It was happening again. No matter how hard I tried to avoid it, change it, deter the circumstances from occurring, it was happening again. They were going to ask THAT question, the one that I had smiled and shrugged my shoulders at so often throughout my life, the same inquiry you get from friends, family members, neighbors, coworkers, teachers, the grocery store clerk, your mailman, strangers on the street and visiting aliens from outer space: "Why are you single?" Even Facebook, that beloved social network/big brother, asks our status. "Single"; thanks for pointing that out, Mark Zuckerberg.
It's a question that has no great answer. We may say, "Oh, I'm focusing on me (or my family or career or education) right now", but even those are not satisfying responses for others (plus, President Spencer W. Kimball was pretty direct about marriage-avoiding rationalizations). Others may smile and nod, yet the look in their eyes belies continued concern, as if we may actually be "menaces to society". It's as if our single-hood is a problem to be solved, a disease to be cured. In all seriousness, these loving parties usually ask because they care and want us to be happy and we should demonstrate gratitude and humility for their desires to see us blessed with love.
Yes, we can live a happy, productive, and satisfying life as singles. And yet, not a week passes that I do not hear about midsingles' plights when it comes to dating and relationships (or think of my own). There are tears, anger, frustration, disappointment, discouragement, plenty of wisecracks, some depression and far too often a resignation to living the single life because "dating is too hard" and "I'll never get married (or re-married)." So yes, we throw ourselves into careers, educations, service projects, the kids, talents, hobbies, and so on. We tell ourselves that we are doing OK because we still attend the midsingle wards and trips, the cruises or the dances, not to mention the fantastic conferences; we like the "fun" stuff of our single-life culture, but if we were being truly honest with ourselves, they may be good activities we partake in without really wanting the potentially-there solution to our single status. As my friend who visited from out of town asked at a recent midsingles activity, "How are all the beautiful and handsome people not married? My ward has sixty people. This valley has thousands of potential dates for them to pick from."
We enjoy our incredible friendships and the good memories we share along the way, but my friend was hinting at a hidden truth that many singles do not want to look at: we could be avoiding the level of dating that has the specific intention of finding someone to marry. We play the game without a committed desire for the game to end, like neighborhood kids playing ball on Summer's last night before school starts.
On December 25, 1944 a long line of ragged American paratroopers of the 11th Airborne "Angels" Division made their way down a slippery jungle trail. They had been fighting non-stop since November 22 and estimates state that the Angels destroyed over 5,700 of the enemy. They were hungry, tired, and ready for rest. They had buried their dead by the trail-side, marking graves the best they could, and all were suffering from undernourishment with ulcers on their feet and legs.
They slowly, yet carefully, plodded along the trail, ready to put the demands and dangers of combat behind them. As each trooper moved forward, lost in his own thoughts, a quite whisper slowly made its way down the line.
My dear brothers and sisters, my grandfather was one of those inspiring paratroopers who put his life on the line for others without regard to his own safety (the arrow is pointing to him in the photo). As many of you know, he was a hero to me and his loss this year tugged at my heartstrings. I do miss him, although I am grateful for the knowledge that now he can watch over me both as a literal angel and an 11th Airborne Angel.
As I think about what he and his comrades went through in the South Pacific, I am in awe of their bravery, honor and respect for those they were fighting for.
And yet, that phrase "It's Christmas" always stops me in my tracks when I read Grandpa's story. I think of the stark contrast between what they needed to do for duty and what Christmas means. They were far from home in a strange land, a brutal land where every step could have been their last. While they were fighting for a cause they believed in, surrounded by brothers in arms, yet there must have been a deep sense of longing for home, for family, for the joys and peace that Christmas calls for.
My grandfather and his fellow paratroopers were some of the best of the best, yet they were all subject to heartaches, fears, loneliness and yes, were daily exposed to the ultimate sacrifice, the loss of this gift of life. And when I look around me, I see many of my brothers and sisters who share a similar longing in their hearts. A longing for connection, for family, for loved ones gathered around the fireplace or the tree or even a tiny basement apartment table.
It IS Christmas, but there are those around us who are praying for comfort, for peace, for a measure of joy and relief from the hurts of their bodies, hearts and minds. Those who are unexpectedly single parents or lack the children they pray will come to share in the excitement of Christmas morning. Those who have an empty chair at the table and too much space in the bed where loving arms should be.
