Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Courage. What is it and how do we get it? I believe we get it from doing. From going forward when you really want to give up.
My name is Becky. I’m 42, unmarried with no children. I was raised in a family of 7 kids where all 6 of my siblings have anywhere from 3 to 6 kids. I have dogs instead. Actually, yesterday (august 23rd) I acted in courage by myself with no support and had one of my dogs put down. He was old and very sick. So now I’m just a one-dog dog owner. Hard at the time, but as the days pass, it will just be a memory of a few minutes. What is hard is keeping going on alone.
My family of origin is unique. My parents are 17 years apart. Mom married the first guy who kissed her at age 21. Dad was 39. He fasted from food for 2 weeks only drinking water to petition the Lord for a wife and family. He got it. I once tried fasting for 2.5 days and had dysentery! He had five kids close together and then due to a cord wrapped around baby number 5, they quit multiplying and replenishing for 9 years until Joseph Fielding Smith said in Priesthood Session at General Conference “don’t block up the well springs of life”. Dad was a follow the prophet kind of guy, so as I like to say came home and had a “talk” with Mom and 15 months later I was born. Dad was 55 when I was born. Not wanting me to be an only child of sorts they had my sister 18 months later. Due to the age difference in siblings, I became an aunt at the age of 7. By 5th grade literally ½ of my siblings were married. I lived and breathed marriage and family. As a youth I babysat my life away. I had permanent jobs every Friday night for 3 years. I was the best known babysitter in the ward. One year I made 2 thousand dollars just babysitting. I preferred playing mom over going to Youth Dances. Family was all I wanted and all I planned for. I figured I’d do what the rest of my siblings did- go to Ricks College, then BYU and then get married. I did go to Ricks, I went on a mission and then to USU instead. I did have one sister who didn’t marry till she was 32 and I watched as she cried and was lonely and had nothing like the others did.
Those 2 examples, my dad and my sister engrained in me that singleness was not desirable. Happiness came from family life and in 1995 “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” confirmed that. At the age of 36 I had the opportunity to marry. I took it even though there were improper actions and loud and clear red flags with this man. He was not what I wanted, but I thought he could become that. At 3 weeks of marriage I knew it wasn’t going to last and that I would eventually need to get out. It was abusive in many ways. I stayed for 17 months. When my mom decided to leave the state I left with her. In doing that I knew that I might never marry again, but instead be single and lonely.
It’s been 3 years now and I’ve been fired from four jobs (probably PSTD) and only been asked out from men who are undesirable. If I pursued them I would be making a mistake again. It infuriates me that there are men that find me desirable, but that do nothing for me. The good men are taken.
So here I am in an LDS community and family where marriage and family life is it and I have not. I’ve gone through the ringer of emotions through the last 20 years of anger, bitterness and yes at times even happiness. I’ve traveled too, taking the opportunities when they presented themselves. Now however I live in low income housing and travel is not feasible. I deal with anger every day. It’s a problem. I’m angry at family members, at my ex and those involved in the relationship, I’m angry that girls camp in Idaho stinks compared to girls camp in Washington, I’m angry that mothers with 3 kids are still germaphobes, I’m angry that I live in the 2nd largest LDS populated state and the single adult program in Twin Falls Idaho is only a soup kitchen for senior citizens. The list could go on. Oh yes I’m angry! I suppose I’m mostly angry at God for handing me this life. I signed up for this?
At 17 I received my patriarchal blessing. I was terrified that it would say I wouldn’t get married. I fasted for that specifically. It talks about a “young man coming into my life” and me being a “true mother in Israel.” No such thing has happened. I’ve wanted to give up. I’ve wanted to quite going to church, to give up studying my scriptures, to stop being serviceable,(after all I have nothing and I sure wish someone would serve me!)
But I continue to do what is right. I have a testimony. The Book of Mormon is true and we have a living prophet on the earth. I get up and go to church every Sunday and come home glad I did, even though I go out of duty. I teach primary, I go to girls camp, I attend the temple, even doing sealings . I call the last the ”slit your wrist activity’. I can get sealed for dead people, but not myself? Have I thought of suicide? Sure. But I’m chicken, I don’t have the courage for that thank goodness, and I know it would be worse than if I stayed. So I stay and deal with the life I wish I could give starving kids in Africa. They would LOVE my life!
I’m happy for friends who have great families, I really am. I tell them how blessed they are as I walk around with this feeling of emptiness and nothingness of my own life. I’m afraid I’ll be single the rest of my 40 to 50 plus years. I’m afraid I’ll be poor and no one will take care of me in my old age and no one but ward members will come to my funeral even though I have 26 nieces and nephews and almost 16 great nieces and nephews. Yes, I come from a big family, but they have their trials, challenges and woes. Most likely I’m not even in the top 5 things to worry about.
So every week I go to church alone and sit with families and serve while most don’t know the whole me or what I went through that week. I go to family get togethers and am happy to see people, to actually have a family for a short while. I go to work even though I never wanted a career and it doesn’t fill my bucket. I do everything I do, because what else am I suppose to do? Quit? Give up? Not an option. I guess that is courage. I don’t feel courageous, but I get up and do it every day even though I just want to stay in bed.
I tell myself it could be worse and I realize that others reading this have had worse. They have lost children or spouses to death, they have dealt with cancer or other terminal or permanent illnesses. There is a list that is very long of things worse than being single but for me this is my Abrahamic trial.
Right now I’m praying for the anger to go away. I’m submissive to this will Heavenly Father wants for me, but most times I’m not happy about it.
The key to courage? Just keep on keeping on. I hold to the iron rod to that great reward in Heaven.
…..shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad….