So, Jeff is the first counselor in a singles ward, and today I gave a talk on dating with the Spirit in combined Relief Society and Elder's Quorum. The journal entries may sound a bit up and down, because I had to cut a lot (a lot a lot) out to fit my time constraints. What you have below ended up being 3 1/2 pages. My original talk was 16 pages.
So, I’ve been asked to talk about dating. Not just dating in general, but dating with the Spirit. There’s a big difference. So, you can go to lds.org just as easily as I and search and find out what our leaders have said on this topic, so I decided not to do your homework for you. Those aren’t my testimony or experience.
Now, obviously I’m married and in love with Jeff. However, Jeff wasn’t the first guy I dated, and I’m not the first girl Jeff was in love with. In fact, most of the people you date aren’t the person you marry. What makes that difference? Sure, sure there is physical attraction and sparks and things in common and favorite hobbies to share, etc. but a lot of people like the same things you do. What is it that really gets you there?
Well, I think it’s the primary answers: prayer, reading your scriptures, and going to church. I think that is what makes the difference between dating and finding the person you want to marry and being the person that person wants to be married to. Let me illustrate this with my journal entries. Watch how I went from an uncertain girl to a happy wife.
June 26, 2005 ♥ Genesis 2:24. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” ONE FLESH. Will I ever trust myself and someone else enough to become as “one flesh”? Will I ever be able to give someone that much power in my life? It sounds so wonderful and amazing, but it doesn’t seem like something I will ever allow myself to experience.
June 28 ♥ I was sitting in institute when I was struck with the feeling that I should break up with Jacob. Whenever I pray about it, I feel peace, and I know I’m making the right decision. I’m not ready to be in a relationship either. I’m not a person worthy of guys and missionaries like him yet.
July 11 ♥ I really could have spent the rest of my life with Jacob. However, I feel that way about Dan also. However, we have a God of miracles and happy endings, so I know that if I make the right choices I will end up with Jacob or someone as wonderful as Jacob. I wonder if I will end up with Jacob or Dan or some mystery man I’ve never met. Haha. I obviously ended up with the mystery man!
July 21 ♥ I’m at the Laundromat watching a really old couple. They’re still married and in love. The love of still-married, old people is amazing. They have made it through so much and stuck together for so long. Eternal commitment. Oh my gosh wow. Does someone exist that I could love in return for eternity?
August 8 ♥ Raya asked me if I missed Kevin. I said, “No, I’m just bored without him.” I wonder if that’s true. I mean, I miss doing stuff with him. I miss having him around, but I’m not pining away or sitting around restless. Why don’t I miss people? When am I going to trust someone enough to attach myself to them?
August 13 ♥ I need to stop just dating people and focus on marriage material, but at the same time, the guys I would want to marry are all on missions or about to go. Sure. No guys.
August 27 ♥ So after this summer, I have realized that I don’t want to date some guys, because I would never marry them, so it would just be a fling or very dangerous, so there’s no point. The rest of the guys I don’t want to date, because I actually could marry them, and I want to see if Dan and I are as compatible as I think we are. Haha, now I’m waiting for a guy who doesn’t even know that I like him, so I can completely avoid the issue of dating anyone available. Marriage is scary!
September 12 ♥ I have made one friend in my new ward—Jeff Collett. He’s from Ohio. He seems pretty cool.
September 22 ♥ How am I going to pick one day whom to marry? I don’t have a favorite color, song, book, movie, or anything! So, Jeff asked me out on a date for Saturday. He said I could think about my answer and get back to him about my decision. Have I ever made a choice?! Oh, Jeffrey is making things confusing for me isn’t he? But he’s smart. He is actually giving me time to think about it, so I can’t blame it on him later. It’s all my decision.
September 26 ♥ I got a blessing from my home teachers yesterday. You know how unhappy and lonely I have been feeling? It is amazing how good I have felt since the blessing! I’ve felt totally at peace and comforted. I am so grateful for the priesthood. All of my turmoil and unhappiness was swept away with the help of a blessing from my home teachers.
