For those making the marriage decision, I hope this helps. I know I sure could’ve used someone else’s engagement struggle experience to help me feel like I wasn’t the ONLY one who felt “weak at the knees” (and NOT the “picture-perfect”, head over heels in love, cannot wait til the wedding day kind-of sense here!). After all, it is one of the most important and impactful decisions of your life… no biggie!
My July 6, 2012 Journal Entry speaking about the month and a half struggle prior:
“Little did I know, my 7 month struggle to make the “marriage decision” was simply the tip of the ice berg of what was to come. Looking back in retrospect, I am grateful for such an unique experience, but oh the difficult and unhappy time (even though I was trying to look at the big picture) it was. Yes, I learned a whole lot about myself–my weaknesses (or strengths that can turn to weaknesses if I’m not careful!) was one of the biggest things. I learned a great deal about Cameron and his patience and incredible love for me (even when I tell him “I’m not sure about this!”). I learned how much my family means to me and how much I mean to them. I learned they are my biggest support system in difficult times, even when it comes down to “my decision.” I learned how real Satan is and how cunning his ways truly are. I learned how much pain and suffering even a loving Heavenly Father is willing to allow to ensure a wonderful growth and learning experience. I learned how much we have to use our God-give gift of agency and wisdom to decide what’s best in any given circumstance and move forward in life if we expect Heavenly Father to help us. I learned I have to stop thinking occasionally and just feel–as hard as that is for me. And, I’m still learning as I try to move forward… I’m not certain I should confirm this battle is over yet.
The week that I started packing up my stuff to come home from BYU for the last time was one to remember. I felt a little unsure, uncertain if graduating so quick was now the most exciting thing. I had grown to LOVE BYU as everyone seems to do. I was a little down that my college “fun years” were coming to an end (now, even considering a Masters or second Bachelors sounded appealing!). I started to confuse these feelings for perhaps a “stupor of thought” about moving home to marry Cam. I started to become more and more sensitive about others’ comments since I wasn’t 100% confident about marriage, Cam, or the timing (even though it took 7 months to make up my mind, I was still moving forward with all that I had), or at least I thought. I finally broke down and told my Mom after a couple days. Then my Dad (and received a Priesthood blessing). My Mom has kind of been on the “just make up your mind because we NEED to plan this wedding if it’s happening side,” whereas my Dad has been on the “just go with the flow–we can plan a wedding in a week if you finally decide come July!”–such contrasts and I can’t deny I’ve found more comfort in my Dad’s thoughts even though I kept leaning towards my Moms. Then, the question started to come, “Is it Cameron that I’m worried about?” I had always imagined my husband as some macho, Poly guy who is witty and charismatic. Cam’s qualities are perfectly Christlike (could I seriously find someone more Christlike and good for me as him?), but I began to see them as weaknesses. I began to be super analytical about everything, even though there were NO red flags. It almost seemed like I turned against myself because I was thinking marrying Cam this summer was what I didn’t want to do. I told Cam and he was a little shocked (though he could tell something was wrong for a couple days since I was really quiet–I can’t seem to hide my feelings when I’m thinking so much well). I have to say he has been such a sweetheart and patient boy through this whole thing–who else would put up with this and be okay!? I KNOW he loves me, weaknesses and all. I struggled and struggled. And struggled. Every minute of the day was filled with questions. My emotions became stale–I began to feel like I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t know how to use my agency and move forward because I didn’t know what I even wanted to do–I wanted to not get married, get married in August, put it off for a year, put if off and go on a mission, not go on a mission, etc. It was like I found comfort in limbo even though I knew limbo was why I was so unhappy and felt like no answers were coming. I would beg Heavenly Father for help. I had never prayed, fasted, cried, pondered, thought so much–thinking, not feeling was a huge problem. I tried moving forward, not thinking about it, thinking about it, writing pros/cons list, talking with Jen, talking with my family, reading my patriarchal blessing, receiving father’s blessings, reading the scriptures, not listening to music, talking to my Stake President going to the temple, talking to Cam (almost every night!), not talking to Cam about it, etc., etc. I felt like I had done everything I could and was not getting any answer (I think there was definitely purpose in Heavenly Father’s allowing me to struggle–I can just hope there’s more answers to come). When I talked with my Stake President I felt relieved and came to realize some things. One thing in particular was I needed to pray to have my heart and mind matched. I feel like my question and prayers changed over the course of the month–is it Cam? is it timing? is it marriage (which I felt like I could rule out at times, but the not at times too!)? is it my age? what do I want? help me to feel. help me to feel what I once felt. I think I want to move forward, help me to find more than I have now. etc. etc.
