Sunday, July 22, 2007

Faith without Works.

What if the scriptures read as follows:
And I, Nephi, was commanded to build a boat, and did wait for the Lord to drop off the tools. The end.

Rachel used this in her lesson a few weeks ago. Think about it: If Nephi, Noah, and the like did not take the initiative to "build" their future as commanded by the Lord, we wouldn't have scriptures. Everyone would have just died out there in the wilderness, and the story would be over. But they didn't wait for God to provide everything first; they were given a commandment and then did whatever it took to make things happen.

I kind of wonder if maybe I haven't been doing a little "sitting, wishing, waiting" in my o-so busy and full life. Sure, I SAY I'm finally willing to consider a "time and all eternity" relationship- but have I DONE anything about it? Or do I simply shrug and say, "well, when the right guy comes along, I'm sure I'll be ready," or, "if I met anyone special, I'm sure I'd be able to commit then!" and, "I'm sure there's somebody somewhere out there for me. I just need to let him find me." You know you've said the same things. We all do. Every week, about Sunday afternoon, when we choose to come home instead of suffering another linger longer, dessert party, birthday party, or movie night, we think, "gosh- it really would be nice to be dating somebody, buuuuut..." and we run out the door to the next big event.

Now, I'm not shy. I can't imagine how insurmountable this multitude of social activities must be for those of you who are. But I'm out there. Shaking hands, kissing babies, and offering my digits to any poor soul who will have it. But has it made any difference in my relationship status beyond the delightful title of being "a really fun girl" who gets invited to every FUN outing on the market? I'm not complaining; I'm not. I am SO flattered that people would think to have me along and I absolutely love camping, boating, partying, and eating anything somebody else has so kindly cooked. But over-socializing has not brought me any closer to accomplishing this "goal" of a serious, if not terminal, relationship. Which is, apparently, what I'm supposed to be looking for.

Lately I've begun to wonder if all this fun is the problem. If it's become my excuse for not dating. That was certainly the case when I was in college. Many times, if I ever did have a date, the poor sucker would surely end up getting ditched by 10pm, so I could reconvene with my buddies, finish off their leftover pizza, and watch The Crocodile Hunter. But that was over 10 years ago. What's my excuse now?

I attend all the meetings which I should attend. I go to every ward activity sponsored, even the ones that make me feel completely juvenile, because that's what you do when you sustain your leaders, right? In 15 years of membership, I have never "ward-hopped" and always fulfilled my callings with great gusto. I fellowship, I am friendly, and I always try to invite strangers to social events. What more could possibly be expected of me? Part of me realizes that perhaps I've had it all wrong. Maybe I've been too devoted. Too faithful to the LDS-singles socializing scene. Here I thought I was going to church to study the gospel, but the point of a single's ward was to get me married off! How naive I have been! While I was busy fellowshipping, the smart kids were flirting. While I worried about entertaining everyone and providing equal attention to inclusion of all members, the socially savvy members were making their marks. And when I was busy inviting new members to activities, everyone who knew better was busy pairing off. A perfect example:
the funnest ward dance ever (not that I've been to any others lately), I ran into SEVERAL genuinely interesting and extremely attractive men not from our ward, and had such great conversations with each. Of course, every. single. time, in the middle of talking, a fantastic, unignorable song came on and I had to stop, briefly explaining, "I am so sorry, I SO want to keep talking to you...But I absolutely MUST dance to this song! Bye!" I mean, it was a DANCE. I was there to DANCE. I figured if anyone was interested in finishing the conversation, we could do it when the music wasn't so danged hot. Needless to say, I'm not in touch with a single one of those guys, but boy, did my friends and I ever have a blast.

So here I am. Alone. Again. When I ran into a former "adult" leader shortly after my last bad breakup, she looked at me sincerely and sympathetically and asked, "Have you tried going online?" Tearfully, I scoffed at her suggestion, and insisted that (while things were bad) it wasn't THAT bad! Six months later, I see her sweet face in my mind and think, "if faith without works is dead, where does that put me?" I say I have the faith, but am I doing enough? Sure, I go out a lot...but maybe I'm going out too much, with too many people, too often. Maybe I'm paying too much attention making sure everyone feels special, so no one person gets attention. And the whole time, I'm thinking, "well, if he wanted me, he'd do something about it." Until someone's man enough to demand my undivided time and attention, aren't I doing a good job of representing Christ in fellowshipping His children? ALL His children?

