Monday, June 27, 2011

Another Response to Jill's Comment (guest post from Anne)

Dear Jill,

I took a class in graduate school called “Internet Communities.” In this class, we examined how the Internet had the ability to form communities regardless of geographical difficulties. My own research in this class examined Fantasy Football leagues. The small sample I researched suggested to me that Fantasy Football leagues did not form true communities.

However, some of my peers found that certain online forums actually form true communities. Dieting websites, where people share struggles of healthy living, are often communities. People on these sites form true friendships, albeit via a virtual medium. My mom is a member of a Cricut forum, where she has formed online friendships with women who share a common bond of crafting. A blog I read daily, Feminist Mormon Housewives, is also a community of more liberal-minded LDS men and women (and many non-LDS men and women) who wrestle with reconciling personal opinion with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They share an interest in the LDS faith and in what it means to be Christian. Often, members of this online community actually meet in real life for “snackers,” where faces and names are put together, and friendships are made stronger. It is a community, a place where people of like mind (and sometimes unlike mind) can gather and share and cry and lament yet also find joy and solidarity and resilience.

While posts on this blog are not written daily, the writers provide an invaluable service—an online community for single LDS women who are wrestling with reconciling a Gospel perspective of what it means to be single with the world's perspective of what it means to be single.

My life is incredibly fulfilling. I'm happy. I'm busy. I'm successful. But in quieter moments, like Sunday afternoons or late Thursday nights, I think of how nice it would be to have a companion. This is not an experience limited to LDS women—last night I chatted with a friend who is not LDS, in her 30s, single, and she shared identical frustrations and fears. She is also busy and successful and happy and fulfilled in what she is currently doing, but also desires a companion. That's just the human condition, regardless of religion.

My day-to-day life is not a “painful struggle,” but just as my sisters have painful moments with their husbands and kids, I have painful moments of being single. Posts on this blog give me hope, if for nothing else, by letting me know that the dark moments are not mine to bear alone. For more often than not, the posts here are grounded in a knowledge of a loving Heavenly Father and a Savior who atoned for the sadness we sometimes feel at lives that didn't turn out the way our Young Women leaders promised they would.

So don't pity us, but don't deny us the human emotion of sadness and longing, either. I've seen parents cry at choices their children make—do I tell them to man up and move on with life? No. I comfort those in need of comfort, for I am willing to bear their burdens as my own.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Response (Marnie)

This post is in response to one of the comments to Stella’s Why Marriage Matters. I wasn't going to write one because it seemed silly to defend myself, but another reader asked us to comment. So this is mine.

First the comment from Jill:

"Just stumbled onto this blog and sorry, some of it is kind of scary. I come from a really stable Mormon home and I don't believe in spending copious amounts of time lamenting about being single. I get that you need to express yourself, but if you are still this depressed, it might not be working. I don't think you should give up, but maybe you need to focus on what is positive in your life and if there isn't much, maybe you need to make some changes. In my opinion, viewing everything as a "painful struggle" is reflective of a lack of faith in God's plan for you-not proof of some kind of superior insight or nobility. Life can be really beautiful and fun, regardless of your marital status. This wallowing in misery is not healthy.”

Marnie's Response:

Jill, this blog about being single - not about golf or movies or cooking. Our point is all about the struggles of dating and relationships of women over the age of 30. So to think we obsess about it non-stop is in complete error. I promise you I have a very full life filled with great things and OTHER problems - just like everyone else. But we don't share those things here.

I feel bad that you worry about our depression level. I assure you that we constantly look at the greatness in our lives and revel in it. And you'll see that in MANY of our posts. No one believes more than me that life is beautiful and fun! I’ve been on this earth 40 years and have seen and experienced so much, but it's unfair to look down on me just because I talk about my “painful struggles” here on this blog.

I will admit that at times the sadness from what I don't have can be overwhelming and makes it difficult to stay positive. And when I struggle, I like to share. I find other readers have related to my posts – as you so apparently haven’t. They have read that I am not perfect - that I do struggle with understanding for God’s plan for me. They have also seen me express how I have conquered tough situations and loneliness from a broken heart (several times now). I do not believe my posts have ever brought them down or encouraged depression as a way to deal with being single.

