grateful for it. Otherwise, we are blind to the joy (maybe that's a useful pun, given how I started this post). The time this really dawned on me was when I was living in Texas. I had figured out how to make a decent living doing title work for oil companies. For the first time in several years, I had money enough to pay my bills and treat a lady to dinner once in awhile. I bought a nicer and more reliable car, which I enjoyed driving every minute. I was visiting a lot of interesting places. My oldest son was living with me and preparing to go on a mission. I loved having him around. I was finding plenty of good dating opportunities, albeit long distance. I was learning to see how happy my life could be when I just appreciated each little element of it. It all added up to feeling joy. And joy begat more joy. I got a lot more enthusiastic about my life and all of its possibilities. It was infectious and the people around me started being more positive too. I attracted enthusiastic people who brought opportunities into my life.
The last year I spent in Texas, I had a corporate job. There was a downturn in the oil business and I got laid off -- with my son on his mission. I found some $25 an hour briefing work for a law firm in Washington. It wasn't really enough, but I kept doing it until I had enough other business to quit. In the meantime, I returned to Utah and hung out a shingle again. I had the emotional and spiritual strength and enthusiasm to build a business -- unlike the time I tried doing that after my divorce from my kid's mom. At that time I was emotionally depleted and bereft of energy.
I want you to know that genuine gratitude is empowering. It allows you to truly enjoy the good things in your life and build on them. I also believe it is a good habit. It is a good habit when you are driving your car to think about how grateful you are for such a wonderful and reliable machine that takes you where you want to go in comfort. Over the last week, I have been newly thankful for the proper functioning of my eyes, even though I need glasses to read very much. I am hugely thankful for those glasses that make it possible for me to earn a living and live my life with more joy.
My life has not been all peaches and cream. I have been divorced twice and lost a little brother to cancer when he was only 17. I have had dengue fever and spinal meningitis. I spent several years in depression after my first divorce, partly because I didn't know the things I know today about alleviating it. Notwithstanding these and many more challenges, I have a great life. Without these challenges, I wouldn't have Cathy
. I wouldn't have my two step kids. I wouldn't have the business I have today, or the knowledge to create one. Love in Later Years would not exist. All In all, I think I have a beautiful life.
In my first marriage, I didn't truly understand the power of gratitude. I did what everyone else was doing in their 20s. I got married. We had a couple of kids. It didn't seem special. It seemed just normal. After I got divorced, I remember laying in bed at night feeling lonely sometimes, and thinking about how I had always taken it for granted when I cuddled with my former wife. With Cathy, I don't take that for granted. I realize how wonderful it is to go to bed with my loved one every night and feel her warmth next to me. I will never take that for granted again. During my mid-single years, every time I took my kids to the airport for a custody exchange I cried on the way home. They are both grown now. But I never take for granted the conversations we have. Every time one of them calls or messages me I feel blessed. I love the people they have become and I am grateful to have an adult relationship with them now. I don't take for granted the moments we get with my step kids, because I know how fleeting childhood is and how precious.
If I had to lose my first marriage and go through a lot of emotional pain to understand and appreciate the joy of loving and being loved, it was worth every moment of suffering.
To our mid-single friends, don't take years to learn this lesson like I did. Learn from my mistakes. Love and appreciate all that you have been given and your life will be abundant. That's the secret folks.
PS from Cathy: Les Misérables was such a great production, I'm so happy we were able to enjoy it together after some much needed self-care and medical intervention. I'm amazed at the body's ability to recover so quickly. It's not always that way so I feel very blessed to have experienced this event with Jeff despite the unexpected last minute obstacle. Jeff Teichert
, I'm glad we are intentionally grateful people, it makes life so much better! Such a great LILY Gem you wrote today. Love it and love you!
When I graduated from law school, my first job was as a law clerk for the Chief Justice of American Samoa. In some ways it was the best job I ever had. I'll never forget the first morning I woke up there after arriving in the night. I walked outside and saw paradise. It was so beautiful I almost couldn't believe it. I learned a lot by living in that culture for two years -- both professionally and in life. My Samoan name is Siafa.
