This Up Close: LIVING SINGLE post comes from the energetic and entertaining, Sheryl. She grew up in Virginia and currently teaches school outside Washington, DC.sherylg

So when I was first asked to write this post, I thought to myself, “Seriously? I’m being asked to write a post about being single? I’m only 26! I guess I’m the next Sheri Dew. Better yet, since my name is Sheryl, I’d be the next Sheryl Dew.” But in reality, I do have an opinion about being a single, black female as a Latter-day Saint Christian, and I don’t mind sharing it.

Living just outside of the Nation’s capital where everyone is so concentrated on verbalizing their resume and playing the asking game of, “Who do you know?” and “What are you doing here in DC?” before asking your name, it can be a challenge to remember the more important principles of God’s eternal plan for His children. However, I do think about one of those principles often and that one is, eternal marriage. I openly tell people I want to be married. Sometimes I get the response of, “Don’t think about it and continue on with your life.” I sometimes want to scream back and say, “It’s not like I’ve been waiting around and not doing anything with my life! If you’d like my resume, I am a BYU graduate and a former collegiate athlete. I served a mission. I returned honorably and worked at the MTC. I’ve worked three years for the Especially For Youth program both as a counselor and a building counselor. I currently teach just outside of DC through the Teach for America program where I’m doing my best to alleviate the achievement gap. and I’m almost finished getting my masters!” (Out of breath) Instead, I usually respond, “Well, I really want to be married.”

So when I sit down and think about it, I wonder why I’m not married? It could be my race. I belong to a predominantly white church (well in America at least) and I’ve heard the most outlandish comments from people I’ve dated like, “My dad thinks it would be a bad business idea if I ever married a black girl.” However, I’ve also dated boys outside of my race whose parents embraced me with open arms. Is it the fact that I come from a single parent home? In our culture, that is taboo whether anyone wants to openly admit it or not. In response to that I grew up in a very stable home centered around strong gospel principles and values that I could carry into marriage and although it isn’t the typical family set up, it’s how I was raised. Please don’t judge. Sometimes I think, “Could it be me? Am I too picky?” However how can someone be too picky when there aren’t that many dateable options?

At the end of the day, I’m left feeling frustrated and confused. I’m left thinking, it’s a miracle that two people can find each other in this huge world, be single at the same time, like each other the same amount to commit to dating each other and then commit to eternal marriage. As I look at all of my married friends’ blogs, I think, “Wow they are so happy. There is something missing in my life. I’m so behind!” Even though marriage doesn’t equate to internal happiness, I know I yearn for it. I want to be married. I want to be starting a family in THIS life not just in the next to come! I love Sheri Dew, but I don’t want to be her.

Even though this topic can be a frustrating topic for me and many of my single friends, when all is said and done it only takes one. We are frustrated by the men in our wards who aren’t dating or asking us out. We are equally frustrated from the choices of guys we have to date. They are often focused on their careers and having fun. As one guy told me once on a date, “I like being single. I finally have money in my life and I can do what I want when I want.” To that I think, “Marriage isn’t some lock where the key gets thrown away buddy. You can have fun when you’re married too!”

Again, it only takes one. That one can be found. That one has been found for many.

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57 Comments

  1. Aimee

    August 23, 2009

    I turned 25 in April of 2001. I met my sweet husband, three years my junior, a few weeks later. You’re right, it only takes one. I’m surprised by the comment you made about “My dad thinks it would be a bad business idea if I ever married a black girl.” That, to me, is so contrary to the gospel’s teachings. My bi-racial husband was also raised in a single-parent home. He is an incredible example to me of testimony, strength, and faith. At 26, you’re still young. I know you probably hear it all the time, but it’s true. My beautiful MIL is nearing the 50 mark – she is still young, still single, still looking for Mr. Right but is also happy. Being single is not a disease, a crime, nor something to wish away. You are a great example of embracing yourself for who you are. Be courageous, be an example, be faithful. Just like you said “Again, it only takes one. That one can be found. That one has been found for many.”

  2. Kevin Barney

    August 23, 2009

    Sheryl, this was a terrific post. I enjoyed it very much.

    My sense is that coming from a single-parent background is not much of an issue. I seriously doubt anyone would reject you on such a basis.

    I’m sure your race is an issue for some young men (or, more likely, their parents), but I suspect (or hope?) not too many fall into that category.

    You are obviously a very lovely and accomplished young woman, and as frustrating as the journey is I don’t doubt that the miracle of marriage will happen for you.

    Anyway, I appreciated the fact that you were so willing to own your desire to actually get married. A lot of people won’t admit such a thing publicly (maybe for fear of jinxing it), but I remember feeling the same way before I got married and I could relate very much to your feelings.

  3. ZD Eve

    August 23, 2009

    Sheryl, I know of one case where a woman’s family had serious reservations about her fiance because he came from a single-parent home. From what I understand, their concerns about his being a so-called child of divorce led to her breaking off the engagement. So I can imagine that for some people, anyway, that might be an issue.

  4. Nan

    August 23, 2009

    My first thought on the racial aspect is that this is such an American issue. I served my mission in Sydney, and knew dozens of couples in each ward who were of different races–generally Polynesian and white–and nobody there ever batted an eye.

