Monday, April 18, 2011

Roxie and the Single's Ward

All three of us have had our experiences with single's/student wards and stakes. And since the LDS Church announced last week that they are doing away with the "student" designation of those units and instead designating them all as YSA (young single adult) units for all single people between the ages of 18 and 30, this seemed like a good time to talk about the different experiences we've had, because they have been different.

I actually started life in a single's ward. My dad had been in a leadership position when he got married and they asked him to stay on after he got married. So my mom married into a single's ward and I was soon on the way. Shortly after I was born they released my dad and our family moved into a family ward.

My single's ward experiences of memory mainly came during college. I went to BYU and attended the student wards the whole time I was there. For the most part they were pretty good. And while I was that age they served their purpose. My last year though I could tell I was starting to out grow them (at the ripe old age of 23). And there were a few things they were doing that really rubbed me wrong.

Yes, this is a family oriented church, and I'll have more on that at a later date. But the point of the gospel is to bring salvation to our souls, not to get everyone married as fast as possible. And the last two stakes I was in at BYU seemed to have that a little backwards.

The stake I was in the summer before my last year had a fireside for all the engaged, and prospectively engaged, couples in the stake. I didn't go, as there was something wrong with me in college that I didn't date, but my roommate went. And my roommate and her fiancé actually walked out early. In an effort to talk about how important talking and communication is in a marriage, including about sex, they had very well drawn images of the different parts of the body involved in sex that they showed everyone and talked about. Seems a little off for a Sunday evening fireside in a large group setting. Seems a little more appropriate for an individual meeting with a bishop.

After that summer I moved apartments and ended up in a different stake. This stake had a stated policy of changing which apartments met together for Monday night every month so that people would meet more people and get married faster. They also kept statistics on each ward in the stake and made graphs of how many people were attending sacrament meeting, how many were attending Sunday School, how many were doing their home and visiting teaching, and the last graph was of how many people in each ward got engaged each month. Seriously!? I was very proud to never be on that graph. And when I moved out of that apartment after graduation I also left the single's wards.

I was in a family ward for the next six years and loved it. It was a younger ward (we had nine nurseries at one point and only ever had one young man). I didn't feel at all like an outsider. I fit in. I served in several callings. Some of my best friends are from that ward. And it was because of that ward that I met the man who eventually became my husband (one of my friends in the ward set us up). It was not a single's ward that put us together. In fact, if I had been in a single's ward I'm not so sure we would have met. I actually got set up several times while I was in that ward (something about being married makes you set up your friends), comb-over guy was one of those.

When my next move, at 29, took me out of Utah, I told my mom I would give the single's wards another try. I originally said six months, she told me I had to give it a year. 52 Sundays later I was done and was back in a family ward. The single's ward felt far too much like a continuation of the Young Women's program rather than a progression, both spiritually and socially. Relief Society is supposed to help me learn how to enrich my home, not paint my nails. And you can only watch couples make-out in sacrament meeting for so long before you start to puke.

I'm not going to say that all single's wards are bad, but they are definitely different. They have their time and place and for some people they really are just what they need. Each ward is different as well. I'm just a person who would rather hear sacrament talks on more topics than just getting married and I'd rather hear testimonies about the gospel rather than about loving your roommates or how you aren't good enough for your fiancé.

The family wards I was in when I was single were wonderful wards where I felt welcome and never felt strange that I didn't have a husband. And you don't need a single's ward to get married, in fact, sometimes it works out better without them.


Laura@livingabigstory said...

Found your blog from ....? MMB maybe?

I'm with you on the Single's Wards thing. I met my hubs when I was in the "older" Singles ward in Boston (and he was in Iowa ... long story). But what infuriated me was watching these AMAZING women throw themselves at total nit-wit guys because the ratio was like 5-1 and the nit-wits were all that were available.

From personal experience, single life is soooo hard for the older singles, and I honestly don't know if singles wards make it better?