I asked my sweet friend, Aumberly, if she knew of or had encountered anyone who would be willing to write for this new series through her @trekthruconference Instagram account. She told me about her dear mission companion, Jessica, who she thought would be willing to write about being single. I am always so relieved when these kind souls say yes because sometimes I feel a little awkward asking them to write about something that may be hard or that you don’t want to be known for (i.e. the girl who got divorced, or came home early from her mission, or is “still” single). But Jessica’s story opened my eyes and touched my heart. I hope it will do the same for others.
Jessica’s nieces and nephew call her Jessie, her siblings call her KaKa, and her cousin calls her Jessa. She loves the Lawrence Welk show, wishes life were a musical, and believes that blowing bubbles makes any day better. She has a box of kinetic sand on her desk at work, is an audiobook junkie and road trip enthusiast, and she could eat avocados for every meal! She grew up in Utah/Florida/Idaho, graduated from Utah State University, served in the Arizona Mesa Mission and Temple Visitors’ Center, and just started her Masters.
Once, while introducing our family at a family reunion, my mother said of me: “This is Jessica, she’s still single.” And that is exactly why I was asked to write this post- yup, I’m still single. Please don’t ask me, “Why aren’t you married?!” I have no idea how to begin to answer that. But, I am working on it and I do say yes to all blind dates. My philosophy: it will either be a good date or a good story. I have a few too many in the “good story” column and not enough in the “good date” column.
My life certainly hasn’t turned out the way I planned.
Welcome to the club, right? Whose life has gone as planned?
Mortality, it’s a blast.
And sometimes it hurts.
All I have ever wanted to be when I “grew up” is a wife and mom. No hesitation. None. Ever. It’s still what I want to be when I grow up. (30 isn’t grown up yet, right?!)
In choosing a major in college I felt prompted to choose something that would give me a way to strengthen home and family (My view: I was never going to make it through college single, and was going to be a stay-at-home mom, btw. I never really wanted a career outside of the home.). Looking back, I can see the Lord guiding me to something that would help fill a piece of that aching hole in my heart to be a wife and a mother that would go unfulfilled for a time. After 4 years of working in Early Intervention and getting to spend time in peoples’ homes with their families (which I loved), I felt the need to do something new. Towards the end of my mission, I had been invited to take the preservice class for seminary teachers when I got home. It hadn’t been the right thing at the time I got home, but I ended up taking it later, student teaching, and somehow getting hired. I knew it was something I wanted to do when I couldn’t get a line from the objective statement out of my head, or my heart: “Our efforts assist parents in their responsibility to strengthen their families.”
While having this purpose in my career has helped, it doesn’t fill the entire hole. I cry. I weep. I sit in the bottom of a dark shower in the fetal position. And I spend some good time on my knees communing with Heaven. I also laugh, and love, and have adventures. I grow. I change. I get to take naps whenever I want and spend my money how I want. I learn to rely on my Savior. And really, that’s what mortality is all about.
I remember Elder Bednar talking about advice given by President Eyring to college students whose lives weren’t going as planned- single, divorced, infertility, etc. He said something along the lines of “I don’t know all the answers. But, I do know that whatever happens to us in mortality is calculated to prepare us to live in families for eternity.” While, yes I already knew that, the way he said it hit my heart. That has been a game changer for me. I’ve had to cling to that eternal and beautiful truth in my some of my single’s life experiences. I’ll share a few of those with you.
- My first year of teaching seminary I struggled with frequent and intense migraines. I had always had migraines growing up, but this was something new! And something terrible. I missed so much work and was so stressed about missing work. All of the time in my darkroom, by myself, feeling like a failure at life, left me in a not-so-good place emotionally and mentally. My roommates were awesome gals. But they had their own lives to live. Not living near family, meant that I had little support. No one was really there to help me out, pick up my slack, or make sure I was ok. I wasn’t able to function well- I wasn’t eating well if at all, my room was a disaster area, and I had no social life. It was me, a Dr. Pepper, and my darkroom for far too much time. I remember thinking frequently that being single and on my own was making this trial a lot harder. How was I going to do this on my own? This was not how my life was supposed to be. I wasn’t (and no one is) meant to be alone- it’s taught in the first couple of chapters in the Bible. It’s pretty basic, come on.
- As an “older” single, I’ve gleefully watched so many friends fall in love, get married, start families. As happy as I am for them, I’ll admit it’s hard being left behind. You make a great friend, only to have them move on- whether because of marriage, school or a job. And even though some still keep in touch and you see them occasionally, it just isn’t the same. This means though, that about every 6 months or so, you’re back to square one with meeting and making new friends. It’s exhausting! It’s terrifying having to be so vulnerable so often, with little to show. I’ve told my sister more than once, “I’m tired of making new friends.” There can be little stability in the single life.
- Because of some things that happened on my mission, I’ve struggled with PTSD and Anxiety. This, like my migraines, has been a difficult thing to do on my own. As a single person, it has been difficult to build a support system, a safe place. My mom is an absolute angel and when things were particularly rough, she was driving down from Boise at least once a month to hang out with me and help me out. There were times when I just wanted to pack everything up and move home with my parents- how could I do this on my own?!
- As a single member of a family ward (I kicked myself out of the YSA ward at 28), I’m in a different place in my life than many of the women in the ward. I don’t have kids that play with their kids. I don’t have a spouse that gets along with their spouse. So much of the social life in a family ward is connected with spouses and children. Play dates, group dates, family parties and dinners. While everyone has always been nice, it can be hard to find your place in a family ward as a single member. (If you have single people in your ward, invite them over for family dinner or FHE, invite them to sit with your family at church. At least for me, that would be awesome!)
While being single has been my story, and may continue to be for longer than I would choose, I’m ok and I have learned so much. My testimony of eternal families is etched deep into my heart. I know it is Heavenly Father’s plan for me, for all of us. The promises of the covenants made in the temple calm my soul. I am never more at peace or more trusting of my Heavenly Father than when I am participating in the ordinances of the temple. I’ve found healing and hope there. An eternal perspective changes everything. As President Nelson said, “My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.” (October 2016)
I have learned to take charge of my own life and happiness. I’ve had to learn to go to movies and restaurants by myself and to take solo vacations. I have found purpose in finding other ways to strengthen home and family: work, volunteering, church callings in my family ward, being an aunt and a sister and a daughter and a friend. The aching hole will still be there, and I’m ok with that. Because that means I still desire to be a wife and a mother. My Heavenly Parents are very aware of that desire, they weep with me and comfort me, and cheer me on in what I am doing in my life.
Elder Christofferson: “With confidence we testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ has anticipated and, in the end, will compensate all deprivation and loss for those who turn to Him. No one is predestined to receive less than all that the Father has for His children.” (April 2015)
Elder Wirthlin: “The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude.” (October 2008)
In summary, mortality is hard, for everyone. And it’s supposed to be. To quote HSM: “We’re all in this together!” We are all members of the “I didn’t sign up for this” club or the “this isn’t what I wanted” club. And that’s exactly why we have a Savior. He will make everything ok. This mortal life isn’t all there is. We have Heavenly Parents who love us and are involved in the details of our lives. One day, I will be a wife and a mother. And that will be a glorious day. And today is a glorious day, too.
Doctrine and Covenants 122:7-8 … know thou, my (daughter), that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?
Doctrine and Covenants 123:17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren (and sisters), let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.