“Being Single: An Opportunity to Prepare for the Person I Want to Marry,” Ensign, June 2020
“If there were a perfect woman, do you really think she would be that interested in you?”1
This is the quote that has been on perpetual repeat in my mental playlist ever since I described to my parents the perfect woman that I dream of marrying. With the kind of tough love you can only get from family, my parents never miss the opportunity to remind me that I am a “hopeless romantic” with “impossibly high” standards.
In return I never miss the opportunity to point out the exceptional quality of my own mother and sisters. With such excellent women already in my family, would it really be so unreasonable to seek a bride who may be (slightly) out of my league?
Humor aside, one of the most important things I remember learning in church as a kid was this: “The truest mark of your success in life will be the quality of your marriage.”2
Since then, I have always kept these words close to my heart. I always believed that my greatest accomplishment in life would be finding and marrying the most wonderful woman possible—one whom I could treasure above all else. One who could be my best friend, confidant, and companion throughout the eternities.
Yet, having played my part in the dating game for nearly a decade, the family joke continues to resonate and beg the unanswerable question: Why am I not married yet?
To be honest, for a long time this was a trial that I struggled with daily: to be a bystander as I witness all my friends get married; to watch my pool of friends gradually dwindle as, one by one, they move away to happily begin the next chapter in their lives; to be the last remaining bachelor amongst my group of friends.
It’s been frustrating to not have my marriage dream come true yet, especially when I feel that I’ve tried to do everything right. I was the first person in my family to ever serve a mission. And while I’m not perfect, I’ve always been temple worthy, obedient to my parents, and a good example for my seven younger siblings.
I don’t know how many countless nights I spent wrestling in prayer before God. I wasn’t asking for money, success, or an easy life—just the opportunity to literally fulfill the first commandment ever given.
After a while I concluded that maybe I just wasn’t putting myself in the right places. So when I heard about Festinord (a young single adult conference held each year in Scandinavia), I thought that maybe it was something meant for me.
Determined to take matters into my own hands, last summer I decided to visit Sweden, the land of my father’s ancestry. My aim was, first, to embrace my cultural and family roots. I would also attend Festinord and meet new people. Perhaps my future eternal companion would be among them!
During my trip, I met many spectacular women, but I didn’t connect with any of them spiritually or romantically.
Although I enjoyed my time in Sweden enormously, as the festival came to an end I left my ancestral homeland feeling somewhat empty and confused. Traveling home, I really did feel like a hopeless romantic, cursed to chase a childhood fantasy forever. I hadn’t realized yet that I had actually discovered the answer to prayers a long time ago.
In the weeks that followed, I spent many nights wondering, “What have I done wrong?” But in time, as I continued to seek spiritual guidance, I began to sense, through “small and simple things” (Alma 37:6), subtle reminders of a valuable lesson that I had once learned.
On my full-time mission to Armenia, I had learned that by putting the Lord’s work above my own desires, I could achieve His will as well as fulfill my own righteous purpose. By losing myself in His service, I could become who I was truly meant to be and be the servant He required in His vineyard.
Like Peter, who, after the Lord’s Resurrection, went back to fishing as he had done before Christ’s ministry (see John 21:15–17),3 I had forgotten who I was—or who I was meant to be. I had forgotten that the process of allowing the Lord to shape me was neither a quick and easy task nor something that applied solely to my experience as a missionary.
As President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, has explained:
“In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something. …
“… The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become. …
“… We must not give up hope. We must not stop striving.”4
My moment of personal growth and spiritual realization came as I understood that I shouldn’t focus so much on finding my eternal companion but on becoming worthy of the woman I want to marry—not just worthy to enter the temple but worthy to fulfill all the roles my love will require for a life of togetherness and spiritual progression. I would need to qualify myself for her in every way, both spiritually and temporally, so that I could be the man she would expect (great husband, father, leader, and so on). Even more, I needed to focus not so much on asking blessings from the Lord but on recognizing the divine hand that was preparing me for the very thing I was asking for.
Like young Solomon, I needed to ask the Lord not for my own desires but for the means by which I may truly become an effective servant (see 1 Kings 3:7–14) and “weave beautifully [my] small thread in the grand tapestry.”5 If I could merely see the bigger picture, I would no longer ask myself, “What have I done wrong?” but rather, “What lack I yet?” (see Matthew 19:20).
While I had been trying to do everything right, I was not paying enough attention to what God was trying to help me become. I realized that serving or keeping the commandments would be pretty meaningless if I was just going through the motions or checking off a to-do list. Instead, I could do everything—even the little things—with the goal of preparing for the person I want to marry.
Festinord helped me rediscover what I had once learned on my mission: that I am slowly becoming what the Lord wants me to be. He will be “a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). It was a reminder that I needed to say goodbye to the person I was—to the old version of myself—so that I could become the man I was always meant to be.
And while being unmarried can still be disheartening at times, I am encouraged by the fact that with each passing day I am a better man and that this is the stage in my life to prepare the most, while there is still time, so that one day a righteous woman will be willing to “take a terrible chance on [me].”6