We as LDS midsingles have been blessed to join the Lord's restored church and to enjoy many of the promises and truths of the Gospel. And yet, we, too, as mortal beings are vulnerable to hurts, to fears, to wounds of the heart and spirit that can, if not healed, lead to a darkening of the spark for life.
My friends, it IS Christmas and I believe that we all have within us the power to effect a Christmas miracle.
As many of you know I have been less than secret about my own battles with anxiety and depression. Despite publishing two books, competing in and coaching in the sport of bobsled, speaking across the nation, etc., as I mentioned above none of us are immune to the trials of this life. So much so that yes, there was one night where I told God that if He didn't give me a reason to live, I was going to end my life.
And I believe that right now, someone reading this is contemplating the same thing. Maybe it is someone you know. Maybe it is someone I know. And their soul is so unbelievably precious, their eyes so incredibly miraculous, their mind so breath-takingly intelligent and their talents so world-changingly unique that the reason we celebrate Christmas, even Jesus Christ, came to this earth to save them.
My grandfather left his home, his family, his job, his complete lifestyle behind and went halfway around the world to save others. Yet the Lord, in his great condescension, came down to this earth to save us all. That means that He came down to save our friend who is silently hurting, our sibling who is struggling, our neighbor who is lonely or our child who is afraid.
Sariah Simmons, ever inspired by the Spirit as she is about the mid singles community, felt a deep prompting that we as singles need to do something. And I agree. This time of the year can be extremely difficult for those who have no family to celebrate with or who have no children to play Santa for. The mistletoe hangs unused, the dinner is set for one (or one less), the tree has a few less presents and the romantic Christmas songs grate rather than sooth.
That is why we are asking you to take part in what I believe to be a Heaven-sent (or at least Heaven-supported) campaign this month to #PhoneaFriend. Don't text, don't email, don't instant message, pick up the phone (like we ever put them down) and CALL. Let them hear your voice. Say hello with a smile. Pray for the pure love of Christ to flow through you and into the heart of the person you are calling. And if you can, get together. Invite them to participate in some activity with you or to visit. Hug them. The reassuring embrace can cure many of life's aches.
It is said that when a movement MOVES it is not because of the leaders but the members. So please feel free to make this YOUR movement and your own personalized message. We are just barely organizing, but know it's important to share a message this holiday season about suicide awareness and need your help.
President Dieter F. Uchdorf recently recounted a story that I have loved since I first heard it as a teenager. He said:
"A story is told that during the bombing of a city in World War II, a large statue of Jesus Christ was severely damaged. When the townspeople found the statue among the rubble, they mourned because it had been a beloved symbol of their faith and of God’s presence in their lives.
"Experts were able to repair most of the statue, but its hands had been damaged so severely that they could not be restored. Some suggested that they hire a sculptor to make new hands, but others wanted to leave it as it was—a permanent reminder of the tragedy of war. Ultimately, the statue remained without hands. However, the people of the city added on the base of the statue of Jesus Christ a sign with these words: 'You are my hands.'"
You are my hands. As LDS midsingles we have by default covenanted "to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;...Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort,..." (Mosiah 18:8-9). There are so many around us that are carrying such heavy burdens, whose mourning while secret is not silent and who stand in need of great comforting.
So what do we look for? How do we recognize the less-than-apparent warning signs that someone in our life is in need of rescue, of lifting, or help?
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention provides the following:
"Social isolation has been shown to be a larger predictor of suicide than any other factor. 'the sense of social belonging and inclusion, the love, care, and concern that can flow (or not flow) from social ties. Well integrated groups…enjoy stable, durable, and cohesive ties. Individuals in such groups are supported in their lives, particularly during times of personal crises, thereby reducing their vulnerability to suicide.'”
Therefore while the holidays don't necessarily increase overall suicide rates, they have been shown to increase depression for individuals not being socially fulfilled. Social isolation is one of the biggest predictors of depression, especially during the holidays. And it is one the issues many singles, especially those single for a prolonged time or divorced report experiencing during the holidays.
"Single people, in this theory, are susceptible to what Durkheim called 'egoistic suicide,' which results from low levels of social integration. 'Anomic suicide' can be triggered by too little social regulation or 'a sudden and unexpected change in a person’s social standing, for example, a shift from being married to being divorced or widowed.'"
The National Institute for Healthcare Research indicates that #divorced people are three times as likely to commit suicide as people who are married. The Institute says that divorce now ranks as the number one factor linked with suicide rates in major U.S. cities, ranking above all other physical, financial, and psychological factors. Divorced men being the highest rate only because women attempt 3x as often but don't complete it.
Social interactions are at the heart of the factors listed above. It concludes then that if social isolation and disruption of social interactions are culprits for suicide that social connection and feeling of belonging are the answer. Again, not everyone has family to celebrate this year or even children to enjoy the spirit of the season with. Some ache for interaction, for the connection that fuels us as human beings.
That is why a dear group of friends, who have suffered the loss of a friend who was single to suicide are starting the movement #PhoneAFriend. And we cannot do it without you. Pray for guidance and seek to be sensitive to the whisperings of the Spirit. I was someone that NO ONE worried about, yet I was a mere heartbeat away from taking my own life. Do NOT assume that because someone is smiling when you are together that they are not crying in agony when they are alone. That goes for men and women.
And brethren, let me offer you a very strong word of caution: do NOT bury your feelings behind a mask of stoic socially accepted masks. That is a disservice to your own spirit and is actually one of the most dangerous moves that men make. It leads to deeper feelings of isolation and loneliness. Please, have the courage to open up.
As LDS midsingles we have tremendous power to reach out, to lift, to salve and to save. As we do so, I cannot think of a greater gift that we could give the Savior this holiday season than to love the lonely, befriend the isolated, heal a wounded heart and bring a smile to eyes that have shed too many tears.
Through this I believe we will be living Paul's words when he said, "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister." (Hebrews 6:10).
And I cannot think of a greater miracle than this: to share love, to feel love, to be love.
*Note: This essay is the seventh of seven authored by Jeremy for the LDS Midsingle (31-45+) community. The opinions and thoughts shared therein are his own and unless otherwise noted all names and circumstances of stories have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
My dear friends, I know it has been a few weeks (months?) since my last post and for that I apologize. This Summer has been, well, shall we say a little hectic. In fact, I'm not sure I have ever faced a period as difficult as this one has been. In a way, I understand what Rocky felt like when he was fighting Drago in "Rocky IV"; it was just punch after punch after punch.
At the risk of sounding like a whiny baby, there have been days, even weeks, where I was not sure I could keep going. I wanted to throw in the towel in moments, moments when the fears or tears were almost too much. Despite my attempts to dig deep into faith and optimism and trust in God,...life has almost felt like it was repeating Drago's words to Rocky when he said, "I must break you."
Maybe I'm not as strong as the world thinks, or as I thought. Despite training for the Olympics, publishing books, speaking on stage, graduating college and all the "great works" that I've tried to do...I'm still 100% human. And as the punches kept coming, as the adversities kept growing, as the fears rolled over me like waves, as the dark nights grew darker... I guess I felt like the prophet Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail when he cried out, "Oh, God, where art thou?" And while I know that God was helping me make changes, to grow, to leave old ways behind, and that for that I should drop to my knees in gratitude (which I have), there is also the truth that my soul, my heart, even my body and mind have felt pushed beyond their limits.
I also know that many strong, beautiful souls in this world can relate. Maybe you can. Maybe it is your coworker or roommate or friend or a family member who feels the weight of some burden on their shoulders. And that is ok; we are in this life to be tested, and to be tested you have to have resistance and opposition. But that does not mean that we have to do it alone. Ever.
*Note: This essay is the sixth of seven authored by Jeremy for the LDS Midsingle (31-45+) community. The opinions and thoughts shared therein are his own and unless otherwise noted all names and circumstances of stories have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
Having just returned from seven glorious days on an Alaska cruise with an amazing group of midsingles, I believe my waistline suffers from post-cruise poundage. But the views were incredible, the wildlife breathtaking and the memories will last a lifetime. So thank you everyone who joined us! We are already working on our next adventure: a Western Caribbean Cruise.
The Alaska cruise gave me a lot of time to think, perhaps too much. Like many of you, my thoughts flutter between faith and the burdens I carry, hope and the fears about the future. As an LDS midsingle I have a sure foundation through our religious beliefs, but life has a way of giving us exhilarating highs mixed with heart-wrenching lows.
