“A Different Path,” Ensign, Jan. 2005, 38–39
Being single can be challenging at times, but it can also bring unique blessings. Here are a few suggestions, based on my own experience and that of my friends, for making life meaningful as a single Church member.
Focus on what is good in your life. While it is true that nothing can bring greater happiness than marriage and children, it is also true that lasting joy and fulfillment can come from other things: nurturing relationships with family and friends, developing a skill, cultivating our testimony, enjoying the beauties of nature. There is more than one pathway to happiness.
It has been said, “There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands.”1 Being single helps us develop traits we may not have had otherwise. It may help us develop more compassion for those whose lives are not “ideal.” It may encourage us to rely more on the Lord for strength and guidance. It can refine us and help ensure that our testimonies are based on what truly matters, not just on what those around us are doing.
Take advantage of your discretionary time. Being single doesn’t necessarily mean having more free time, but it may mean we have more control over how we use our time. My friend Suzette stays involved in community service. Cinda makes pottery and goes mountain biking. Brad works on home improvement projects. Other friends attend school, participate in community theater, read good books, and travel. They make meaningful contributions to society and improve the lives of those around them. They know that real life isn’t only for those who are married.
Don’t give up. I have heard people say, “If I’m ever going to get married, he’s just going to have to drop out of the sky and land on my doorstep.” Trust me, that isn’t going to happen. I believe that if we extend ourselves and venture outside of our comfort zone at times, God will make up the difference if and when the right person comes along. In the meantime, we shouldn’t dwell excessively on what we lack. As President Gordon B. Hinckley once counseled single adults: “Do not give up hope. And do not give up trying. But do give up being obsessed with it.”2
Give others the benefit of the doubt. Some time ago my roommate and I were taking a married friend on a tour of our home. She paused when she saw a framed copy of the family proclamation hanging on our wall. “That’s so great that you’re displaying that, even though you don’t have families!” our friend exclaimed. My roommate and I just laughed. Of course we had families—we had parents, siblings, and extended family members, just not husbands and children yet.
There have been other times when, unfortunately, I may not have felt quite so magnanimous. But I know that most of the time people mean well. It’s true that those who married young don’t understand what it’s like to be an “older” single. But we single people don’t understand every trial that others experience either. We hope that others will give us the benefit of the doubt and look on the intent of our hearts, so we need to extend that same courtesy to them.
Know that God is mindful of you. I have found that my relationship with Him is my best antidote to loneliness. He has declared, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isa. 41:10). He loves me not because of what I do or what label I wear—single, married, or anything else—but simply because I am His child. He wants every experience I have to work for my good (see D&C 122:7), including the experience of being single. Because of Him, I am never ultimately alone, and my life has purpose and meaning.