I left my Stake President’s office for the second meeting with the intention of filling out my mission papers to see how that felt. I told Cam that night he should tell his family because I was going on a mission cuz that’s what I THOUGHT I wanted to do. He was a little sad (he always seemed confused and sad at what happened because at one point I was so sure, excited, and happy about getting married). He was to tell his family the next night. I woke up Monday with the heaviest heart. I kept walking around my house thinking, “How could I ever leave all this.” A mission wasn’t all I thought it would be–that meant leaving my home, my family, my friends, my life as I know it now, even Cam (and risking him too) for 18 months. I was so unhappy. My mom suggested I go talk to one of her good friends that is filled with wisdom. So, that night I went over to her home for a talk. Little did I know I would walk out of there with a whole new perspective. One of the best things her and her husband talked to me about is that I have to feel. not think, but feel. If I could not literally give Cam back my ring and say “I’m done” and be okay with it, there was my answer. Her husband said, “This is a temporary setback, get used to them!” cuz it’ll happen again! Our talk was so wonderful and I felt like I left there with the excitement I had a month or so previous. I told Cam and we were excited together! Since then, I feel like I sometimes catch myself thinking too much and have to stop and remind me to “think.” I have to remember to, “Be still and know that [he] is God.” (D&C 121:16) Yes, I know there is someone out there that could probably make me just as happy as Cam, but I KNOW that Cameron is will give me his EVERYTHING like no one else can (he said that one night–such a cutie!). He is not just in my life for no reason, Heavenly Father’s hand is in my life and I need to accept that. It truly is my decision and I have to choose. And continue to choose. Now, I have felt even more in love with Cameron and can’t wait until August 14. I am trying hard to prepare for the temple where I will make sacred covenants with my Heavenly Father and Cameron.”
My February 5, 2012 Journal Entry speaking about my fears and reassurances:
“I feel sooo happy and at peace right now. Cam just left and I love being with him. I have struggled with this decision but am leaning more towards the “yes go for it!” side and am feeling good–maybe that’s my answer?
This journey has been a difficult one. I don’t feel it is implausible to say that is has been the most difficult one. This decision has worked me to the core–I have had to re-confirm even my deepest, most basic values and beliefs, which has seemed to me to be an apprehensive task, yet in retrospect seems as though it has been a great opportunity and a blessing. I have come to know again that…
I know there is a God who is mindful of me personally.
I know that God has a plan for me, his daughter.
I know that Jesus Christ came to earth and atoned for MY sins so I can live with Him again.
I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Gospel on the earth today.
I know that the Book of Mormon is true and can and should be used to find direction in our every day lives.
I know that we have living prophets on the earth today, who are the mouthpieces for what the Lord would say if He were here personally.
I know that personal revelation can come to each of us daily. In fact, we should be seeking it each day of our lives.
I know that through the Holy Ghost we can come to know the truth of ALL things.
I know that Satan is real and, in complete contrast to our loving Heavenly Father who loves and seeks to bring us eternal joy, desires more than anything to bring us misery and unhappiness. He will do everything he can to convince us of our inadequacies, tell us we are not worth it, and tempt us day in and day out. If we are not careful, his cunning and subtle temptations can distract us until we find ourselves caught in his binding trap.
I know that the Temple sealing has the power to bind here on earth and through the eternities.
I know that to everything there is a time and a purpose.
….and I have come to realize that the temple is truly what I am working towards and my next step in life. As much as I’ve thought of this dream (and never would settle for less), it seemed to be so illusive, yet now as I am forced to face it in front of me, I have truly come to know this is what I value and desire.
…at times I have felt confused about what I truly desire.
i have honestly not none what i feel, if what i felt was “real” and all the confusion in between.
…at times I have felt anxious and unsure. people make it look so easy to make such a huge decision. many times thinking of the huge commitment and covenant marriage is makes me feel anxious. i have questioned even the thought of, “Do I love him?” and “Does he make me a better person?” which seem absurd to ask.
