I hope I can get this out right. It's something that's really important to me and that I've been mulling over in my brain for the past couple of days. The more I think about it, the more sense it makes to me.
It's this: I'm starting to think that my current life is not a consolation prize.
Growing up, I thought I knew exactly what would happen to me over the course of my lifetime. I would go to college. I would meet someone. We would marry. I would stay home and raise our kids. And that would be that. I had no interest in working outside my home. I liked the idea of having a large family. Maybe homeschooling my kids like my mom did off and on with me and my siblings. That was the kind of family I'd grown up in, and that was what I wanted. That was always Plan A.
But that's not what happened.
Instead, I went to college, learned some skills, got a job, learned more, started writing books, kept working, and became an author. Totally not what I had planned.
And all of this time, as I've been living this not-Plan-A life, I've been thinking. Well, this is nice. This is good. I guess if I can't have what I really want, this is a pretty cool consolation prize.
But the thing of it is, I've been following the Lord's plan this whole time. At every point when I've had a major decision to make in my life, I've prayed for guidance and felt prompted to move or take a new job or buy a house or publish (or not publish) that book.
So why do I still feel like I'm in the middle of Plan B?
As I started watching conference this weekend, it finally dawned on me: What if this isn't Plan B at all? What if I'm actually on the right track?
It's hard to believe that the Lord could want something different for me than what I learned about in my young women's classes because I don't feel different. I feel like I'm the same as every other LDS girl who grew up wanting to go to BYU and get married. But what if that's not the case? What if Heavenly Father has always had these plans for me?
In the past, I've mostly assumed that my singlehood was somehow my fault. All around me, as more and more of my friends got married, I would see them and think, "I'm just not as pretty as her or I'm not as friendly or I don't put myself out there enough." Or even, "I'm not as good a person." In my mind, I'd recommit to being better: reading my scriptures more often, going to the temple more, exercising, dieting, online dating, anything.
I was convinced that God would bless me with a spouse only after I had proved that I deserved it. I knew exactly what my faults were (we all know what ours are) and I was determined to beat them and earn my eternal companion. Every young women's lesson I had ever heard convinced me that if I were good enough, if I became the person I would want to marry, then instantly my prince would appear.
And yet, here I am. Practically perfect and still unmarried. Hahaha. Not really. I'm still hopelessly flawed. But so are millions of married people.
My point is that maybe instead of focusing so much of my energy and frustration on trying to "earn" a spouse through all my good works, I could've spent a little more time enjoying life and using the blessings I did have to help those around me. Maybe instead of working so much on myself, I could've been working to build the kingdom.
And maybe in spite of all those young women lessons and the expectations of my family members and the peer pressure of watching my friends get married, I could've recognized a little earlier that I am actually living the life that my Savior has planned for me.
That's all that really matters.
If I'm on His track, then I am on the right track. Even if my course is not the one I originally had marked out on my personal life map.
More and more I find myself grateful that I did not get what I wanted when I wanted it. For example, if I had gotten married in college, I can tell you I would not be the confident, happy person that I am today. I was not in a good place in college—especially right in the middle of it. I was failing classes. I had no direction. I didn't think that I could handle the pressure of life on my own. I had no self-discipline.
And I can tell you now that if I had met someone then and my life had turned around and become as good as or better than it currently is, I would've given my partner all the credit. And I would still be convinced to this day that I couldn't handle adult life without him.
But instead, I can place the credit where it really belongs, with my Heavenly Father. He was the one who helped me find direction and taught me through experiences how important I am to Him and how much good I can do when I follow His promptings. I wouldn't know my own strength if I had gotten married when I wanted to. And I don't think I would've learned how to rely on the Spirit as much as I have.
As always, I am not saying that my life is or should be the ideal. But I wish that someone had told me earlier that it was okay to not get married in college. They probably did, and I just wasn't listening.
In fact, I know that happened at least once because I remember going to a talk my aunt gave about what to do if you are single and about to graduate. At the time, my aunt was about to turn forty, a college professor, and she'd never been married. But I was still a freshman, and I was sure that my Plan A life was about to begin. I had no thoughts of graduating single because that wasn't the plan.
Oh, the irony.
I guess that's the message I want to share more often with the girls I know and meet. That it's okay to not get married. That it's okay to take a different path. It's fine to want what you want when you want it, but it's not as important as wanting what the Lord wants for you when he wants it for you.
Trust Him. He knows you. He knows what you need most, even if it's not what you want most. And even if it's not what your parents think you should be doing. Trust His plan. It's personalized for you.
Or, as the scriptures put it, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5–6)
As long as you keep following the promptings He gives you, you won't be getting any consolation prizes. Instead you'll be getting the life He knows will make you the best person you could possibly be.
You will always be living Plan A.