Feed My Sheep: The Church Singles' Crisis II

You see us sometimes, on some Sundays. The days we actually go. The adult singles . You see one person sitting alone here or there among the pews. Mostly, they go unnoticed. They don’t have squirming, screaming babies to draw your attention. They didn’t have play group with you last week. They’re not in the bishopric. A single might teach your children in primary, or gave a particularly memorable talk once, so his or her name you might know.

A small number of brave and faithful singles (divorcees and widows included) fight the good fight in your congregation; they who try to immerse themselves in the ward. Who tried to fit in, to participate, be a good saint and make the Lord proud. And yet, she or he probably went home after church, had dinner for one, made a few phone calls, and fell asleep alone, again. Crying. In fervent prayer. Unnoticed.

Those brave souls try to ignore the patronizing comments, the looks, the judgment and exclusion they get every week at church. They try not to let it make them feel bad and hurt their self-confidence. They try not to dwell on the endless disappointment of dating and not dating. They try hard. Week, after bloody week. Year, after year. They pray, they read the scriptures, they are righteous and obedient. Most have only the Holy Ghost to comfort them. They can survive that way. But they will not thrive. Without love, support, and inclusion, they wither. A loving community(family) of others is essential for each human success.

That handful of valiant singles in your ward are the exception. (And most of them have likely been inactive at one time. Or, they have supportive families nearby.) The other 90% of our single adults (over age 30) could not keep up the fight by themselves. The world took them. They’ve left the church officially or they just slipped away. Recent converts are especially vulnerable. There are common reasons why single adults go inactive. Many of those reasons have to do with the institutions, the communities, and the lack of marriage prospects. The singles have no control over those things. We cannot continue to place all the blame for this latter day apostasy on them.

Over and over again, the singles are told that they have to be stronger, stalwart, unshakable, invulnerable. They are told it is not the job of the church to emotionally or socially support them. No? Then whose job is it?

We have not lost one sheep, dear saints, we have lost the whole flock. When the entire group goes missing, whose fault is it? Is it possible for the flock to be filled to 90% with weak, errant, rebellious, or less worthy sheep? No, of course not. When the whole flock is lost, the problem is not with them. The problem is with their shepherds and the ranch. When the whole flock is lost, it means there is something wrong with the system.

What kind of shepherd loses 90% of his flock then goes home grumbling about his crummy sheep? When the master asks him to account for his flock, can the shepherd stand proudly and say, ‘They left, Lord, because they were weak.’? What will his Master say in return? Won't it be akin to “No. They needed you. You didn’t feed them. You didn’t keep them safe. You gave them no reason to trust you and follow you home."

Christ commanded us to be good shepherds. But the wolves are now gorging on the feast of our singles. The ones we so complacently sent to pasture with an admonishment to be stronger and pray more.  They are standing in the enemy’s storm with no partner, no family, and little to no church support. They are lonely, rejected, and tired. That was not the Lord’s plan. Do you think you could withstand the storm of the world raging against you and your testimony if you were alone? Are you that strong?  Very few are. And the Master is weeping.

I hope someday our singles will find warm shelter among their loving brothers and sisters. Maybe someday we will seek them out and bring them home. I pray it won't take too long for us to be more diligent and keep the wolves at bay.


CITC Retro: Get Your Groove on! The Singles Dance

I'm totally cheating here, re-posting an old post. But this is 6 years old. I doubt anyone out there remembers it. The real reason I'm doing this is research. The original comments to this post got lost several template changes ago.

Please tell us your Best Worst singles dance experience! Or, if you have a GOOD dance experience, let's hear that as well. Use the comments. Thank you!

I just couldn't pass this up. Every Mormon living, single or formerly single, understands about the 'Singles Dance': an institution instituted to benefit the 'singles', to give us a romantic place to meet each other.  Bless them for trying, but a church gym with some balloons taped to the wall and a folding table of chips and punch does not make for romance.

Singles Dance traditions differ in each stake.  Back home, my stake hosted a dance the third Friday of each month.  The Region hosted a dance on the first Friday of each month.  I had to go to my stake's dance because I was my ward YSA (Young Single Adults) rep for forever. The five reps had to rotate dance chores, like cleaning up and DJ-responsibility. Ah, the singles dance DJ. Usually some brave LDS music-geek, or DJ wannabe who didn't mind doing it for free. Our stake was lucky because we had George who owned lots of cool equipment. The DJs at our dances got to use his laptop to program the songs, while he hovered menancingly.