…at times I have felt alone.
i have pushed people away by my, “I don’t know. still figuring things out” response to questions of how things with Cam are going. especially my family who i’ve been so careful with because i know how easy it is to get persuaded by impressions they give, even just a surprised impression can be taken negatively. then, i have noticed how others are getting advice from parents, bishops, and stake presidents and realized maybe i have gone wrong–there needs to be a happy medium (it is your salvation, but at the same time you can get good advice from credible sources)
…at times I have felt scared and untrusting of myself.
i know my impulsive personality and many times my acting without thought or care. am i really making the right decision? are the nerves i feel “normal” with just this huge decision or are they red flags to me?
…at times I have felt undeserving.
Cam loves me more than i have ever felt loved. can i possibly love him the same way? maybe it’s my perfectionist personality or maybe it’s my Family Studies major where all we learn about is covenant marriages (which are essential to stay together), because I see there is a greater love that is not only desired, but necessary if things are to work out. yet, i need to realize this perfect love is not just thrown upon couples the day they are engaged. in fact, i bet all of them would admit it took years (and is still taking years) to figure out.
…at times I have felt too young or too inexperienced.
but, do you think the Prophet Joseph Smith or any other prominent figure in Church history responded like this? do people ever feel ready enough to encounter such wonderful responsibilities, even commandments?
as we learn about in the scriptures, these emotions are not Godlike in character. in fact, if they aren’t from God, they have to be from Satan, right? as I’ve listened to multiple talks from the Brethren, one particular really stood out to me, “Acquiring Spiritual Guidance” from Richard G. Scott. He makes remarks about how some emotions overpower the subtle promptings we receive. Though both may be present, we may not even realize it because one is so much more powerful than the other (he uses the analogy of a grape and a jalapeno). today in Church, a couple people sang, “Be still my soul” for the musical number. I felt the Spirit so strong as I listened to the beautiful words. Wow, what an amazing song!
Be still my soul:
“…Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In ev’ry change (definitely a change!) he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.”
“…Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as he has the past. (and he truly has)
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;”
“…When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.”
so, i don’t think allowing these fears to stop me is getting me anywhere. in fact, it’s stopping my progression–just what Satan wants.
Doubts to Marriage to be aware of (things I’ve learned through this experience):
…Don’t allow the “illusive out-of grasp” vision of marriage that we grow up with make you confused when it is something that comes so natural (and isn’t that better anyway?)
…Everyone’s experience of dating, engagement, and marriage is personal/variable and different (as many factors factor in (i.e. personality, weaknesses, strengths, timing, maturity, spirituality, worthiness, etc.)) so do not compare yours to theirs
…It is a huge step, but not so huge that it’s on the same severity/level as a death to opportunities, friends, etc… It’s not as different as we sometimes make it out to be. it is a change–but only adds to the good/happiness in our lives. my favorite quote by Spencer W. Kimball sums up the happiness that can be felt, “While marriage is difficult, and discordant and frustrated marriages are common, yet real, lasting happiness is possible, and marriage can be more an exultant ecstasy than the human mind can conceive. This is within the reach of every couple, every person. “Soul mates” are fiction and an illusion; and while every young man and young woman will seek with all diligence and prayerfulness to find a mate with whom life can be most compatible and beautiful, yet it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price…”
…It really is a decision YOU make and then bring to the Lord for confirmation, not the vice. “Faith is not only a feeling, but a decision.”
…You BOTH need your own personal revelation to withstand the doubts that may come after. Stick to your guns.
…This is YOUR life and salvation. Though others’ insights may be valuable, nothing should trump your personal revelation and promptings through the QUIET whisperings of the Holy Ghost.
…No one’s to say you need to date around to see. some need it, others don’t. when you know you know. but, the bright side about not so much is that you don’t have so many to compare how things should be from.
Nerves I had about marriage:
…having it become mediocre (but, if you go in with intentions/simple hopes it won’t it will… go in with all faith!)
…timing–am i ready for such a committment?
…does he make me a better person? (i think i’ve thought this too far and started to question so much)
…will I be able to reciprocate the love he gives me?
Talks that helped a ton:
…Cast not away therefore your confidence -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
…acquiring spiritual guidance -Elder Richard G. Scott
…get on with our lives -Elder Snow
…Patience -Elder Neal A. Maxwell
…Confidence tests: from fear to faith in the marriage decision -Elder Wickman
…Timing -Elder Dallin H. Oaks
…The candle of the light -Elder Boyd K. Packer
…Deciding about Decisions -Elder Merrill
…Agency or Inspiration? -Elder Bruce R. McConkie
…Learning to recognize answers to prayer -Elder Richard G. Scott
…Using the supernal gift of prayer -Elder Richard G. Scott