When people ask Lisa where she is from, she says she’s from heaven. She currently lives in Arizona where she’s working on a Ph.D. in educational psychology. Previously she taught elementary computers where her students nicknamed her Miss Giggles. She loves elephants, quilting, running marathons, and reading children’s literature. Throughout her life she’s frequently been compared to a butterfly, either because she’s graceful or because she likes to float along in her own world and occasionally touch down on reality. She can be found blogging at Random Giggles

If we are all being honest, we have to admit that at some point we have at least thought it about someone we know who happens to be both single and, oh, say, over the age of 22. They must still be single for a reason.

Rarely is that reason ever stated, but the implied reasons are never good ones. He’s still single because he’s too immature, because he’s lacking in social skills, because his priorities are mixed up, because he’s addicted to pornography. She’s still single because she’s too focused on her school/career, because she could stand to lose a few pounds, because she’s too much like one of the boys and isn’t feminine enough.

Admittedly, we usually say it differently for women. With them it generally comes out more as, “you’re so pretty, I’m sure you’ll be married soon,” or some other half compliment. Half because you have to remember the other side of it. While such a phrase may be well intentioned the unsaid implication is, “there must be something terribly wrong with you I am not aware of or else you would be married.” I love Elder Holland’s talks, “The Tongue of Angels” in the April 2007 General Conference. He addressed parents and how they talk to their children, yet I’ve seen the same happen when two adults converse. He says, “You may say most positively that ‘Susan is pretty and Sandra is bright,’ but all Susan will remember is that she isn’t bright and Sandra that she isn’t pretty.”

Having reached my thirties as a single member of the LDS church, I’ve heard my fair share of these “reasons”. In a few months, at the ripe old age of 31, I will be marrying a man who will turn 34 one month later. He’s heard quite a few “reasons” as well during the last decade. Yet neither one of us would change the timing on how things have worked out. For reasons known only to God, this is how He timed things for our lives. There were things we needed to learn and do before we married.

For me some of those things have been a mission, graduate degrees, travel, community theater, belly dance classes, learning to rely so completely on God, and growth and service in the Church that I could not have had otherwise. I know there have been things I learned that I would not have otherwise, blessings that would not have come in the same way, and paths I would not have traveled if my life had gone according to the time table of “well meaning” people around me.

Yet the fact remains, the main reason I’ve remained single for so long is because I have not yet married, because that was not the plan a loving Heavenly Father set up for my life.

And that’s a good enough reason for me.

22 Comments

  1. Sue

    August 23, 2009

    I have to admit I’ve been that person. I’ll see a girl and think, she’s pretty, she’s smart, she’s nice, I wonder why she’s still single? Pretty embarrassing to admit but I’m just trying to be honest.

  2. Michelle Glauser

    August 23, 2009

    What a lovely, honest personal essay. Thanks so much! Sometimes I mourn the fact that I don’t at least have a boyfriend, but then I think about all that I’ve been able to do and how I can see the Lord’s hand in all of it. That humbles me right away.

  3. Jordan

    August 23, 2009

    I have a friend (we’ll call her Marie; I don’t think she’d mind my telling the story, but I haven’t asked) that got married at 29-30 to a man about the same age. When she was about 24-25, I guess, one of Marie’s “friends” told her that if Marie had more faith, she would be married by now.

    Poor Marie wasted years of her life believing her. One of the major turning points in realizing how untrue that was, was the talk “But If Not,” by Elder Lance B. Wickman. The title comes from the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, about to be cast into the fiery furnace (ie facing certain death). They told the king that the Lord would save them if it was his will—but if not, they would still believe in the Lord and not worship the king’s gods. The depth of their faith had nothing to do with seeing results (even though they do end up being saved, they didn’t know that would happen and accepted their sentence anyway).

  4. Justine

    August 23, 2009

    I had well graduated from college and worked into my career before marrying, and I know the sentiments you share here. It was hard not to internalize all the ‘helpful’ suggestions. It was hard not to believe that I was strange, ugly, offensive, obnoxious, clueless, faithless, untoward, fat,neurotic, or in some way too eccentric to find a spouse.

