In January of 2003 I was an almost 20 year old sophomore in college. I attended Southern Utah University as a Music Education major. I lived with five other amazing ladies, one of whom was my high school BFF and for one miraculous year the six of us girls never had one squabble or any drama–ever!
That winter I attended a church sponsored (Institute) dance. A boy asked me to dance, which led to a date, which led to a friendship and eventually an introduction to his cousin. His cousin was charming, charismatic, hilarious, handsome and I fell for him quickly. We dated off and on through the summer and by the end of August were engaged with a wedding date for that coming November. I was feeling apprehensive about knowing if this man was really “the one,” and my dad offered to give me a priesthood blessing. In the blessing I was given the promise that I’d know clearly the decision I was supposed to make. Since “clear” is far from my mental state when I thought about my decision to marry, I was left feeling more confused and doubtful than ever. However, I decided to carry on with the engagement, trusting in the promise that at some point I’d feel clear about my decision.
The clarity did eventually come at the beginning of November, just weeks before our wedding date, but not in the way that I expected. Due to a series of events, it became evident that I should call off the engagement. In fact, I had so much confidence in the decision that I (wrongly) assumed my fiance felt the same way. In hindsight, I probably could have handled that conversation with more sensitivity however, I had no hesitation. It was clear to me what needed to be done.
In the five years following my broken engagement, I obtained a college degree, served an 18 month religious mission and began a full-time teaching career. Those years were also filled with more relationships which left me discouraged and disenchanted with dating. In June 2008 I was set up on a blind date by my dear friend and former missionary companion, Elizabeth. She and her husband (then fiance) Brady, introduced me to a smart, handsome, quietly witty computer programmer named Derek. While grateful to my friends for setting me up with someone new, I didn’t expect much to come from it.
Derek surprised me at every turn, however, and despite the fact that I spent the summer traveling, he managed to win me over pretty quickly. After he suffered a water-skiing injury in August, (and perhaps with a little help from the Florence Nightingale effect) he brought up the idea of marriage and I agreed. We chose a date in November, five years later, almost to the day, than my previous marriage date had been set.
Again, I was apprehensive, not having known Derek for long. At the time I was a worker in the temple and I often thought of Derek as I recited the words of the ordinances for the patrons. His face would come to mind as I thought of promises made to couples and by couples in the temple but I still wasn’t sure of myself. I was afraid of repeating my past misjudgments. One night at the temple, I was able to be in a work position that allowed me to sit quietly and think. I was talking over the situation in my mind with God and I suddenly had a incredible feeling overwhelm me. It was nothing like I had ever felt before and I haven’t felt it since. When it faded, I remembered the promise I’d been given years earlier that I’d know clearly the right decision when it came time to marry.
I never hesitated about my decision again after that experience. I believe that God confirmed my choice to marry Derek and I was able to move forward with confidence. We were married Friday, November 21, 2008 in the Salt Lake City Temple.
It was almost eight years later when Derek told me about his changing beliefs and I discovered that everything wasn’t exactly as I thought it to be. I was surprised and saddened to learn that our faith experiences were so different and I was afraid our differences would take us on diverging paths. As we started the process of getting to know each other again spiritually, that fear was frequently near the surface. Ultimately it was time and a rebuilding of trust that would dispel the fear completely but, especially in the beginning, I would look to the singular experience I’d had in the temple for comfort. I remembered the peace and clarity of mind that came as I considered a life with Derek and I had hope for our future.
Today when pain, insecurities and doubt about my marriage sneak in, I have many experiences that I can draw on for strength and comfort. My two engagements, however, continue to be an anchor point in my faith and in my commitment to my marriage. I learned to listen to the Lord and allow Him to guide me to unexpected places. I feel confident that my marriage to Derek has God’s approval and is worth any effort to make it last.