Friends told me that the veil is thinner in Polynesia, and I even sensed this among many Polynesians on my mission in Australia. People told my former wife and me that the Island of Ofu was "haunted." They told us a story about some other palagis (white people) who were snorkeling during Sa (evening prayer hour) and drowned. We did feel the presence of spirits on Ofu, but they seemed kind and welcoming. We didn't snorkel during Sa though.
"Sa" means "sacred." Every evening in Samoa all the church bells ring at about 6:30 p.m. to gather everyone in the village for prayer. It is an important and sacred ritual that they observe. If you are driving and the bells ring, you pull over. If you are in a store, you wait until Sa is over to leave. You show respect and avoid interrupting prayer time. It is a quiet time in the islands. I have profound respect for this ritual. I don't know if it would be possible to get everyone in a town or even in a neighborhood here in America to pray together at one time every single day. But I think having a personal and family prayer ritual when the world stops and we talk with God is a beautiful idea -- particularly in the lives of mid-singles, which can get so easily taken over by the duties of single parenting, while simultaneously bringing loneliness for adult company.
"Sa" is also part of the word Samoa. "Moa" means "center." Some say that Samoa is the sacred center of Polynesia. I think of the sacred center as existing within us. The sacred center is a heart at peace with itself.
Probably the most profound thing I learned from the fa'asamoa ("the Samoan way") is commitment to family -- and Samoans have big extended family organizations called "aigas." When you drive through a Samoan village at night and see 20 kids playing volleyball together or swimming in the ocean, you can bet they are all cousins. The village is not just a collection of random people. They live together because they are all related. Sometimes a child will become bonded to an uncle or aunt or grandparent or some other family member, and end up being raised mostly by that person. They call that a Samoan adoption. It is informal. The natural parents don't object to it, because the child is right there in the village and they can see him or her everyday if they want to. I knew a middle-aged woman who had never married who had a "daughter" who was essentially a niece who had just become very close to her, and she was basically raising her. But in a large sense the village was raising her all together.
For single parents especially, we need a village too. We need our church families, our extended families, and our mid-singles community.
Because of the way families are organized in Samoa, nursing homes are virtually non-existent. In fact, people there believe it is shameful to leave the elderly alone to die without their families around. In Samoa, the elderly are the most respected people, and their wisdom is sought after. I think America could learn a lot from that.
Special lifecycle events called "fa'alavelaves," such as weddings and funerals, are highly celebrated in Polynesia. It is not uncommon for Polynesians to cross oceans for the wedding of a second cousin. It's not something we relate well to in America. I hope your wedding feels like a celebration of life for your whole family, rather than just a legal formality.
The hallmark of their culture is to love and be loved. I have often found that the most commonly selected hymns in a particular ward often tell you a lot about the culture. In Cokeville, Wyoming, the ranching town where my dad grew up, they commonly pick hymns about hard work like "Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel" or "wake up and do something more than dream of your mansions above." In Samoa, the hymn people always wanted to sing was "Love at Home." Tells you something doesn't it?
Another thing I learned from Polynesia is how to relax. (I could actually use a couple of months in Polynesia now to help me relearn that lesson.) Polynesians don't live to work. They work to live. Everyone on the island from the governor on down is off work by 4:00 p.m. and they spend long evenings together with their families. They have a special way of roasting pig called an "umu" which gives it a delicious smoky taste and makes it really tender. It takes several hours to roast that way -- providing people with a long conversation while the food is cooking. Big family dinners are always a celebration, and they prepare enough so everyone has a huge plate of leftovers to take home. Julia and I went to a wedding once where we literally lived on the leftovers for a week.
Sometimes we Americans are just busy being busy -- and we forget that life should be about joy and feeling good inside. Polynesia can help you to gain real perspective on that. Very few people there are lonely because everyone is surrounded by lots of family and loved ones.
One final thought about polynesians is that they hate to hurt anyone's feelings. They don't generally come to the point very readily. We Americans are often pretty blunt. Samoans take their time in communication and often talk around and around something rather than coming directly to the point -- because they want to be understood without shaming or contradicting the other person. They believe every person is important and a gift from God.
