“Zack, I only have one question: What is wrong with you?”
It was a few years ago on a warm summer evening. I was out with some family friends at a backyard bbq and had been chatting with a nice middle-aged woman I had just met about…life.
She was recently single; I was perpetually single.
Same ocean; different boats.
She felt like Robison Crusoe getting ready to shipwreck on the Island of Despair; I felt like an under-paid over-worked Carnival bus boy.
She was wondering if she could be loved again; I was wondering if I was loveable.
She was missing; I was longing.
But we were both swimming in our own ocean loneliness.
Her in her singleness; me in my many-ness.
After getting to know each other a little, she asked me that question that so many had thoughtlessly asked before and one that she perhaps was asking herself, “What is wrong with you?”
Granted, implied in that question was a pseudo-complement of her feeling like there must be something terribly amiss in my life that I have yet to reveal if I am still single—but it’s hard to take a compliment in a question dripping with the assumed accusation that there is something terribly amiss in my life that I have yet to reveal.
I went through the “Lord is it I?” and “What lack I yet?” questions in my heart and felt that while I didn’t always follow true north in every aspect of my life, the Lord was pleased with my direction. So I felt like I was doing okay; but my mind couldn’t stay calm.
She wasn’t the first one to ask me this; in fact, it had become a recurring conversation (something many 25+ singles may also notice).
And, like the waves after an oil spill, the question kept crashing into my conscience over and over and over again beginning to soil the sand of my mind.
Is there something terribly wrong with me? Am I just not loveable?
But those doubts had to be submerged for a pithy backyard bbq conversation. A flirty chuckle and awkward pause always got me out of diving into the uncharted territory of true feelings. After all, I had become an expert at faking things surface level when they too sunk deep.
But I wish I could have been in the car with myself that evening as I was driving home alone, floundering in my own self-doubts weighted down by the constant questions of others.
For now that the single “ship is anchor’d safe and sound” I can say that the journey does not have to end with a mournful tread or a captain dead. (“O Captain, My Captain”) http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174742. And while the destination may be different for everyone, I am confident that we each have a charted path by the Great Mariner.
It is unwise to question someone else’s path because it is taking them longer to get to land than others.
And while we might have the echoes of “what is wrong with you” in the rusted hulls of our minds, we, like Kristen Oaks, can begin “to reflect a different question, ‘What more can I do that is right?’” (“Trust in Heaven’s Timing”) https://www.lds.org/ensign/2016/02/trust-in-heavens-timing?cid=HP_FR_2-12-2016_dPFD_fENSN_xLIDyL2-1_&lang=eng And there is much “right” that we need to do.
Indeed we are loved by a God whose love spans heights and depths (Romans 8:39). I have proof of that every time I reach out to Him and ask. Yes, I, from time to time, will ask God if He loves me.
Pray, ask and then…wait…
Wait until you feel a response.
That love will help remind you that if you are trying to head in the right direction, the lights along the shore will lead you to the right destination.
And while I won’t give you the whole, ‘there are plenty of fish in the sea’ thing, I will tell you this: You are loveable.
Whether you know it now or not; whether you have recently lost a love or never found it; whether you are in solitude or are drowning in social events—you deserve love.
So let not the doubts weigh you down, but let hope buoy you up with the knowledge that “great things await you.” (Doc&Cov 45:62)