    Some years later I lived in Texas where I was called as an advisor to an incredible group of young women. The most stellar of these was an amazingly spiritual 17 year-old who also happened to be African-American. My husband, working at the temple at the time, hired her older brother there. My husband once asked him about being a minority in a mostly white church, and how he had dealt at high school that was very integrated racially–who did he identify most with? Troy laughed and said, “My culture is the ***** Ward. That is where I grew up. That is what I know. Of course I identified with the LDS kids.” Some years back Elder Oaks gave a talk about our first culture being to that of the Lord’s true doctrine; President Uchtdorf gave a talk a few years ago about the faith of our fathers and the common “ancestry” each member of the Church has. I guess what I am saying is that members–all members–need to stop looking so much on the outward appearance and more on the heart.

    You are beautiful, by the way. As for the young woman I taught all those years ago in Texas . . . . let’s just say I wish for three girls exactly like her in a couple of decades for my three little boys. My boys would get righteous companions and I’d have the prettiest grandbabies on the block.

  5. Natasha

    August 23, 2009

    Thank you so much for this post. I struggle with the same thoughts. But, you’re right, it does only take one.

  6. Bean421

    August 23, 2009

    I can really relate to this post. You are such an accomplished woman.

    I grew up in the church and got married when I was just shy of 26. Race is such a tricky issue at church. A previous poster mentioned seeing lots of inter-racial relationships and I think that is fantastic. However, I don’t think you’ll find many AA women in those relationships.

    Parents of friends would often be seriously dismayed and tell my friends, “We just really worry about Bean because mixing races isn’t recommended by the church.” One mother even gave me a list of scriptures she felt backed up her claim. My own MIL had to have multiple meetings with her bishop to feel good about my marriage to her baby boy.

    All I can say to you is keep doing what you are doing. Eventually there will be a man to compliment your amazing abilities and accomplishments. Every pot has a lid!

  7. Angie

    August 23, 2009

    I’m still surprised (and grateful) that I found a faithful LDS guy to marry. I don’t fit the traditional or stereotypical LDS female profile, so I was coming to terms with being single. In my case, I experienced a strange aversion in some LDS men to my masters degree. Other LDS men were not scared off by me, my achievements, or my quirks – but still it wasn’t a match between us. God’s hand was absolutely present in my meeting and marrying my husband… And that’s the main point I want to make: especially for a covenant-keeping LDS person, God is absolutely involved in our search for a spouse. This is a decision with consequences that will ripple through generations, so OF COURSE God is involved.

    In my case, I wished the timing had been quicker. I didn’t like being alone through certain trials and triumphs in my life. But it didn’t happen the way I necessarily wanted. That is and was so hard for me to accept.

    Regarding the question of race, it is absolutely true that it is a dominant factor in all of American society, the LDS church, and relationship decisions. And still the same truth applies: God has His hand in bringing two people together in marriage, despite differences and challenges. We can have faith and hope, because God is involved. (If only I had thought about it more in these terms when I was single. I would have saved myself some anguish!)

  8. Angie

    August 23, 2009

    One more thing, once I got married , I realized that some of my single experiences had specifically prepared me to be happier in marriage. For example, when I got into a family ward, I heard women griping about petty things their husbands did. I knew what it was like to go it alone, so I was more than willing to overlook the small stuff. I have never once taken mu husband for granted – I know very well what it would be like without him. That’s just one example; there are so many ways that being single for a long time helped me to be a better spouse.

  9. Michelle Glauser

    August 23, 2009

    Do I see a pattern of teachers here?

  10. QueenScarlett

    August 23, 2009

    I love your personality. LOVE it. I had many issues like that as an Asian woman at BYU… let’s face it… those boys just didn’t grow up imagining a non-white wife. The ones that did ask me out served Asian missions. 😉

  11. m&m

    August 24, 2009

    I think it’s great that you are real about what you really want.

    It does only take one. And it IS a miracle when it happens.

    God is a God of miracles, though.

    And there are many other miracles to look for besides The One. I hope you can feel that in your life, regardless of what happens on the marriage front. I wish I’d trusted that more when I was worried about not being married. You clearly have so much to offer. Keep it up.

    I read your last paragraph and think there is more here to discuss than race. Clearly, the greater culture of ‘entertain me’ is at play as well…that culture of entitlement, the culture of avoiding marriage. It’s something our leaders have talked about and are concerned about. It’s alive and well, even in the Church. It stinks.

    All the more frustrating, because you can’t control that. And you don’t WANT that. You want a guy who wants marriage as much as you do! 🙂

    Hang in there. Live life with gusto…you have much to offer, and can do much good where you are in your life. Give God and your life your heart, and it will unfold with miracles aplenty. I see that all the more now looking back at the years I was single. Miracles all over. Miracles still bearing fruit.

    This is my view, too: You just never know why things happen as they do. Sometimes it’s because of others’ stupidity or whatever. But sometimes, I think it’s because our life’s plan has its twists and turns as part of something bigger than what we can see or understand. God is good. He will be with you every step of the way…even if you can’t always feel that.

  12. JDD

    August 24, 2009

    Let me start by saying that any large group of people is going to have some racists. It’s important that we don’t deny that fact, because, if we pretend like it doesn’t exist, we can’t work to eliminate it. That having been said, I’d like to suggest that the views of the inactive sisters above may not be representative. There are plenty of “white” women who don’t get married in their early twenties either… perhaps that proves that Mormon men are racist against white women… ? 😉 My Caucasian sister is about 26, and she’s not married either…

    I can only speak from my own experience. I married a black woman. We married while we were both BYU students. My wife did occasionally experience some ignorance in Utah. Obviously, there aren’t many black people in that area, and some few people don’t know how to act. But, according to her, she never once experienced racism. When we were sealed, the sealer (an older man, obviously) said God approved of our marriage. My grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and siblings all love my wife. In all the wards we’ve passed through, we’ve never run into any problems with racism. Members have always been supportive.