The local matai and village council system in Samoa operates on the principle of consensus, kind of like the Quorum of the 12 Apostles. On any major change, they continue talking until all objections are resolved or at least withdrawn. It takes a long time for them to make decisions, but when they do, the decisions always command popular support because everyone had their say and no one was left behind. What if we could run our marriages that way? What if we decided that having our own way at the other person's expense was not acceptable, and that we wouldn't move forward with a decision or end a discussion until both people were satisfied with the outcome? What if our spouses knew we would not be satisfied with the result until they were? It is more time consuming and it requires more discussion, but it is also an important way for both spouses to feel valued and to have a life they are satisfied with. Perhaps we can use more intention in both dating relationships and in marriage to use the principle of consensus in making decisions.
I don't know how many of you have experience with Polynesian culture, or how well you relate to this essay, but I hope it provided a little insight and perspective that will help in your life.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife of 27 years, Melinda Gates, recently announced their divorce. This has shocked the world because the Gates seemed like the epitome of a best-friends marriage, united by three children and their joint leadership of the world's largest charitable foundation.
We don’t claim to know anything about the Gates’ divorce. We are, however, increasingly aware of a crisis point many couples reach after about 25 years of marriage when the kids are raised, careers may be winding down, and couples may look at each other and say, "Who are you?" Life can become all about the kids, the bills, the business, and other things. Couples drift apart. This phenomenon is known as the “Gray Divorce.”
Money can help take some of the worry out of life. But if the richest couple in the world is divorcing, there has to be more to making marriage work than having enough money. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Prioritize the marital relationship above all other relationships. Intentionally turn toward your partner.
2. Stay friends. With all of the busyness of life, don't forget to keep playing. If you run a business together, as the Gates did (and we don't know their circumstances), that might give you more opportunities to interact. But none of us wants everything to be about the bottom line.
3. Take time for personal development. New discoveries and growth as a person better enable you to handle the difficulties that come along, and keep things interesting for your partner. Being intelligent and educated doesn't guarantee marital bliss. However, a lifetime of commitment to personal growth and human relationships can positively impact your companionship.
4. Be intentional about maintaining passion and sexual connection. We want to love and be loved passionately and freely. Once novelty and newness have worn off, this area of life requires more purposeful attention. Don't "outgrow" passion or you may outgrow your marriage.
We can never judge another person’s divorce accurately. It is better to offer love and compassion. Sometimes divorce is the most loving choice. We can assume good intent and refuse to judge or pick sides. To learn more about “divorce stories” and how to choose a perspective that best serves you and future relationships, listen to our recent podcast.
LILY Pod Episode 12: Divorce Stories
A SIGN OF GRACE
I took this picture during a lunar eclipse on February 21, 2008 from the balcony of my home in Washington. 2008 was the last year my former wife and I were together.
As I look back on the night that moon appeared, I am reminded of a couple of things. Even when our circumstances are difficult, there is beauty in our world. We can gaze on it in wonder and focus on what we have been given. The things we choose to focus on become bigger in our minds and manifest in our lives. I don't know if that beautiful moon had that meaning for me at the time. I just thought it was cool and was trying to capture it on camera. With the wisdom of another decade of life, I can see that a loving father in Heaven gave me an opportunity to see that He still loved me and was blessing me with the radiant beauty of His creation.
I think this picture also reminds me of the elegant order in our galaxy. No matter what is happening in our lives and relationships, the sun will still come out in the morning and the moon will rise when the sun sets. An eclipse like the one in this picture is predictable and follows the rules given by the creator. All of His creation obeys him (except sometimes His children).
In Section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Prophet Joseph Smith refers to the Moon as female -- as it is referred to in many ancient mythologies such as the Toltec and the Egyptians. Could it be that God had that glorious moon shining down on me that night with a message that he would be sending a beautiful woman into my life at the proper time? There are times and seasons for everything in life, and for some our permanent and loving marriage comes later than for others.
I have a friend who went through a very bad divorce who sometimes cynically refers to life as a "big juicy peach" whenever someone else is trying to be optimistic. But maybe the appearance of this moon during a very difficult time in my life could have reminded me that life is, indeed, a big juicy peach. It is full of blessings and opportunities and joys if we know where to look.
Miraculous events only have the meaning we allow them to have. Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah saw angels and it changed their lives completely. Laman and Lemuel saw angels and pretty soon went back to murmuring and being bitter. Why? Because "they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them." (1 Nephi 2:12.) They missed the point because they did not know (or seek) the divine meaning in the events of their lives. They had totally blinded themselves to it.
