Thank you to President Russell Shurtz of our Stake Presidency for this great piece! Although it is aimed to the young single adults of the stake, I think there is something for everyone.
What to Remember When Looking for a Spouse
As a young single adult in the Church, there are both tremendous opportunities and challenges. Your ability to learn, to serve, to minister, and to get involved in the community is extraordinary. Compared to those who are married, you likely have more time to travel, develop your talents, study the Gospel, and explore the beautiful world in which we live. For those who are actively seeking a spouse, however, it can still be a discouraging time. You may feel a deep sense of frustration at not having found the right person yet, particularly as you see others around you starting their families and “moving forward” with their lives.
I remember very vividly this time period in my life when I was anxiously seeking to find the right person—but seemingly not having much success. Sometimes I didn’t seem to be meeting any new people at all. I felt stuck in a routine of seeing the same people over and over. Other times I was meeting new people, but none of them felt like the person I had been searching for—the right “fit” for me. And so for a period of years I hoped and prayed, sought to exercise my faith in God’s plan for me, went to the temple regularly, and reached out to meet as many new people as I could.
During this season of life, I remember receiving wise counsel from my bishop and other trusted friends and family members. With the benefit of hindsight, I can see that their counsel was indeed spot on—and helped me get through this particular season of my life. I share below some of their counsel with the hope that it may also prove valuable to you.
First, they invited me to focus on becoming the person that God wanted me to become. Sometimes that involves waiting and trusting. Personal growth and development often take time. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell observed, “The issue for us is trusting God enough to trust also His timing. If we can truly believe He has our welfare at heart, may we not let His plans unfold as He thinks best?” [Even As I Am (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1982), 93]
Rather than despairing and pulling our hair out, we can focus on building a meaningful and rewarding life without a partner, recognizing that if we can’t learn to be happy on our own, chances are that we’ll struggle to find happiness even when that special someone comes into our life. In short, we need to learn to be happy now, even when things are not ideal.
Life doesn’t necessarily get easier once we are married. In fact, it often becomes much more complex, particularly when children enter the equation. So learning to be happy now, even when we are single, is vital to our future happiness in married life.
While we are still single, we can focus on using this time to further our education, strengthen our future career and work opportunities, and more fully develop our testimony. Looking back, much of the Gospel knowledge and strength that I draw upon today came from that season of being single, when I had more time to study and ponder the scriptures—and to think deeply about what mattered most in my life. It truly was foundational for the rest of my life.
Second, they encouraged me to focus on becoming the type of person that I ultimately wanted to attract and be with. We generally will tend to attract people who are like us. If we are not focused on strengthening our testimony, if we don’t attend the temple, if we don’t share the gospel, and if we are generally unhappy, then it is unlikely that we will attract someone who loves all these things, who actively does them in their life, and who is happy.
Sometimes God moves in unexpected ways in our lives. I never cease to be amazed as I hear stories of people I meet (both in and out of the Church) who met their spouse in a highly unexpected way—or who married someone with a completely different background—and yet are now so grateful to have their spouse.
I am incredibly thankful for the inspired counsel that was shared with me when I was single and struggling. Those lessons have remained close to my heart even today. Lessons about learning to trust God, to use each season of life productively, to become the kind of person that God wants us to become and that will attract the type of person that we hope to attract.
God’s ways are indeed higher than our ways—and His timetable often differs from our own desired timetable. Blessings sometimes come sooner and sometimes come later. But come they will. I thank Him each day for the wonderful lessons He’s taught me—and for the blessing that eventually came into my life when He orchestrated events to eventually help me cross paths with Sister Shurtz on a blind date. That led to the greatest blessing in my life: an eternal marriage with a Christlike person and a family that is sealed to us forever in the temple. God undoubtedly has our best interests at heart. May we build our faith in Him and trust Him to lead our lives in the ways He knows will bring us the greatest joy and personal growth.