I was going to post a second comment on Nem's latest post, but when I last logged in there were already 37 comments. What I wanted to say was just way too much to reasonably be called a comment, and so I'm posting myself. And while its true that a lot of the people who traffic her blog, don't traffic this one, I think it is worth hearing some new opinions on this and related subjects. For those of you that don't read her "Voice Of Reason," today may be the day to start, including all 37 comments.
I think my lengthy comments inspired by her post must be in context of a personal situation and I can only do that on my OWN blog, so here goes.
For those of you that have read here for a while and know me, you know that I was engaged to be married within a few weeks of being home from my mission, and was unengaged a month or so later. We dated for a few more weeks, fizzled, and he was engaged just a couple of weeks later to somebody else. For all the great experiences I've had and my usual ability to laugh off awkward or difficult situations soon after they happen, this broken engagement is not something I've ever been able to laugh about. My decisions leading up to the engagement, some of my actions during the engagement and my severe depression afterward revealed things to me about my character. Things that scare me. The scriptures tells us the weak things can become strong; I wonder if the Lord means that those weaknesses keep us close to Him as we fight against them . . .
Anyway, after the engagement was broken I was speaking with a friend, who had the "wisdom" of four or five years of marriage behind him. I was thoroughly confused and questioned, "Why did this not work out? We were both impressed strongly that it was the right thing. How could it not be the right thing now?" It sounds a little desperate to say that this was my attitude, but he was, after all, the only boyfriend I'd ever had in five years of dating eligibility and he had waited for me on my mission, I was six months from graduation and living with my grandmother. I thought I had missed my ONE chance for marriage in this life.
My friend explained something very powerful to me that I've never forgotten. I'll quote him here, but it is an obvious paraphrase as his exact wording is lost, "When the Spirit speaks to us, we are obligated to act. When we don't act on promptings, when we doubt, when we refuse to move forward with faith and confidence, the Spirit will cease to work on us. Just like on your mission, a baptism slip is a terrible thing. If a person doesn't act on the Spirit, and moves into the realm of doubt, it is that much harder for them to feel the promptings again, by not acting, they move away from the peace the Lord would have given them had they continued forward. By harboring doubts, even after he asked you to marry him, by not being faithful to you and his commitment, the Spirit stopped whispering peace to his heart."
In the Doctrine and Covenants its says, "Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning this matter, what greater witness can you have than from God?"
Why this is relevant to Nem's post (if you didn't read it) is that a misguided object lesson in Relief Society inspired her post and a slough of very touching, personal and difficult comments. The central issue, at least to my mind, behind all this discussion is, why are relationships between men and women so confusing and difficult? The comments read like a laundry list of the many things that can go wrong. And, in most cases (my own certainly included) the quick comments try to simplify a very complex issue.
On further reflection, I think my thoughts stray back to what my friend said all of those years ago when I was in such need of answers. Maybe when it comes to marriage and parenting and serving and friendships and covenants, the Lord is less in interested in if we are ready and more concerned if we are willing. Because the truth is, we'll never be ready. I'm eight years and three kids into this journey called marriage and there are very real days when I don't think I'm going to survive another one.
I know this sounds like another simplistic explanation, and not a fresh one. We hear all the time that men are afraid of "commitment" and I agree that the above paragraph sounds like semantics, but the spirit of it is different. The unwillingness to commit is a psychological, or even biological label for the difficulty people having in getting and staying together. I'm talking about something spiritual. I'm talking about two people looking at one another and saying, "Okay, you aren't perfect, not even close, but neither am I. Still, I'm willing to show up every day to make this work if you are."
My husband was attractive and sweet and worthy when we first met, but he is so much more now. In another forty or fifty years, I imagine he won't be so attractive any more, but he will be even more wonderful. And it won't be because he married me! It will be because he will have kept his commitment with faith every day, even when it was hard. And when he or I or any married or single person falters away from that commitment in any degree, there is repentance to get us back on track so that we can "learn from our mistakes without being condemned by them." (Elder Hafen, from a conference address about three years ago.)
I don't think we need more psychological solutions and surveys to explain why it is hard for marriage to survive our culture of cynicism and immorality, I think we need testimonies of the atoning blood of the Savior and the restoration of His church and its principles. We need to teach our young people--the young women AND the young men--to love themselves enough to make choices that will guide them through times of loneliness or difficulty. Such times will abound in our lives, and it is only by acting in faith that we can receive the peace we all long for and seem to find so elusive in these times.