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“Mission or marriage?!”

By Kaylen Nelson

When you’re a Mormon, age is everything!—at least it seemed that way growing up.

 In my little mind, age eight was all about baptism. Twelve was monumental and included graduation from primary and advancement to Young Womens. With sixteen came driving and dating. Eighteen meant graduation and college. After that you got married as soon as you could and if you struggled to find a spouse in the extensive time period between ages eighteen and twenty-one then you served a mission and prayed you didn’t end up an old maid.

 Well as life would go, I graduated from my junior college, went to BYU, and then the realization hit me… I’m twenty-one and single.

 “OH THE HORROR!” I might actually have to serve a mission now… or worse, finish my degree and get a real job!

 I prayed about a mission and felt that it wasn’t in the cards for me, though I loved the Gospel and desired to serve.

 Fast-forward two years. I was a twenty-three year old finishing my first year teaching high school seminary... “What now?” I thought. I felt stagnant. So I subconsciously consulted my Mormon checklist and decided that I should receive my endowment. But was it smart to get endowed before marriage? What about “going through” with my fiancé?! Was I going to spoil the moment by jumping the gun and becoming endowed without him?

 I had heard that girls who weren’t serving a mission or getting married could receive their endowment around the age of twenty-four or twenty-five, but at twenty-three I thought, “I’m different!” I was a seminary teacher! I was mature! I knew way more about the scriptures than most people getting endowed and I really felt I was ready, so I began to pray and ask the Lord.

 “Should I receive my endowment?”

 The answer was clear and poignant. Without going into detail, the gist of the impression was this:

 “Kaylen, you need to wait for the same reason my other daughters need to wait. You’re not as cool as you think you are.”

 It was received and delivered in the most loving way but the message was clear and humbling.

 Over the course of the next year my perception of the endowment began to change. One of the things I began to understand better was that being endowed was a saving ordinance. I had always known that but I just never really processed it. Unlike graduating from primary or even serving a mission, going through the temple is an event that should not be overlooked or rushed into no matter your purpose for going because it is essential for salvation. I think that my reasons for going to the temple initially had more to do with filling an insecurity than it did performing an ordinance. I had wanted the people around me to see that I was progressing in life even though I didn’t have a mission call or an engagement ring.  So, as I studied and took temple preparation courses, I began to desire the blessings of the endowment for a different reason.

 My big day eventually came and because my mom is awesome, she bought me a new dress for the occasion.  As the temple workers guided me throughout the experience, I was asked the same question as I turned every corner—“Mission or marriage?!” and every time I said, “Neither.” There was often an awkward moment after that and the person usually replied, “…Well good for you!” and they were right! Good for me! I was grateful for the opportunity. Had I gone to the temple with my earlier motives, I’m quite positive the constant reminder that I was not serving a mission or getting married might have done me in! However, I had renewed confidence that God was aware of me and that I had a good life.

 From that moment forward the temple became a place to hope, to learn, to pray, to cry tears of happiness, and to cry tears of heartache. Being single was tough at times! Bad date after bad date—blind date after blind date—there were definitely moments when I felt a loss of hope, but when I attended the temple (sometimes frustrated and lonely) those promises rang in my ears. I knew that if I remained faithful that ALL the blessings of the temple would be mine and eventually I would find “him”.

 A Final Thought

 I wish I could communicate the feelings I felt when I eventually attended a session with the man I knew would be him. It was everything I hoped and imagined it to be. I didn’t miss out on anything! There were significant moments in the endowment that I had always wanted to share with my eternal companion and that night when our eyes met, my heart swelled with joy and happiness.

I believe in a Father in Heaven who is detail oriented. I have confidence and faith that if I align my life to the promptings I receive from the Holy Ghost I will find ultimate happiness in this life. I am grateful for the peace we can find in His Holy House no matter what stage of life we are in.

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