    Sheryl, you’re still young, and obviously stellar. I wouldn’t worry too much. For what it’s worth, if I were a single guy in D.C., I’d probably go out with you. 🙂

  13. S.Faux

    August 24, 2009

    Sheryl:

    You are a beautiful woman, inside and out. Any guy who wins your heart will be THE lucky one.

  14. namakemono

    August 24, 2009

    The comments about race are interesting to me because one of my first impressions of church (as an adult convert) was the number of mixed race couples – I am in a mixed race marriage too, and it was kind of a relief that I wasn`t going to “stand out” so to speak.

  15. Bro. Jones

    August 24, 2009

    So sorry to hear what you’re going through, sister. I’m with #6, but the issue is even bigger than race. It’s not just Mormons–my non-Mormon friends and family were surprised that I dated (and married) a black girl. And it’s not just black girls who have trouble dating in LDS circles: I know a smart, stunning white brunette girl who is constantly passed up in favor of blondes.

    At the risk of being harsh on my brethren, most Mormon men I’ve encountered want a very particular kind of woman: blonde, skinny, fond of homemaking/child-rearing, 5th generation LDS…you know the drill. Not only are you different from this stereotype, but you’re smart and accomplished. Mormon guys are easily intimidated by that kind of thing. Which is unfortunate and really stupid.

    You won’t hear this from many people, but I encourage you to look outside the Church. I was directed by the Spirit to marry outside the Church (and she joined 1 year after we were married). I’ve never regretted it.

  16. Christa Jeanne

    August 24, 2009

    Sheryl, it’s such a delight to read your post! I don’t know if you knew me at the Y, but I remember seeing you around campus – you always stood out (in a good way, of course!). Way to go, accomplishing so much! I’m still in singlesville on the other side of the country, and believe me, it isn’t just you. Dating is in dire straits in singles wards these days. It’s such an odd dynamic – the girls in my ward are so accomplished and beautiful, smart and talented and sweet, and yet they don’t date. The reason I’ve heard from some of the guys is that they don’t feel worthy of the girls – but then the girls figure they must not be amazing enough to get asked out, so we keep cultivating our talents and putting ourselves more and more out of the league of the fellas. Ridiculous, right? I totally agree that it is nothing short of a miracle that people find each other and get married. I’ve been in the workforce for almost five years now, and as much as I enjoy my career and the fun of the single life, I’m over it. I, too, would just like to be married and starting a family already, getting to what I feel like I’m really here on this earth to do. And I don’t care if other people are condescending about it – after all, it’s my life to live, not theirs!

    And I’ve got a really cute friend in med school in Chicago who I’d set you up with in a heartbeat, if you’re interested. He’s all kinds of awesome – you two could hit it off… 😉

  17. bean421

    August 24, 2009

    JDD, I’ve been an active member all my life. I’m glad you and your wife have felt a wonderful reception to your marriage. I wasn’t suggesting to Sheryl that race was always going to be a problem. Just that she wasn’t crazy for thinking that it could be one factor in her singlehood. Many are uncomfortable with that topic and will try to sweep it under the rug, which is unfair.

    I will agree whole-heartedly with Bro Jones about the RM arch-type. I have many white friends who are also amazing accomplished women who are single. DH and I were out the other night at a dinner party and they commented on our age difference. I am about 3 years older. These LDS men proceeded to say, in all seriousness, that they were glad they married younger women so they could mold them. DH spoke up and said he married me to be a sugar mama and changed the subject.

  18. bean421

    August 24, 2009

    I’m not implying that people who get married young have no will of their own! Just relaying what was said. 😉

  19. Christa Jeanne

    August 24, 2009

    Sorry to hop back into the fray, but I do have another thought to pipe in. This weekend I went out with a guy friend I met at BYU who has since left the Church. Getting his insight into the LDS male mind was fascinating! He made the point that a lot of guys do want the little wife they can mold and teach and such because on the one hand, they’re supposed to be the head of the household, and on the other hand, in the Church we are constantly taught that the women are these amazing, divine daughters of God (which, being a woman, I’ve always appreciated!) – while the guys tend to get the smackdown to avoid pornography and other lasciviousness.

    I’m not saying that isn’t warranted, but I also never thought about how those different message points could affect dating. It goes back to the guys in my ward not feeling worthy to date the women in the ward – worthy as in real worthiness issues as well as just self-esteem. Dating in my ward is so rare that the bishopric actually had a month-long contest for who could go on the most dates! It feels like such an impossible situation, and I wonder how much of that stems from that difference in how the guys are taught. Either that, or all the good ones get snatched up right after their missions! I feel like all the guys past 25 tend to still be single for a reason…

  20. Sandi

    August 24, 2009

    It looks like you hit on a hot topic. Stick to your guns girl, you have it going on. My husband is black and I am the Relief Society president. Nothing holding us back. Nothing holding you back. I used to say, anyone who looks down on me for dating a black man–I don’t want for a friend anyway.

  21. Kevin Barney

    August 24, 2009

    Sheryl, this is probably a dangerous thing to do, but let me imagine for a moment that I were a 20-something single LDS guy living and working in D.C., and I met you, either through a single’s ward munch and mingle or through mutual friends. Here’s what would be going on in the inner recesses of my male brain:

    1. As I said above, for me at least the fact that you were raised by a single parent doesn’t even cross my radar screen. As a guy, I just don’t care.

