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.