Marriage

Of faith & promises: a love story

For whatever reason, this story keeps coming to mind lately. Perhaps it can do someone some good. It’s long, but one close to my heart.

Disclaimer before we begin, however: I’m not saying that this story offers a play-by-play pattern for anyone’s future. It’s simply my experience with revelation from my Heavenly Father for my life. I hope to highlight the pattern for receiving and following personal revelation that can be followed. I offer my experiences that perhaps the Spirit might use parts or pieces to touch the heart of someone else looking for direction. This particular story has to do with the power of choice and faith.

So, grab a treat, and let’s begin.

I was 24-years old, just home from a mission, going to school with only three semesters left, and well on my way to my dream job: becoming a high school soccer coach and English teacher. Since I had been home, it seemed like everything was being given to me on a silver platter. I had potential offers at the school I wanted to teach at with several good connections, and I was already coaching their freshman/sophomore soccer team, with the head coach getting ready to retire soon. It seemed like this was where I was supposed to be, really. It was all lining up perfectly.

But my dating life had just turned south. I had just had a really humiliating experience with an ex-“not-boyfriend” that really took a toll on my confidence. I wasn’t feeling pressure to get married, but I had a great desire to love and to be loved, and I was struggling to keep that desire at bay.

After talking with my bishop and attending the temple, I was walking the world with a fresh perspective and approach: don’t worry about whether he or he or he is the right one. Just get to know them, and a lot of them, on a friend-to-friend basis for now. Boys are friends, not food. And it was insanely liberating. I didn’t care what they thought about me, and I didn’t care what I thought about them. And I got a handle on my heart, which was awesome.

I was sitting in sacrament meeting one Sunday, the priesthood distributing the bread to the congregation, when I had a subtle, but clear idea come to mind that I was supposed to go to the Women’s Conference my stake was hosting the next month. It was to be held on March 1st, the exact same day that I had already been planning for months to attend my college alumni soccer game. The sacrament bread was getting rows closer to me, and I felt the urgency to make my decision to listen to my prompting or not. I just wanted to play real soccer so bad! And my old teammates I hadn’t seen for years, and all my friends from college to visit, and my beloved St. George to cruise around. But I knew I couldn’t partake of that holy sacrament and disobey a prompting in the same moment. So instantly, I made the choice to stay and learn about women stuff instead. Eh. But that bread and water tasted good to my heart.

That Women’s Conference changed my life. The first speaker was blonde, beautiful, and drop dead hilarious. She was also 50 and had never been married. It blew me away. How could she not be married? I wondered. God seriously must have put a force field around her. As she spoke, she taught us about her desire to be married and her trust in God. “Being single has taught me that this is the time for me to focus entirely on my relationship with God. You must define your God. Who is He? What is He like? Do I really know how much He loves me? And if I do, then do I really entrust my life and my heart into His hands?” She spent her time teaching institute and helping college students come closer to Christ. She also told about how she tries to be the absolute best aunt there ever was to her nieces and nephews, and by the sound of it, she was blowing it out of the water.  And finally, she shared her feelings about the special opportunities she has had only because she was a single sister.  “Perhaps if nothing else, I can be a beacon for other singles who seek fulfillment even though marriage has yet to be their opportunity. God still has much for you to do.”

Overall, she showed me that if I didn’t get married for a while or even ever, that there was a great deal of good that I could do.

The second speaker talked about her struggle with getting married. She shared a scripture about Lehi in the Book of Mormon. In 1 Nephi 5:5, Lehi, in comforting Sariah, his wife, says, “But behold, I have obtained a land of promise, in the which things I do rejoice.” Now, if you recall this story with me, you’ll remember that Lehi says this to Sariah before they even see the promised land. They are still in the middle of the wilderness, and yet, Lehi speaks of the promised land already being obtained. The lesson she highlighted here is that it wasn’t a question in Lehi’s mind as to whether or not he was going to be in the promised land. He had received confirmation from the Lord that this would be, and so he lived as if he already had it fulfilled. This was the backdrop for her story.

She was 39, going on 40, had been in and out of relationships all her life, and was over-ready for a family. In the shadow of her birthday, she felt impressed to ask for the desire of her heart, and to put a time limit on which the Lord would fulfill it, and to be ready. Seriously, what a prompting. So, she called up three of her closest friends (who weren’t members of the church), and had them pray and fast for her to get married before she turned 40! One year! Talk about getting it done. Soon thereafter, a man she had been interested in for a long time just came out of the blue and they began to date. Miracle status.

However, it wasn’t long before she then had the unmistakable prompting that she needed to break up with him. It was hard and confusing, but she did it in faith, and continued to live as if this desire to get married before her next birthday was truly going to come true. And she did meet another man, who was perfect for her, and they were married. She was still 39. Happy Birthday.

Now it was at this point that the special, sacred thought came to mind: I have now shown you the best of both worlds [single and married]. It’s now up to you to choose. It was the clearest prompting I have ever received. But it was bizarre. Choose to get married or to be single? That was a no-brainer. Who doesn’t want to be married? Not to mention it’s a commandment. I was perplexed at this invitation.

