Hard Feeling, Right Feeling

It’s a hard feeling,
but it’s a right feeling.

This is what I told the college girl tonight at Institute.

We could have been talking about the grief (hard feeling) of loving a father (right feeling) battling cancer.

We could have been talking about the difficulty (hard feeling) of caring for a spouse (right feeling) who is not well.

We could have been talking about the challenges (hard feeling) of raising children (right feeling).

We were, however, talking – of course – about marriage.

Temple marriages, to be specific.

Wanting and waiting for a Temple marriage, to be exact.

She is young and single and wondering why boys don’t ask girls for dates anymore.

How, she asked me, will she ever get to go to the Temple to be married, if she never gets a date?

Despite full awareness of my circumstances, I was surprised to realize she thought me an expert on the subject, and that I might have an actual answer.

I don’t have any answers.

If I had answers, I’d already be sealed up like a good Molly Mormon.

So instead of answering her question, I talked about it.

I said that we were on the right track because both of us have, through intense prayer and in depth scripture study, come to an understanding of marriage and the doctrine of marriage.   That’s a good thing.

We even have come so far as to want it.   That’s a good thing.

But wanting it, yearning for it, means also experiencing the grief of not yet having it.

It didn’t bother us when we didn’t want it.

Wanting changes everything.

Hoping for it means being aware it isn’t yet here, and waiting for it means being aware it hasn’t yet happened.

So it’s a hard feeling (grief of yearning)
but a right feeling (doctrine becoming yearning).

We talked about how we know we are being prepared, and what the evidences are of this.

We discussed the triangle of God and Husband and Wife:

We talked about how we can keep preparing by staying focused on the Savior, and becoming more like Him, and that will bring us closer to our husbands as they do the same (we grow closer to each other as we grow closer to God).

We talked about how that’s the easy part, just getting connected (the straight line from her to him across the bottom of the triangle).  Marriage is the hard work of really getting close, and that’s only through obedience and sacrifice and consecration.   That’s the hard part.

But all of that seems far away, when you are just missing someone you haven’t even met yet.

So I told her about Isaiah 54:4-10, especially verse 5 where it says “thy Maker is thy husband”.

I told her that Mr. Man is out there, somewhere, trying to be more like our Maker, more like our Savior.

When he’s ready, and we are ready, we will connect.

And he will be ready when he realizes it’s a command, when he understands the doctrine, when he puts obedience to God first and foremost above all else.  And a husband who truly loves God, and loves the way our Savior loves – by service and sacrifice and gentle teaching, that man will love his wife well.  So do not be afraid, I said.  Hold out for that righteous man.

He is out there, working to get righteous-er.

And I am here, working to get righteous-er.

That’s what makes us equal.  That’s what makes us helpmeets.  That’s what takes us to (and keeps us in) the Temple.

So I showed her the promises in Isaiah.  These verses are some of my favorite in all the Old Testament.  They are, of course, from the prophet Isaiah to the covenant people who are in trouble, who have not been acting like covenant people, who have been naughty.  They have been far away from God, and in this have removed themselves from His provision and protection.

It’s serious.  Everyone knows their sins, and everyone sees their consequences.  They have felt the full burden of bondage, of exile, of being far from the presence of God.

But still, like the father of the prodigal son, still He waits.

He waits, ready to receive them.

Even when they are barren, having produced nothing good.

This “barren” can mean truly not having produced children, it can mean not having produced good works, and it can mean not having brought any souls to God.  Regardless, these are the evidences of a covenant people who are looking like and acting like a covenant people.

It is by repentance we are delivered out of bondage, and by the atonement we are restored, and by the Spirit we are sanctified.

It’s a big process, to get us from here to there.  But He promises.

Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord  (verse 1).

The Lord will keep His promise of the principle of compensation.  As long as we are obedient to the Priesthood, the Savior will send us righteous priesthood holders to guide us, lead us, warn us, and bless us.  Even, or especially, while we await a husband.

The Lord will send us babies to hold, toddlers to chase, children to play with, and teenagers to laugh with, even while we await a husband.

