The Downside of LDS Culture

In recent years, Mormonism has appeared in the spotlight more than it has since perhaps its inception in the early 1800’s. There is a lot of misinformation flying around the Internet and word of mouth, but there is a lot of truth as well. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but religious belief at its core is highly subjective, differing from person to person. In the LDS faith, there is a distinct difference between doctrine and culture and I want to address that today.

This topic has been on my mind for several months, something that has bothered me for a long time, but I didn’t realize exactly what it was until recently. A friend messaged me today about some of her LDS culture experiences and I got so mad that I knew I had to write this post and share it. I want to call out the discrepancies that I’ve witnessed first hand and also been a part of. I’ve come across so many articles that fascinate me, inspire me, or really irritate me, so I’m going to share ones that I think are worth a read and they often say it better than me!

First off, I highly suggest a thorough read of this article by Brent & Wendy Top. “Sometimes in an attempt to prove our faithfulness to the gospel, Mormons create standards that require even more than what the Lord is asking of us. So before we expend too much energy trying to live these “higher” standards, we should ask ourselves, “Are we living the cultural gospel or the Lord’s gospel?”

Second, I highly suggest a thorough read of this article by Greg Trimble. “It was Christ who brought with him a revolution of love, empathy, and compassion. He built a culture that was geared toward the lowly of heart and revolted against those that spent their lives pointing out the flaws in others.” Can I get an A-freakin’-MEN?

The LDS culture is a minefield. Some of it is completely positive; we have shared customs, values and lifestyles and our own vocabulary! Unfortunately, so much of it is negative, damaging, and alienating. Too many of us are narrow-minded, sheltered, judgmental, and self-righteous.

At my ripe old age of 36, being single is almost unheard of in LDS culture. I’ve been completely ignored in the wards I attended in the past. I once had the Relief Society President as my visiting teacher and not once did she visit. The only reason I met her is because she had a child in nursery where I was placed for my calling. I had to figure out how to put myself in a volunteer position of doing service at ward events or I would have never felt welcome or fit in.
Read:    #1    #2    #3    #4

I have friends who have divorced and they are often felt shunned, ignored and neglected. Especially if there were no children in the marriage. What could they possibly have in common with the rest of “us?” Us being the gold standard LDS family of a temple marriage that created 10 kids.
Read:    #1    #2    #3

The story that hit me today? A dear, brave, unique friend who married the love of her life and *gasp* don’t have kids yet after a year of marriage. The constant questioning and scorn about not having kids yet drags them down! They have been neglected and even uninvited from family events by people in their ward. Why? WHY?! Because a young married couple with no children can’t contribute to a gathering of adults with children? Because if you’re childless, you can’t bond with a child or be around children?
Read:    #1    #2    #3

You know, it’s one thing to murmur about me being single, but to hurt my friend just infuriates me. What if she was teetering in her faith? That kind of behavior is what sends people inactive. I understand being curious and interested, but what happened to some common sense and decency? It’s NONE of your business what other people do or don’t do in their single life, marriage, divorce or children.

Further Reading:    #1    #2    #3    #4    #5

As always,
Single Mormon Lady

Happily Single, but…

Remember my last post? Happily single. My ever-present, guilt-ridden crushing singlehood reminder is gone. Right? Wellllll, I can’t stop thinking about dating! My mind feels like it’s constantly yelling that I need to give it another try.

I have put myself out there repeatedly through church activities, conferences, a couple of set ups. Every 6 months or so, I try online dating and even the swipe-able apps, again and again. It always all reminds me that dating is awful and I don’t want to try anymore. I have met countless strangers and have had mostly the bad and the ugly in the dating world. I’m 36 with 20 years of horrible dating under my belt. I could write a best-seller.

I don’t discriminate when I date. There’s no telling where you might find love! I’m open to everyone: older/younger, tall/short, fit/fat, LDS/any other religion (even agnostics, but I draw the line at atheists), any color/race/creed/background. Do you know what I get? Liars, scams, and creepy guys. How about I tell you about the guy who stalked me in Walmart yelling as he asked why I wouldn’t talk to him? Or the guy who pretended to be a Spanish speaking sculptor from Texas and used pictures from a real sculptor from Italy? Or even better, the civil engineer that tried to convince me the pictures he took of bulldozers were not screen grabs of a REMOTE CONTROL bulldozer from Youtube.

I’ve heard all the same stories of so-and-so not marrying until 35, 40, 50, 60, etc. My own mother was 33 before she married my dad. I know the stories; trust me. Perhaps the most important thing to find comfort in is that there is nothing wrong with being single and happy.