September 27 ♥ So . . . remember how lonely and miserable and unhappy I was the past month? How I wanted someone to talk to—to confide in? How I felt so alone and couldn’t find happiness? How I could only find peace in the scriptures? Well . . . I’ve been praying and fasting about whether or not to continue hanging out with Jeff, and I really feel peace in the idea that God put him here to be my friend, support, and listener right now. I don’t know where that places Dan and/or a mission, but I do know that Jeff is blessing my life. My roommate, Amber, got engaged to her boyfriend, Nate, last night. She is so happy. I am so not ready for that! Hm, I’m doing better. I’ve had a blessing. I’m reading my scriptures. I’m praying, and I’m fasting, and guess what? I have peace. I’m still not ready for marriage, but I’m not freaking out about dating someone who I could marry and I'm not wasting my time dating someone I couldn't marry. I’m not scared!
October 4 ♥ Jeff had tickets to General Conference. He invited me, and it was wonderful to be in the Conference Center. I am supposed to be thinking about whether I’ll date him—to be his girlfriend. He asked and then gave me time to think about it. Check this guy out! He invites me to Church activities, and he gives me time. No pressure. No rushing. He tells me how he feels and then lets me sort out my feelings. No spur of the moment, poorly thought out decisions can be made now. Again, it’s my choice and will be my responsibility.
October 6 ♥ So, I’m dating Jeff. Jeff Collett is my boyfriend. Jeff makes me really happy. Wow. I have a boyfriend, and I’m okay with it! I’m not thinking of excuses to run away!
October 14 ♥ Jeffrey . . . he was so unexpected. I really like him. Today we were joking about marriage and babies, and I didn’t get scared. I think I am falling for him, and the only thing I’m afraid of is that I don’t know how he feels. Oh my! I’m falling hard. I’m not scared.
October 19 ♥ Jeff almost broke up with me yesterday. This may sound weird, but it was an amazingly spiritual experience for me. As we talked, I kept feeling this overwhelming feeling of peace and warmth. It was as though someone was holding me and whispering, “There, there Michelle. It’s going to be okay. You are strong enough to handle any outcome and everything is going to work out.” I knew that even if Jeffrey did break my heart, I would survive. I knew (and know) that dating Jeffrey was the right thing to do. I am so grateful for everything that he has already taught me. He’s shown me that it is possible to be happy while dating and to have someone respect and cherish you instead of use you. It’s been amazing. I also knew that if Jeffrey decided to toss me back (as long as I kept following the Spirit’s promptings) that I would find some other guy as wonderful as Jeffrey or maybe even more wonderful (if that’s possible). God takes care of His saints. Jeffrey ended up deciding to still date me and to come and meet my parents. I lost the Spirit a little for a bit and starting turning back into the Mimi that expects guys to hurt her and who overanalyzes everything, but then I knew that would make me unhappy and wouldn’t be fair to Jeffrey, so I prayed for the ability to trust and regain my earlier peace, and I received it! I am so happy to be Jeffrey’s. Wow! Look what you can feel when you have the Spirit! He will comfort you; He will bring peace to your soul when you are doing the right things and living the right way, and I was. I was reading my scriptures daily and going to the temple weekly.
October 20 ♥ So, Jeffrey and I officially have plane tickets for this Christmas Break, but for some reason I am not flipping out. We’re also talking about taking a religion class together next semester. That’s pretty long term. Since we’re only supposed to date people we would marry, I prayed about it and I could. That’s pretty early, huh? It hasn’t even been a month since we’ve been dating. I honestly think it never is too early. I didn’t ask Heavenly Father if Jeff Collett would be my husband. No, ma’am. I thought about the way he treated me and made me feel, and I decided that I thought I could marry him. Then I asked Heavenly Father if it was okay. The answer was yes. I still didn’t know if I would marry Jeff for sure, but I knew it would not be bad if I did and I knew I could keep dating him. I wasn't wasting either of our time.
