How I found belonging as a single member of the Church
It was my first week in a family ward when the Relief Society president asked me to introduce myself. I offered a brief spiel, and after a moment’s pause, an older sister asked, “Are you married?” I felt several pairs of eyes glance at my conspicuously bare ring finger. I chirped, “Nope,” and sat down while an air of awkwardness permeated the room. These kinds of interactions, though uncomfortable, aren’t new to me. Whenever I visit my parents, well-meaning ward members ask me if I am dating anyone, and then proceed to spout off the names of eligible young men who are “available.”
I’m not ashamed of being single. I’m at a good spot in my life, and I feel happy. But in a church that prioritizes families (and rightfully so!), I sometimes feel like the loose thread in the fabric of our faith community. As I’ve looked around a congregation at the many families that surround me, more than once I’ve thought, “Where do I belong in the Church? Does it have room for someone like me?”
I’ll admit, these questions made me approach past general conference weekends with trepidation. A good number of talks address the responsibilities of husbands and wives, the sacred obligations of raising children in righteousness, and the importance of making the home a sanctuary of love and faith. These principles are important to me, but as a single woman, I struggled to understand where I fit in the conversation.
However, when President M. Russell Ballard spoke during the Saturday afternoon session of the April 2021 general conference, I felt an increase of peace and clarity. In his talk, “Hope in Christ,” President Ballard addressed the challenges of loneliness that plague members of the Church. He said, “The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have counseled together…to understand how to help all who feel alone or feel they don’t belong.… Let me mention, in particular, those who are currently single.” I was stunned upon hearing those words, and I listened more intently than I ever have before. “He’s speaking to me,” I thought.
President Ballard explained that all faithful members of the Church, regardless of their marital status, can have hope in Christ—hope in his blessings, in his atoning blood, and in eternal life. This hope is not reserved for those who have a spouse and children. On the contrary, it is available to all of us as we actively wait upon the Lord by believing in his name, honoring our covenants, serving others, and repenting of any wrongdoing. These are the actions that bind us together and remind us that “we are loved by our Eternal Father and that we are His children, who belong to His family.”
President Ballard’s talk didn’t change my circumstances, nor did it remove the loneliness that I occasionally feel. It did, however, direct my attention toward the spiritual growth I’ve experienced while waiting upon the Lord. It reminded me that if I ever feel unimportant and insecure, I can find comfort in my spiritual identity, which is divine and unchanging. It reminded me that I can have faith in God’s plan for me, even when it doesn’t reflect the ideals I had originally envisioned. More importantly, it reminded me that I am first and foremost a daughter of heavenly parents who know me and wish to bestow every gift upon me. Now, when I sit in a congregation, I see more than just couples, parents, families, and grandparents—I see and belong to a glorious eternal family, united by our hope in the Savior.
—Bekki Hood, Latter-day Saint Insights contributor
FEATURE IMAGE BY PNW PRODUCTION