As always,
Single Mormon Lady

Happily Single

For most people, the idea of being happily single is an oxymoron. Man isn’t meant to be alone. No man is an island. What’s wrong with being alone? You’ve heard it said, but it’s true: you need to love yourself first before you can love someone else.

I’ve rounded up a few quotes on singledom and I can assure you that I’ve said most of them, more than once!

  • I hate when people ask why I’m single. I just want to answer because apparently a smartass independent woman with standards isn’t attractive.
  • Being single is better than being in the wrong relationship.
  • Yes, I’m single. And you’ll have to be amazing to change that.
  • Instead of ‘single’ as a marital status, they should have ‘independently owned and operated.’
  • Yes, I am currently single. No, that does not mean there is something wrong with me.
  • Stay single until someone actually complements your life in a way that it makes it better to not be single. If not, it’s not worth it.
  • I am happy because I’m single by choice, not by chance.
  • Single is an opportunity to live life on your own terms and not apologize.”
  • It takes a strong person to remain single in a world that is accustomed to settling with anything just to say they have something.
  • I’ve been single for a while and I have to say it’s going well. Like … it’s working out. I think I’m the one.

I have never dated someone just because I didn’t want to be alone. I can’t tell you how many people that just “settle” because they hate being alone. Maybe that works for them, but it would never work for me. I love my life. Time alone isn’t something I fear; it’s something I crave! I have amazing friends that are available when I need social time and when I want to experience something, I go; even if it means going alone.

I have been praying for years for the Lord to take the hope of marriage away. An alarming statement, but let me explain. Marriage is considered the ultimate life goal to so many people. It is pushed so hard in the culture of my religion. When everyone else gets married, you feel like a failure for still being single. The pressure of it can drop a person to their knees. It’s not as if I don’t want to get married because I do. I’d love to find my person, my so-called one to share my adventures with, but I’m so tired of the ever-present nagging whether it be from the world, my faith or myself.

I believe the Lord recently granted my desire as my hope is gone and the relief is amazing! I feel happier than I have felt in a long time. Of course, that also might be due to my recent trip to the Caribbean. 😉

As always,
Single Mormon Lady

Kintsugi

Kintsugi: the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. When something has suffered damage and has a history, this joinery makes the piece more beautiful.

I am a broken mess almost once a month.

Generally, I appear as a strong, confident woman who has her life all figured out. I don’t like having my weaknesses known as they have brought me pain in the past. Sharing myself, my real self, has been a lesson in the harsh reality of human cruelty. I am so selective about the parts of myself and who I can trust with them and often, I am completely different parts of my personality with different people.

I had a small meltdown about a week or so ago, spending two full days not leaving my apartment. I tell myself to go out and do something, but what to do? I don’t need to spend money, I can’t go shopping and I don’t like this town and the traffic is so congested and the road construction on the interstate is a mess and what about the park? But what if there’s a bunch of people out and I don’t want to see anyone I work with in my comfy, but super tight leggings that show off my fat rolls just above my knee. What if I trip and fall and roll my ankle like that one time and…

This whirlwind of a mind trap is what happens to me all the time. I will start with a simple idea and in a split second, the world is ending. Worst of all, it happens at night when I’m trying to sleep. Lately, I’ll try to put myself on a beach I remember clearly in my head from a trip to Hawaii nearly 20 years ago only to have it spiral to thinking about the ex-fiance who was with me on the trip, to the next guy and the next guy and the next guy – all who broke me in some way. I’ll stress about being fat and single and wonder if it’s God’s punishment for all my mistakes. It only takes a few seconds to completely stress myself out and pick up a book to escape and find myself awake at 1 am when I should have been asleep at 10:30.

My mom saved me. She let me dump all my neurotic anxiety on her over the phone and just talking about it made all the difference, as it usually does. Talking to her helped me realize what the problem is: I’m aimless. I sold the house last year with the purpose of moving to South Korea for a year. Right now is the time I would be leaving if I’d stuck to that goal and it’s not happening.

Sometimes it takes being broken to become a new version of yourself; a version that’s even more beautiful than before.

As always,
Single Mormon Lady

Comparison is Dangerous

I hate being compared to fellow singles of a certain age. Frankly, I hate being compared to anyone. No one is like me and I’m not like anyone. I’m my own person. No one else has had and/or taken the same chances and experiences as me. Yes, circumstances can be similar, but it is not enough for comparison.

I recently joined a couple of Facebook groups: Solo Women Travel Tribe and Fat Girls Traveling. Each group speaks to a part of me: independent/solo and fat.