I haven't been to a church dance in years. But I remember in our YSA stake meetings, the issue of song-lyric-cleanliness came up once in awhile. They tried to make us have all songs pre-approved before the dance. That didn't work. But, today as I was surfing the bloggernacle I came across a post from Number1Nun. [Sorry, that blog is long gone.] It's the one starting with, "HOLLA" dated 4/08/04. She writes about her bishop, not only asking for a preview list of songs for the next singles dance, but actually suggesting that the DJ play "I am a Child of God".

Yes.  You read that correctly.  Check her blog and see for yourselves.  Do they want us to stay single forever?? Isn't it bad enough that the People at a dance feel humiliated and nervous?That the music is terrible?  That some sweet white-haired grandma and grandpa missionaries are chaperoning?  That the lights are too bright? That you sometimes find yourself hiding from the creepy old dude or sweaty boy?  Or, the one interesting guy there is 19 and leaving for his 2 year mission next week?  That you sometimes get to watch ex's macking on other people?  That sometimes no one of the opposite sex wants to dance with you, or, they do want to dance with you but  you find them all repulsive?.....No! That's not enough.

Now, at Nun's dance they want her to play sweet, spiritual primary songs to get everyone in the mood. ? How do you dance to that? You couldn't even do the missionary shuffle [walk around in a circle slowly holding hands]. To what end does her bishop want this song played? Here are some of my guesses:

  • To remind everyone to leave some room for the holy ghost.
  • To remind them of their awkward childhood so they feel more confident and flirty.
  • It's a morale booster for those whose egos are getting abused, "It's ok no one wants to talk to you because you are a child of God."
  • So the couples making out in the parking lot will knock it off out of guilt.
  • To prevent the giggling girls from gossiping about each other, "Don't say that about her hair, she's a child of God too!"
  • To remind the RMs that it is their Godly duty to find a wife, so they better get to it.

What's your singles dance story? Enquiring minds want to know.
(This is for a very important project and really matters.)


How Not to Pick Up Women Online

Gentlemen, it's all about the profile picture. 

I've been online looking around at the dating sites and have noticed patterns that turn me off.  I think you all need a little help.

Consider this, people scan through a hundred or more profile pictures, each photo gets less than a second's consideration. The viewers eyes won't stop on a photo unless it grabs her attention.  Her attention can be grabbed in both good and bad ways. 
These are the bad ways:

  • SHIRTLESS. Really? It's tacky. If I wanted meaningless sex, then I'd want to see your bare chest.  Maybe that's the point.  That's the message you're sending. If you want a nice girl looking for a serious relationship, then put your shirt back on.  
  • PROFESSIONAL HEADSHOT:  Unless you are an actor, this screams desperate with a capital D.  This guy is so needy for a date, he went to the mall and paid someone to take his picture. Or, he's an actor. Either way, next.
  • BOY BAND POSE: You've seen these. A boy leaning against a door frame with his shirt just opened enough to tease.  Standing in the rain, looking off into the distance.  Again, this screams desperate and raises a flag that this man is overly-vain. 
  • BLACK & WHITE Photo: Pretentious. This guy is trying to stand out and look artistic. He's trying too hard. Yawn.
  • The CUT-OUT: The picture with his ex-girlfriend or wife cut out of it. You can still see her cheek against his, or her hair hanging down.  This is off-putting. Women think: This guy just got out of a relationship.  Baggage. He's probably hung up on her since he hasn't taken a new photo. And he's bitter enough to photoshop a woman he cared for out of a nice photo. I don't want him to do that to me. Moving on.
  • The PLAYA: He poses with his babes. Or maybe one babe. But there's a hot chick hanging around his neck. This is not good. First, a woman compares herself to the babe and may feel inferior. Then, she judges the man by the girl in the photo. Do you really want to be associated with the bleach blond bimbo? It also gives the impression that there's competition for this man and he's proud of it. No thank you. 
  • GOOFY HIPSTER: The guy with dirty hair and expensive old looking t-shirt in a silly pose, with a dumb hat, or wearing a costume or making a face.  It's cute if you're under 25. Over 25, and the man looks childish and immature. 
  • HUNTING SHOT: If you're looking for a Sarah Palen type, then by all means, post a picture with your rifle. Otherwise, you look like a psychopath.
  • DADDY: Risky, very risky. Men holding babies or playing with kids are sexy, but.... the first assumption is that those are YOUR kids. That's scary. If they're not your kids, don't put them in your profile shot. If they are your kids, then advertising that you're a father may seem like a good idea. However, you are losing a lot of clicks.  I suggest moving these to your 2nd photo so at least you get a profile viewing.  If she's interested enough, then she'll be okay with kids. 
  • SPORTS CAR: Or, SUV or truck. This guy thinks standing in front of his expensive car is going to make him attractive. That fact alone is a deal-breaker. 
The best kind of profile shot is simple, it should show most of your face. The action shots and traveling shots are okay.  But, those are better as 2nd and 3rd photos. We want to like your face before we take the time to click on your profile.