    2. Obviously I notice that you’re black. 30 years ago I would have been too insecure in myself to date a black girl, but in 2009? No problem. Not only would that not be an impediment, I would see it as kind of exotic. It would be a plus. (But then there are a number of mixed-race marriages within my family, so that might be easier for me than for some whitebread kid from Draper worried about what his parents might think.)

    3. I wouldn’t be intimidated by your obvious intelligence and accomplishments. I know some Mormon guys are, and that that is a very real phenomenon, but it doesn’t apply to me. To the contrary, I find intelligence and accomplishment in a woman to be extremely attractive qualities.

    4. I probably would, however, be intimidated by your substantial beauty. I would figure you were out of my league, and that I had no business asking you out on a date. I would imagine in my mind’s eye that if we did go out together, people would look at us and womder “What is she doing going out with *that* guy?” And so I probably wouldn’t ask you out. (I mean myself when I was in my twenties; I’ve gained confidence in myself over the years, and if I could time travel back to when I was that age, sure I’d ask you out.)

    I only went through this little thought exercise to try to illustrate that there are all sorts of reasons why guys might not be asking you out on dates.

    I’m also a believer that women have just as much right to initiate dates as guys do. If you meet someone you think you could be interested in, take the initiative and ask him out yourself; don’t play games waiting and hoping he’ll ask you out.

    I bet there are a bunch of guys in your orbit who would love to go out with you, but are too shy or don’t feel that they would measure up to your stellar standards. But you’re the one who gets to judge whether someone is attractive enough or intelligent enough or accomplished enough or whatever for you to find them to be someoone you would want to date. If you ask a guy out, a lot of that insecurity melts away, because he’ll say to himself, “Hey, she asked *me* out! I must be good enough to go out with her…”

  22. m&m

    August 24, 2009

    I know some Mormon guys are, and that that is a very real phenomenon,

    I did experience this on occasion. I even had one guy said flat out that he was intimidated by me because I was getting a Master’s and he was still on his bachelor’s.

    All I can say is imo it’s better to be single than to marry someone who can’t appreciate you for your gifts and talents!

    I’m also a believer that women have just as much right to initiate dates as guys do.

    I agree. My experience, though, would be then to at some point give him time to take the reins. I got tired of taking ALL the initiative. Also, once the right guy came along, he stood out a lot because of the initiative he did take.

  23. m&m

    August 24, 2009

    And I just have to say that you are gorgeous.

  24. AMF

    August 24, 2009

    Wonderful post, Sheryl! I love how you address both race and the fact that you want to be married (both very real issues/worthy topics) without apologizing and without seeing yourself as a victim.

    Frustrating and confusing, that’s exactly how I would describe the dating life. The idea that anyone goes from point A (single) to point B (married) is a foreign concept to me anymore.

    Choices of men… that’s hard. I know a lot of good men out there who want to be married, who are searching just like we are for someone they can make it work with. I’ve learned that spending my precious time online and going on blind dates with men I have zero interest in is a necessary evil sometimes. And I don’t really believe in being too picky. In the end, you like what you like.

    Don’t you love the Sheri Dew comparisons? I serve in the YW program right now and feel like I’m often made the poster child for the “successful” single woman. My life is what it is, but I hate being defined by my marital status. I also cringe when someone (i.e. the well-meaning Beehive leader last Sunday) comments on how I am successful even though I’m single. As if being single is a defect, or something that needs to be coped with or compensated for. It’s all I can do sometimes to smile politely rather than throw myself to the ground and thrash about. 😉

    I don’t have much more to add to my rambly comment, other that to say thanks for a great post to which I can relate. I wish I had answers… you are obviously a beautiful and accomplished woman. Best of luck to you (all of us) in our search for a good-hearted man and a successful marriage.

    p.s. Shout out to Kevin Barney. There are a few writers I always read (at BCC), and he’s one. I love his kind-hearted perspectives on, well, everything. 🙂

  25. Paula

    August 24, 2009

    I agree with #17 Christa. YM (and YW) are taught some very different things in our church. As a mom of two boys (and two girls) I hate it. Sure, we’ve got a bunch of teenage eagle scouts, but Priesthood sessions and YM lessions are full of “you can do way better” “porn’s bad” “be considerate of young women” messages. I don’t remember a single “Be considerate to the young men” lesson in YW. But there were lots of “Be your own kind of beautiful” messages sent my way. Why are the men in our Church bombarded with negativity? How about less scouting and basketball for mutual activities and more uplifting testimony-building experiences? We can’t rely on the mission years to make up for a lack of positive spritual experiences for our teen young men.

    Also comment on #6 Katie’s decision to leave the church. We are a world-wide Church with more members outside of the US than in it. I was raised in Hawaii where people acknowledge color, but aren’t generally overwhelmed by differences like people can be “on the mainland.” Possibly shopping for an LDS hubby in the continental US isn’t the way to go. (I’m not excusing Caucasian prejudices, but am aware of them for sure.) Elder Bednar’s Conference talk a few years ago about taking offense also comes to mind. The people who rejected you because of your skin color aren’t suffering because of your decision to leave the Church. I’m in no way condoning their behavior when I say the person affected most is you.