Then, the speaker challenged us to find a blessing we felt we had been promised by the Lord, then to pick a time frame we felt was appropriate for that blessing to come true, and then we were to live as though that blessing really was going to be fulfilled by that time, as Lehi did. She gave us a few minutes of quiet to think.

As I thought this over, my thoughts turned to where I was promised in my patriarchal blessing that I would be get married and be a mother. So I went with it. I went to pick a time frame, praying it would be right. Next year. But I didn’t feel it was soon enough. August this year. But it didn’t feel soon enough either. July. Still not soon enough. Whoa Sir, I’m not even interested in anyone right now!

June? I thought timidly. And it felt right. I tried to move my thoughts at least to July, but for whatever reason, June just felt right. June. 4 months away. Sheesh. I didn’t know how I felt about that.

The speaker reminded us that we needed to ask in faith, and then to be ready. I didn’t ask anything about June right then. No, instead, I couldn’t shake that prompting to choose between being single and getting married. I’d start there. And I put this whole June thing in the back corner of my mind, by the cobwebs.

At home that night, I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to help me better understand why I would ever want to remain single in this life, so I could make an honest and non-biased decision. And it was pretty cool, the Lord showed me a life I could have only by being single: one of a wide reaching service. I understood that I couldn’t be a full-time mother and a full-time English teacher and a head soccer coach at a high school. It simply couldn’t be done. If I chose to be single, I could influence classrooms of youth for good, coach teams of girls for good, and who knows who else. This was what I went to school for and was truly my dream job. And my life was already headed right in that direction. And I felt like God was showing me that it was good and marriage would be ordered for my good later. I was still apprehensive to be alone my whole life, but I knew that if this was the path I was to go down, God would support me and help me. It was scary, but I understood.

After much pondering and praying and searching, I went to the temple, ready with my answer.

I told Heavenly Father all about what I had learned about being able to do what I loved while helping youth, whom I loved, for much good. Hundreds if not thousands of lives I could touch if I remained single. However, I felt that if I chose to be married and have a family and stay in the home, although I may be shrinking my pool of direct influence, I felt that my influence would be deeper. I wanted a smaller, but deeper circle of influence that I could work in with my husband to bring about much good. This was my choice. And I asked Heavenly Father, if by June, He could send me someone I would marry. But if He wanted me to remain single, I would do His will.

And my heart felt so! light. Although I didn’t feel any confirmation that my desire would be fulfilled, I did received further revelation in the temple of how to move forward from here and that Heavenly Father was proud of me for my efforts to make a choice. It was awesome.

Now there was only a small, small pool of men who attracted any of my attention at that time. Remember, at this point, I was still approaching the world with the intent on making friends, not boyfriends. One of them was Andrew. I wasn’t crushing on him, I didn’t let myself think about it, but he was absolutely intriguing. I just wanted to get to know him better. So after this whole Women’s-Conference-choosing-to-get-married-June thing, and the more I peeked into Mr. Snarr’s character, I just wanted him to ask me out.

March passed. No date.

April passed. I sorta asked him out. It was just to hang out, but it was actually really nice. But no date followed.

May arrived. FINALLY, he asked me out. And again, it was really nice. But no follow up date. What is wrong?!

And here came June, screaming its way into my face. June. The month. Andrew was the only one I was interested in. And I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. We would hang out here and there, indeed we had become friends, and it seemed even that he was interested some days, but no dates.

It was June. I felt like there were three options: I was crazy and June was a figment of my imagination-it wasn’t a prompting; it was just me trying to make a prompting happen. Or, hold out in hope and someone might still just come into my life or Andrew might just do a switcheroo and be the one. Or, I was to act in faith. I had heard stories before of women going after the men they wanted and having a happy ending. I did NOT want that. Where is the romance?? HE is supposed to chase ME. But maybe I really was supposed to act, to show the Lord how much faith I really did have that He would fulfill His promptings to me. Gina. Talk about stepping into the dark. Like the darkest of darks. Cheers to vulnerability.

So I did. I asked him out. I had talked about Lehi’s Round-up Week with him before and told him it was my favorite holiday. Round-up Week was the very last week in June. I asked him to come with me. On Saturday. The very, very, very last day of June.

We were going to have breakfast and then go to the parade together. And then he chose to stay and go to the park activities with me. And then he took me to Chili’s for lunch. And then I went to work with him while he trained horses. And I went home late that night. We were together all of Sunday. And as much as we could be after that. It was only 2 weeks until we were dating. And then only 4 more weeks until we were engaged. And only another 5 ½ weeks until we were married. Although it was really fast, it didn’t feel fast enough. I was more confident that I was doing the right thing than I had ever been about anything else.  Heavenly Father knew my heart, and He brought me a man that was everything I ever, ever wanted.

Boom, boom, boom. Just like that, promise fulfilled. It was that last day of June when everything changed.  Having the faith to act as if my promise was going to be fulfilled was one of the hardest mental things I have ever done. The Lord required me to put myself entirely out there. And He came through, as he promised He would.

“What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by my own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (Doctrine & Covenants 1:38).

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