This book was published thirty years ago and is now out of print, yet, its relevance to the 21st century single woman in the church astonished me. Deseret Book, with over 50% of women in the church all in the same boat, you need to either reprint this or put out a similar book. Include a few single men's perspectives too; IF you can find any. We NEED more resources like this on how to cope in a church that is so good at making singles feel so guilty about not being married.
None of these women hesitate to admit this single/nevermarried/childless state was NOT their first choice. The recurring theme in each essay was the same. When it comes to personal growth and progression, singles in the church have the same trials and challenges as the marrieds. Words like "awkward," "frustrating," "heartache," "longing," "loneliness," "yearning" don't even begin to describe the unique experience singles face in the day-to-day living of this less-than-ideal life so contrary to what the church teaches.
By the way, Sheri Dew and Kristen McMain (who would later marry Elder Oaks) are NOT featured in this book. Not prominent enough yet. But Mary Ellen Edmunds is! Her chapter is full of touching stories about the three full time missions she served and all the wonderful people she met and learned from.
Here are some of the most important points I took away from this book:
- Being single did not stop these sixteen women from being happy, finding fulfillment in relationships with friends and family members and discovering ways to serve.
- Being married does not guarantee an automatic Celestial Go Pass with its accompanying $200 ($2,000 inflation-adjusted but I'll take the eternal companion in lieu if you don't mind!). We are all responsible for our own progression in this life.
- Our married family members don't need us in the same ways that we need them.
- There was a time in the church when the missionary age for women was LOWERED to 21! Kathryn Luke, one of the contributors to this book, experienced this and decided, since she had no marriage prospects, (Yeah, right, engaged her freshman year at BYU before breaking it off for reasons unexplained-dating was a real thing back in those days.) she would take advantage of this age change and serve. She was 47 when this book was published in 1987 which means she turned 21 sometime after 1960. It boggles the mind!
- Stay busy, keep active, be happy get all the education you can (and ignore those well meaning voices warning you about scaring off all potential male suitors if you do) and make God your constant companion so that during this awkward, uncharted course your life has taken, you have the assurance you are doing what He wants you to do at this time. You have no idea what you are growing into but it's going to be awesome!
My curiosity has been dialed to eleven. Who is Thayne? Did this copy belong to him and if so, how did it end up at the DI in Murray, Utah? And if I had the ear of "the Brethren" like Carol L. Clark of Deseret Book obviously did, I'd pester them worse than the importunate widow in Jesus' parable. I'd plead our case: DO SOMETHING for all the singles in the church who feel like God has forsaken them. We are NEVER acknowledged in General Conference. The last talk titled and directed at us was around 1987! How many of the authors who contributed a chapter to this book are still alive, and where are they now?
Is there any way to get in touch with them or someone at Deseret Book with my idea to either republish or put out another book similar to this one? Think of all the positive feedback that would come with such a publication. We have social media and smartphones. Anyone noticed how much is out there helping to make the single experience in the church a positive one? I've yet to come across anything helpful until I found this book.
Bottom line: We NEED more stories like this.
Let's start a petition to Deseret Book.