I hate the idea of "looking out for #1," and I hate the idea of my church experience becoming my social experience, but if my way isn't right, does that make me wrong? At what point does practicing faith translate into doing enough to get the job done? I mean, yes- it's a man's responsibility to do the asking, but is there something more women should be doing to make that happen? Because I thought I was being as friendly as I could without following somebody home...

I'll do what you want me to do, dear Lord, but I'm also waiting for you to drop off all the tools and instructions for me to accomplish our goals. What would have happened if our prophets of old had said such a thing? As Rachel said so plainly, "The story would be over." I'm not ready for my story to be over. I do have faith. But as far as my works go...If you have any suggestions for an absurdly outgoing girl who really, really likes getting to know people, I'm open to suggestions. Because so far, all I've done is make a lot of friends who eventually leave me for relationships.


louisgray said...

Another spin...

“Now Lord, we’re a little unsure on this wilderness thing. A report from Gartner Dataquest came out in the last quarter saying that 90 percent of all private wilderness ventures fail in their first two years, and we’re looking for a more-stable business plan that can ensure success.”

The truth is that without risk, there can be little reward, and those opportunities with the greatest potential are the ones most worth struggling for.


Seriously speaking though... sometimes the really popular girl can seem unattainable, or the guys might believe they would be one of many pursuing, so the effort isn't made?

After all... have you ever heard of situations where more than one guy sends flowers to the same girl on the same day? D'oh!

I've done it. (At the Stanford Ward, no less)

I understand the concerns about religion vs. social life. Truth is, you can have both, but maybe the pie chart needs adjustment? If you're beginning to question your devotion, or if you're concerned you're not putting enough effort into the spiritual side, then the answer is already there for you. It comes down to prioritizing the less fun over the more fun, and, while nobody is going to give you the tools and an instruction manual for that part, you're not exactly doing this alone.

Enough from me!

Anonymous said...

But did you Get Some at the lake or what?

Salt H2O said...

You do what you've always done and you'll get what you've always got.

You say you'd like a relationship but Farrah, you were in the middle of a conversation with a guy you've never met before and could have been very interested in, but you cut it off mid-sentence to dance. Your priority at the moment was dancing. The guy probably saw your need to dance as a way 'out' of the conversation.

I see a lot of people not in relationships because being in a relationship isn't a priority. you can tell by their actions. Their education, job, surfing, friends or fun are the top priorities. Dancing was your prioirty.

f*bomb. said...

Truth be told, dancing is ALWAYS the priority.
I just can't make the feet stop groooovin'!

Louis- don't you worry- your dissertation is currently being divided into bite-sized chunks and will be made available to the public via Blogg. And as for RISK- it's not just my favourite board game anymore.

To be clear, I'm not (currently) prioritizing my social life over my spiritual life...but I'm considering it. Which means that those of you in LA may be seeing a lot more of me on Sundays. While I've always been devoted to the boundries and fulfilling my calling, I can get most things done BEFORE Sunday, and think it's high time I utilized the fact I'm IN a single's ward. Shouldn't I be advertising and pimping myself out like everyone else does?

cropstar5 said...

i didn't realize it until now but i think we're living the same life. i've been going through this debate in my head for a while now and still haven't come to any conclusions. if you figure something out let me know.
and i would just like to say AMEN to the "dancing is ALWAYS the priority" comment because IT IS! said...

As the random Mormon Jersey Guy that reads and enjoys your blog, I want to say that I think that many people in their "late YSA" years have probably felt this way. For me there is no singles ward here in Jersey. I have been encouraged by my folks to take my Sundays to NYC or Philadelphia. I have repeatedly said to them that Church is for Church and not for dating.

I also think that there is a good part of the story of Nephi that you are not discussing. While he didn't wait for the tools to be dropped off, his next question was where do I go to get the oar to build the tools. He asked for the Lords help in gaining the things necessary for what the Lord desired for him.

