[It's the best of Ask Mormon Girl this week, folks. Enjoy one of my favorites.]
Dear Ask Mormon Girl:
I’m a 36 year-old single Mormon woman facing a real struggle. Basically, I’ve spent my whole life checking things off the list: graduate Primary, Personal Progress, graduate Seminary, go to BYU, go on a mission, fulfill callings, pay tithing, and so on thinking that doing all of that would yield what I wanted most: a family. God provides husbands to the good people: I don’t have one, so I must not be good. I recognize that this is incredibly flawed logic, but it’s how I feel. What makes matters worse is that my ward isn’t a great place for women like me. I’m not invited to get-togethers, not included in conversations. My bishop admitted the ward didn’t really know “how to deal with me,” since I am single and have no kids. Lately, it’s been all I can do to drag myself to Church, and sometimes I just want to take a hiatus. Help?
I am a fifteen year old girl and am having some troubles with the Mormon culture and NOT the faith. Lately I cannot stand going to young women’s or sunday school because it feels like they press upon you what to do and how to feel. All they are constantly telling me is that I have to get married (in the temple) and have children and I feel really frustrated by having to mould into the ‘perfect’ Mormon type. A bunch of my friends aren’t LDS (I live in a big town with few Mormons) and it seems like they are free to do with their lives as they please. I’m not saying that I want to drink, do drugs, or have a boyfriend before I’m sixteen because I wouldn’t do that even if I wasn’t LDS. It just seems like they aren’t as pressured as I am.
My best friend who is an inactive Mormon (her mom is LDS but her dad isn’t) is really fun to be around and lives life care free. Occasionally she’ll swear or have a boyfriend but I don’t feel that what she is doing is necessarily that bad. Sure, I would never do what she does but unlike my other two Mormon friends, I don’t see the harm in what she’s doing. She believes in the gospel and says prayers regularly by herself and with her family. It isn’t that important for her to marry into the Mormon faith or get married into the temple though.
I know that I’m only fifteen but I’m already worried that I won’t find the ‘perfect’ Mormon man to marry who will respect me and the way I view the Mormon culture and live it. Occasionally I will wear ‘short-shorts’ or wear a tank top, and I feel that if I ever told another Mormon guy or girl (besides my best friend who does it also) about the way I live, that they would think of me as not strong in faith (which I am) or truly LDS. My parents don’t have a problem if I wear shorts or tank tops in the summer (not during school) and love me the way I am. I would never lie to them and they are two of my greatest friends.
I fear that there isn’t another Mormon person who would respect my decisions and how I am. I would love to marry someone who is like my father (a convert) in ways that he is strong in faith but has an opinion that some of the religious rules can be flexible (mostly the dress code). I would NEVER wear revealing clothing to an event and when I wear the shorts and t-shirts, I do it to cool off in the hot heat (and usually in the concealment of my backyard). We also go to church every Sunday dressed appropriately.
I plan to go to Brigham Young University to become a lawyer – yet I am afraid that parts of my lifestyle will be prosecuted and I will be treated differently by the more rule abiding Mormons and I won’t find a ‘perfect’ man to spend eternity with. Thank you for taking the time to read my concerns. I deeply appreciate it.
This week’s query comes from a non-member in Colorado Springs, Colorado:
There are a couple of young missionaries who visit our neighborhood pretty regularly. I turn them from the door with a “No, thank you,” but what I really want to do is ask them this question: what did they do to get stuck with a sucky mission like Colorado Springs? Do you have to do special stuff to go someplace cool? Do you have show a gift for languages to go to a new country? Do your parents pay extra to send you to Italy or Costa Rica? Or is there special honor in the challenge of having to deal with jerks like me? Which brings me to my second question: why are the missionaries who come to my door always boys? I saw girl missionaries as a teenager, so I know they exist, but I don’t think that I have ever seen a girl missionary in the U.S. Is it a testament to the kind of neighborhoods where I have tended to live that an adult in a position of responsibility wouldn’t send young women alone into them? Or do girls not go out into neighborhoods in general?
LP in Colorado Springs
I am a member of the church who has lived outside of Utah for the past 10 years. I attended two very liberal universities in my time away (University of Washington and Northern Arizona University), and developed very strong liberal ideologies. I have returned to Utah, and am now a graduate student at BYU. Outside of Utah I found I was able to reconcile my political views with my church membership just fine. But the longer I am here in “happy valley,” the more I feel that this church does not define me. While I am consciously aware that it is Mormon culture, and not the gospel, that I find so annoying, I am having an increasingly difficult time separating the two. Now that I am at BYU, the discomfort is increasing, and my desire to stage my own private rebellion and discontinue my activity in the church is powerful. My frustration is affecting my husband, and I do have children who attend church. If I make the decision to be less active it affects them deeply. I’d be thrilled to learn whatever survival strategy you have for attending BYU as a liberal democrat. As you know, I do need an ecclesiastical endorsement.