The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that family is the most important unit in eternity. We are constantly talking about ways to strengthen family, learn about family history, prepare for future families and so on. Today I wanted to focus on preparing for future family. This is all my own personal thoughts and experiences that are guiding me to my personal future so I’m not teaching what everyone should or shouldn’t do (this is why we have personal revelation through sincere prayer and scripture study!). I’m merely sharing what I’ve come to understand that I need to do and share it with you in the hopes that perhaps you might learn something about what you need to do in your own life, or perhaps that you might learn another simple truth that you haven’t quite been able to understand just yet.
As many of you know, I attend Brigham Young University. It’s kind of known to be where people go to school to get married… In fact, BYU in Idaho is often called “BYU-I Do”. I didn’t come to BYU to get married, but actually to get an education. However, since returning home from my mission, I’ve known that marriage is my next “big step” in life and it’s something I’ve always wanted and want even more now that it’s a lot closer to reality than before. But the culture of BYU has made it almost painfully obvious how single I am. Everywhere I look people are dating, getting engaged, getting married, having kids, etc, etc. and I’m just not a very social person. Quite frankly it’s just annoying and occasionally can get a little discouraging. I sometimes wonder if there’s something wrong with me because being social is definitely not my thing but it seems as though everyone else I’ve ever met loves to be social. I like my quiet time to think and get things done and relax. Then I remember what’s important and that I’m actually happier than I’ve ever been before, which might seem a little backwards – isn’t marriage supposed to be the happiest time of your life? Well yeah, but I’ve never been married before and I learned a little secret, which is honestly what I deem to be the trick to having a wonderfully fabulous life: Learn to be independently happy rather than depending on others or things to have happiness. One of my roommates shared a very similar insight: “I don’t want my husband to complete me. I want to be complete before I marry him.”
And just how do we do that? We listen to the Lord and do all we can to follow His counsel – both personal and general counsel. I want to love the Lord more than I love anything or anyone else because I know that’s how I’ll be happiest and I know that’s how I’ll be guided the most in EVERY aspect of my life. I want to be independent from the world and everyone in it but dependent on my Father and my Savior to guide me and tell me and give me what I need to make it back Home to Them in the happiest state I could ever be in.
I’ve come to understand that dating and marriage won’t come unless I’m prepared for it. So I’ve been thinking a lot: How do I need to prepare myself to meet “the one”? What kind of person do I want to marry and therefore, what kind of person do I want to be? And vice versa. In the last week or so, I’ve received some answers I KNOW come from God. I wanted to share one specific answer and whether this makes sense to other people or not, this is what I know I need to do to prepare for MY future.
I need to focus on my education, not on marriage.
I know. I can just hear some of the horrified gasps coming from some of you. “Isn’t marriage more important than education? Shouldn’t you focus on getting married?” and the endless similar questions and judgments continue. But the only reason I know what those questions are is because I had a similar thought process. For those of you who may be confused as to why that might be a horrifying thought (to focus on education instead of marriage) let me share with you that as a young single adult in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the leaders of the Church are constantly telling us we need to date and get married because, as I said at the beginning, families are the most important units in eternity. And I believe that completely, whole-heartedly and with all the power of my soul. There is almost nothing more important to me than marriage and family.
But let me ask you something: how am I supposed to help strengthen others (specifically my own family, both future and present) and keep them above water when I can barely strengthen and keep myself afloat?
Gaining knowledge and wisdom has always been something I get excited about. I didn’t have to go to pre-school. I learned to read before I was even in kindergarten. I even knew how to count and add my fish crackers together before kindergarten. I’ve always found history fascinating. And I’ve enjoyed just about every class I’ve ever taken in elementary school, middle school, high school and college whether it’s been art, music, math, english, reading, history or psychology. There has been frustration and annoyance in classes I didn’t understand, but that mostly came due to my lack of preparation and studies. I’ve always had a desire to learn and study and have a college degree. Now that I’m about half-way through my college education, I can see that my secular education has taught and is teaching me diligence, obedience, selflessness, patience, fortitude, and even faith, hope and charity – the things I need to keep my head above water before I can do that for others.
I may not understand exactly why, when that’s almost the most important thing to me and I want it so badly, Heavenly Father is telling me not to focus or worry about marriage at this point in my life. I have faith and hope that it will happen, but I know it’s going to happen in His time. More importantly though, I know that my Father in Heaven knows me better than anyone, including myself. So whether it means I’ll get married within the next year or that I won’t be married for another 10 years, I know that He’s simply teaching me patience, obedience, and diligence and the other things I listed earlier. Not only that, but He’s also teaching me other things like the importance of the temple, the Sabbath day, being worthy of the Spirit’s constant companionship and other habits or characteristics that I want and need in my future family. If I don’t understand the importance of those things myself, how am I supposed to teach and establish those good habits in my own home and family? And not just understanding, but they need to be things that I already have in my life. No, I don’t have to be perfect before I get married, but I do need to be acting on my understanding and faith and hope before I’m ready to have my own family. Good desires are good. But acting on those desires is even better.
I said that there was ALMOST nothing more important to me than marriage and family. The one thing that’s more important to me is the love I have for my Father in Heaven and for my Savior Jesus Christ. I show that love through my obedience. If I can’t be obedient on my own as a single adult, how am I supposed to be obedient in a family that I’m in charge of? I may think life as a single person is hard, but I know it’s only going to get harder to juggle things once I’m married and am raising children of my own.
I’m not sure how much of that makes sense to anyone, but in a nutshell: In order to be ready and prepared for the future, I need to forget about it and live and learn today those things I’m going to need in the future to be a good wife and mother, a good leader, sister, therapist, and whatever else it is I want to be – whatever the Lord wants and needs me to be.
I know that as I act on this divine counsel, the blessings and miracles in my life are only going to pour out even more from Heaven. I know that how I choose to prepare for the future is going to determine the kind of future I have. I know it might seem kind of selfish to focus on my education rather than family, but in all honesty, this is the most selfless thing I can do because it’s not actually about me at all. Choosing to listen to the counsel of the Lord and focus on my secular and spiritual education is how I and Heavenly Father are choosing to prepare my husband and children for eternity. What I do to prepare myself for my family now determines the kind of family we will be.
All I want is to see as many of God’s Children return Home to Him. And that starts with my own family.