    I guess I may still be all those things, but I learned that the Lord still loves me. And having a spouse doesn’t change the amount of love the Lord has for me. God bless.

  5. Kay

    August 23, 2009

    I was 31 when I maried. Being single was hard. Other peoples’s expectations and pity were hard too. I knew I had faith and was a ‘good girl’, but honestly I did give up hope that I would ever marry. I blamed it on being socially inept and not pretty enough. Who knows? Does my husband know he married an ugly social outcast? If not, please don’t tell him he may never figure itout!!

  6. Brenda

    August 23, 2009

    I was barely 25 when I married and you’d have thought I had one foot in the grave the way some people acted. My entire family, not to mention half of my home ward, was praying for me. Apparently I was turning into a spinster, getting ready to join the local knitting club.

    It’s funny, because I wasn’t old! To any non LDS person, they would have told me I was too young to settle down just yet! But like you said, things happen for a reason. This is the Lord’s time and who am I to question the timing? I feel very blessed to have been able to serve a mission, finish college, and work in my field before marriage. Those things have helped make me who I am today.

  7. Stephen M (Ethesis)

    August 23, 2009

    It happens. I was 29 when I got married.

    Wish you well.

  8. Julie R.

    August 23, 2009

    Thanks for reminding me that there is a reason, and it has nothing to do with my own (or others’) perceived inadequacies. Love your post, and best wishes in your future married life! 🙂

  9. lee

    August 23, 2009

    If not in marriage, then in something else, we all get to be a student of the Lord’s timing. I got married much younger than I “planned”, and had children much later than I “planned”. Both were opportunities to re-evaluate who is really in charge.

  10. Melissa M.

    August 23, 2009

    I didn’t get married until I was almost 28, and I still remember those single days well. Sometimes in my dreams I am 27 again, worrying that I will never get married, so I guess those experiences are deeply embedded in my psyche. Both my younger brother (3 years younger) and my younger sister (5 years younger than I am) got married before I did, and that was hard—made all the more difficult by the well-meaning comments people made. But now I am so glad I was a little older when I got married. I was able to get a master’s degree and serve a mission and teach college, among other things. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. I wish you much joy in this next phase of your life!

  11. Audrey

    August 23, 2009

    I recently had a member of my bishopric tell me that if I would start wearing more makeup, I would get married within the year. It’s hard constantly hearing “helpful” suggestions like this one, when the real answer is, like you pointed out, that the Lord has other plans for me at this time. Congratulations on your upcoming marriage!

  12. Angie

    August 23, 2009

    Ha! Ha! If you ever think you have to be/look perfect/faithful/sweet/whatever in order to get married, take a look at some married people! 🙂

    I LOVED what the post said about learning to completely rely on God. That is exactly what I learned while I was single. I remember one day when I was feeling very painfully alone , and I drove by a bar. I thought to myself, “This is why people go get drunk – because they feel like I do right now.”. And then I kept right on driving and praying. I developed a true relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus that is rock solid.

  13. QueenScarlett

    August 23, 2009

    Belly Dancing is on my life list. Love that you’ve already done it.

    I think members of the Church forget that early twenties is YOUNG! I wasn’t married until after I graduated BYU and started my career… because that’s what worked for me. Also…I’m not one to follow arbitrary religious culture codes. 😉

    I actually went to BYU intent on NOT getting married while in school.

    Regardless… if we break out of the LDS bubble we find that marrying in the 30s is normal… sometimes even “early”. For me… I needed the life experiences, I needed to be on my own – experience life and now that I am a mother… I don’t want to be anywhere else… because I’ve been elsewhere… it makes me grateful that I waited.

  14. lee

    August 24, 2009

    Audrey, that just kills me. Someday you can make a movie or write a book with that stuff.

  15. Audrey

    August 24, 2009

    It’s definitely difficult dealing with that kind of well-meaning comment, isn’t it? He meant well, but he’s been married for forever and doesn’t realize what a trial it can be sometimes to be single among married folk who think they know better than you do what needs to be done.