I do wholehearted apologize to you and anyone else that thinks I've written these posts to show how I’m superior or noble I am because I think my life is harder than others. I have never tried to write that way. I also do not look down on the lives of women that haven’t married or have I ever thought they're lives weren't full of amazing things. The truth is they have their lives and I have mine. I'm only worried about my own and I only write about my own.

Everyone has a trial that seems to stick by them for a very long time. I was sick for 5 years in my 20s before I fully recovered and it was a very difficult burden to bear. Being single after many efforts to be married is my current burden to bear. The point is we all have our trials that are supposed to bring us to our knees so we can pray to our Heavenly Father and Savior for help. And that help comes through the atonement of Christ and helps us heal and move on. And both experiences (and many others) have done that for me.

Have you ever had your heart broken, Jill? I have a hard time believing you have…otherwise you wouldn’t be so trite, condescending, and unsympathetic about our desire to obtain eternal marriage on this earth. You have misinterpreted our growth and search for understanding - although it hasn’t been pretty at times - as some sort of wallowing in misery. And you are completely wrong. I feel that if you really read our posts, it would be evident to you.

But that's ok...Good luck, Jill and all the best to you! No need to come back and visit - it’s obvious we have nothing for you.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Why Marriage Matters

We've had a new friend join our faithful readers. Judging by his comments I am going to assume that he is not a member of our faith nor has he taken the time to respectfully educate himself on the what's and why's of who we are. But that's okay - that's what a free speech society is all about and truthfully we are a peculiar people (and proud to be so) so there's a lot for a non-LDS person to raise their eyebrows about. It does bring an interesting and sharp focus though to the difference between the LDS mindset of marriage, family, and life purpose versus what the general current world view is.

Hopefully our new friend will take a closer look and realize that this is not a place to be disrespectful or contentious. This is a place where a few share their points of view, feelings and ideas. Sometimes others agree and sometimes they don't. What I invite him and each of us to think about is this...

Leave religion out of things. Leave morals and values and tradition and "normal" by the wayside. Leave white, black, rich, poor - your culture, my culture behind. Now take a look at the world. What do you see? Are people happy? Are people satisfied with their lives? Are people fulfilled? Do people feel loved, valued, like they matter? What characteristics or traits prevail? Is it kindness or selfishness? Is it progressing or is it doing just enough to get by so you can do the bare minimum that anyone might expect? Are people better off today then they were 5 years ago? Do people have hope? Feel safe? Feel like they have value?

I can tell you as a professional therapist without fear of (legitimate) contradiction ABSOLUTELY NOT! I see clients from every walk of life, every race, every culture, every socio-economic status and I can say without hesitation that there's a whole lot of darkness and unhappiness out there. Too many people trying to fill their needs by taking from everyone and everything around them.

So back to our little blog. We lament about the painful struggle of wanting people to love, we lament about wanting a family to serve, we even lament about the fears that we'll never have the opportunity to do this thing we desire so much. We don't lament because we're women, or Mormons, or marriage hungry. We lament because we know that true happiness, true fulfillment comes from loving and serving others and the most pure form of that is within the walls of a family.

In fairness I'm guessing our new friend, like so many others in the world, have never seen or experienced the wonderfulness that this type of home is. If you've never seen it, never experienced it, never gotten close to it then it's easy to understand how to you it may sound like a Walt Disney movie hopped up on massive amounts of sugary Leave It To Beaverness that is unreal and unattainable.

But for those of us who know exactly what it is and exactly what we're missing we're going to continue to lament. This is why we are on the earth. This is what we all work so hard for. This is what I will fight for until my last dying breath. I will fight and I will never give up because I have experienced it. I know it exists and I know that it is the only way to be sure that the mark I leave on this blog and the world around me is one of selfless love, kindness, and light that will trump every dark, selfish and self-loathing deprecating notion the world will ever teach.

So go ahead and question us new friend. Go ahead and share your thoughts and by all means please think us strange. We know who we are. We know why we are here. We know where we are going and how to get there. We are more then willing and very happy to share what we know so that you too may discover who you really are and may find the kind of joy that only comes from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Continue to challenge us - but be ready for a fight. When you know what's true you don't deny it and you don't back down no matter how loud the wind around you howls.