When I have kids someday,* I want to make sure I mess them up only in appropriate ways.**
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one, but when I was a kid, I received several vaguely threatening lessons from seminary teachers, Sunday school teachers, and Young Womens’ leaders about how the highest level of exaltation is reserved for married people. Sure, there are some people who don’t get married in this life, BUT AS LONG AS THAT’S NOT THEIR OWN FAULT, they will be paired off with some dead Viking boy or murdered Chinese baby girl in the Millennium.
In all fairness, this message was delivered more harshly in the boys’ directions, at least from the seminary teachers. But that “as long as it wasn’t their own fault” always sent chills down my spine, and seriously impacted my dating life for several years thereafter.
Should I go to this incredibly lame YSA activity or stay home and study? And if I choose to stay home and study, will today be the moment that is pointed to during the “This Was Your Life” portion of Judgment Day when it turns out my single status was, indeed, my own fault?
And this boy who picks his nose in biology class has now asked me out, but if I don’t go, will all the angels watching me put a check in the “Isn’t Trying Hard Enough” column of my heavenly ledger?
This attitude has led to bouts of insecurity (What if that cute guy from the cabin that one time who intimidated me was supposed to be it? What if I was supposed to meet The One when I was busy dating that douche up the street on Greek Row? What if all these years of being too lazy to put in contact lenses, a la She’s All That, has been keeping my Mormon Freddie Prinze Jr. at bay? Should I have stayed later at Family Home Evening? Should I have worn a cuter dress last Sunday?) and rebelliousness (Fine, screw it, I’d rather be a helpful angel anyway) on my part.
Until one day—and I can’t seem to pinpoint when that was—I realized the incongruity between believing that Christ can save you from all your sins, no matter how late the date, if your repentance is sincere … but if you wind up dead and single, you’re SOL? Because being dishonest or selfish or cruel are fixable faults, but being shy or sarcastic or having a bad case of bitchy-face are not?
And wait—here’s another thing. As well-meaning as all those seminary/Sunday/Beehive/MiaMaid/Laurel teachers were, they had the distinct good fortune of (1) having already met their special someone and (2) having not yet divorced that special someone. And the first category is 90 percent luck. With all the hard work that goes into preventing the second category from occurring, I think many of them just happened to forget that.
They weren’t better people or more hard-working people than their single cohorts. They were simply, in one instance, luckier.
And I will definitely let them know that there are no angels keeping tabs about whether or not they were appropriately flirty at the ward linger-longer.
Also, they won't have to go to seminary if they don't want to. But that's a post for another day.
* Hi Dempsey! Hi Lola! I probably won’t name you guys that, but I don’t want to call you Future Babies either, since that sounds creepy.
And naming future babies is totally not creepy.
** Like my friend Bill, who at a work party told his two-year-old very solemnly that she couldn’t go in the pool because the water was so hot it would burn her. That, in my opinion, was just solid parenting.