The Lord will give us programs or projects or art or essays or gardens or books or whatever fits exactly us, so that we can create, even while we await a husband.

The Lord will call us to love, call us to service, call us to sacrifice, call us to give to Him by caring for His people in ways that are nurturing and nourishing, even while we await a husband.

The Lord will protect us and provide for us temporally and spiritually, even while we await a husband.

These are our evidences of our Maker being our husband.

For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall he be called.  For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth when thou wast refused, saith God (verses 5 and 6).

A woman forsaken is grieved in spirit.

Because it’s a hard feeling that is a right feeling.

The Savior is a sweet and tender “husband”, acknowledging how hard it is both to wait and also to become (from repentance to covenant keepers), while also promising (and providing) relief, comfort, and strength:

Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more (verse 4).

And He promises to bless our faith, our obedience, and our endurance.  He promises to respond to us as we respond to Him:

For a small moment have I forsake thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.

In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer (verse 7-8).

I know He is, truly, my Redeemer.

And as my Redeemer, He has promised to keep His promises:

For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee (verse 9).

This is our covenant, that we will be obedient and faithful and do what He has asked, and He promises that:

my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee (verse 10).

With Him as our “husband”, we are mother to His people, to His “house”.  Our lives should be dedicated to being “mothers of Israel”:

Every one of us can show by word and by deed that the work of women in the Lord’s kingdom is magnificent and holy.

(THIS TALK by Sheri Dew)

In being mothers of Israel, we mother our nieces and nephews and neighbor kids and other children in our ward.

But we can look at the full title like this:  Mothers to the HOUSE of Israel.

We know the House of Israel is the House of the Lord.

See?  It’s about the Temple.

This is one of three reasons (that I know so far, though I am sure there are more reasons) why we, as single ladies, can be Temple workers, but single men cannot:  our very virtue, our actual obedience to chastity, our painful experience of yearning and waiting for a Temple marriage counts as a sacrifice related directly to the protection of the Temple itself (OD-1).  The Temple is where we should be because it is what we are sacrificing for and what we are consecrated for until we are married.  Every moment of the grief that comes from waiting in obedience and yearning (hard feeling) is a direct protection of the Temple (right feeling), buying time and space for ordinances for the living and the dead to be completed (right feeling).

It is a hard feeling,
but a right feeling.

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Hard Feeling, Right Feeling — 6 Comments

  1. My 23-year old son is trying. He asks girls on dates and normally after a couple it’s over. It makes him a little frustrated to say the least.

    • Oh, that’s sad. Good for him that he keeps trying.

      The girl that I was chatting with last night, and myself – we are both converts and older, so it’s a little more challenging in that way. For us, it’s not that we can’t pick a good one, but that there is, literally, no one our age who is also active and who is single. So there just isn’t anyone to even get to try with – I think it’s a different kind of waiting.

      But for your son – to be waiting while trying – that’s a whole new level of obedience, to be trying and trying and trying. Good for him!

    • Tell him to keep trying. Some girls, especially on the younger side, just don’t get it yet…. ;) He’ll find someone who gets it, and gets him, but only if he is persistent. Eternity isn’t the easiest.

    • I was more than frustrated in my experience dating. I never went on more than 2 dates with a girl until I met the woman I married. I was 28, and really struggling. Despite my righteous desires, despite being around a lot of LDS young single women who claimed what they were looking for was a righteous, hard working man (I was active in church, went to all of the activities, played piano in priesthood, YSA stake rep, college graduate, had a full time job at a startup with a great career path ahead of me, etc). I thought I had everything. But none ever paid attention to me. I wasn’t tall, dark, and handsome, and so all of the YSA sisters seemed to just overlook me in a very literal way.

      It was in this same year that Elder Oaks gave the very pointed CES Fireside talk about “no hanging out”. I struggled big time with dating, and so I had hoped that through my involvement in activities, where I was never shy in talking to anyone or wanting to get to know anyone, I would be able to start a relationship. But Elder Oaks said that no man had an excuse for not going out on dates. I was in great turmoil, I felt that perhaps I was sinning because my efforts weren’t enough and they just weren’t working. I finally got to a point where I said a very pointed prayer (of course, it wasn’t just that prayer, but I think it was the culmination of things) where I just literally gave up. I told Heavenly Father I could no longer do this. I expressed my concerns and I didn’t know how to fulfill that desire and commandment. Persistence isn’t forcing. It isn’t necessarily dating every single girl. But it is keeping sight of that desire and goal.