  26. Leslie

    August 24, 2009

    Sheryl- First thanks for writing this post! You know I think highly of you. You’re amazing, and I am sure the coolest teacher in the school. I obviously do not equate the term single with unmarriageable or old (as one who got married after finishing grad school).I love your “I want to get married” spirit- I love that you are unapologetic about it. It shows you’ll bring something amazing to a marriage because it’s something you want to be powerful and important. I do think there is something in our culture (rather than our theology) that biases against smart girls (after all I did write the post here entitled boys like smart girls and other myths). I have often wondered how race factors into social relationships in our contemporary world. How much is it an issue and how much is it not? When I was at BYU I went out with some black guys who openly admitted feeling that some people treated them differently- not necessarily in an openly prejudiced way but in an “I’ve never really known a black person” kind of ignorant way.

  27. Kevin Barney

    August 24, 2009

    AMF, thanks for the shout out!

  28. Merry Michelle

    August 24, 2009

    Sheryl-
    This post was honest, open and true to life. You are really are a delight! I’m with Sandi #21–stick to your guns and the Lord will bring “him” to you. I think you have a righteous desire and yearning and there is no shame in that. You are obviously living life to the fullest and using your gifts as the Lord would have you. Every marriage TRULY is a miracle as is the timing of it in our lives. I was SO glad I had some education, travel, and life experience under my belt before I married.

    And as far as the “curse of Cain” or whatever–I just want to snack some people! I grew up in a mostly black ward in Virginia, our bishop was black and so was my brother’s best friend. That was the norm to me. When I moved to Utah, I kind of wondered where everyone was hiding.

  29. Merry Michelle

    August 24, 2009

    Whoops–I meant “smack” some people! (maybe I could smack them and then we could snack on them…)

  30. Two Sides

    August 24, 2009

    Being a single man in the church is just as challenging as being a single woman. For example, people say things like #20 above “I feel like all the guys past 25 tend to still be single for a reason…”

    The reason some guys are still single past 25 is they haven’t found the right person yet, just like some women who aren’t married when they would like to be.

    If there’s nothing wrong with being a single woman, there’s nothing wrong with being a single man either.

  31. Christa Jeanne

    August 24, 2009

    Sorry, Two Sides. I didn’t mean that as such a slam. That reason might just be that they haven’t found someone who clicks with them enough to head to the altar. What kills me, though, is how little dating is happening. A lot of guys just rest on their laurels and don’t make the effort toward dating and marriage. We women get such mixed messages – asking guys out has never worked well for me, and most girls like myself prefer to be chased. It doesn’t work when the woman initiates the relationship. So if the guys aren’t asking anyone out, then we’re stuck.

  32. Two Sides

    August 24, 2009

    Dating seems to be fading or has faded as a social mechanism for meeting/getting to know people in society in general. It’s hard to navigate social relationships for both women and men.

  33. Christa Jeanne

    August 24, 2009

    But hanging out doesn’t really lead to marriage, either. What would you suggest, Two Sides?

  34. Cameron

    August 24, 2009

    As a married man, I would like to say in an appropriate manner: I wouldn’t worry to much about it at this point. You are beautiful spiritually and physically, and seem to be an amazing person. Just keep up the good work, stay in the game, and do your best.

  35. Cameron

    August 24, 2009

    Sorry for the double post, but my old bishop and his wife didn’t get married until their early 30s, and my uncle didn’t find the right woman for him until his late 30s.

  36. lee

    August 24, 2009

    Something which hasn’t been mentioned is that perhaps the white guys feel like you wouldn’t want to date them. Maybe they assume you’re mainly interested in black men.

  37. Naomi

    August 25, 2009

    I love your blog…It was posted on Facebook by one of my LDS MidSingle Guy friends…The Lord provides us a mate at the right time and it will be the right person. This life is a blessed journey if we appreciate being single as an opportunity to serve, grow and learn. You sound amazing…and a blessing to so many…

  38. James

    August 25, 2009

    I know I’m probably going to pick up flack for this, but here it comes.
    I lived in Utah until I was ten and then moved to San Jose, California. My childhood was spent around Caucasian, Hispanic, and Asian families. The first crush I can remember having was on a cute Hispanic girl in the fourth grade the year I moved to California. Into my teens I had relationships with girls of differing races: Vietnamese, White, Mexican, but all of the girls I found myself interested in were races that I spent my childhood around.
    The point is that I found that as I grew up that I was attracted to the kind of people that I grew up around.
    I can recognize a black woman as being beautiful, but I’m just not attracted to very many black women.
    Some make too much of the idea that Utahan’s must be racist if they aren’t interested in girls of other races. Keep in mind that most of these men (and women) grew up in a place where there is little to no diversity. This also hold true for people throughout the world.
    I suspect some of the awkwardness experienced may not be prejudice, but acute self-consciousness on the part of some of these Caucasian Utahans when trying to interact with people of any race they did not grow up knowing.

  39. Sheryl

    August 25, 2009

    1. Wow, I had no idea that their would be this many responses to my post. I have a personal blog that I choose to keep private because I don’t think my life is that interesting. Therefore, I prefer to be uninteresting to my close friends. However, I’m amazed at this opinionated blogging world that’s out there. My friends would never comment this much if I wrote this on my blog, but if I cut my hair or write about something else unimportant they would have a lot to say. Thanks for sharing your eye opening comments.

    2. It’s nice to know there are nice people in the world. Thank you for the compliments.

    3. Getting married isn’t the issue. If I wanted to “get” married I could have. I’ve had the opportunity. I want to “be” married and most importantly stay married just like anyone else. It’s just difficult when I feel that I don’t have as many dateable options as some of my other friends. I personally don’t feel like being an active, black LDS person is an anomaly, however to many I am and I am treated differently. So in response to James, I understand that one’s enviroment and exposure to certain races can lead to preference. I grew up in a white neighborhood and went to BYU, I’ve been exposed to a certain race, so I mostly date white men. It’s just frustrating when race is the setback to those I have been interested in. But you’re right black girls just may not be someones’ preference, just like close minded, ignorant people aren’t mine. Also for the record, many of the boys I have dated are from Utah. They are a lot more open-minded than people give them credit for.

