Sunday, May 19, 2013

She's Going On A Mission: Not The Best News For Everybody

As of yet I haven't talked too much about my personal life on my blog. Now that I have ten blog posts up, I thought I might share a little more about me. I would say that the biggest and most defining aspect of my life has to do with my belief of and membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or Mormon Church. My family is LDS, and it is something that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Growing up as a member of the church, I had the opportunity to research and find for myself if the teachings of the LDS Church was something that I personally believed in. After reading scriptures, studying it out in my mind, and a lot of personal prayer, I came to know for myself that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true. I was able to see how the teachings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ not only blessed my life, but the life of all of the members of my family and friends who followed its teachings.

At 19, I had the opportunity to serve as a full time missionary for the LDS Church in the southern United States. I had so many life changing experiences during this two year period, and met many people who have forever changed my life. As with most RM's (or Returned Missionaries) do, I came home with a desire to move forward with my life - to receive an education and progress towards a career, and most importantly, to date and eventually find someone to begin a family with. There are a lot of things in mormon culture that members of the church like to poke fun at, and the plight of returned missionary young men in their 20's seeking to get married is one them. Movies such as The RM and The Singles Ward are an exaggerated but mostly accurate view on what life can be like for young single adults in the LDS Church.

I have been extremely lucky to have some great friends - friends that I have known for years, who I went to high school with, was able to stay in touch with over our missions, and have shared countless experiences with. I have roomed with them for the past few years as we have attended college together. A lot has changed since the high school days, but things have stayed the same more than any of us would like to admit. While a few of our group have managed to graduate from the singles ward (a congregation for single, college aged members of the LDS church), most of us are still wading through the treacherous battle ground that is dating.

Dating in the LDS community is drastically different than what most other people may experience when dating in college. Dating is seen as a way to have fun, make new friends, and hopefully one day find someone with whom you can start a family of your own. One of the core beliefs that we have in the LDS Church is that our families can continue after this life, and that we can enjoy the same family relationships we have here on earth forever. That being said, the pursuit of finding a spouse is not only a matter of fulfilling the natural human desire to be with somebody you love, but also of a way to fulfill one of our main purposes in mortality.

As 20-something year old college guys, a lot of the energy expended by my roommates and I revolve around girls - meeting girls, getting girls numbers, taking girls out....really anything to do with girls. Yet, we are all still single. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but for the most part my group of friends consist of intelligent, athletic, funny, not-unattractive guys that are all headed toward a successful future. We are all active in the church, and do our best to live our lives the best way we can. In short, we are everything a good LDS girl should be looking for...right?

Well, having traversed the post mission dating world for the past two and a half years, we have had plenty of experience dating all sorts of girls and having all sorts of experiences. All of us have either graduated from college or are close to it, and realize that the opportunities for social interaction with the opposite sex is about to quickly diminish in quantity as we go into the workforce. We are getting to the point where we can see that it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to find someone to settle down with. This year has had its ups and downs like most years do, but a few of us were actually gaining some traction with this whole dating thing. In fact a few of us were dating girls that we really could see something happening with. And that is when it happened....

During the 2012 October General Conference (a worldwide meeting wherein church members receive guidance and counsel from leaders), it was announced that the missionary age requirements for young women had been changed from 21 to 19. This tremendous announcement meant that girls could serve missions at a younger age, and allow for many more to enter into missionary service. The number of missionaries sky rocketed, and missionary work has begun to increase around the world. However, there is one side effect to this announcement that has gone largely overlooked, though it has impacted the demographic of LDS RM's like a nuclear bomb. For me and two of my roommates, that meant that the girls that we were dating (and hopeful of the possibility for things to move in a positive direction) would soon be telling us that they were breaking up with us to serve a mission.

Now I don't want to get into a discussion of whether or not girls should date someone rather than go on a mission if the opportunity to do so presented itself. However, I would like to point out that many an RM is standing single and alone, not because they want to be single, or because they are apathetic about dating, but because circumstance was unkind to them with adverse timing. So many like to portray the "lame RM" as a bunch of guys sitting around a big screen tv on friday night watching ESPN or playing X-Box, and I won't deny that this may have occurred in my apartment a time or two. But for every apartment like that, there are dozens with guys who have honestly just had rotten luck when it comes to dating, especially with girls going on missions. In an effort to bring this to light in a humorous way, my roommates took inspiration from our situations to write a song about it. It has recently been made into a music video entitled "She's Going On A Mission". I provided a link below. Yours truly even makes an appearance (I am the one perusing and getting that ridiculously over-exaggerating back rub). I hope you enjoy!

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