I had to laugh when the other day someone said, "Jeremy, you've had such an amazing life, the kind I wish I had!" I smiled, but my thoughts turned to all the trials and fires and fears and adversities that I have gone through. I think that sometimes as midsingles we look on other midsingles's lives with perhaps a touch of envy. I get it. Sometimes it is the job, the appearance, the family, the spirit, the joy, and so on. I think that is a very human trait, albeit one that Heavenly Father has asked us to resist because it usually leads to sorrow, perhaps even depression, and a certain blindness to the blessings that He has given us already.
Let's face it: adversity can be hard. Whether it is a brutal divorce, the loss of a job, a wayward child, financial stress, or just a dream we reached for but have yet to achieve, trials can pierce our hearts and like a weary boxer leave us struggling to stay on our feet.
I feel like this year has been a year of painful growth for me. Perhaps I better understand Job and everything he went through. Luckily I have had some great friends, good family, Priesthood leaders and support to get through everything so far. But as they say, I'm not out of the woods yet so my heart and my soul feel a bit of the weight of this world. And it is that weight that I want to write about.
*Note: This essay is the fifth of seven authored by Jeremy for the LDS Midsingle (31-45+) community. The opinions and thoughts shared therein are his own and unless otherwise noted all names and circumstances of stories have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
As an LDS midsingle, I have heard quite a bit of talk about "walls" lately. I don't mean Donald Trump's Mexico Wall, Pink Floyd's album, or even the Great Wall of China. No, these walls are of a more personal nature for each of us as human beings and children of God.
I am, of course, referring to those emotional and mental walls that form around our hearts.
As someone who is all too familiar with such walls, I have spent the past few years seeking out the right tools to break down some of my own. Contrary to popular (unpopular?) opinion, dating is not easy for me (I blame it on the cultural Oklahoma/Utah conflicts). Like many of you, when asked "Why are you not married yet?", I have no honest response (although many pithy ones that I do not verbally express). There are a myriad of ways to respond: it could be Heaven's timing (for which I'd love a calendar), I haven't found the right "one" (no, I don't believe in a soul-mate), or a thousand other "reasons" it could be. Chances are it is a combination of many of them; only you and the Lord can know what those particulars may be.
But one factor that could be contributing (in part) to some of the singleness, yours and mine, are these darn walls around our hearts. I don't like them, you don't like them, none of us like them. And yet, due to past hurts, current fears of rejection, perhaps previous abandonment or abuse or whatever other trauma we endured, we have them. I do, you do, we all do. They don't make any of us "broken", they make us mortal.
*Note: This essay is the fourth of seven authored by Jeremy for the LDS Midsingle (31-45+) community. The opinions and thoughts shared therein are his own and unless otherwise noted all names and circumstances of stories have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
While is Christmas Eve, I write this essay with a heavy heart. Yes, it is truly "the most wonderful time of the year" and yes, although there is much unrest in the world, there is also "peace on earth, goodwill towards man."
And yet, while I know all the promises and prophecies and blessings to be obtained through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I am also starkly aware of just how hard this life can be. As much as we as midsingles do our best to have faith, move forward, serve others and otherwise put on a happy face, the truth is that each of our hearts carry deep hurts, unrelenting fears, annoying inadequacies and maddening weaknesses. When they told us in Primary and Sunday School that we were a "choice generation" and that "God has held you in reserve to come forth at this time for a special purpose" because we were some of the strongest spirits, I used to think that it was because we would be strong enough to resist all the world's temptations as society becomes more wicked. But now... I can't help but wonder if we are considered "strong" by Heaven because we have to deal with all the additional mental, emotional, physical and even spiritual burdens that come with modern life.
*Note: This essay is the third of seven authored by Jeremy for the LDS Midsingle (31-45+) community. The opinions and thoughts shared therein are his own and unless otherwise noted all names and circumstances of stories have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
Unless you've been living under a rock these past few weeks, you've probably noticed that the world is going crazy right now. As a former journalist I try to stay current on the happenings in the news and the more I watch or read, the more I think of the Lord's warning that "nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows." (Matthew 24:7-8).
