Clayton Christensen and Kristin Oaks both spoke. I've heard slightly less than one million talks on being single and hope to never hear another again, but this weekend I think both speakers illuminated some very uplifting thoughts I found worth sharing.
Christensen began by outlining that as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we believe in sacrifice. He referred to the quote from Joseph Smith, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things can never have the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary for exaltation. He then gave a lengthy list of sacrifices early church members were asked to make - from serving lengthy, dangerous missions without purse or script, to setting aside work and serving in building the Temple, to paying for your church to be built, building it, and paying tithing, all at the same time.
Not only are we not asked to sacrifice similarly, in many instances we cannot even legally serve as we were asked to in the past. (He took his kids to the Boston Temple site when it was being built to see if they could help in any way and were quickly escorted off the site as the construction manager explained it was illegal for them to be present.)
He said this presents a problem in terms of faith and exaltation, unless we realize that the church has moved from requiring/asking us to sacrifice "all things" to allowing us to choose, a higher law of sacrifice.
He asked us, "What and how can you be sacrificing everything that has been given you - right now? . . . And how do you do this of your own free will, that you can bring to pass much righteousness? If we want exaltation, we cannot expect to get it without sacrifice."
"Women," he said, "Half of you will not marry. There are 2000 Young/Single Adults in the New England Area. Half of them are inactive. Of those inactive, 70% are men." He counseled each person in the next few weeks to sit up on the stand during sacrament meeting (he was addressing a singe adult audience). "What will you see? You will see 70% women, and 30% men. Is this because there were oddly and unprecedentedly twice the amount of girls born as boys? No. It is because of inactivity. Men, what were you doing? This was on your watch, how did you let this happen? What were you doing in your quorums, and in home teaching and in your callings? How did we lose so many men?" Then he turned to the women, "Women, what were you doing? This was on your watch." "These high levels of inactivity (50% and up) are because we have not sacrificed all things to pull them back into the church."
He suggested that through reactivation and conversion, the challenge of so many singles without marriage prospects would be solved, as would the necessity of developing faith through sacrifice.
With regards to conversion and reactivation, he counseled "First, engineer an activity where the church needs THEM. They have often already decided they don't need the church. Through this method they can be brought to see how much the church needs them, and also how much it has to offer. Second, Find out what questions are on THEIR minds. Answer those questions, don't give priority to what YOU think they should ask/know. Begin with addressing their questions. Third, sacrifice time and energy to attend the Temple.
"The standard of sacrifice is critical, and very much in force in our lives. Will we choose sacrifice, and have the faith required? The church will no longer ask us to sacrifice all as it did in the past, but we are still required to do so. And it is through such sacrifice that we will be happy."
Next Kristen Oaks spoke, and I've included a few of her thoughts below:
"When we come to understand the basics of our religion we come to understand ourselves."
"Honor your emotions, they come from God and have celestial roots. The desire for marriage and for children is God-given, and not a curse."
"Negative thoughts are never born of God; if you have a negative thought of any kind, it is not of God. However, we can not recognize His voice unless we are familiar with the scriptures. God speaks through loving invitation and encouragement - that is how He functions. If we need to change course, or do something differently He will not speak through fear or negativity. It will feel like a loving invitation, and encouragement.
"Our current homes are prototypes of those to come."
She then addressed those who have experienced great hardship, and said quoting Bruce R McConkie, "Salvation is not a cheap experience. We cannot expect to attain close wot what Christ did without experiencing something of what He felt. It was never, ever easy for him. Mark my word, you must be prepared to feel something of the pain he felt."
She acknowledged those who continue to "hope beyond hope" and act in faith desiring things or working towards promises that seem impossible, and saluted them as "someone who chose to live out in the trenches, where you could be destroyed by your love."
She said that this life is painful, it is not always easy. "People change. You can not control that. And sometimes they change away from God. And it is not your fault."
She ended by testifying that God sent us here to find happiness, and that as we draw nearer to God we will find that, regardless of our circumstances.
If this post bored you out of your mind, I'm sorry. Here's me apologizing.
(Also trying to keep Liz off my back for not posting images of myself all over this blog.)