  16. m&m

    August 24, 2009

    “Yet the fact remains, the main reason I’ve remained single for so long is because I have not yet married, because that was not the plan a loving Heavenly Father set up for my life.”

    My experience, too.

  17. Christa Jeanne

    August 24, 2009

    Wow, Lisa – what a wonderful post! Thank you so much for your thoughts. I’m turning 27 this weekend and am still in Singlesville while my closest friends are on baby #2 (or, in some cases, #3!). Honestly, I’m pretty at peace with the Lord’s timetable for my life (even though at times I have divine discontent with wanting to be part of a marriage, even though I get that it’s not the time yet). I’ve seen too many evidences of God’s hand in my life to doubt that He will take good care of me AND my Future DH. We’ll come together when the timing is right, and I’m not all that worried about it anymore. There’s not a single thing I can do to speed up that time table, so why try?

    It is annoying when other people make comments on it, like you said. I’m looking into a move to Utah right now, and across the board, the #1 comment I get is “You’re going to find a husband right away” or “Just watch – you’ll meet Mr. Right up there.” I’m moving there for my career, not for my MRS! It just so happens that the ideal job and situation for me is there at this point in my life. I’ll be thrilled when THE ONE comes along, but for now, I’m pretty happy learning to rely on Heavenly Father and to trust His timing. It’s a valuable concept to grasp before entering into a marriage anyways.

    Good luck with your upcoming wedding!

  18. Merry Michelle

    August 24, 2009

    Hooray for this post!!! I am starting a parade for you strewn with rose petals! Heavenly Father works magic in all of our lives–who said the timing has to be identical? Good for you–sing it, Sistah!

  19. Fairymay

    August 24, 2009

    My husband told me a funny story regarding dating.

    One of his old roommates was also his EQP at BYUI. My hubby became his roommates assistant, and shortly thereafter this roommate proceeded to tell him that as his EQP, he was given the inspiration to tell him that unless he started going on a date four times a week he wouldn’t someone for him. My hubby politely told him that he didn’t need to do that, because it was just silly. this EQP took it to the stake president, who told my husband that the EQP was able to recieve revelation for the members of his quorum, so he should go on four dates a week. Again my husband said no, because it’s his decision. Ironically, a couple of months later we met, and are very happily married.

    This former roommate is still taking four girls out a week, minimum, wih no end in sight.

    I think that it just shows that you don’t have to fill a quota to meet the right person. You just have to be looking, and open to it when you find it.

  20. Giggles

    August 24, 2009

    Christa Jeanne – Things with Mr. Right and I worked out when I moved AWAY from Utah. But I did no people who were afraid to move because then they wouldn’t meet anyone, or who were worried I would end up alone because I was leaving Utah. Some of my friends have already finished having children, and that’s a little weird to think about some times.

    At the age of 18, the Spirit told me I would be married, but it would happen in the Lord’s time. I decided then, that I wouldn’t worry about it, but if I hit 30 and was still single I’d start to really wonder about the timing. Oddly, it was on my 29th birthday that I wondered. My 30th birthday was very peaceful.

    My favorite “do this and you’ll be married” advice though came from a man who was older than my father and had never been married. He told me that if I went to all of the Institute dances then I’d be married. Because it had worked so well for him!

    Angie – your comment about looking at married people to see if you have to be perfect/beautiful/faithful/sweet/whatever to be married made both myself and my fiancé laugh.

  21. sarah

    August 25, 2009

    “Yet the fact remains, the main reason I’ve remained single for so long is because I have not yet married…” Amen, amen, amen! And yes, SO many of the married people throwing should NOT be throwing stones… good reminder that we should not take to heart a lot of the judgments that are made by people who really don’t know us. And a good reminder not to judge anyone else. This was a terrific post.

  22. Heidi

    September 23, 2009

    34, sisters. 34. And happy and healthy and loving (almost) every minute of it. Things I don’t love: being set up on blind dates, wondering if my ward is wondering about me, feeling like I have to compete with 20-year-olds because the men my age are dating them instead of me. But, you know, my life is blessed and I’m sure that the Lord is making sure the man I marry is the right one for me.

    Thanks, Lisa, for an inspiring post. 🙂

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