October 25 ♥ Our first date was a month ago yesterday. It’s kind of weird to be dating someone I know I could marry. I guess weird isn’t the right word . . . maybe wonderful and different. Yeah, that’s how it is. Shh . . . this is a secret, but I love him. I haven’t told anyone else. Oh, so now I love him, huh?
October 26 ♥ I hope Jeffrey isn’t worried, stressed, or preoccupied with the marriage thing. We’ve only been dating for one month; we don’t need to be concerned yet. Especially since I’m not concerned at all! I’ve already prayed about it and know marriage would be okay. This peace is amazing. I should pray about everything! It feels great to have God backing up your decisions. I know I could marry him, and I also know God could help me get over him if need be. Yes, the peace was amazing and is amazing. Even now when I need it, I can find that peace that I gained almost three years ago, and I know it’s still okay.
November 3 ♥ Am I dating Jeff just to be dating someone or because he’s Jeff? No, I am dating Jeff because he’s Jeffrey. I am not dating him to just have a boyfriend, because I did not even want a boyfriend. Is Jeffrey a good match for me? He teases a lot, but he’s really considerate and kind also. Do I really know him? Does he really know me? Do I really know me? Is it possible to really know someone? Do you ever actually stop getting to know someone? Sometimes I feel really insecure and unconfident, and I think Jeffrey would prefer a girl that cooked more and knew more about children. Then I remember there’s no reason for me to worry about those things, because that’s his decision—not mine. I’m starting to get confused. I’m losing my peace. Why do we lose peace? We let doubts creep in, and there is no room for faith and fear at the same time. I thought I loved this guy and knew it would be okay!
November 11 ♥ I think I might already love Jeff, but I am not sure. I’m definitely the closest to love that I have ever been. [One page later] So, I know that I love Jeffrey, but is it spend-the-rest-of-my-life-with-you love or enjoy-my-time-with-you-and-always-have-fun-with-you love or I-am-okay-with-your-flaws love or you’re-an-amazing-friend love or you’re-a-great-person love or the-way-I-love-everyone love? Or all-of-the-above love? I know I’d prefer to spend time with him than do anything else with anyone else. Is that love? Love is confusing, isn’t it?
December 1 ♥ I wonder when Jeffrey will propose? I’m pretty sure he will. Next month? Three months? I don’t know. I definitely think it would be worth it to make it work with Jeffrey. I could commit to him. It is kind of weird to be in this situation. I can’t possibly be this girl falling in love. However, I still don’t feel like we’ve been dating long enough to make that kind of step. So I hope he doesn’t propose anytime soon. I don’t think it will be soon, because he says he’s scared of being wrong. I’m pretty confident in our relationship now, but it’s still weird to me. I’m not used to being in love.
December 4 ♥ Happy 3 months of knowing Jeffrey. Hmm . . . is there someone out there who could make me happier than Jeffrey? I can’t believe sometimes that I’m dating a twenty-three year old. Will he be able to provide for me and my family? I must not love him heart, soul, mind, and body yet. Some part of me definitely loves him though. I love him; I love him not. Seems to be up in the air, huh?
December 8 ♥ He told me he loved me. I wanted so badly to say it back—I thought it would burst out of me, but I didn’t have the guts. I’ll tell him tomorrow.
December 12 ♥ Wow. Being in love is so cool. Wow. I really hope Jeffrey and I get married instead of breaking up. We’re alike in the right ways and different in the right ways. I love Jeffrey Wells Collett. I’m pretty much just plain happy now.
January 11, 2006 ♥ Jeffrey and I are getting married! He finally stopped being scared! He hasn’t proposed yet, because he wants to have a ring when he does it. It’s really exciting. I’m really happy. Sometimes I worry I’m making the wrong decision, but I’ve prayed about it and I know deep down it is right and could only be wrong if I make it so. I love him, so all that is left is eternal commitment, and I can totally do that. That’s it. I knew it, and the Lord knew it, and I couldn’t deny it.