It really frustrates me that people do use the Church as their own personal "hot spot". I went to the BY for goodness sake. I think that the relationships and friendships that we make at Church can be cultivated into more, but we should not use Church as our place to go. I believe that quality men and women can see through those who go to Church for the wrong reason, and, from reading you, you seem quality - and it seems like you want quality.

On large groups and hanging out, we all remember Elder Oaks talk about this. When I find myself in this situation, I try and spend time with one or two people getting to know them, and decide if I want to continue the conversation. I don't think that it is inappropriate to say, "I really enjoy talking to you, when can we do this again." I do know that I am a guy and these are supposed to be my words, but guys are stupid and sometimes need a little help.

Finally, who you are is who you are. While it is important to daily work to become a better person, don't change so that you will fit into some cookie-cutter idea of "how to get a spouse".

Finally, remember what it says in 2 Tim 1:7 - For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Sorry for going on and on. You just struck a cord with me on this one.

Marie said...

My orbit has never approached that corner of the universe, so I'm presumptuous to even comment. If you feel guided in that direction, then you should go with it, even if it seems counter-intuitive in some way. See Elder Oaks's "hanging out" talk, which sort of blows the singles' ward group activity culture out of the water. But I tend to agree with the line of thinking that you're about to discard -- that any guy who's really interested will not be deterred from making further contact just because you broke off a chit-chat conversation to go boogie and befriend others in the vicinity.

There is much to be said for seeing a problem and saying that there's probably something you can do to fix it, or at least show God you're making a good-faith effort to fix it. But there's also that "Timing" talk, also by Elder Oaks, from Oct 2003 Conference:$fn=default.htm

Usually we can be doing better in a given struggle, and it's good to pray about ways we can improve, but when it comes to commandments that involve the agency of others (which is different from building a boat, however difficult), we also have to do a lot of trusting (see D&C 124:49, a companion scripture for "I will go and do..."). God commands us to emulate Nephi, but it is not true that when God asks us to do something that he always provides a way for us to accomplish it in our lifetimes. The trick is to keep trying and adjusting our tactics and not lose hope, even though we aren't in control in any real way. We can't do "whatever it takes" to make things happen -- we don't HAVE everything it takes to make it happen. Some of the pieces are held by other human beings, and some are held by God. We show we're willing to contribute our piece of the pie, and then we wait upon the universe to drop us the rest of the tools. We wait for God to show us where the ore is. We wait for Him to touch the stones. We don't go out and try to invent the lightbulb.

That said, if you die alone, I'll eat my hat.

Marie said...

Looks like you struck the same chord with me and -- seems we were writing nearly the same response at the same moment. I should just erase mine as redundant, but it took me awhile to write, so I'm not gonna. :)

Salt H2O said...

There's a reason 'the brethern' have chosen to use singles wards instead of putting everyone into family wards- a big function of the singles ward is to find a member of the opposite sex to procreate with. As much as we'd like to be at church to simply worship, finding a spouse with similar values is a huge part of church when your single.

I have friends that were so sick of the singles ward they chose to go to family wards for a year or so. They all got bored at some part of another, lost their social lives and went back to a singles ward.

You've given pierside a fair shot, I say if it's not working out - move on and find another ward.

If you were THAT interested in a guy, you wouldn't have left him to dance.

Rachel said...

Sweet Farrah. Somebody remembered the lesson. It' interesting to hear back what different people take from a particular lesson. I think that as long as you keep prayfully asking questions and nurture an honest and committed relationship with God first, it will influence your other relationships for good; even if you are not quite sure where the heck your boat is sailing.

Michael said...

I was going to make the "Nephi asked where to find ore" comment, but Thom already did. I think the big thing isn't to necessarily go build the ship- but to seek the Lord's help on how to build the ship (or on how to obtain the tools to build the ship)

I think both the ditching the date early and the ditching a conversation to go dance sound a lot like Bree's frustration with bromosexuals.