Ever since my plans fell through in the spring and things changed unexpectedly, I have been unable to envision my future. Before, I always hoped and planned.  Now I can't.  It feels like a blindness. I feel lost and directionless. I don't even know what to hope for anymore. One thing I do know is that the Lord needs me to learn something from this. Until I figure out what that is, I'm not getting out of this dark place. What that lesson is, I couldn't fathom.

But the Lord's hand is with me.  He didn't cause my problems or my failures, I did that all by myself.  However, He has stayed my rescue until. Something. He is withholding my vision. This, I have felt. 

Before July, I believed something good would come, some kind of wonderful change. I held onto that. But I ran out of strength last month. When my mood crashed, I gave up and decided I couldn't fight against myself anymore. With the darkness of my vision and the sorrows of my past, I couldn't see any reason to bother fighting.  I prayed for death.  

I know that''s an evil thing to do. But I woke up in the mornings horrified with myself and my life, choking on shame for my mistakes. Despising the air I breathed. I couldn't imagine or believe that anything could change.  Even if change was coming, I didn't feel like I could survive the wait. 

You may be holding your breath for the big reveal. Something must have changed to make me write in the past tense. There must be something wonderful. No. There is not. None of my problems are resolved. There is nothing new.

But the Lord has been merciful enough to remove my psychotic horror and misery for the time-being. (I am writing this to publicly thank him.) This has allowed my mind to open enough for room to listen.  I've spent this entire day in prayer and reading. I got something.

He wants me to learn trust. I have yet to master that skill. I've only trusted myself to do what I needed. I took care of myself.  Now, I've lost all my confidence and self-trust. Thus, utter hopelessness. 

I missed that trust lesson in my infancy because of the trauma in our home.  That was a long time ago.  But I think it's made me somewhat of a dysfunctional adult. 

Here's an example of how severe my trust issues have been (this was over 10 years ago so I hope I've gotten better.)  I was committed in a mental ward.  One day they took all the patients to an obstacle course.  There was a high platform from which they played the trust game.  People climbed up, and stood at the edge backwards with their eyes closed. Then they fell into the waiting arms below.  Everyone was caught, no one was hurt. But not only could I not take a fall, I had to stop catching people because my stomach churned every time someone fell.  Then I had to stop watching because it made me so sick with anxiety.  I had so little trust in these 12 people, whom I knew,  that I didn't believe they would catch someone else who was falling.

I suppose I don't even trust the Lord enough. Or else I wouldn't have lost my hope.  That's what I have to do now.  Trust God to see me through to a better place.  Relinquish the controls.  Hand over my cross to Him. 

I also need a lot of help from other people, I'm still barely functional.  I won't get out of this alone.  So I guess I'll have to learn to ask for help, believe in other people enough that I can make the words come out of my mouth. Being able to trust people is important, too. Unless I want to spend the second half of my life alone, I better step up.

  But, how?


a bipolar lament

I was able to get my internet turned back on for now. I've been too depressed to write. My medication doesn't work anymore and my mood cycles every few weeks. When compounded with real actual depressing life circumstances in addition to my messed up brain chemistry.... not a good thing. 

I'm sinking deeper and can't see my way out.  I can't even see a reason to fight it anymore. Nothing I try to do to fix my life works. Every time I start to make things better, I crash and ruin everything. I'm now at the point in my life where I don't think there is a way to make it better. I have no career, no job, no prospects. I can't pay my bills so I'm living in my own apartment on borrowed time. I'll be moving back in with my parents  before long. The ultimate humiliation and failure. I'm trying to put it off for as long as possible.

Where do you get the motivation to go on when, without fail, it ALWAYS goes wrong?  No matter how good things are, my mood crashes. Then I piss all over the good things and make them go away. A few years ago I had everything I wanted and I was on my way to do so much. But I went crazy and it all fell apart. There's nothing left now. I'm all out of ideas.

I have so much to give and to contribute to life. I want to give, I want to do.  But I'm stuck in my dark apartment waiting to die. I just want to go to sleep forever.