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Dear LDS Midsingle Competitors:
You are hereby officially invited to attend this year's Dating Games being held right in your own city! These exciting events will challenge your intellect, patience, inner strength, determination, motivation, and perhaps your very sanity. But, I can promise you that if you hold true and faithful to your core values, focus on your goals and keep moving towards the finish line and exercise all the faculties within your possession that the prize at the end of this "race" is more than worth it.
Along the way you will meet your fellow competitors on the field of play. Many of these individuals have given their best in life and found themselves here at the same station you are in; be patient with them, and remember that they are human beings who come to the table with flaws and strengths, courage and fears, love and pains. That said, we remind all competitors that cheating, unsportsmanlike conduct, and unnecessary roughness of any type will not be tolerated. Indeed, those who attend these Games merely to play for their own amusement at the expense of others will find themselves answering to the highest authority, our chief judge.
Now, that said, remember that these Games are meant to be fun and productive; don't overthink them or place all your value in their outcome. You were meant for wonderful things in this life and your participation in these events are just a piece of that journey. While we all dream of wearing those special rings, know that your day in the sun will come and that all the glory you have worked for all these years will be yours.
It was happening again. No matter how hard I tried to avoid it, change it, deter the circumstances from occurring, it was happening again. They were going to ask THAT question, the one that I had smiled and shrugged my shoulders at so often throughout my life, the same inquiry you get from friends, family members, neighbors, coworkers, teachers, the grocery store clerk, your mailman, strangers on the street and visiting aliens from outer space: "Why are you single?" Even Facebook, that beloved social network/big brother, asks our status. "Single"; thanks for pointing that out, Mark Zuckerberg.
It's a question that has no great answer. We may say, "Oh, I'm focusing on me (or my family or career or education) right now", but even those are not satisfying responses for others (plus, President Spencer W. Kimball was pretty direct about marriage-avoiding rationalizations). Others may smile and nod, yet the look in their eyes belies continued concern, as if we may actually be "menaces to society". It's as if our single-hood is a problem to be solved, a disease to be cured. In all seriousness, these loving parties usually ask because they care and want us to be happy and we should demonstrate gratitude and humility for their desires to see us blessed with love.
Yes, we can live a happy, productive, and satisfying life as singles. And yet, not a week passes that I do not hear about midsingles' plights when it comes to dating and relationships (or think of my own). There are tears, anger, frustration, disappointment, discouragement, plenty of wisecracks, some depression and far too often a resignation to living the single life because "dating is too hard" and "I'll never get married (or re-married)." So yes, we throw ourselves into careers, educations, service projects, the kids, talents, hobbies, and so on. We tell ourselves that we are doing OK because we still attend the midsingle wards and trips, the cruises or the dances, not to mention the fantastic conferences; we like the "fun" stuff of our single-life culture, but if we were being truly honest with ourselves, they may be good activities we partake in without really wanting the potentially-there solution to our single status. As my friend who visited from out of town asked at a recent midsingles activity, "How are all the beautiful and handsome people not married? My ward has sixty people. This valley has thousands of potential dates for them to pick from."
We enjoy our incredible friendships and the good memories we share along the way, but my friend was hinting at a hidden truth that many singles do not want to look at: we could be avoiding the level of dating that has the specific intention of finding someone to marry. We play the game without a committed desire for the game to end, like neighborhood kids playing ball on Summer's last night before school starts.