As Paul so succinctly said, "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come." (2 Timothy 3:1). Indeed, as I study what is happening in current events, I would have to say: perilous times (have) come.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been warned for generations now that the world is going to go one way while the Lord leads his people in another. I shake my head when church members are surprised that the prophet and apostles who guide the church today under Christ's direction (D&C 1:38) give counsel and policies that contradict the world's opinion. Jesus really did not say or do what was popular in his day (and if you think he accepted everyone's behavior/lifestyles, you might want to reread the Gospels). The Lord's doctrine was very unpopular with the leadership in his day (in case you missed it, they killed him for it) and upset what was culturally accepted. He even said quite clearly that he came to "to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household." (Matthew 10:35-36). This is not a division brought about by hate or bigotry or judgement (which seems to be what Satan is inspiring in worldly movements today), but rather the "variance" the Lord spoke of will come down to a simple choice: will we "do all things whatsoever the Lord (our) God shall command (us)..." (Abraham 3:25) or will we be "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and the cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive..." (Ephesians 4:14)?
As the world's opinion of what is acceptable behavior continues to grow more and more liberal (that's a description, not a political statement), the greater will grow the distance between God's law and mortal approval. And that is where the "variance" the Lord spoke of will become starkly apparent. One side will say that everything is permitted legally (man's laws) and the other will say, "God has declared some things are not permitted according to His laws."
*Note: This essay is the second of seven authored by Jeremy for the LDS Midsingle (31-45+) community. The opinions and thoughts shared therein are his own and unless otherwise noted all names and circumstances of stories have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
As a published author/writer you quickly learn that 1. your written words carry tremendous power and 2. not everyone will agree with what you have to say.
I'm pretty sure Jesus was well aware of both facts; he knew that every word he spoke would guide the future generations of the faithful and that a lot of people would disagree with or twist his words to their own benefit. When I look at the world today, from a Christian perspective, sometimes it seems like the words of Christ have less and less impact in the hearts of men. "Spiritualism", without religion, is the new thing and we have ISIS/IS/IL (whatever the crap we call them, terrorists is the right term) doing more than just persecuting Christians in the Middle East; they are murdering them in ways that would make Rome's Emperor Nero blush (well, probably not).
By the media accounts it almost seems like those who want Christ and his commandments to "go away" are winning. Look at the battles over public prayer, the Ten Commandments displayed in public, the "offensive" phrase Merry Christmas, using "under God" in the pledge of allegiance", the disorganization of Christianity and on and on. While I am extremely optimistic about the future of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, if I had to put on a cranky-face I would say that a lot of people in this world seem more worried about the latest iPhone release than they are about their standing before God.
I don't think that's the case with the average LDS midsingle, however. While statistics show that we have the highest inactivity rate for our demographic in the Church, I could never categorize us as non-caring when it comes to Christ. I'd almost say the problem is that we care deeply, but that sensitivity of soul leaves us exposed to deep wounds as well as exquisite joys.
I think it is our hurts that lead midsingles away from the Lord's kingdom on earth, not wickedness.
*Note: This essay is the first of seven authored by Jeremy for the LDS Midsingle (31-45+) community. The opinions and thoughts shared therein are his own and unless otherwise noted all names and circumstances of stories have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
In his piece, "O Me! O Life!", American poet What Whitman wrote in 1892, "That you are here—that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse."
As I recently reread those words I couldn't help but feel like those two lines aptly describe the state of most LDS midsingles I know: that the powerful play of life is going on and we deeply desire the opportunity to contribute a verse. Shakespeare tells us that "life is a story" and "all the world's a stage"; it is on that stage that we as midsingles have passed through some of life's greatest joys and experienced much of its deepest sorrows. By definition as midSINGLES we are trying to write the story of our lives, with all its ups and downs, without a mortal co-author, a spouse with whom we can share the burdens and the pleasures, the brightest of days and the darkest of nights.
While we would never admit it on social media (because Heaven forbid we share our hurts and struggles online), a high percentage of us battle loneliness; we ache for the companionship that far too many married couples blindly take for granted. Some of us (hand raised) don't even have the joys of parenthood and all the incredible memories (and yes, heartbreaks) that it brings. How many of us are striving to find the "be happy single first, then you'll be happy with someone" mixture in our lives? How many nights do we reach across to the pillow next to us, wishing someone was there snoring away blissfully or cooked a meal over the stove, wishing the table was set for just one more?