Were I in an interesting conversation with you (or any other girl) that you bailed on in order to dance I wouldn't seek you out later. I'd figure you just wanted to dance- but I'd also think that maybe you wanted to bail because you were just being nice and pretending to be into our interesting conversation. If you found me afterwards I wouldn't blow you off either, I just wouldn't make an effort to go find you. I don't think there's a big problem with bailing to dance (after all it is a dance) but if you do and you want to talk to the guy again you have got to be the one to find him and initiate it. You could explain that you couldn't not dance to that song and invite him to join you next time something that hot is played. If he turns you down because he doesn't dance it may be a clue that you don't want him anyway. (though I probably wouldn't go dance with you- I don't really like dancing in public, but I'd also understand that might make me an automatic "do not date")

k8 said...

farrah farrah...the singles ward provides loads and loads of activities so that everyone has a chance to partipate in SOMETHING. If you get maniacal about doing every single thing then absolutely, you schedule yourself right out of time to actually get serious with someone. the point isn't to keep you so busy you can't date, but to give you chances to meet people.

also, maybe i submit that thinking and worrying and plotting and scheming too much in the relationship game has yet to really work? A wise friend who was sick to death of a "how do we find a man" conversation one night said "girls, it's an Act of God that anyone ever gets together in the first place so just let Him deal with it."

Tannerama said...

Farrah, what if you found a tall, handsome, witty, winsome gentleman who also liked to dance? What if his name were Tanner?

But seriously, I'm sure that your efforts will pay off. You're a stone cold FOX! And not to get too "preachy" but, God will appreciate the extra effort. Too often many girls hope for the right guy to drop into their laps (proverbially speaking...or is it?). But, you are willing to go the extra mile.

I think that we should do away with this silly notion of guys having to be the one to make the first move. Because there are WAAAY too many foxy ladies out there who aren't getting asked out. Because, I can ask out all of them (Heaven knows I'm only one man) even though I would like to. So, I say, "Ladies! Get out there and get yours!"

I'm not absolving guys of their duty (that's right, DUTY!) to ask ladies out. But, if a girl likes a guy. He's not making the move. Then you make the move! If a girl came to me and asked me out... colored me flattered. But, I don't know its just a thought.

Also, Farrah, I hope that you do make it up here to the LA area more often. I am all in favor of more beautiful women being in the general vicinity.

Tannerama said...

I meant to say "CAN'T ask them all out..." Not "Can". Stupid typos.

Rudie cant fail said...

Ah, Farrah. I certainly understand what you are saying and you've articulated a feeling that I have had at times but might not have been able to express so clearly.

The dance story speaks volumes about priorities. The converse to you at the dance is a friend of mine from The Brigham. (You didn't know him, but I'm sure you all have known "that guy".) Anyhoo, he hit his senior year and sort of freaked out the he was not married. He decided that getting married was his top priority. More important than friends, more important than schoolwork, more important than the "college experience". To that end, he told me one day in the fall of the school year that from now on, he was going to go on 7 dates a week with 7 different girls. I, of course, thought that this was utterly ridiculous, and "so BYU". He actually did do this, though. 7 different girls a week. I can recall several conversations along the lines of:

"Dude, we're going mountain biking Saturday, are you coming?"
"Nope, I have an afternoon date from 1-3, and I still have to schedule an evening date which will start at 7".

We eventually saw less and less of him as he dated a literal gaggle of cougar women. Unsurprisingly, he found one he like and was married by the time he graduated.

I don't recommend or endorse such single minded fanaticism, and could never follow this guys method myself, but the fact is, he got married while I got good grades. We both ended up with the goal that our actions said we valued, regardless of what we professed to want. It does illustrate the point that if you really really want something and exert continual concerted effort to that one thing, even at the expense of other positive aspects of your life, you're likely to be successful eventually.

For you, this may mean something like ditching out mid conversation with the socially awkward new girl so that you can catch the cute guy you see heading out the door after church. You will feel like a crappy person afterward, but hey, you got his number, right? Or even letting someone else shoulder your responsibilities while you hop around to a few different wards.

Anyway, this ended up being way longer than intended, and didn't actually go the direction I planned, which was supposed to be "I feel ya. Keep on truckin'."

Vanilla Vice said...

People have a lot of advice on this one. Blogs within a blog.

F-you and I could spend hours on this one. I have no solution. Only more questions. Try a committment experiment. You might be surprised what you find...

f*bomb. said...

You got me. It's NOT a priority...Finding a man never has been very important to me (at least, not in my immediate field of vision). I've always prized my friends as family and sharing the gospel as brothers and sisters much more than having some boyfriend.
So, as for commitment- Jesus is my homeboy. 100%

f*bomb. said...