1) I have always been an independent, make my own way type person. If I waited around on other people to get their crap together, I would never go anywhere. So if I want to go and I can? I will go it alone. Going to India alone was scary and enlightening and I loved it.

2) It’s not easy traveling as a fluffy, curvy, plus size, larger, big-boned, insert your own definition here, woman. Let’s be honest. I’m fat; I own it. I still have a life to live and that life means traveling as much as I can. I’m not a fan of praying that the airline seat belt fits or being very cognizant of letting my arm and elbow hit a seatmate, but I’ll deal with it to be sure I mark another fabulous place off my list.

Both of these things are things so many other women deal with and I had no idea until I stumbled upon these groups. I am not nearly as alone as I thought I was in my desires and actions. Other women have the same struggles and hopes and dreams that I do. The women of these two groups are AMAZING and I say that loud, strong and proud. They make me so envious when they quit their jobs and do some multi-month, country hopping trip and post breathtaking photos or when they wear a fantastic outfit or swimsuit and are happy and confident. It makes me tear up a little even as their happy faces flash across my mind while I write this.

Comparing myself to other singles or to my friends’ of the similar age and where they are in their lives is a dark road to walk down. Wishing I had the lives of the women in the FB traveling groups, can be a tightrope walk as well.

But guess what? Comparison is the thief of joy.

My story is obviously not like anyone else. I have to figure it out on my own. I stumble a lot, but I am happier than I’ve ever been. I haven’t been able to travel as much as I would have liked in the past few years, but selling my house last May was the best decision! I’ve got two cruises planned and

As always
Single Mormon Lady

Valentine’s or Singles Awareness?

How about neither? Valentine’s Day is just another day on the calendar. I’m not even moaning about it being Singles Awareness Day. Why? Well, for one, I’ve been way too busy to even think about it being a consumer driven holiday. For another, I’ve had several compliments about my independent and adventurous spirit recently that buoys my confidence in myself.

In my faith, marriage and family are very important. I’ve been raised to have it as one of my life goals. Twenty years of my life have been spent trying to find the right person. I often feel like a failure and that I don’t belong in the religion I was raised in.

However, I am not dead! My life is not over or incomplete just because I am single. I’m still a beloved child of my Heavenly Parents. This isn’t Jane Austen’s time period. While I might feel like a spinster, I have options.

I cannot sit around and wait for something to happen. If there is something I want to see or do, I have to do it, even if it means doing it alone. I don’t want to come to the end of my life and find myself with regrets!

In doing this, I’m reminding others that they can do it too. People really don’t pay attention to the single person at the movie theater or a restaurant. You’re not being stared at or whispered over. More than likely, if they even notice, they’re probably wishing they could be that brave. The funny thing about it is that most of us who do things alone don’t think it’s brave. It’s just living!

As always,
Single Mormon Lady

Making Covenants

The temple is a place that is a bit baffling for someone not familiar with the LDS faith. It can be even more than a bit baffling for someone very familiar with the LDS faith.

I’ll warn that this post is geared more to those who are familiar with the LDS faith as I won’t be explaining more detail about things I discuss.

It’s been discouraged to talk outside of the temple about what goes on inside the temple, but I believe it’s something that should be discussed in the right setting. Perhaps a blog isn’t the right setting, but I feel my experience should be shared because I can’t be alone in my issues.

I put off getting my endowment (promises made to God) until I felt it was right and it didn’t feel right until I was 32. The experience was… bizarre. Everyone had told me that it wouldn’t be anything I didn’t already know – not true. There was a lot that felt right and familiar, but there were other things that felt strange and occult-ish and nothing like what I already knew. What made it all worse was being forced into the prayer circle, based simply on the fact that two people that were with me had also been forced into it. If they had to do it their first time, so should I. I was fine until that moment and it ruined my experience.

The rest of the session I fought with embarrassment and humiliation. Anytime I now attend, I struggle to not be the last one fighting with clothing (seriously, that part is ridiculous) and remembering what I’m supposed to say (give me a script and I’ll memorize it) and being upset when the attendants aren’t kind (not all of us live in the temple, you old bat). I have never felt anything special or noteworthy in the temple and I don’t know how to find what really works.

In fact, I avoid going to the temple just because I do not want to go through that embarrassment and humiliation again. That even makes me sad because I want to feel safe and at peace in the temple. I like doing things on my own and traveling to Kansas City to that beautiful place is not a hardship. Psyching myself up to attend a session isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.

As always,
Single Mormon Lady