WHY NOT ME?
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:
1. Personal Development
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!
2. Consistency is King
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.
May be an image of 6 people, including Cathy Butler Teichert, people standing and indoor
THOUGHTS ABOUT THOUGHTS -- AND MID-SINGLES
What causes you the most pain? When I was 26 years old, I lost my little brother to cancer. The loss I felt was deeply painful. He was only 17. There was some feeling that "it wasn't meant to be this way" because he was so young. But, mainly, it was honestly just feeling the pain of his loss. I also had the thought that some of the light had gone out in my life and that life would never be quite so sunny or hopeful again.
The pain of losing my brother was, in some sense, inevitable. I could, perhaps, choose thoughts that made it go away. But, in a larger sense, I would not have wanted it to go away too soon. As President Nelson said, "The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life." Who wants to do that? So, we can choose pain when it serves us. I think it serves us to grieve after the death of a loved one. However, the thoughts that I would never feel so sunny or hopeful again did not serve me. Any sense that he was "too young to die" was a judgment about how something went wrong, the cosmos was out of balance, and I was suffering because if it.
Mid-single Latter-day Saints almost universally suffer from deep disappointment over how things turned out for them. During, and for years after, my divorce from my first wife, I was plagued by thoughts that:
It wasn't supposed to be this way.
We were married for time and all eternity, not to separate when things get tough.
I didn't get married to get divorced.
We made Covenants in the house of the Lord before God, angels, and witnesses.
We have two children who are deeply hurt by this.
Whatever benefit this is giving us is not worth the price.
It is not right for me to be deprived of my children as much as I am.
I should not have to pay money to support someone else's unrighteous decisions.
God does not approve of divorce.
Taken together, in some sense, these thoughts all add up to the idea that, "it wasn't supposed to be this way." And that judgment, in all of its forms, will keep us in pain as long as we carry it. It is one thing to feel the pain of loss when your marriage ends. It is quite another to burden those thoughts further with a lot of judgments about things you cannot control. I hope this gives another level of meaning to the truth that, "with what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged." (Matthew 7:2.) This is certainly the truth. Our judgments of our own situation -- about how something is out of place or wrong -- are guaranteed to keep us in pain far longer than if we just allowed ourselves to experience the authentic pain of loss, unladen with the idea that it was supposed to be some other way.
Let's try on a few other thoughts and see how they feel:
Things are as they were supposed to be.
Wherever I am now is perfect for me.
My situation is the starting point for a happier life.
God has a plan for me and does nothing that is not an act of love.
God allowed me to experience this loss to make room for more love in my life.
No other person can permanently deprive me of my joy or of my exaltation.
I love my children and will continue to love them even more actively when they are in pain.
It is a privilege to support and care for my children in whatever ways I can.
God's love is in, around, and through me. There is an endless supply of it available to me whenever I need it.
Can you see how this list of thoughts is elevating, where the former list is heavy and overwhelming? Both lists are thoughts about the same situation, but they are different interpretations. Consider what the Prophet Joseph Smith taught:
”[T]ruth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning." (D&C 93:24-25.)
Truth is what IS, not what we think should be. It is not the judgments we make about what might be superior or preferable. How we think about our circumstances will determine whether we are happy or miserable. Joseph further taught:
"Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light." (D&C 93:31.)
How do we receive any truth? It is through our "agency." We may have physical ordinances like baptism, but they mean nothing if they do not reflect an exercise of "agency," where we receive that truth in our thoughts. Think of that metaphor of light and darkness. "That which is of God is light." (D&C 50:24.) Moses saw the difference between the glory of God and the glory of Satan, and told Satan that his glory "is darkness unto me." (Moses 1:15.)
Light represents thoughts that are elevating. It represents illumination and clarity. It represents hope and vision. What does darkness represent? It represents chaos, confusion, a lack of vision, and being unable to see our way home. It represents fear of whatever danger might be lurking out there that we can't see. Darkness is heavy. Any work performed in darkness requires more effort because we can't see what we are doing.
My plea to you is not to think your way out of all pain. Pain is part of the human experience and sometimes gives meaning to the love we feel. The point is really to keep it in its proper place. Make it authentic pain, and not the result of the judgments we make about something being wrong or out of place. Pain with all sorts of judgments hanging on it will last longer and hurt more deeply and get us stuck and unable to move forward. So my plea is to embrace the light with your thoughts. We have all kinds of thoughts. Not all of them reflect light and truth. Many of them are laden with judgment. Choose to keep the thoughts that are elevating and invite more love into your life and into your heart. That is the way of happiness.

Learning and Growth

Sometimes painful things can teach us lessons that we didn’t think we needed to know.

Most mid-singles are familiar with learning through pain. A deep sense of compassion, skillful self-reliance, and the ability to turn wounds into wisdom can develop, perhaps in no other way than through the loss of a significant relationship.

Yet learning can also come through experience with success rather than painful loss. We can look forward to this kind of learning too. Building a foundation of mutual trust, healthy interdependence, and the ability to turn wisdom into a loving partnership can develop, perhaps in no other way than through the gain of a forever companionship. 💕

Life provides a variety of opportunities to learn, not just from loss but also from accomplishment and victory. It is all for our growth as divine sons and daughters of a loving God.

 

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