To all my online crushes. Thanks. If I knew how to blush, I probably would. But I'm mostly giggling inside like a mini-hyena. Honestly. Thank you. You are nice.

Michael said...

not nice, just honest

f*bomb. said...

Supermegatroid HOT.

Salt H2O said...

In highschool it was about having a boyfriend- now it's about finding a mate.

Rudie can't fails story is a little excessive, but it wasn't until I made getting hitched my number one priority that it happened. My NewYear's goal for 2005 was to get married, not just marry anyone- but it was my main focus- and I went out with the dreges of the earth (you know it's true) until I found my husband.

I don't think anyone gets married before they truely want to be. I didn't want to get married until I lost all of my best friends to marriage. How sad would that be if God sent you the right guy, and it wasn't a priority so it never happened?

God doesn't give us blessings until we're ready to receive them.

f*bomb. said...

Hmmm....I've "lost" my best friends a multitude of times. Hence, why I'm now convinced that the Lord wants me to focus in and just find ONE best friend.
It's true. I'm no hunter. Never had the stomach for it. But past experiences have shown me that, when a man wants you, he wants you. He's unavoidable. And when the chemistry is right, it's even better.
Now if only one would hunt me that was a worthy priesthood holder...You understand my hesitation at anything less?

Vanilla Vice said...

Jesus is your homeboy, but if you want to continue to progress in this gospel, you gotta find a mate, lady. Make it a priority. But even if you do, as I have, you still find yourself single. So, you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

rhyll said...

You know, it’s intimidating trying to comment on this blog sometimes, because everyone has such amazing things to say and says it all so eloquently. I have a few things I’d like to add this time however.

Unfortunately we are in the tails of the LDS dating bell curve…the ones that aren’t married yet, a few that never will get married, but mostly those of us that haven’t gotten married YET. I feel like it’s always been this way and it always will be like this. I am aware that Mormons are waiting to get married longer than they ever have before. There are more older singles in the church than there ever have been. And to some of those I say you need to be dating more and making marriage a priority.

However, I think it’s ridiculous not to believe that if you’re going on dates (asking AND saying yes), being open-minded, trying not to be too picky, making marriage a priority, and doing the things you think Heavenly Father would want you doing (fellowshipping at church instead of networking), then eventually when the time is right you will have a chance to get married just like every other 19-24 year old that was fortunate enough to have marriage fall into their lap before they left the Y.

I just think it just takes longer for some of us than others. And Heavenly Father doesn’t expect us to go on 7 dates a week to prove to him that we want it as much as the next guy/girl (although obviously he rewards those that put forth that kind of effort). When the time is right, as long as we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, it’s going to happen. End of story.

As long as you’re not a Shari Dew.

f*bomb. said...

I would NEVER be a Sheri Dew. EVER!!!
I suppose the hardest thing (for me) is reconciling that I WANT to make friends and I LIKE getting to know people...but I know I'm SUPPOSED to want to get married MORE. I guess I just won't want it bad enough until I meet someone who makes me want it bad enough.

Rachel said...

Pray to God that you will want to get married before your eggs rot.

Rachel said...

Did I just say that?

Rachel said...

tick tick tick tick

f*bomb. said...

I hate you.

Rachel said...

I love you. (The Egg Quiche Post-- Best comeback ever.)

chloe elizabeth said...

I'm a little late to the party...and my only advice is that online can's just extremely time consuming and excruciatingly painful while you weed through the multitude of "interesting" guys out there.

Good luck! I agree with k8's an act of God.

alisa said...

first thing first: dancing trumps all--you gotta move when you feel it. it's not even a choice between chatting up the cutey or dancing because the dancing just happens. that being said, i like michael's comment: find him again later or invite him to join you. i think i subconsciously feel that he will like me even more when he sees me dance because my moves are amazing. it hasn't worked yet, but a girl can hope.

second: this was a great blog post and comment section, and i'm going to add my thoughts.

i love being mormon, love it! i even love my single's ward because i've met so many awesome people. plus, when you move to a big new city by yourself, you've got insta-friends just by being mormon. unfortunately, the single's ward puts us in a very unique situation. you date and make friends in the same pool. this creates additional challenges that the rest of the world gets to ignore.

