At the beginning of 2011 and after another failed dating relationship, I made a decision that I would give up on dating and ever getting married again. My sole focus would be on being a mom. Dating seemed to bring me more stress and anxiety than enjoyment. I feared I brought out the worst in men especially with how they reacted as I ended the relationships. I had a long and logical list on why marriage was not for me. As April approached, which is when my church has two days of a General Conference with sermons from the general leadership, I decided I would seek confirmation of this decision as I listened to the talks.
Not only did I not receive a confirmation of my decision, but I received a stern yet loving chastisement that my desire to be alone was not a righteous nor good desire. There was a sermon titled Desire by Dallin H. Oaks that particularly influenced me. He taught,
“Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. The desires we act on determine our changing, our achieving, and our becoming.”President Dallin H. Oaks
He even spoke about how we should desire eternal marriages. Could there be any clearer answers to my question?
Have you ever tried to change what you desire, what you crave, what you think about day by day? Desiring marriage seemed well and good but it didn’t change how I actually felt when I was in a relationship with a man. No matter how nice and attractive he was, I would be relieved when a date was over, when I could be alone again. My first marriage had left deep wounds from trauma that resurfaced most often in romantic relationships. The most common was being unable to eat around a man. And I love to eat! I would feel so stressed and anxious that eating took tremendous will power and effort. Even more frustrating was that I couldn’t predict what would trigger a reaction. Even just hearing a man say my name could cause me to flinch and expect criticism or an ugly argument. I would feel normal and somewhat happy on my own. Dating just seemed to highlight my brokenness. Yet I had clear direction that I needed to begin with changing my desires. I felt this meant putting myself in situations of feeling uncomfortable and going against my self preservation instincts.
As I continued to study to accomplish this feat of changing my desires, I came across this scripture, James 5:16:
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”James 5:16
The words and instructions opened up a new path to pursue in my efforts of changing my desires. I needed to confess my faults. I decided to make this confession and request to those that loved and knew me best. With more prayer and self reflection, I composed an email to send to my family and closest friends.
Here is a portion of what I wrote and asked:
“…I am broken though. The best way to describe it is that I just feel dead inside. I know I joke about it sometimes, but it’s actually accurate. I’m romantically dead inside and feel nothing especially in situations that it seems apparent that I should feel something one way or the other. It’s easier for me to imagine not getting married again and being very happy. It’s more difficult for me to even imagine having a happy and successful marriage. It just feels so intangible. I’ve been praying and working to be healed, to have a change for some time now…..I know what many of my faults are and I know that my attitude and ambivalence about getting married again is not the right one.
I know the power of prayer. I’ve felt prayers being offered in my behalf before and know that they were answered. I feel that I need your prayers that my heart can be healed enough so that not only will I desire to have an eternal marriage, but that I will be able to do so. Another of my faults is letting my fears sometimes outweigh my faith. For me, there is little to fear about being alone and much to fear about opening up my life and sharing it with someone else. I have enough faith in God, but my faith is lacking in men and even myself. So please pray that my faith can be stronger than my fears.”
My family and friends willingly and lovingly responded with their support and prayers. There was a not a miraculous change overnight with my desires. The healing and progression happened over the process of time and with much trial and error on my part. Yet I could continually feel their prayers availing much good.
Asking for others’ prayers, confessing my faults, and a desire to change kept me accountable to keep trying and put in real effort. Dating in your thirties and as a single mom is not for the faint of heart. I found myself wanting to succeed not only for myself but for those offering those fervent prayers so they could see how effectual their prayers could be. I had more relationships that did not result in marriage, but were positive experiences that further helped me to heal and be hopeful.
When I was discouraged and dismayed with my seemingly slow progression, I had miraculous and profound experiences that left absolutely no doubt that I was known to my God. These sacred experiences witnessed to me that He hears my prayers, the sobbings of my heart, and that He desires to avail me with more good than even I desire. I feel strongly I would not have had such experiences without having confessed my faults and need for prayers as specifically as I did. My faith was truly strengthened more than my fears. So while I still had many fears about marriage, I had experiences to draw strength from to increase my faith.
Is there something you’ve tried over and over to change, improve, or correct? Have you felt discouraged or disappointed with your progress? Have you tried what James counseled? Confess your faults! Confess your fears! Confess your need for prayers!
I traveled on my own path of change for nine years before reaching my goal of not only desiring marriage but being sublimely happy being married. The fervent prayers of my righteous friends and family have continued to avail me good in my efforts for a happy and successful marriage. My family and friends who offered their prayers for me felt even more joy witnessing how much healing and growth I had to reach the point of marriage. I am happier being married than I ever imagined I could be eleven years ago when I decided marriage was not for me. I have no doubt that you can also experience your miracles and healing through confession and effectual fervent prayers.