As an active Mormon, being single is not the lifestyle I would have chosen for myself. Having been taught about family relationships at an early age, I never doubted the importance of marriage. Yet despite choosing to follow the path laid out to me through the church – a mission, education, and career – I’ve found myself alone in a family-oriented religion.
My situation is hardly unique. Single adults are a growing demographic in the United States, and about half of American adults, or 100 million, are single. Even within the Mormon Church, it’s estimated that at least one-third of its adult members are single.
Single adults have many challenges during these formative years as they prepare for careers, marriage, and family life. It’s easy to be distracted by the temptations of the world, to take the seemingly easy route through life that leads to instant gratification. Being a Mormon single adult also creates unique expectations and challenges to overcome.
Being Mormon and Single
Because of the culture of the Mormon Church, it’s sometimes easy to feel alone and isolated simply because of your marital status. In a church that highly values marriage and family, people are often critical of singles because they assume that something must be “wrong” with us. It’s tough to remain single while you see people around you marry and settle down, especially when you can’t figure out exactly what makes them better marriage material than you. It hurts to feel that despite doing everything you can to be eligible for the Lord’s blessings, you have not yet received the earnest desire of your heart.
As a Mormon single adult, I also have fears I have to live with:
The fear of not being able to find an eternal companion and having to face life alone.
The fear of being ostracized by other church members and not fitting in because of the shallow judgments of others.
Or worst of all, the fear that perhaps the problem is me and that I’m still single because there’s something wrong with me I haven’t yet recognized.
It’s easy to lose faith, to question if God really does have a plan for you, to wonder if you’ll fit in as an active single Mormon. Perhaps in part for these reasons, it’s estimated that half of the Mormon single adult population is not active in the church. But although I have these fears, they’ve become manageable through knowing and living gospel principles.
Despite the challenges that face Mormon single adults, I choose to remain active in the gospel for three specific reasons.
First, I choose to be active because the gospel is true for everyone, married or single. Because of the teachings of the gospel, I understand that being married or single doesn’t change your value in the eyes of the Lord. Being a single adult in the church does not make you a second class citizen; it simply means that you have not yet had the opportunity of finding a companion.
Everyone’s path in life is different and we all have unique challenges to overcome as we work towards becoming like our Heavenly Father. What really matters is how we choose to face these challenges. When I feel discouraged, I remind myself of a story told by Elder Anderson about a convert who sacrificed everything – his family relationships, his career, and other opportunities in life – just so he could be baptized. When questioned about why he made his decision, with tears in his eyes, he said, “It’s true, isn’t it? Then what else matters?”
My personal testimony has helped sustain me as a Mormon single adult. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “When [an individual] is motivated by great and powerful convictions of truth, he disciplines himself, not because of the demands made by the church but because of the knowledge within his heart.” Because I know the gospel is true, it helps me stay active in the church – no matter how difficult or lonely the path might be.
Second, I choose to be active in the gospel because it creates the best possible lifestyle for a single adult. The teachings of Jesus Christ allow me to anchor my life to something that stays constant in a world of change. It’s given me the guidance and support to make the best possible life decisions. It’s given me the ability to go through life and make choices that will bring lasting happiness, rather than be satisfied with short-term, temporary pleasure.
It’s true that living the gospel doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a life free of pain, loneliness, or trials. Being an active Mormon single adult can be difficult sometimes. But it’s worth it. Living the gospel has brought purpose to my life as a single adult and it’s brought me lasting happiness that can’t be found anywhere else. It’s allowed me to experience sacred moments of pure joy that only come through obeying gospel principles.
It’s brought me joy from knowing about my divine potential and that I can become more like my Heavenly Father.
It’s allowed me to feel peace from knowing that although my life may not have turned out the way I envisioned, it’s still acceptable to God.
It’s helped me obtain serenity when my heartfelt prayers are answered, even when it’s not necessarily in the way and timeframe I would have liked.
When I have these sacred experiences, it gives me a brief taste of the eternal joy that awaits me if I’m faithful in this life. The gospel is called the plan of happiness for good reason and I wouldn’t trade these blessings for anything else.
Third, I choose to be active in the gospel because it gives me an eternal perspective. This means that I make choices in life that will bring me happiness for eternity, not just for the relatively short timeframe of mortality. Ten years, twenty years, even a hundred years is less than a blink of an eye compared to eternity.
Because whatever choices we make in this life will determine our destiny for eternity, we have so much to lose if we allow our focus to hang on our marital status. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen from single adults is losing sight of our place in God’s kingdom simply because we haven’t yet found an eternal companion. We are a chosen generation and we should act accordingly – single or not, married or not.
Having an eternal perspective means that we’re willing to accept the Lord’s timetable for our lives. If we recognize that the Lord wants to bless us in His own time, we earnestly strive to prepare ourselves for eternal marriage, keep a positive attitude, and make the most of our available opportunities.
It’s challenging to keep an eternal perspective when faced with disappointment, heartache, and a sense of loss. But we need to remind ourselves that this life is a test, an opportunity to prove ourselves. If we live faithfully, whatever blessings go unfulfilled in this life will be made up for in the next. Because of my perspective, each year that goes by isn’t viewed as another year being single – it’s viewed as another year in keeping myself worthy to receive the Lord’s blessings, regardless of whether these blessings happen in this life or the next.
I know that regardless of our marital status, the gospel is worth living. I truly believe that despite the challenges we face as single adults, we are on a path that leads to eternal joy. The gospel has given me a purpose in life, the strength to persevere, and the ability to stay optimistic about my future. As a great man once said, “the future is as bright as your faith.”