The following is an excerpt from A Single Voice, a book about being single in the Church by Kristen M. Oaks, who remained single into her fifties before marrying Elder Dallin H. Oaks.
Single members faced with the decision to return to their home wards should trust in the wisdom of their leaders and depend on the guidance of the Spirit to help with their transition. As with any change or new environment, there may be a period of adjustment. It takes time and effort to develop new relationships and discover ways to make meaningful contributions. The transition will likely not be painless. Yet, if we are obedient our lives will ultimately be blessed.
Recently my husband and I spoke with a group of young singles who transitioned into their home wards with a large group of other young singles. They found adequate fellowship with others of their own age; more important, they felt the bishop’s love. They felt watched over, and they connected with their wards. They received callings, made new friends with members of varying ages and interests, and strengthened their testimonies. They felt needed and validated. One said, “When I decided to move forward and embrace the options ahead of me, I felt such a sweet peace and happiness. It was only when I clung to the past and stood still that I felt anxious and out of step.”
I know what a tremendous difference it made to me as a single member of the Church to have a calling, to feel needed, and to contribute to the welfare of those around me. I also remember how removed I felt when I did not have a calling. Callings place us in a position to meet others and to help others. Accepting and fulfilling Church commitments and serving each other bind us together and make us stronger. It is so much easier to move forward in the Lord’s plan for us when we are connected with others who have the same desires and when we feel that we are a vital part of the Lord’s kingdom. President Hinckley said every new member should have “a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with ‘the good word of God’ (Moro. 6:4).”8 His words are true.
In counseling Church leaders, President James E. Faust told them that the best of all possible experiences for single members as they enter a home ward is to be given a calling. He urged them to “ponder the needs of single members regularly in leadership meetings and include them in meaningful callings, assignments, and activities.”9 In many wards and stakes, single sisters and brothers are given significant responsibilities because their testimonies and talents are widely visible to priesthood leaders.
As a single sister, I was called as a Primary president. Others of my single friends served as Young Women and Relief Society presidents and counselors. Still others were called as teachers in Gospel Doctrine and Gospel Essentials classes, early-morning seminary, and institute. Each of these individuals became an integral member of the ward and found Sunday a day of great strengthening, service, and sociability.
As one close friend commented: “Nursery children do not look to see if you have a ring on your finger as you wipe away their tears. It doesn’t take a wedding license to feed hungry Scouts or missionaries or shut-ins. Nowhere on the tithing slip do you indicate marital status as you contribute to the Church’s humanitarian service or the Perpetual Education Fund. And they don’t have two doors at the temple—one for couples and one for singles. We are a Church that needs faithful workers. I’ve been blessed because I have had priesthood leaders who knew this.”
I have learned from happy and sad experience that if we wish for our ward experience to be a happy and fulfilling one, we have to help make it so. In most cases, we must volunteer and extend ourselves to be welcomed into a ward. That means signing up for service projects, babysitting, and providing dinners. It means making a deliberate and consistent effort to be part of the ward community. I have one friend who says the best way to make friends is to work in the kitchen. She signs up for every table-setting, cleanup, and serving assignment she can find. The payoff for such effort is magnificent. Many of the best Church leaders and teachers I have known were examples of this kind of involvement.
You can also read our article on the midsingles phenomenon or enter to win a copy of A Single Voice on our Facebook page. If you’re a Church leader who has singles in your ward, you can also read our article of advice for Church leaders in counseling single saints.
Learn more about Sister Oaks's book A Single Voice.