I had just received the news through some not-so-subtle hints.
She wasn't interested.
(Insert disappointed sigh here.)
Not that I was counting on it working out, per se, it’s just that . . . well, I was really hoping it might have. Yeah, it was just a crush; yeah, we might have only gone on a couple of dates; yeah, I wasn't super emotionally invested . . . but I was at that point in life where it seemed that nothing was working out. (You know what I mean.) I was frustrated because whenever I liked a great girl, they weren’t interested; and when a great girl liked me, it didn’t seem right.
I was standing on a packed train when I had a prompting to open up to Doctrine & Covenants Section 90. I was not sure exactly what was there, but when I came across verse 24, I realized that God had put in a formula so that my relationships—in my dating life and in my future marriage—would really work! He packaged it up in three simple steps that could help me keep perspective. It filled my heart with hope—and it can fill your heart too.
Step 1: Search Diligently
Dating: We must always be on the lookout. We must go places where we would want our future spouse to be; we must be approachable; we must be open to possibilities; and we must do those things consistently.
Marriage: We much always search for ways to make our spouse happy. As Gordon B. Hinckley said in the best talk on marriage I have ever read, "After dealing with hundreds of divorce situations through the years, I am satisfied that the application of a single practice would do more than all else to solve this grievous problem. If every husband and every wife would constantly do whatever might be possible to ensure the comfort and happiness of his or her companion, there would be very little, if any, divorce” ("The Women in Our Lives," October general conference).
Step 2: Pray Always
Dating: Involve God in your dating life. I realized a few years ago that while dating occupied about 30% of my conversation, it occupied less than 5% of my prayers. God wants to hear about what's on our mind, and if dating is on our mind, we should pray for marriage opportunities to be there.
Marriage: A friend of mine was married by Elder M. Russell Ballard. He said that he and his wife received wonderful advice from Elder Ballard before their ceremony. He said that every night, as spouses pray together, the one saying the prayer should thank God for their spouse out loud. What a beautiful concept to take throughout our day. Never underestimate the power of prayer in your marriage.
Step 3: Be Believing
Dating: This can be a tall order, but we must believe that it is going to happen. While it might not happen exactly as we hoped, we still must have faith. Faith that there is a plan for our lives, faith that we are doing the things required of us to be worthy of that plan, and faith that God is completely trustworthy and all-powerful. Trust in God’s promises that He has made to you. If your patriarchal blessing says you will marry, trust in that promise and don’t give up! If we are faithful, He will always fulfill His promises—in this life or the next.
Marriage: Believe that you made the right choice. Believe that you still love your choice. Believe that you can make a decision to have a better marriage every day. Believe in the power of the holy covenant you’ve made. We must believe in the covenant that is marriage.
And if we do these things, we are promised that "all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another" (Doctrine and Covenants 90:24).
So there it is. Regardless of how depressing your dating life may be or how difficult your marriage is, God has given these three steps to replace fear with faith, loneliness with hope, and frustration with excitement.
Let's take a deeper look at our own life and make sure that we are searching diligently, praying always, and being believing to allow God to make our lives work together for our good.
Zack Oates is an entrepreneur, hot tubber and blogger (but not in that order, necessarily). He lived in Ukraine for two years serving an LDS mission and started a nonprofit in 2008 called Courage to Hope, which works with victims of domestic violence in Ukraine. He has traveled to six different continents in six months this year, and yes, he is still looking for a wife. Check out his blog, bowlofoates.com.
The lead image above is from iStock. It is being used for illustrative purposes only and does not reflect the opinions or feelings of the models found therein.