    4. I would never leave the Church because I’m not married or dating. Jeopardizing God’s eternal plan for me because of this small trial in my life isn’t part of my daily checklist. My heart goes out for those who’ve left the Church over the matter.

    5. Ending on a funny note. I teach 3rd grade. My students are always confused as to why I’m not married. They’re 8/9-years-old, what do they know about this subject? Seriously! One conversation always sticks in my mind:

    E: “Ms. Garner, when are you going to find Mr. Garner?”

    Me: “Ha! I don’t know, but when I do I’ll let you know. In fact boys and girls, you really don’t need to ask me the same questions all the time. Yes, I’m 25 (I was at the time). No, I don’t have a boyfriend, and no I’m not married. If anything changes, I’ll let you know.”

    (Hand raise.)

    Me: “Yes, B?”

    B: “Why don’t you just join e-harmony?”

    Me: “Ha! Ok, let’s get back to the math lesson.”

  40. Christy

    August 25, 2009

    Thanks for your post. You seem like an amazing woman, and you deserving an amazing man. I’ve been married for a number of years. I’m a convert to the Church, and I really felt the pressure of getting married. I rushed into it, and it’s not been a good thing. Your attitude about “being” married is right on. Choice of companion is the most important part…does he lives the standards of the Church, is he a righteous priesthood holder, will he honor you and your covenant, is he honest, is he selfish, etc… A lot of LDS woman gloss over those details in their minds because they want to get married…they justify and think they can change him. The problem is, do they want to “be” married to a man that doesn’t honor them, their covenant, or his priesthood? Anyway, thanks so much Sheryl.

  41. Anonymouse

    August 25, 2009

    Dear Bro. Jones,

    I don’t know what Sheryl’s feeling is about dating outside of the church, but searching for a mate outside the church seems to be the wrong place to be looking.

    And a little risky — what if they never join? what if it causes division, agony in what you hoped would be a happy marriage? what if that eternal marriage you wanted is sacrificed because you start to fall away?

    Sheryl,
    My heart goes out to you, and my prayers are with you in your search! May you be blessed for your faithful dilligence in becoming the best daughter of God you can be! I know Heavenly Father sees that, and will not withold the blessings you seek.
    Tough part is, His timetable, His plan :-)! God bless!

  42. rk

    August 25, 2009

    Sheryl,

    I read your post and I had a nightmare last night about being single and dating again. I’ve been happily married for 10 years, but reading your post brought back some unpleasant memories. I must have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There are some great things about being single but I’m glad I traded them in for a good husband.

    To me it always seemed like “timing” was the biggest factor in getting married. I went through years of the frustrations of the dating scene and then I met my husband unexpectedly. He had gone through some similar frustrations as well.

    Your husband is out there somewhere looking for you!

  43. wendy

    August 25, 2009

    Sheryl, I love your post. I remember specifically thinking when I was 26, “I’m not worried about getting married right NOW, I just don’t want to be single when I’m 32.” I was engaged a month before I turned 33. I guess I’m telling you that because I want to echo at least one commenter’s words to not worry about it yet–not that you should throw out the goal. I never gave up my goal of marriage in this life. But I worried about it too much. I had ups and downs in dating (in and out of Utah), was engaged once, have a Master’s degree. It really just wasn’t the right timing.

    I have a black friend (Jamaican) who married at 41 (a caucasian man with adult children, but he wanted to have a family with her, so she had her boys at 43 and 45), two single friends caucasian who are 42 and fantastic, beautiful women like you, another who married at 38 and is a happy new mom at 39. The Lord knows your heart. He also has a plan for you. The better in tune you are, the more happy you’ll be whether you’re single or married.

    The dating/not-dating frustrations probably aren’t going to stop until you get married (and then you get a new set of frustrations). But as you stay close to the Lord, He will help you handle the dough-heads 🙂 who can’t see what a great catch you are, and come up with clever come-backs for the ignorant people who tell you to “get on with your life.” He’ll continue to direct your path as He clearly already is. Good luck!!

  44. Sue

    August 25, 2009

    My daughter got married last year at the age of 30; coincidentally, to a non-Caucasian. It was a long wait for her, and from about age 28 on I could sense her discouragement. When the time was right, her patience and persistence paid off.

    I have a 29-year-old son who, like you, has no trouble dating at all. In fact, he is considered a “catch.” However, he has not met “the one,” and while I can tell it’s getting hard for him, he is doing his best to have faith that the Lord will bring her into his life when they are both ready.

    In the meantime, it sounds like you are doing wonderful things in your life, which means that wonderful things will come to you.

    So keep on keepin’ on, Sheryl. Your prince will come. =)

  45. JDD

    August 25, 2009

    Hi Katie. I really don’t want to be confrontational. I don’t know when you left the Church; it may be that you’re simply not familiar with modern trends in Mormonism.

    You say, “why would there be (in my opinion) racism within ‘The Lord’s Church.'” I, of course, completely agree with you that God is not racist. I ask, though, what church or group of millions of people is entirely free of racists? Are your expectations reasonable? Just because God is at the head of the Church does not mean that He controls us all like puppets. Those within the church who are racists are clearly acting contrary to God’s will. As much has been said over the pulpit at General Conference.