When we are weighed down with sorrow, our view can become very myopic. It is hard to see beyond the crisis of the moment, and that crisis grows in proportion to the rest of the world. We can become very narrow-minded without even meaning to. This causes us to focus on suffering and suffer more.
If you are still suffering from the loss of a spouse to death or divorce, consider when might be the time to refocus on the opportunities and blessings that can still be yours in this life, and even in the life to come. I think the scriptural injunction, "seek and ye shall find" profoundly applies to finding the divine meaning in the world around us. So next time you see a sign of grace in the heavens, don't forget to notice and contemplate God's eternal love, and His promises to those that love Him.
11 is a very special number to us. In marriage, it represents the synergy that we intentionally create as a couple because 1+1 is not 2 but 11 (our whole is greater than the sum of it's parts).
11 has shown up a lot in our life as a couple...shortly after setting our wedding date for the 11th (because we love the symbolism of that number), we discovered that we are exactly 11 years and 11 months apart in age. It also worked out that Jeff's oldest son got home from his mission on May 11th (2017) the year before we got married on May 11th (2018) and that same son married his sweetheart on May 11th the following year (2019). My first niece was born on the 11th about a year later (2020). The year married my young boys were 7/11 and now that 7-year-old is 11. When picking up birthday food from the grocery store for his festivities (including these 11 candles), the change was $11.11. 💕 How awesome is that!?!
We see divine design in symbolism and such synchronicities as a sign from heaven that we are loved and being watched over.
This fun photo strip was taken at a photo booth set up at a wedding reception for two mid-single friends a couple of weeks ago. We thought it was a great idea. Each guest got a momento of the event and the couple got a picture of everyone who attended their reception.
It always feels joyful to me when I hear about a mid-single couple being engaged or married. It suggests people having the resilience and courage to try again. It suggests hope in the idea that blessings can come to us later in life than we thought and still be joyful. Even before Cathy and I got married, seeing other mid-singles getting married always renewed my hope.
I know that, for some of you, seeing a wedding announcement from a mid-single couple triggers some pain -- particularly when the wedding involves someone you dated or had hoped to date. I feel for you. I know many of you have despairingly asked the question, "Why not me?"
I want to suggest that you ask the question rhetorically and hopefully, "Why not me?" as in "Why not?" Because one day it could be you. One day it will be.
You might have tried over and over and feel like it never works. My friends, it never works until it does. It really only works once right? Then you stop trying with new people. It only HAS to work once! So, if a loving marriage is the desire of your heart, don't give up.
I want to suggest a few important ideas on this subject that I hope might make your search happier:
I give this advice with a little caution. I am not suggesting it because I am assuming there is something wrong with you that needs fixing before you can get married. You are worth marrying right now, just the way you are.
Suggesting personal development will bring more joy into your life independent of getting married, as well as prepare you for marriage. I also believe it will make you a more attractive dating partner. Quality people are drawn to others who are thinking deeply about their purposes and seeking greater joy and fulfillment.
There are so many great resources today! You can listen to the free "gospel library" app reading the scriptures to you while you drive or take a bath. Our LILY Pod podcast is available on the major platforms. Give us a listen and see if it gives you hope and good ideas for your life. It's a resource created for mid-singles and it's FREE with new content being added every week!
You don't need to make your first date in 5 years a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. Meet her for a Jamba Juice and see how it goes. And strive to date consistently -- not in flashes. You may need to "try on" a lot of people before you find one that fits you. If you make finding new people to date and regularly dating a part of your life, it won't be very long before you find someone you want to date exclusively and consider marrying. Remember, I am suggesting that dating consistently is a part of your life -- not that it take over your life.
3. Enjoy Your Life Otherwise
Two happy people rarely get together and have a lousy time. If you are a happy person, chances are good that you will be happily married. If you are unhappy and waiting for someone to come along and ease your burdens and otherwise make you happy, you are going to have a harder time getting married and a lower chance of being happily married. Do your best to figure out your life and be happy where you are.
There is a lot more I could say. (Actually, I did. Cathy and I have a 350 page book coming out this fall, so stay tuned!) But I think these few ideas can help. Remember, above all, that happiness is the object and design of our existence, and remain hopeful. Let every wedding of a mid-single couple renew that hope.