I almost wrote this blog post this morning…but then I had a prompting to sit down to write at the end of the day. I somehow just knew that throughout the day I would receive answers and insight in the form of light and knowledge that would give me the confidence to write what I am about to write. Sure enough today at church every talk and every lesson pertained to what I am about to say. Not only that but after church I received a direct answer to prayers in the form of support from an unexpected source. I know my Heavenly Father is aware of my situation and He loves me dearly.
I have always considered myself a man of faith. I have attended church since my infancy and I dedicated two years of my life to serve a church mission in Ecuador. I attended a church school for my undergraduate education, Brigham Young University. I have always attended church and institute classes and I like to think of myself as having stayed “in the mainstream of the church.” I have never given up on the church altogether and I know I would be lost without it…yet faith in one aspect of my life has been missing. Faith is the first principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ and yet few of us church going people really live it. When times are easy sure we can do it no problem, but in the moments when our heart and worst fears are on the line we often shrink.
I am a very competitive person and I have always followed a simple formula for success. Dream big + Hard work and dedication = success. I feel like I have found success in many areas of my life. School and athletics are two examples. I’m only in my second year of dental school but in a way I feel as though I have made it. I am into my career and as long as I don’t have some freak accident hand injury I should be able to practice dentistry throughout my life time. I followed the formula and it worked…dream big + hard work and dedication = success. I decided not to quit when it got rough, I exerted more effort and it paid off. My career in athletics was the same…sheer determination, training and sustained effort over a long period of time led me to experiences with D1 BYU volleyball and then later professional Basketball.
Yet there is one area of my life where this formula has failed miserably… in my dating relationships. I have struggled because my formula here does not apply. The reason why dream big + hard work and dedication DOES NOT always equal success with relationships is because there are three sides of the equation. Thus it becomes a complex 3-dimensional structure that must come together just right. Not only do you have to be doing your part, but you have to wisely choose someone who is doing their part as well. Sometimes, even when both people are giving their best effort and want to be together the formula just doesn’t work. Heavenly Father and his timing must smile upon the relationship in order for it to work out. SO the three dimensions are you, your partner and Heavenly Father and His timing. Anytime two worthy people get married in the temple I feel like it is a miracle and of a divine crafting. There are so many variables that have to come together at just the right time.
Many of us singles claim we have faith and that we are disciples of Jesus Christ. Yet how do we react when our dating relationships continue to fail? Do we become anxious, bitter, depressed and faithless? Do we throw ourselves a pity party and put ourselves in a jail cell of doom and gloom? How do we choose to respond?
I am as just as guilty as any of you are. After my mission to Ecuador I got home on a mission to find a wife and start a family. I knew this would bring me the greatest joy and happiness in my life and allow me to progress. What I didn’t realize is that I did not have full control over when this blessing would happen and that it would drive me nuts!
I dated seriously for years at BYU in hopes of joining the happily married before I went off to school but one of the three parts kept malfunctioning. What if I ended up accepted only to a dental school in the middle of nowhere!? What then of my marriage possibilities? Everyone although they don’t admit it, thinks this way at one point or another.
Most often I must admit it was my side of the equation that was out of whack. I had plenty of options but I was picky and afraid to commit. I got discouraged because I dated and dated and nothing was working. My friends and even my younger sister were all getting married all around me but here I was still alone. I lost faith in my Heavenly Father and his promises that if I was righteously doing all that I could that eventually he would bless me with a wife and family. I wasn’t patient. I thought, I am worthy and doing all that I can do so why does the blessing not come now? I became discouraged and bitter.
There was one relationship in particular where I was ready and I committed 110 percent. I finally felt ready and that the timing was right. I put my whole heart into it but this time I wasn’t the problem. It was a problem with who I had fallen in love with, she wasn’t emotionally available to be in a relationship with me. The relationship failed miserably and my world was shattered. In this moment unfortunately I did not respond as a man of faith. With a lot of other outside stress on my plate I lost hope in dating all together and decided to just focus on myself and have fun. My standard of girls I decided to date slipped and I purposely dated girls I knew it wouldn’t work out with in order to protect my heart from feeling broken again.
Since then I have moved away from the dating Mecca of the world in Provo and have slowed my social life down quite a bit. I feel like I have healed and I have made huge strides as far as being personally ready for a temple marriage. I rewired my heart for love and to be ready to find someone who I could put my whole heart into. I declared to the world my readiness to find a wife and settle down with the Mormon Bachelor. I was blessed immediately at that time to fall in love with a beautiful woman who has a beautiful heart and who I care deeply about. Yet once again the perfect 3-D structure has failed to come together just right at this time. For whatever combination of reasons whether me, her or God’s timing it just hasn’t worked out as planned.
At this moment I have a choice…I can decide to do what I have done once before and become bitter and discouraged and give up hope or I can choose to be a man of faith. I have no idea what the Lord has in store for me but I do know that I will waste no time in trying to put extra effort and exhaustion into something that does not seem to be working right now. I can’t force anything, especially love. I also have no control over the agency of another person and how they choose to act.
As I reflect on where I am at right now I feel as though the Lord is giving me a second chance to respond with faith towards my dating situation at a time when it is extremely difficult to do so. When the world comes crashing down and you are staring at heartbreak and loneliness in the face and all your worst fears seem to be coming true is the very moment God expects us to rise up and have faith. By doing so you prove to yourself and to God that you are strong and that you can be trusted no matter how difficult the circumstance.
Success in dating and relationships should not be defined by simply joining the married ranks. After all, 1/2 of all marriages end in divorce. Success in dating and relationships should be measured through faith, patience, selflessness, charity, and by how well we listen to the spirit of the Lord. I believe whole heartedly that the Lord guides us in our relationships through the spirit if we are to STOP…(RED LIGHT), SLOW DOWN (YELLOW LIGHT), or GO FOR IT (GREEN LIGHT).
If we listen to the promptings the Lord will turn any situation into a positive if we let him. No today does not always mean no tomorrow. We never know what the future will hold. Some people break up and get back together when the timing is right. Some people unexpectedly meet someone new as time passes by…Only God knows the end from the beginning and one day we will look back and it will all make sense.
What we know now is that his promises are endless and WILL come true if we are faithful. We must stay close by his side and trust that He knows whats best for us. He will perform a miracle in our lives when the time is right and when both people are willing and ready for that miracle to occur.
So how do I respond now as a man of faith? I must choose to progress with my head held high…To look towards the future with optimism with whoever and whatever it may hold. I must find an inner peace and confidence in who I am and what I stand for. I must choose to not worry about what I can’t control and trust that God is in control.
I will never lose hold of my dreams and I will never stop putting forth hard work and effort into my relationships and dating…but part of being a man of faith is to calmly and confidently trust in God and that his promises will eventually be fulfilled. To trust that he can and WILL perform a miracle if I continue faithful. I must live my religion and be the man of faith that I say I am. I can’t just “check my religion at the door” as Elder Holland says when the going gets tough. I must be a follower of Christ at all times and in all places and in all things. After all this is what we made promises to do at baptism. Mosiah 18:9 states …”to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places that ye may be in even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life.”