February 24 ♥ Jeffrey and I really frustrate each other sometimes. Through the frustrating moments I am learning how to pick my battles and just let the little things go. I am also learning how utterly committed we both are to making “us” work. I am filled with joy. Yeah, even though we’re in love and engaged by this point doesn’t mean we can’t get annoyed at each other.
March 3 ♥ Jeffrey is so amazing! So today, we’ve been engaged for a month and dating for five months. Tomorrow we’ll have known each other for six months—half a year! It’s amazing how your perception of someone can change if you’ll just open your heart to them and endless possibilities. That’s true! I sure didn’t know I would marry him when I met him. I had decided I wasn’t going to date at all that year!
March 29 ♥ Jeff and I almost broke up. He and my mom are not bonding. She keeps crying all the time about losing me to Jeff, and I just didn’t feel strong enough to handle it, and I thought forget it, I’ll just wait and marry someone she likes. He started taking the ring off my finger, and all of a sudden I knew that it needed to stay on and that he was the guy I wanted for eternity. Wow. One of the strongest feelings I can remember having was when Jeff moved to remove my ring. I knew, heart and mind, that I wanted to marry Jeff Collett, and that my mom would come around, because Heavenly Father had let me know months ago it would be okay.
April 30 ♥ So Jeffrey Wells Collett and I tied the knot on Friday, April 28. It’s a long story . . . We were sealed in the temple for all time and eternity!
So there it is. How did I start out? Terrified. Confused. Unsure of myself and my ability to love. What changed? Before I met Jeff, I dated quite a few other nice, honorable guys. There was nothing wrong with them, and they were temple-worthy. I wasn’t ready though. I was a mess. How did I get out of my mess?
I took Gordon B. Hinckley’s challenge to read the Book of Mormon. I did baptisms in the temple every Tuesday morning before my classes. I put a picture of the Savior in Gethsemane next to my bed, and every night before I went to bed I thought of at least one way that the Atonement affected my life that day. I wasn’t ready to fall in love with a guy I could marry until I had gotten my life in order and became someone ready to be married in the temple. Jeff is just lucky that he found me at that time before someone else did. ;)
Even doing all those things though, you’ll remember that I still got scared at different times. What did I do to overcome those paralyzing moments? I prayed. I lived so I could keep the Spirit about me, and I felt His comfort. When I did get freaked out, it was usually because I was slipping or Jeff was slipping, and we weren’t living as righteously as we could have. Whenever I was ready to pray and come back though, I was able to find that peace.
I hope this has helped somewhat. I just wanted to share my experience with you. Just get yourself ready, and then wait patiently as someone else is getting him or herself ready to be with you, too. They don’t all find you as quickly as Jeff found me.
While I don't know how or when it will work out for you, I do know that you will all have exactly what you need in your lives to be happy and to become the person you are supposed to be, if you follow these guidelines I've set out: pray, live to keep the Spirit in your life, read the scriptures, fulfill your calling, etc. Although some people do not find marital happiness in this life, I do know that everyone who lives worthily will eventually find it. Please don't think that just because you leave BYU single means that you will be single forever. My brother-in-law did his undergraduate and graduate at BYU and left single. Then he went to get his PhD at Purdue and met my beautiful big sister. My sister-in-law also did her undergraduate and graduate studies at BYU and didn't end up with someone until she went back home to where my brother was then living. BYU is not the end-all. You have eternity to find your companion. My dad's cousin didn't find someone to marry until she was in her 50s, and she is happy now.
Love is confusing; it's a leap of faith into the unknown. Luckily, marriage is more than just love, more than just the confusing part. It's determination, patience, endurance, flexibility, and commitment. Those factors are what come from basing your marriage on the foundation of Christ, and they're what keep a marriage strong. Those things make a marriage work, and love makes a marriage worth making it work.