I never had the goal to marry an Apostle. My goal was to draw close to Heavenly Father and make my life as meaningful and happy as I could. Because I value and believe in the plan of salvation, I wanted all the blessings associated with it. That included someday, in this life or the next, finding a companion that I loved and respected, a man I could trust and depend on, who would be loyal to me and active in the Church. I wanted to marry a man who loved the Lord more than he loved me, whose allegiance was to His eternal covenants. It would simply follow that such a man would be true to me and our future family.
Make Difficult Decisions
A time came in my life at age 52 when I had to make a major life decision. As a consultant who traveled constantly, I earned a generous salary. I had many travel perks but few time perks. In fact, I often left late Sunday evening and returned home Friday night. My only social life occurred in this narrow weekend window of time. I spent my spare moments almost exclusively with my family and in church. Each weekend when I returned from assignments, I drove directly from the airport to pick up my nieces and nephews, and they stayed with me. Saturday I prepared my Gospel Doctrine lesson late into the night and taught it the next morning. Then on Sunday evening, I would depart again for work.
It was a difficult time in my life because I wore “golden handcuffs.” Whenever I wished to quit my job, it became more lucrative. Most of my life, energy, and time were going to my employment. Concerned and feeling unable to change my life, I asked my bishop for a blessing. He blessed me. What he said was specific to me, and I do not advise you to do what I did unless you are likewise counseled in a blessing. I only advise you to be obedient to the promptings you feel for yourself. In that blessing, my bishop told me, “If you do not quit your job, you will have your blessings in the eternities but not in this life.” When I heard his words, I felt the truth of them. I had to stop traveling and find employment at home. For a single sister, giving up financial security is no easy thing. I had no new job to go to. I had to go on faith to resign from my job.
Looking back, I realize it was pivotal that I trusted in and acted on the blessing given me. I decided I had to stop relying on “the arm of flesh” (2 Nephi 4:34) and on my own wisdom. I determined to do what the Lord had told me to do in the blessing. In January 2000 I began writing letters of resignation; I had a wastebasket full. I wrote and rewrote the letter to Human Resources multiple times. Finally, I wrote a letter clear enough that no one could doubt my intention to resign. I gave notice and planned to leave on July 1, 2000. It was not until six months later that I learned that my future husband, at the prodding of his eldest daughter, Sharmon, was to commence his search for a wife in that very month.
Friends and family questioned my actions. After I wrote my letter of resignation, I jokingly told friends, “I want to stay home and fold socks and clean the house.” One man at church said to me, “Oh, Kristen, with all your skills, you want to do more than be a nanny!” He did not share my vision of a future husband and family, but his evaluation of my new job activities would prove partially accurate.
I felt tested, not only by circumstances but also by Heavenly Father. My demanding workload and dismal dating life were taking a toll, even though I had always had a strong conviction that everything would turn out well in the end. During that time in my life I remember flying in airplanes and weeping from tiredness. I would turn to my scriptures and find solace. It was a time to help me cement my faith. To complicate matters, at the end of June a competing corporation called to offer me my dream job, which would mean living in New York. I began to wonder which path to follow.
My aunties, hearing at a family luncheon that I was about to become unemployed, arranged an appointment in June with a General Authority who had connections with the publishing business, the field I was just leaving.
This meeting with a General Authority was extremely unusual for me. My exposure to General Authorities had been minimal, and I liked it that way. I had the utmost respect for them. I revered them, but I also understood the line of priesthood jurisdiction and felt confident that my home teachers and my bishop were sufficient to bless my life.
Shortly after my meeting with this General Authority (I do not use his name lest my account brand him as a particularly effective matchmaker), Elder Oaks phoned him and asked if he knew someone he should get to know as part of his search for a wife. I was promptly lined up to meet him. Elder Oaks’s immediate phone call to me created a few daunting circumstances: he wanted to bring his daughter Sharmon to meet me before she left town the next day. I did not tell him I had just had a perm and needed to cover my head. We decided on a walk in Liberty Park. When I met my future husband and his daughter, I was wearing Levi’s and a baseball cap (to hide my curls) for our walk.
Looking back, I would never have planned to meet an Apostle of the Lord and his daughter dressed so casually. But that baseball cap allowed me to just be myself.
In a Church that is focused on family, singles can feel somewhat discounted and discouraged. Oftentimes the very resources meant to support people can inadvertently cause pain. In the bookA Single Voice, author Kristen Oaks addresses questions such as:
- What is “the single best thing you can do” as a single person in the Church?
- Are there ways to ease the transition from a singles ward to a home ward?
- What are some specific ways to make single life happier and more fulfilling?
- What are some tips for coping with the unique challenges of holidays?
- What are the key decisions that singles need to make?
A Single Voice addresses these concerns and offers valuable insights, personal reflections (including the story of the author's courtship and marriage to Elder Oaks), and rich advice for living life to the fullest as a single member.