a single's ward is loaded with events/activities. loaded. since your group of friends comes from the ward, it is easy to participate in these events because they eliminate the dreaded friday night sitting in a circle deciding what movie or restaurant to go to because we just can't get creative enough to think of something fun to do--the activities committee took care of that for us. so, you get to see all of your friends at all of the events. the distinction between actual ward activity and hanging out with the friends becomes more and more obsolete.

now, enter new guy (or old guy that is now looking interesting). what does a girl do to get him to ask her out? well, first instict is to make sure he doesn't think of me as only a friend. i don't know if this is true or not, but i have a theory that guys can't distinguish between girls that are friends and girls they can date. in other words, if a guy has a good friend who is a girl he won't think of her as a possible date no matter how hot she is. they are friends. years and years of being that friend have only strengthened my hypothesis. so you have a potential interest in "new guy" you want to "fellowship" (read: get to know him and make him fall madly in love with you). therefore, you may contemplate outfit choice and freshen up the make up before ward activities, but you are definitely going to as many as possible in hopes of his attendence. you've succeeded in getting to know him and full-fledged crush begins. unfortunately, now you see him all the time and he's been inducted into your group of friends. he too sees you all the time and he no longer has to make an effort (read: ask you out) to see you or "get to know you."

some may say that if he was interested he'd still ask you out. i don't buy it. 1) why would you ask someone out when you know you could hang out with them anytime you wanted? unless he was crazy determined dating 7 girls a week to get married guy, most guys i know tend to be fairly simple minded and consider hanging out good enough to get to know someone. i think that sometimes too, but i also understand the need for actual dates. however, both play a vital role in determining if the prospect is a suitable match for you. and 2) why would he not be interested?

back to the case study. if you are really interested in this guy do you a) balls out, ask him on a date? many guys say this is flattering. i'm sure it is when a girl they like asks them out. however, when it is a girl that they are "just friends" with or are unsure about, is it still flattering? too many balls out stories gone horribly wrong that make this one a no go situation for me. are you then left with option b) make your self less available to hang out in an effort to get him to ask you out 1-on-1 (the elder oaks method)? girls, if this has worked for you teach me how you did it. i have found that the bloke loses interest and i'm left alone on a friday night watching episodes of gilmore girls (i'd be more sad if i didn't love gilmore girls so much). anyway, the guy doesn't have to ask you out because there is still going to be a group of kids in the ward either going to a sponsored activity or spontaneous gathering. you are the only one that suffers because now you don't get to spend quality time with your friends.

you go back to your socializing and become friends with the guy. it turns out that he is super cool and you do enjoy being friends with him. the crush goes away; a "new guy" enters and the cycle repeats.

now, as an act of God, something happens to actually get the two of you together and you date. congratulations. heaven forbid it doesn't work out. you both have the same group of friends and are forced to see each other every day while you are both nursing broken hearts. yes it gets better, but until then it totally sucks.

we've created these cesspools of relationships in our single's wards. how in the world do mormon people get married? it has got to be a trusting God thing. they say it'll happen when you stop worrying about it or when you stop looking. but then they also say that you have to go out there and make it happen. ikes...two contrasting messages. i admit that my current pattern hasn't been successful, which is not to say that it won't be. it is defintely much easier than changing up the game at this point.

luckily, i'm happy and i really like my life. however, i'm getting to that stage when settling down is something i kind of want to do in the next few years and with the amount of time it takes to plan a wedding, i should start finding that lucky bachelor soon (or he should find me). where's the ore God?

f*bomb. said...

1. When I say, "fellowshipping," I really DO mean, "FELLOWSHIPPING," as in, bringing members not of our faith to activities or sitting by the new girl and inviting people without many friends out to do things. Not, "I'm trying to butter you up as a friend so that you'll hopefully like me later."

2. I dislike the term, "balls out." I don't like it when men use it, and it's particularly disturbing to me when women do.

3. I love the point to bring up about "if he wants it bad enough, he'll come and get it." I always assume this as well, since my extremely shy and non-social man-friends have all cowboyed up at some point, when they finally met a girl that mattered to them. That convinces me that any man with minor social skills should be able to make it clear when he is interested in dating over being interested in my friendship.