    Beyond that, what church does not have some institutional racism in its past? Catholics had the inquisition, which targeted Jews; Protestants used the “curse of Cain” doctrine to justify slavery; Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism, was an anti-Semite, etc, etc.

    At some point we need to acknowledge that people and peoples can change. We shouldn’t forget past racism, nor should we ignore the problem when it creeps up now days, but it’s simply unfair to condemn the Church when so much has changed.

    It’s also unfair to focus only on the negative. While it is true that Mormons, like most peoples, have struggled with racism, we have also been quite extraordinary in many instances. Joseph Smith, for example, was remarkably ahead of his time. You might find this page interesting: http://www.allaboutmormons.com/ENG_racism_0.php

    You say, “I’m very passionate about this – and my own story, so I have to speak up.” I can completely sympathize. It’s my story too, since I’m married to a lovely African American woman. I’m also passionate about this issue. My experience has been very different from yours, perhaps because I am still a member of the Church and so have a more up-to-date perspective. The simple fact of the matter is that in my own story, racism has not played a prominent role. My wife and I have always been welcomed and accepted by our ward families, and by my extended (Caucasian) family, including the grandparents, who have overcome and buried past attitudes.

    I’ll leave you with a few quotes about the “curse of Cain” that you might find interesting:

    “And all I can say to that is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter [theologically] any more. It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year…” Bruce R. McConkie, in 1978.

    “One clear-cut position is that the folklore must never be perpetuated. … I have to concede to my earlier colleagues. … They, I’m sure, in their own way, were doing the best they knew to give shape to [the priesthood-ban policy], to give context for it, to give even history to it. All I can say is however well intended the explanations were, I think almost all of them were inadequate and/or wrong. … But some explanations were given and had been given for a lot of years. … At the very least, there should be no effort to perpetuate those efforts to explain why that ‘doctrine’ existed…” Elder Dallin H. Oaks, of the Twelve, in a PBS interview, regarding the racial theories of Brigham Young and others.

    “I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible? … Brethren, there is no basis for racial hatred among the priesthood of this Church. If any within the sound of my voice is inclined to indulge in this, then let him go before the Lord and ask for forgiveness…” Gordon B. Hinckley, prophet and president of the LDS Church, in 2006.

  46. Tiffany W.

    August 25, 2009

    Sheryl, this was such a terrific post. I loved your candid observations about your desires, struggles, and also your many excellent qualities and talents. I’m sorry that you have had to deal with racism and prejudice against your single parent background. I wish that wasn’t the case for you. But I am grateful that you shared it, because it reinforces my strong conviction that I want to instill in my children that we look at people first, who they are and what they aspire to be. I think I’ve got a good handle on it, but you’ve reminded me to be extra vigilant about it.
    I also love the way you’ve responded to others who have commented about your post. You did so in such a gracious way.

  47. JDD

    August 25, 2009

    Hi Katie,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. The truth is that many Churches claim to be God’s true church. It’s a common claim made by Catholics, many Protestant denominations (think Evangelicals), Muslims, etc. I don’t doubt that you heard “this is the true Church” often when you were LDS, but how often did you hear claims that the leaders of the church were perfect or infallible? I think you may have misunderstood what being the “true church” means. It doesn’t mean leaders never make mistakes. Even in Christ’s time, church leaders were not perfect. I seem to recall Peter, the chief apostle, denying Christ three times. To be a mouthpiece is not to be a puppet.

    How can you claim that the Church has not acknowledged past mistakes and repudiated past policies in light of the quotes I provided, made by high-ranking church authorities, and in one instance even the prophet himself?

    With all due respect (and I mean that sincerely), if by “in the past” you understand, “it was okay,” you are reading more into the statement than was ever the author’s intent.

    I’m afraid I’m not aware of the Spencer W. Kimball quote to which you’re referring. Could you please clarify? I would like to research this issue further. I searched through the relevant chapters in the current Aaronic Priesthood Manual (“Family Unity,” “The Eternal Family,” and “Sexual Purity”) and didn’t find any relevant Kimball quotes. I’m not familiar with the BYU Marriage Prep manual, but it wouldn’t surprise me too much to learn that a rogue professor chose to teach outdated ideas. I know that some BYU professors still teach against evolution, for example. These professors should be corrected, but that hardly makes their teachings “official” from the viewpoint of the institutional Church.

    “[How can you say that] it’s all folklore that no one buys anymore when a member of a stake presidency at BYU of all places is still perpetuating it, and no one in is correcting it.”

    Unfortunately, without knowing what quote you refer to and without being privy to the conversation you had with your Stake President (both sides, his and yours), I can’t really comment on what happened. For the sake of argument, however, let’s suppose that your Stake President did err in this case. If prophets are not infallible, are Stake Presidents? If an apostle openly proclaims that the old racist ideas are “folklore” and not “doctrine,” and a Stake President *implies* otherwise, which has more authority to speak for the institutional Church?

    Just for the record, had I been present in your class, I would have emphatically corrected the brother who spoke about the “curse.” I know many other Mormons, including, apparently, Dallin H. Oaks and Gordon B. Hinckley, who would do the same.

    For the record, I’m not making the argument that no one buys the “curse of Cain” idea any more. I’m making the argument that most do not, and that the institutional church does not.

    “I’m so happy that racism has not affected you. I don’t think that LDS people are racist, what a crazy generalization.”

