We just started a new school year, and that means that our young single adult family home evening group has grown considerably. I'm not really good at making friends especially not at family home evening where it seems like everyone knows each other already. So instead of staying, because I feel so uncomfortable, I leave, and because I've left, I don't make any new friends and it becomes this vicious cycle of never knowing anyone and never being comfortable. What can I do to make FHE more meaningful?
— Kendra (Cambridge, MA)
This may not be of any consolation, but you are not alone in how you feel. I would even go further and say that many of the people in your current family home evening group are sharing a lot of your feelings of loneliness and discouragement.
Family home evening is one of the most important programs of the church. Temples close and meetings take a break, all so that people can have time set aside to enjoy the company of their family members.
For a young single person, especially one in your situation (living away from home, at college on your own) FHE can seem like just another opportunity to feel like "Why don't I have a family of my own yet? I don't fit in with these people. Get me out of here!" At least this is how I have felt in the past. No offense, FHE.
I explained these feelings to an old mission companion and she challenged me to gain a testimony of family home evening. For me this meant, I needed to stop thinking of FHE as "OK, now I'm going to be social with people I don't know and there is a 99.9 percent chance of me being awkward."
Instead I needed to think, "How can I know that FHE is inspired of God? Does Heavenly Father actually care whether or not I am here? How do I gain spiritual confirmation of this truth?"
This change in attitude has made a world of difference for me, and it can for you too.
The scriptures promise that, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself" (John 7:17).
Modern day prophets have said that family home evening is for you and other single adults like you (me) and they have promised that "Regular participation in family home evening will develop increased personal worth, family unity, love for our fellowmen, and trust in our father in heaven” (President Spencer W. Kimball, President N. Eldon Tanner , and President Marion G. Romney, "Family Home Evening: Happiness through Faith in Jesus Christ," 1976, page 3).
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So you can put FHE to the test.The social aspect of family home evening may continue to be difficult, but you'll know why you're there and you'll know that you should be there.
I know from experience that singles activities can be tough, but I also know that they have a purpose specifically for you. Have the courage to find out what that purpose is. God will help!
Dear readers: What has been your experience with FHE? Do you share any of Kendra's feelings? How do you overcome your discomfort at church activities such as FHE?
Advice columnist Angela Trusty answers questions about a variety of topics, including the Mormon young single adult experience.