Oh, yes, Mr. Whitman; the play of life is going on and while we do our best to not let it get to us, the weight of charging forward without a fellow Thespian (actor/actress) is enough to weigh down even the most faithful heart. As the mighty Job asked, "though I forbear, what am I eased?" (Job 16:6). The original Hebrew word translated here to "forbear" is damam, which means "to sigh, but not aloud." How many of us as midsingles are sighing in our hearts (but not aloud) as we strive to keep our chins up and be faithful, no matter how hard the struggle becomes?
After attending several midsingle functions over the past few weeks, I felt a desire in my heart because of my own damam-ing, if you will, to know what I could personally do to help those inner aches and how I could "contribute a verse" to this play of LDS midsingle life. The answer to my prayers came in the form of an idea to write 7 Essays for LDS Midsingles, of which this one is the first. These essays, while far from all-encompassing, will strive to cover various pertinent topics for our demographic from the standpoint of, What Would Jesus Tell LDS Midsingles if He Were Here Today? As precocious as that sounds, I should clarify that I will not attempt to speak for the Savior, but rather to use his words as recorded in holy scriptures to expound upon each topic. In doing so, I pray my thoughts and His words will alleviate some of your own heartache and inner burdens.
Ready? Let's begin.
Several Summers ago a dear friend of mine who I have known for a long time returned from what should have been a fun-filled adventure to Lake Powell with a rather large group of single adults. I know she had been looking forward to it for months and to see her so crest-fallen caused me to feel both sad and angry at the same time.
What had gone so wrong?
She then proceed to tell me what was eating her up inside: the trip, while filled with well-meaning people, had been full of what she described as "shallow socialness." She related being surrounded by shaved chests, chiseled abs, bleached white teeth, perfect hair, impeccable swimsuits, implants, toned arms, and so on. I'm not saying all that is bad, but the next part irked me. When she talked of the "cliques" and "groups" who (while they would never admit it before God) secretly treated themselves as if they were better than others, as if their looks or popularity gave them some advantage over the "less" physically attractive ones, well, I felt it in the pit of my stomach. She had been marginalized by those who were so focused on having fun that they pushed a dear soul to the sidelines.
As I've said on multiple occasions, the LDS midsingles dating scene can be one of both joys and pains, laughter and tears, not to mention a few frustrations along the way.
That being the case, have you ever wondered what the Avengers can teach us anything about dating? Read on to find out!
If you haven't read any of my previous articles regarding the joys and wonders of the LDS midsingle world (examples here, here and here), then perhaps you aren't aware of my satirical take on all things midsingle. Disclaimer: don't take everything I write seriously, although I have put my heart into a few such posts, including The Future Spouse Jar and The Case of the Tin Soldier.
But like many of you, the preparation for attending an LDS midsingle event can be both time and energy consuming (which is why Facebook invented the "Maybe" going option). First you have to read about the event on Facebook, then click on the "Attending" list to see who is going, then reach out to your friend group (aka "the team") to see what everyone is thinking. Should we go? Is there another party or dance or bonfire or hike or Powell party or game night or or or etc. etc. etc. You get my drift.
And then, once a decision has been made (which depending on the size of your friend group could be a miracle in and of itself), then comes The Preparation. Now, ladies, I won't even begin to comment on the labors you go through to get ready for the dances or parties or any of the midsingle social events, really. But I think what you'll read below speaks for all of us when I describe what we feel when we get ready to head to whatever event we've decided to attend (thirty to sixty+ minutes late, mind you; best to be fashionably late).
Raise your hand if checking your cell phone is the first thing you do in the morning. Come on, be honest, you know it is. You check your texts, then your Facebook, Tinder for a bit then maybe, just maybe, you do something big-kid-like and look up the news or perhaps even the weather. But somewhere in there, you are mentally checking your schedule. Thank goodness for calendar reminders, right? And Facebook's convenient "Events" tab to keep us on top of our social outings.
On a more serious note, I highly recommend spending five minutes in the morning putting together a To-Do list and outlining what you'll do that day. I have seen Olympic gold medalists do this, international CEOs do this and even award-winning artists do this. It is well worth it!
