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*Note: This essay is the first of seven authored by Jeremy for the LDS Midsingle (31-45+) community. The opinions and thoughts shared therein are his own and unless otherwise noted all names and circumstances of stories have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
In his piece, "O Me! O Life!", American poet What Whitman wrote in 1892, "That you are here—that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse."
As I recently reread those words I couldn't help but feel like those two lines aptly describe the state of most LDS midsingles I know: that the powerful play of life is going on and we deeply desire the opportunity to contribute a verse. Shakespeare tells us that "life is a story" and "all the world's a stage"; it is on that stage that we as midsingles have passed through some of life's greatest joys and experienced much of its deepest sorrows. By definition as midSINGLES we are trying to write the story of our lives, with all its ups and downs, without a mortal co-author, a spouse with whom we can share the burdens and the pleasures, the brightest of days and the darkest of nights.
While we would never admit it on social media (because Heaven forbid we share our hurts and struggles online), a high percentage of us battle loneliness; we ache for the companionship that far too many married couples blindly take for granted. Some of us (hand raised) don't even have the joys of parenthood and all the incredible memories (and yes, heartbreaks) that it brings. How many of us are striving to find the "be happy single first, then you'll be happy with someone" mixture in our lives? How many nights do we reach across to the pillow next to us, wishing someone was there snoring away blissfully or cooked a meal over the stove, wishing the table was set for just one more?
Oh, yes, Mr. Whitman; the play of life is going on and while we do our best to not let it get to us, the weight of charging forward without a fellow Thespian (actor/actress) is enough to weigh down even the most faithful heart. As the mighty Job asked, "though I forbear, what am I eased?" (Job 16:6). The original Hebrew word translated here to "forbear" is damam, which means "to sigh, but not aloud." How many of us as midsingles are sighing in our hearts (but not aloud) as we strive to keep our chins up and be faithful, no matter how hard the struggle becomes?
After attending several midsingle functions over the past few weeks, I felt a desire in my heart because of my own damam-ing, if you will, to know what I could personally do to help those inner aches and how I could "contribute a verse" to this play of LDS midsingle life. The answer to my prayers came in the form of an idea to write 7 Essays for LDS Midsingles, of which this one is the first. These essays, while far from all-encompassing, will strive to cover various pertinent topics for our demographic from the standpoint of, What Would Jesus Tell LDS Midsingles if He Were Here Today? As precocious as that sounds, I should clarify that I will not attempt to speak for the Savior, but rather to use his words as recorded in holy scriptures to expound upon each topic. In doing so, I pray my thoughts and His words will alleviate some of your own heartache and inner burdens.
Ready? Let's begin.
Now, before you start laughing, it's not what you think. This isn't one of those "How to get your man/woman" articles that you see on the grocery store racks, nor will I patronize you with ridiculous promises like, "They'll fall for you in five minutes!" While I have been asked to give dating advice seminars in the past (hilariously ironic), this is more of a "find the best you"-type post.
You see, I get it. We all get "sick of dating" and need to "take a break from dating" because we get burned out or fear that we'll "never find someone." I've played the "what's wrong with me" game while looking in the mirror and come up with lists of things I can improve, from more chiseled abs to being more well-read, getting my mental "stuff" together to working on my personal faith, there is always "one more thing" on the list that could explain my singledom.
And you know what? That's exhausting. I try to remain pretty optimistic, but I'll be the first to say that I some days I struggle with being jaded about dating, wondering when I'll have to stop putting myself out there and when I can, as one ward bishopric member explained, "go out on a nice date and then go home...together only to wake up...together."
I've tried to maintain a good job, do some good things with my time and talents (bobsled, speaking, charity work and books count, right?) and overall lead a life that a future wife could be proud of (honey, let's both agree to ignore our 20's). I even try to keep up my physical appearance and not to dress like a slob (Saturday mornings don't count).
A friend and I once did some mental math about how much I've spent on dating over the years. If you take 2002-2015 = 13 years. If we low-balled an average date at $40 and low-end estimated 50 dates a year, that's ($40x50) x 13 = $26,000. By the math, dating has been a horrible investment; I've spent $26k on other men's future wives!