A few months back I read this article in the Deseret News. The article tells the story of Alice Telford. She is 88 years old and actively works a desk job at Zion’s bank 40 hours a week–a job she started 10 years ago. She enjoys life in her old age and is considered a “marvel to watch.” What you may be thinking is, “Why isn’t she at home, retired with her husband or living with her son’s or daughter’s family?”
In some alternate reality Alice may have a large family with many grandchildren. That would be the same alternate reality where her husband didn’t die of heart failure in 1950 leaving her and her son John. John would not have died 17 years later in the Vietnam war before turning 21. Yes, in some alternate reality Alice may have had a very different experience.
The reality of her situation would have put me in a difficult and sad place. But Alice didn’t whine and accepted her fate. She took care of herself. She switched jobs after her son died and eventually took up a hobby of bike riding. Alice organized events and found herself cycling all over the world.
She said she took up the job at Zion’s bank when she “realized [her] friends had all died off and [she] had to go back to work and make more friends.” Alice’s story amazes me and can be an inspiration for anyone that is single and dealing with SSA.
I’m confident that someday I’ll meet a daughter of God that I’ll fall in love with and have a real spiritual connection to. Yet, I have no idea when that will be. I’m just as ready to face a life that Alice has lived. I may never find “the one” and find myself living single for the rest of my life. Perhaps the millenium will be my time to be sealed and patriarch to my own family unit. What Alice has taught me is that a mortal single life can be wonderful, beautiful, and fulfilling.
Being single doesn’t mean we have to be lonely. We may not get the constant companions that we had on our missions. We may not have the relationships that we want. However, being part of a community and initiating friendship will fill many, if not all, of our needs. When I joined my MANS group (a follow up group for men that have completed the Journey into Manhood weekend) a year ago I felt a lot of my needs of friendship and community fulfilled. Since then, I’ve also taken up being more active in school and my ward. I haven’t felt lonely for a long time.
Alice also exemplifies the importance of being active. If she didn’t pick up her hobby of cycling she wouldn’t be as emotionally or physically healthy as she is today. Likewise, idleness is an enemy to all of us. I’m not saying that we all start running 5k marathons but we should fill our time. If we fill our time with good activities, wether athletic or not, we’ll have less temptation and feel better about ourselves. Picking up a hobby like that also helps us increase our capacity for self compassion (something essential in healing.)
The idea of being single for your whole life may be a hard pill to swallow–especially if you don’t feel like marriage to someone of the opposite sex is a possibility. Yet where God commands there is a way to follow Him. If we really want to live his commandments of chastity, he will help us fill our needs in healthy ways even if we choose a single lifestyle. In my experience I’ve found that being single doesn’t mean you’re alone and being alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.