From the Other Side of the Mirror

I have been thinking an awful lot about this subject and feel that I need to at least blog about it.  Seeing that today is a day in which many people celebrate the women in their lives, I think today is a relevant day to speak about it.

Now that I happen to be in the "other boat" in terms of my marital status, I feel that my eyes have been opened to just how mucked up the situation is with young single adults, especially within the realm of my own religious culture.  I have looked out on countless situations of people desperate to be married, yet not having any sort of success in that arena, and I think to myself, "Was I really like that, too?"  It seems so odd to me, being married now, to think that I had some of the same dark mentality plaguing me a year ago.  It seems so silly to have let myself drift into such despair when such a bright light was right around the corner.

Let me share a bit about myself that I really haven't shared publicly, but I feel that maybe some might find some solace in knowing about it.  For the years following my mission, I felt extremely uncomfortable about dating.  There was something that just happened to me that I can't pinpoint to a single cause or incident.  I just didn't feel good about myself and trying to find my eternal companion.  I wasn't really shy, but this feeling of disinterest seemed to overwhelm me whenever I was supposed to be mingling in any of the young single adult activities that were provided to me when I was at BYU.  Mentally, I would check out if I was in those situations and would never be very social.

I eventually succumbed to feelings of great despair and disappointment.  I began to mostly believe that there was something horrifically wrong with me and eventually decided that I was unworthy of love.  The tiny candle of hope was almost all snuffed out in my heart.  I kept hearing from people that I was such a "great guy" and that there was someone special out there.  Sometimes relatives or friends wanted to set me up with a girl that they knew and I eventually started to reject the offer straight up front.  It was such a disheartening dilemma because I desperately wanted to get married, yet I felt spiritually and emotionally unable to even begin to try.

I wish I could tell you exactly why I felt this way, but I can't.  I still can't pinpoint it to anything in particular, it was just a dark time that lasted for several years without reprieve.  I can, however, tell you what kept the little flame of hope from completely disappearing from my heart: service in church.  It wasn't just simply attending church and going through the motions each week, singing the songs, pretending to pay attention during the lessons.  No, none of that put any fire on the tiny smoldering flame in my heart.  It was when I got off my keister and started doing things for others that kept that flame still lit.  It didn't take away my loneliness, but it kept me going one more week at a time.  I eventually had enough experiences to let me know that there is always hope to be had in the future, even if it is beyond this life.

I wish I could tell you that I was over this dark feeling of hopelessness when I first met Sarah.  (In fact, one of the things that she remembers from first meeting me long before we went on our first date was the fact that I seemed sad.)  I wish I could tell you exactly what it was that started to bring me out of this mentality, but I can't.  I can tell you that I had an excellent ward that I really enjoyed being around who were a great social support network.  I also dug in my heels with my assignments through the church and  found that I felt great when I got them done.  Those things helped, for sure, but no single event brought me out of the pit that I had dug for myself.

When Sarah first showed interest in me, I was stunned.  I wrongly thought that there must be something wrong with her if she liked me.  However, I got a few gentle nudges in the right direction and eventually decided that I had had enough of being miserable and feeling like I couldn't get married.  Once I made that conscious decision to change, everything else fell into place and month after our first date, we were engaged.  (That hardly does the whole thing justice, by the way...)

I don't know every single person's situation, nor do I mean to imply that everyone's situation can change as easily as mine did.  The only thing I really wish to share is a message of hope.  I waited seven and a half long years for my wife, and looking back I can see many valuable lessons that I learned as a single adult.  I would have married her had I met her right off my mission, and I don't know why it took us so long to find each other, but now that we are together, all of the pain I felt over those years is all but gone.

Going back to my original intent, I just wanted to touch on my feelings towards many of the women in my life.  I have many women that I know who are still single and I know yearn constantly to find a man that will treat them right.  Some of them go on many dates, and some don't get asked on any dates at all.  In truth, it pains me to tears to know that because these women are some of the most intelligent, creative, funny, compassionate, loving, and fun-loving women I know.  The sad thing of this whole situation is that these are the same caliber of women that my relatives tried to set me up with, yet I wouldn't even give them a chance because of my selfish attitude.  Shame on me for not giving them the chance to feel hope and acknowledge that they are celestial marriage material!  And shame on any man now that does the same thing that I did!  These women deserve so much better than what they are given and we should be counted lucky to even know them.

The other thing on my mind are those women I know who long to be mothers, but for one reason or another are unable to experience that joy.  My heart goes out to them and I hope with all my heart that our God in Heaven will hear and answer the prayers of their hearts.

In short, Happy Mother's Women's Day to all of you wonderful women in my life.  To all of my friends, thank you for being such great examples that I can draw on.  To my mother, thank you for being the best example I could have of compassion and how to treat others.  To my wonderful wife Sarah, thank you for your love!


Gaac said...

I loved this Bradley! I'm so happy you found Sarah and she captured your heart!

Susan said...

This was lovely. Sorry I've been bad at keeping my with my blog friends. Look what I missed. I knew you had a happy ending waiting for you.