There was no burning bush. No visitation or concourses of angels. No grand revelation. I’m pretty sure I was just in my bathroom, getting ready one morning. I decided I wanted to attend the temple and receive my Endowment.
I was only 24 at the time and had not served a full time mission for the LDS Church. So I recognized that my desire was a little unorthodox. Young people usually only receive the endowment when preparing for either a mission or marriage. I was doing neither. I put off the feeling for weeks but it kept returning, a pesky little thought. I was taught since my infancy not to deny promptings of the Spirit, so I went to my bishop.
The first thing he asked me was if there was a guy I could marry instead. Clearly, I said the answer was no. My last relationship had ended two years prior, and I wasn’t even thinking of dating or marriage. I wanted to go to the temple solo. A righteous desire, I thought.
He again asked if I could just get married instead, maybe I could get back with my ex-boyfriend who, mind you, was inactive and struggled with alcohol. With all the patience I could summon, I told him that marriage was not currently on my radar but the temple was. He reluctantly set up an appointment with the Stake President.
My first meeting with the Stake President went like this:
Me: “President, I’d like to get my recommend and receive my Endowment in the temple.”
Stake President: “Are you dating anyone?”
Stake President: “Why not?”
Me: “I’m not really interested in anyone at the moment.”
Stake President: “Well, maybe you need to get interested.”
He did not ask about my testimony of the Gospel, my relationship with Jesus Christ or my faith in God. He wanted to talk about boys. This was getting stupid. As calmly as I could, I explained that this is what I wanted and I wouldn’t be going anywhere until he understood I was serious. He resigned to my request and gave me the proper interview. I walked out of his office holding my recommend in my hot little hands.
I can understand their hesitance. Going through the temple is not to be taken lightly. It’s the point of no return, in a sense, for Church members. If you break the Law of Chastity or something similar after the being endowed, you’re also breaking covenants made in the temple with the Lord. Sins can often take longer to come back from after the endowment due to the seriousness involved in making promises in a temple Endowment.
Since going through the temple I’ve had some interesting experiences. Such as the boy who noticed my knee garment line but lack of wedding ring and thought it appropriate to ask if I was divorced—not if I went on a mission, but if I was a failure at marriage. I actually get that question rather often. There was the guy who told me, without blinking an eye, that it was weird that I decided to receive my endowments alone, without a husband. And the time a guy flat out told me he wouldn’t date me due to my prior endowment. All of these boys were LDS.
Being single, Mormon, and a 28-year-old female can be incredibly difficult. Most of my friends were married before age 25 and have multiple children. When I go back to the congregation I grew up in, the most commonly asked question is whether or not I’m dating anyone. When my answer is that I’m still single I usually get asked why. Not when I graduate or even what I’m planning to do when I’m done with school. Just if I’m dating.
I’ve been told I’m too picky and that’s why I’m single. I think that’s funny. Of all the things in this world to be picky about, wouldn’t my eternal companion be at the top of that list? Also, I’m not picky. I’m particular. There’s a massive difference. Picky would be if I refused to date a guy unless he was over 6 feet and had red hair. While that’s my “type”, I’ve only ever dated two guys who fit that description.
I was talking to a coworker not too terribly long ago and she asked me what my type was when it came to dating. I said, in all seriousness, “all I want is a guy who is my equal intellectually and doesn’t look at porn.” She laughed. Apparently that’s unreasonable.
When I say someone who is my equal intellectually I don’t say that to be uppity. What I mean is that I am a very driven person. I have lofty goals and big aspirations. I don’t want to have to be dragging my partner alongside me because he’s not as passionate as I am. I want someone who is inspired by my goals, not intimidated. And I want someone who reads, and reads a lot.
Another co-worker took it upon himself to inform me that I should date outside of my religion if that’s what I wanted. I take slight offense to that suggestion and it’s one I tend to get a lot. Because apparently Mormon dudes just aren’t into a girl like me, whatever that means. I simply refuse to believe that LDS men are that vapid and shallow.
I have dated Mormons and non-Mormons alike. I don’t really prefer one over the other, honestly. Of course, marriage in the temple is important and has been stressed since I was incredibly young. Yet for some of us, it’s just not an option if we want companionship.
If I marry outside of the Church I know there will be issues. Such as my desire to attend the temple regularly, which I’ll have to do alone, raising my children in a religion their father doesn’t share, three hours every Sunday dedicated to going to church and going alone. It sounds incredibly lonely.
An equally single friend of mine went to a trusted church leader and asked him which would be worse, to marry outside of the Church or to remain unmarried in a Church that stresses marriage and has within its doctrine that marriage is essential for salvation.
His response was that women in the Bible traveled hundreds of miles to marry within the covenant. That’s all fine and dandy, except that this isn’t Bible times and society just doesn’t work like that anymore. I wish it were that simple, that black and white. It just isn’t.
As I’ve inched towards my 30s, I’ve braced myself for the all too realistic thought that I may not marry in this life and if I do manage to pull that off, I will most likely be well into my 30s. Sometimes I feel like I should try harder, to be a good Mormon girl and focus solely on getting married. That sounds exhausting. I think I’ll conquer the world in the meantime.