I first read To Kill a Mockingbird when I was in eighth grade. I remember feeling such longing to be like Scout, who never cared what anyone thought of her. So while writing for this blog, I would like to be called Scout, if only to encompass a little of her bravery and boldness.
I had a normal childhood growing up. I was born and raised in the LDS church, and from a very young age, was taught that marriage, eternal marriage in particular, should be one of the top priorities in your life. My parents have a fantastic marriage, one that I aspire to have someday.
I knew from a very young age that I did not want to be a full-time stay at home mother. I’ve had the same career aspirations since the age of five, and I’ve never wavered in knowing what I’ve wanted to do with my life. Go to college, get married sometime in college, go to graduate school, have children, have a successful career, live happily ever after, etc… I’m one of those people that love to have everything planned. I had a perfect plan of how my life would end up.
However, sometimes life does not go according to plan. Sure, I went to college. I finished with my Bachelor’s degree still single but loving life. I’m now in graduate school, currently living on an island in the Caribbean. Sounds idyllic, right? It is, most of the time. It has done nothing for my dating life though.
The church on the island is a small branch of about sixty people. It’s small but strong and growing. For the first few years, I was the only single LDS person to be found on the island. I would return home to Utah every four months to see family and friends, who would take it upon themselves to set me up as much as possible in the few weeks that I was home.
Then things took a turn for the interesting. One Sunday morning after shooing out the local goats from eating and destroying our supply of mangoes in the church’s garden, I hurried into sacrament meeting. I was hot. I was humid. I was crabby from having to chase out the obstinate goats. So I sat in the back of our small chapel, and what do I behold, an LDS man who looked to be around my age. To top it all off, I also learned that he was single.
Now, most people would say that I was drawn to him just because he was the only man that I should date because he was my same faith, and I would have to say that’s false. Something intangible drew me to him from the moment I met him. Almost like a string was attached to my heart from the very beginning, and he held that string.
He started at the same graduate school that I was attending, and we began to spend quite a bit of time together. Heck, we even went grocery shopping together. He had all the qualities that I was looking for in a future spouse, yet he came in a completely different package than I had always pictured. He had a beard and looked unkept most of the time. He had these sandals that were so old they were practically falling off his feet.
Yet I was falling fast and dangerously hard for this boy. We never defined our relationship and where it was going, and in the beginning, I loved being with him so much that I was fine with that. But, as girls tend to do, I started to analyze things. Where was this relationship going? How did he feel about me? Where did he see this relationship going? All the typical questions we start fearing in new relationships.
Months went by and these questions still were not getting answered. I didn’t ask them out loud, but I thought they would come up in our conversations. They never did. So finally I’d had enough. I’d had enough of the mind games and endless analyzing. I had to know how he felt about me.
You know those moments, the ones that mark your life? Those moments where you feel like nothing will ever be the same after it? The night that I decided to tell him exactly how I felt was one of those moments. I remember standing outside his house, willing my shaking body to knock on his door. Never in all my life had I felt such anxiety and fear yet also felt so much hope. I had my whole life in front of me, and here I was taking risks to achieve what I really wanted! Because honestly, all I wanted was him.
So I knocked on his door. He was confused to see me at such a late hour, but he looked pleased to see me. I told him how I felt about him, how I wanted us to be together. I told him everything that was in my heart. He told me he didn’t feel the same way. He said maybe he could feel that way in the future, but now at this point in his life, he said he couldn’t. I left his house that night, heartbroken and forever changed.
Isn’t that what life is about though? Going through trials, heartbreaks, and tribulation so that we can be changed? It alters our life so that we can progress to where we are supposed to be. I’m not going to tell you that I wish he hadn’t felt differently. Of course I wanted him to kiss me that night and, just like the movies have all taught us, we live happily ever after. But that’s life for you. Sometimes we do not get what we want at the time we think we deserve it. Our timetable for our life does not match our Heavenly Father’s timetable for our life sometimes.
I was devastated by this man’s response. I felt like I was not good enough for him. A few days after this transpired, I read a quote from President Uchtdorf that said “No matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you.” Don’t you love how you receive inspiration from the scriptures or from our beloved church leaders just when you need it? No matter what we are going through in our lives, whether it is big or small, our Heavenly Father is ALWAYS there to comfort us when we are in need of comfort. He gives us these trials not because He does not love us, but to strengthen us.
I don’t know if my story is done with this man. Part of me feels like it’s not over between us, like something else will transpire. Either way, I know in the time since we parted ways, I have felt my Savior’s love more acutely than ever before. I think that when life or people break our hearts, break them completely open to where you feel like you can’t withstand the pain, that is when the Savior rushes in. He fills your heart with such love that, in time, it begins to mend itself back together. That’s what gives me the undying hope that I will love again.