"Are you going tonight?" Who knows that at lunchtime? I mean, we still have the rest of the afternoon to decide, plus a few hours after work. No need to make any decisions just yet; we might get a better offer or invite at the last minute, right?
While you're trying to decide, if you need any more indication about our demographic's inability to commit then just look at the "Attending/Maybe Attending" ratio on any event's page.
While siting in a seminar recently that delightfully I was able to just listen to instead of speaking at the well-intentioned speaker listed tips to appear more attractive to members of the opposite sex. I wanted to raise my hand and ask, "What is your true purpose in listing those things, is it to educate or to flatter?"
Let's see if any of this sounds familiar. While I agree with some of the traits/items mentioned in these lists online and in magainzes, the others just sound plain sexist if not over the top. For example, ladies you apparently are supposed to be fit (more than one list specifically said so you can look good naked), wear dresses or form-fitting clothes, be submissive, cook well, be a good mom or not have kids (because that's not contradictory), don't swear too much, be educated/intelligent, be giving, be a good friend, don't be overly emotional, and the lists go on and on. I'm not even female and that list felt overwhelming.
Which brings me to the ten-thousand lists out there online, in magazines, journals, etc. that list "Things Women Find Attractive in Men." Now, a little background. This topic has come to mind after years and years of private conversations with some of the greatest guy friends and teammates, coworkers and fellow members of my church. This is not a "poor us" article, but rather one designed to stand as a voice for these men who are amazing dads, hard workers, great athletes, genuine friends and even powerful disciples of Christ who are doing their best. They may not have won the genetic lottery or even the financial one, but these are incredibly good guys.
If this were a Sherlock Holmes story the title would be, "The Case of the Tin Soldier."
Let's face it: the LDS midsingles world is a complicated conglomeration of faith and fun, uplifting moments and crushing disappointments. And while there are plenty of jokes to be made, spiritual experiences to share and experiences we love to cherish (and other we can't wait to forget), the truth is that we all have to stick together during this period in our lives.
That being said, some midsingles want to live in the neighborhood of Singlesville a bit too long. The goal of every midsingle should be to move out of this community as soon as possible. And by possible, I include all the no-brainer qualifications: finding a worthy companion who respects you and the Lord and desires to cherish you both through honoring their covenants.
But I digress. We have to laugh at ourselves sometimes as Latter-day Saints and I can't think of a more humor-filled era of this life than the LDS midsingles world. I would know, I've been in it for far too long so based on my years of experience (my dad is shaking his head), here are the 13 Midsingle Articles of Faith. And yes, read this with a large grain of salt and a healthy sense of humor.
Admit it, the title alone intrigued you. "Is he trying to grow a spouse in a jar like this?" No, this is more of a proactive suggestion for all my single friends, although admittedly this project could be good for any healthy couple to try.
Now, I'm not crafty by any means. I love being creative through writing, graphic and web design and advertising/marketing, but I'm probably going to pass on from this life without ever posting some idea to Pinterest. Sorry, Pin-aholics.
That being said, I have had plenty of experience being single and in a moment of 100% honesty I'll admit that yes, I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about my future spouse. Who will she be? What will she be like? What will be her likes, dislikes, hobbies, passions, insecurities, strengths and faith? How will she spend her time, what career path has she followed, what books does she like to read or TV shows does she like to watch? What have been her greatest achievements and her deepest secrets and fears?
When people ask, "Why are you single? You should be married!" it takes a lot of willpower not to shout, "It's not like I don't want to be!" And that's what I've come to realize over the past decade: I do want to be. Sorry all you marriage-haters and "I'm too happy just playing to get tied down again" mid singles; I'm not swimming in your pool.
Public Service Announcement Ahead:
Having spent a few years now in the wonderfully diverse world of LDS Mid Singles, I've learned that there is no such thing as an "average" or "typical" mid single. Sure, many of our challenges are "similar" (kind of like a Ferrari and a Pinto are both "cars"), but our personalities, backgrounds, goals and individual situations in life are as varied as the sands on the seashore.
That being said, I feel like there are some big divides (some intentional, some through ignorance) between mid singles and everyone else in their family wards. And while I say this with love ("bless your hearts"), I have to be honest: it's usually not the mid singles' fault. These problems often come from the members of their family wards themselves.