    I think we agree on this issue, acknowledging, of course, that there are some few racists in our ranks. The question seems to be if the church *as an institution* is racist, i.e. does it officially proclaim racist doctrines? In my experience as a member for over 25 years, the modern church does not.

    “I have received countless e-mails and comments from very active, strong in their faith LDS people who are uncomfortable with this history.”

    I am certainly one of the active LDS people who is uncomfortable with the history! The question at hand, however, is whether or not the modern Church still espouses the old ideas about race. It does not.

    “My decision has been to walk out of a faith that did not serve to uplift me, and as a proud African Americans woman. Sorry, couldn’t do it.”

    I respect your decision to leave, but you must know that there are many African-American women, including my wife, who are proud of both their Mormon and their African heritage. It is not inevitable that one must choose between the two.

    Anyway, I feel like a total jerk because I’ve hijacked this thread, and I’ve dragged Katie, an innocent bystandard, into the fray. 🙂 That’s what happens when two passionate people start talking about what concerns them. 🙂 I have enjoyed talking with you, Katie. Sorry everyone!

  48. Rachael

    August 25, 2009

    Sheryl,

    When it comes to eternity, we want to be united with a man that can take us all the way. Not that we expect perfection, but we want a fella that’s trying his best! That includes actively seeking to follow the big EM commandment. Where do those guys hang out? Until I meet someone ready for a matrimonial adventure, I’ll just keep myself open and continue to develop myself.
    (As it appears you are doing also)

    (All this is from a gal living in Salt Lake, too! It’s rough out there!)

  49. Bro. Jones

    August 26, 2009

    #44 said, “I don’t know what Sheryl’s feeling is about dating outside of the church, but searching for a mate outside the church seems to be the wrong place to be looking.

    And a little risky — what if they never join? what if it causes division, agony in what you hoped would be a happy marriage? what if that eternal marriage you wanted is sacrificed because you start to fall away?”

    Oh believe me, dating (and marrying) outside the church was not a topic I approached lightly. There was much prayer involved before and during, and I consistently got a clear “nudge” from the Spirit that I was moving in the right direction. It may not work for everyone, but I’d encourage people to at least pray about interfaith dating.

  50. JDD

    August 27, 2009

    For those who are interested, I researched the quote Katie cited. It really needs to be understood in the proper context. I openly acknowledge that some racist statements have been made in the past, but I don’t think Kimball’s quote is one of them, based on the context. I posted my response here: http://www.allaboutmormons.com/Questions/daughter_mixed_race_couple_left_ENG_270.php#kimball_quote

    I’m trying to repent of my hijacking ways… 🙂

  51. just wanted to say

    August 27, 2009

    Hey- I appreciated your post, my situation is of being 40/single,etc. I truly relate to much of what you feel and want.

    But just wanted to say you might want to edit the lines (though you meant it in humor) about sis Dew. Each year a sis goes single it can get harder..I don’t know Sis Dew or her feelings on this deeply personal matter..ie if she would think it is funny or if she would feel hurt. Sis Dew is an awesome sis to emulate in many ways.

    anyway- glad you got such great comments/support but just wanted to encourage you to consider that statement.

  52. Traveler

    September 20, 2009

    I have a difference of opinion that doesn’t follow the norm. I have been single all my life. I am 50 years old. Each decade of life brings a different perspective on singleness. Most (with exceptions) single women are in the service industry. That’s something to ponder which we do a lot. It becomes easier as you age to be single. The times I cried over not being married could fill a lake. But I also see how many divorces there are and can see one reason for it (not all). Many get so panicky to marry that they don’t take the time to know themselves or the one they marry and then it’s too late. With time the pat answers ” Oh, you’ll receive the blessing of marriage in the next life”, “Marriage is not all that great”, “you must really be too picky”. and on the list goes. Don’t stop developing your talents and knowledge and putting you life on pause for something that may not happen. Be happy with yourself and a wonderful man will see that. It does get tiring when asked about your kids or if you have a husband. But I also see that I’m better off than a lot of other people. If your doing your best that’s what the Lord ask of you.

  53. Lisa S

    September 20, 2009

    I agree 100% with the previous poster. I am 54 and married..but only for the last 20 years. I grew up in the church being in young women’s in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The leadership never taught us to prepare for a career and when marriage comes along, it does..They only taught us to prepare for a temple marriage, period. I had wished that when I was young they would have asked the question,”What are you going to do with your life if you don’t get married till you are 34 years old?” When I was twenty I thought I would be at least married by the time I was 24..4 years seemed like a long enough time to meet someone and get married…but no 24 came and went and so did 25, so by the time I was 26 1/2 yrs, I served a mission. Returning at 28 I figured at 29 or 30 I would marry…..no, it wouldn’t be until I had graduated college….and then the next month I met him and then by May of the next year we married and then the next year he had our first daughter.
    So what can I say to you? Be happy with who you are, live the gospel the best way you can.. Maybe you won’t get married until you are 34…so what are you going to do with your life?
    By the way my husband is 6 years younger than me and we met at a single adult dance…even though I had said that I wouldn’t marry anyone I met at a dance.
    I new the night I met him that this was the man I would marry. I was ready and so was he.

  54. Savanna

    January 12, 2010

    Hi Sheryl! I am doing TFA as well, but in Miami, and I’m with you 🙂 Email me–I’m trying to build an unofficial LDS TFA network.

  55. Johnna

    January 12, 2010

    Hi Savanna, I’m the webmaster here. I’ll see if I can get your email address to Sheryl.

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