A Culture Shock

In my post Our Story, I mentioned how important family and marriage is in my religious culture. I want to talk a little more about that today. I want to address how this push for marriage and family can leave some feeling less worthy and even worthless.

As a young woman, I imagined myself married by the age of 22, but, when 21 came, I decided to serve a mission for my church. I returned home a few months before my 23rd birthday, and I had no prospect for marriage. Many of my friends were married or getting married, and I had never been in a serious relationship. I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me. Why was I 23 and unmarried?

I realize that many of you are probably thinking, “Cool your jets sweetheart. You have your whole life ahead of you.” It is true 23 is still very young. I still had a lot of life to live, and plenty of time to find my eternal companion. Unfortunately, it is easy to feel bad about your situation when you and your best friend are the only unmarried ones from your age group and girls who are 3 to 4 years younger are married with at least one kid.

My feelings of inadequacy were heightened when I attended a church school for 2 semesters after returning from my mission. My roommates were all 18 to 20 and seemed to be going on plenty of dates with the prospect of marriage on the horizon. I may have gone on 2 dates that entire semester. “What is wrong with me?” I thought.

I left that university to finish my degree closer to home, and I gave up on finding love. The culture I knew pushed me to believe that, if I hadn’t found a husband yet, I was going to be one of the single women in the ward who played with other people’s kids on Sundays for the rest of my life.

I know that what my church teaches is true. I know that families are central to Heavenly Father’s plan for us. Families are where we learn and grow. So, my frustration is not with the church’s teachings. I am concerned with the culture that has developed within the church. We must emphasize the worth of every person. People in the church, women especially, need to know that their worthiness does not depend on whether they are married before they finish college. It is okay to get married later than age 22.

I want to tell all the women out there that they are beautiful. There is nothing wrong with you. You will not be alone forever, and, if you never marry, you will be loved by those families in your ward whose babies you play with on Sundays. You are worthy and loved by your Heavenly Father.

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