      Within perhaps six weeks of that prayer, the woman I married came into my life, very suddenly. It was undeniable that she was the one for me as time progressed. She made it clear her intentions and I obliged. We were engaged a few months later and in a while longer, married.

      I’m not saying the answer is to give up. But I tend to try to “force” things, whether it be trying to get a blessing from Heavenly Father, or in a relationship, or whatever. I finally stopped trying to force things and that blessing happened for me. Others have great success in having great experiences in dating, learn much, and get to know many. I didn’t. Elder Oaks is right, no one is exempt from making honest and full-hearted efforts to seek an eternal companion. But I fear that as a culture we have put so much emphasis on it that (and I don’t mean to offend by this) that it seems like a big deal that someone isn’t married by the time they are 23. In most circles, that’s extremely young. Each person is ready in their own time. I had to come to terms with that in my 20s. And I have to do so again now in my mid-30s.

      Unfortunately, I’m back in that situation, as my wife and I have since divorced. I don’t think that takes away from the blessing I received at the time, and it is something I pondered very much in the last year. I want to be more ready this time, so that when life’s hardships come, I contribute to a solid relationship to weather those storms. I had a glimpse of the blessings of eternity once, I long for that again.

  2. Wow. You have got it! Excellent post. Thank you for sharing. I was married older, and remember well those feelings of grief and yearning. I also went to the temple as a single woman, and found so much solace and comfort there. I was so grateful for the opportunity to go and feel of the Lord’s blessing and protection there. My husband and I have spoken of what we both went through to get to each other, and we feel we were truly being prepared for each other.

    I am now in the midst of my own “hard and good” blessings as a mother to my own children, as well as a step daughter. I need all the help I can get, and your wonderful words this morning have reminded me that I have additional help. Thank you.

  3. Actually, you bring up a point that I struggle with, and I alluded to it a bit in my reply to Don above.

    Culturally, in the church, it seems like there is this view. Women wait and yearn for a temple marriage, and it’s generally “not her fault” if she doesn’t get married. But then a great burden is placed upon the men of the church, that it is our absolute duty to marry. Dating is just as hard for many men. Many, despiste their best righteous efforts, cannot find a temple-worthy companion (I almost put just the word worthy, but I didn’t want to imply that he could be being too picky) that is willing to join with him.

    So this great burden is placed upon the man. If he is not married, he is failing at his priesthood duty. This extends then to the other side of marriage. In some cases, even temple marriages (like my own) don’t work out, for whatever reason. Nearly all of the talks and guidance I’ve read from the church in the past year or so coming to terms with my divorce have been solely focused on the women. There was no comfort for a man in this situation. It was just the implied, you are the priesthood holder, you must be married. If you are not, it is completely your fault.

    I realize this is not necessarily doctrine, and that is what I prefaced this all with “Culturally”. But it has been ingrained in me so much, growing up in the church, that it is hard to not feel like a complete failure as a man and a priesthood holder because I was divorced. I felt very similarly back when I was 28 as I wrote above, when I heard the stern words of an apostle and felt that I wasn’t doing my duty, but saw no way to successfully fulfill it.

    It feels like, a man who is living just as chaste of a life, preparing as purposefully as he can, yearning for the blessings of the eternal covenants, but is unable to marry is then left out. Whereas the only difference between him and a righteous sister such as Emily or her friend is that he is male and holds the priesthood.

    I hope the tone of this is coming out right. It’s just an extreme frustration and confusion of mine. Such emphasis is placed on these things that it is so hard for me to come to terms with my situation. I have made mistakes along the way, but I’ve repented of the mistakes I made before my marriage, and during it. I have sought forgiveness. But I still feel a failure as a man, as a priesthood holder, as a Latter-day Saint.