In the next month I'll be leaving my singles ward for a family ward. I'm turning 31 and officially "aging out" of my current congregation. I'm writing because I really feel like a failure. I had more than a decade to get married and "graduate" properly from my singles ward and with only a few dates and lots of awkward social activities, it just didn't happen for me. I'm developing a really negative attitude about religion in general and I know that it stems from being single in a church full of married people but knowing that doesn't change my feelings. How can I keep going to church when I feel so bad about all of this relationship stuff and it seems to be exacerbated when I'm there?
Aged out guy
Dear Aged out guy,
I can really empathize with how you're feeling, I think a lot of people can.
We had a Sunday meeting a few weeks ago where a speaker said to our LDS Church singles congregation, "The only thing you need to be focusing on is marriage and getting married." Right after he said that my friend leaned over to me and half-jokingly said, "What about Jesus Christ?" We both kind of chuckled, but then I thought about that all day. How much of our single person focus should be directed towards getting married? And just like you've described above, what happens when and if that focus starts to make you feel bad?
I don't know the full answer but I can think of a few ingredients: perspective, patience, hope, testimony — to name a few. These are thoughts and studies that have helped me when I feel overwhelmed with feelings of not having something, whatever that something may be.
What I do know, however, is that you aren't a failure just because you haven’t gotten married within a short and specific time period. In fact, as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland pointed out, “The Prophet Joseph Smith once declared that all things ‘which pertain to our religion are only appendages’ to the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
Focusing on the reality of a Savior and making Sunday worship about strengthening your relationship with him can begin to soothe whatever ails you. I would start there, I know this isn’t a perfect answer but I hope it helps.
Readers: What would you add to the discussion above? How have you made moving from a singles ward to a family ward a positive experience?
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Angela Trusty is a millennial writer who lives and writes about the Latter-day Saint experience. Twitter: askange_column