"We try to include everyone in our ward family!" you cry. Ok, when was the last time you made an effort to reach out to a single person in your ward or neighborhood? If you're in a family ward (indicating the relationship majority) I'm willing to bet that all your activities, lessons and efforts are focused on the traditionally married families. Yes, the family unit is central to God's plan, but have you considered that you could be making the mid singles in your ward feel ostracized, forgotten, belittled and like failures?
Let me put this as lovingly and clearly as possible: please stop making your mid singles neighbors feel like they have a big scarlet letter on their chest. Whether divorced with kids, divorced with no kids, widowed, never married with kids or never married with no kids, here are things you are doing or saying that make mid singles feel UN-welcome.
Bless your hearts.
For all my fellow mid-singles, I hear your pain. You work hard at your job, to raise your kids as a single-parent, to keep your health in top shape and try to generally stay ahead of the wave in life. And when a party comes around, you are ready for a break, to kick back and just have a good time. So you plan your schedule accordingly, get yourself ready, call up your friends and head out to enter the exciting social scene.
And we've all been there right? We love to socialize, meet new people, see old friends and just generally have a good time. But frequently we run into the same types of people at these parties, so I present to you the 10 People You See at Mid-Singles Parties. Take it all in good fun, I've exaggerated some and written others with perfect honesty. I'll led you decide which is which!
1. The A-Teamers
You know who I'm talking about, the group of about a half-dozen guys and girls who show up together with a mission to kill (socially and romantically). They tend to view themselves as the IT crowd and watch each others' backs, laugh at each others' jokes, stay within eye-sight and generally try to turn themselves into the nucleus of the parties social atomic structure. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with an A-Team (I loved the TV show), but don't be so into your friends that you ignore everyone else around you. Be inclusive, not exclusive.
2. The Pack
You know exactly who I'm talking about here. That group of girls who walk (strut?) into the party and look like they are trying to turn the place into a club. Perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect clothes and a perfect concept of their magnificence. Now, I'm not judging by appearances because "beauty" is never an indication of the heart. Rather, its what The Pack does that I'm conflicted about. These girls remind me of the movie Mean Girls and kudos to any guy who tries to talk to any girl in this group because he runs the risk of getting torn to shreds. The Pack is on scene to be seen and attention is their drug of choice.
3. The Bros
Simply put, The Bros are the male version of The Pack. The guys greet each other with grunts, high-fives, chest bumps, bro-hugs and loud shouts that remind me of high school jocks yelling at each other in the hall. The Bros dress alike in skin-tight shirts to show off their gym results (probably Affliction or MMA shirts) and top-dollar shoes because everyone looks at your shoes at a party (sarcasm, me?). These guys are there to eat, check out the girls and otherwise try to show that they are the life of the party so the party should center around them. Top shelf substance, these dudes.
Behold! Oh ye married people, this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip inside the mind of your single and midsingle friends! While they know you mean well whenever you ask about their dating lives or try to help them find true love (thank you for your efforts, by the way), here are some things that they may think on their more snarky, bitter, sick-of-dating days. When you ask these questions, here is what they say...and what they quite possibly really think.
So yes, everything written here should be taken with a grain of salt and a big side of laughter.
What we usually say: "I guess I just haven't found the right person yet."
What we are really thinking: "That mystery goes right up there with some of Steven Hawking's theories: unfathomable. You probably mean that as a compliment, but what it sounds like is that I'm doing something wrong and need to figure out what that is so I can get married, because obviously I'm not doing my best to improve myself, love my life and be open to finding that person whenever it happens. Thanks, Dr. Phil!"
I know that most people who ask this question have great intentions and want us to remember just how great they think we are. But seriously, don't ask this question. Ever. There is no good way to answer it and singles hate trying to do so.
What we usually say: "Well, I try not to be..."
What we are really thinking: "So you're saying that the solution to my single-ness is to settle and that I shouldn't wait for someone who takes my breath away, makes me smile just when they say 'hello' and that someone that I just can't stop thinking about? Oh goodie."
Ok, we all know that being too picky is a bad thing. We get that. But do us a favor: don't tell us to wait for amazing on one hand and then tell us not to be picky on the other. We're already trying to walk the fine line between being realistically optimistic and regretfully settling.