It's no secret that LDS leaders are worried about the young single adults in the church.
Mormons aren’t the only ones seeing such it — single members between 18 and 31 no longer attending church and feeling no pull to return to the faith. The Catholic Church is dealing with the same issue. Even the Amish are wringing their hands over kids who leave the fold to live among the "English."
When people go AWOL from the church, we think it may be a social problem, or an intellectual problem or maybe a question of temperament. But it's been my experience that it's a spiritual problem. And that requires a spiritual solution and help from individual members.
Maybe my history can shed some light.
I left the LDS Church at age 22. First, I hated structure. I didn't feel the church was teaching me discipline; I felt it was "disciplining" me — as in punishing me. It got so neckties felt like nooses and starched white shirts felt like straight jackets. And the rules. I felt I was living in the era of Leviticus.
Second, I had no use for people in authority. I saw them as people who wanted me to behave a certain way because somebody had made them behave that way. A classic child of the '60s, I trusted no one over 30.
I remember being in a road show when I was 15. My friend and I were supposed to be two missionaries — Elder Doctrine and Elder Covenants. But on stage, I introduced us as Elder Sodom and Elder Gomorrah.
The line got an enormous laugh.
It also called down the wrath of the road show director.
I felt terribly persecuted.
The third reason I left: curiosity. I saw the world as a Baskin Robbins ice cream shop, and I wanted to sample all the flavors.
But the big reason for my wayward ways was this: I never felt a real spiritual connection. My body and senses felt at home in Brigham City, but my soul was always at sea.
Years later, Elder Neal A. Maxwell would lead me to the stream of living water, and my nomad years — my gypsy wanderings — came to an end.
Once I made a spiritual connection — once I got in touch with my deeper self and the deep feelings of warmth, goodwill and joy — I was able to work on all those other concerns listed above.
In my case, it took one person to show me what I really wanted and how to get there.
It usually takes an individual, not an institution.
The LDS Church can do only so much to help young adults find feelings of tranquility and belonging. Individual members must do the heavy lifting, the "deep work."
Once again, it's about "the one" helping "the one."
Once again, it's about the communion of unique, one-of-a-kind souls.