To this day, I don’t know why I was extended so much mercy, but I cannot express how incredibly grateful I am for the love of my Savior and the unexpected support of my family beyond the veil.
Several years ago, when I was about to graduate from college, I found myself single, not exactly how I’d pictured the end of my BYU experience. Ever since high school, I wanted to start a family more than anything else. I always assumed I would find my eternal companion at BYU, get married young, and quickly start having kids. That was how my parents did it, so when I made it through three years of college without dating a single person, I was deeply discouraged.
Once, on the way home from a road trip to California with some friends, we got stuck in an insane traffic jam in a hot, dry town on the outskirts of Las Vegas. I’d stopped just to refill the gas tank, but when we tried to get back on the highway, we got stuck in a huge mess of cars trying to go the opposite direction. We weren’t even headed for the right on-ramp, but we couldn’t get there because of the pileup. It was incredibly frustrating, seeing the freely moving traffic on the highway ahead and having absolutely no way to get there. My friends and I started to get a little antsy, especially when it seemed we were making no progress. We had no control over the situation and had no idea when we’d be free.
Perhaps an hour into the wait, one of my friends pulled out her phone and opened the gospel library app. She found a General Conference article on patience and started to read it to us. We all thought the gesture was a bit funny, but now I see how it was inspired. Eventually, police arrived on the scene and started directing traffic so it began to flow. After perhaps an hour and a half, of waiting motionlessly, we finally made it onto the highway. Breaking free of the mess, picking up speed, and shooting out onto the open road was the most exhilarating feeling after such a long wait. We were enormously relieved and eager to return home.
As I sped up the on-ramp, I was hit with a very clear impression that brought me to tears. I could almost hear the words in my mind,
“Just be patient. It will all be worth the wait. And if you endure it well, you will be happier than you can ever imagine.”
I understood the meaning of the message in my heart. I was being instructed to patiently wait for marriage and when it came, I would have a happier union than I ever thought possible. The message was so clear and impactful, but because I wanted so desperately to get married, I ended up engaged to someone who I knew would not help me reach my eternal goals.
Sure, he was worthy to enter the temple with me, and we attended regularly together. But he struggled with some difficult habits that would have damaged and ultimately destroyed our future marriage and family. Yet I continued to prepare for our marriage, convincing myself that I could simply love him enough to help him change. In reality, I was blinded by my desire to get married.
I remember praying to know if I should marry this individual. The response I received was, “I trust your decision.” Looking back, I recognize that my Heavenly Father knew how stubborn I was. He knew that I wasn’t going to accept the answer “no.” He knew that, unfortunately, this was a lesson in trust I would have to learn the hard way.
There was one moment where I felt absolutely sick to my stomach with my decision to marry him. But I tried to pass it off as nerves or confusion. I read Elder Holland’s talk, “Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence,” and decided that I needed to stick with my decision. Because I wanted it so badly, I interpreted anything I read to mean that I was on the right path. After this experience, I stopped receiving negative impressions for a while. God knew that I was not yet ready to act on the answer “no.”
One month into our engagement, we had a temple date set to be married. Our friends and family knew and were preparing to attend the event. There were plenty of red flags in our relationship, and little did I know that my entire living family was actively praying for me to make the right decision. My parents were loving and supportive of my decision, but still they prayed.
Finally, I got to the point where I allowed myself to consider the possibility of ending the engagement. It was a humbling experience as my roommate confirmed the shortcomings of the relationship. After calling my parents to seek their advice, I was more confident that I needed to put an end to things. But even after that conversation, I managed to convince myself that I could make things work. I knew the marriage would be hard, but I saw it as my refining fire, as an experience that would ultimately strengthen me.
News flash…this is not how anyone should imagine their future marriage! Life is hard enough as is without a loving companion at your side! Your spouse should be standing with you through trials, not be the trial! Like I said, I was stubborn.
A week after the call with my parents, my dad called me. It was a Friday morning. As he started to speak, his voice trembled. My dad rarely gets emotional, but when he does, it is because of his deep love for his kids and for the Lord. I knew it was time to listen. He fervently counseled me to break off the engagement. “Stephanie, I will fly out there and help you move and keep you safe and do anything I can to make this easier for you, but you CAN NOT marry this guy.” Our parents can receive heavenly guidance for us, even after we leave the house, and I knew he was speaking from inspiration he’d received on my behalf.
Both his love and the importance of his words struck me. I told him that I recognized that I probably needed to end the engagement, but I wanted to go to the temple to pray about it. My aunt had already invited me to go to the temple with her that afternoon, yet another act of inspiration. I won’t describe my entire experience at the temple, but I will say that I could not have received more clear instruction if it had hit me square in the face. I left with a newfound testimony of family history and temple work.
I was reminded that, though I might be strong enough to endure the marriage, my kids would not be. I know without a doubt that our family members who have already passed on are looking out for us. They are actively concerned with our welfare, because we are a part of their family. This includes ancestors we’ve never met!
I broke off the engagement and ended up going on a mission instead. Within a month of returning home, I met my future spouse and now have a beautiful family with two little girls. My husband is compassionate and supportive. My marriage is full of love and joy. The impression I received back in that little town outside of Las Vegas has proven true. I know that God has a beautiful plan for each of us, and when we trust Him, our lives will be more joyful than we can possibly imagine. He knows us individually. He knows our needs and our desires. I am so grateful for His mercy and love!
Stephanie is an author, blogger, and mom of two energetic girls. She loves anything creative and struggles to pick one thing to focus on. Because of this, she is constantly looking to learn new skills and loves taking online courses.
Stephanie has published two books and is currently learning more about publishing. She hopes to start her own publishing company so she can help other new authors publish and market their works on a low budget.
She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Dietetics and loves talking about health. She loves making nutritious meals but often struggles to find time with her new family. She hopes to write more and provide support to other young moms struggling to find the time to care for their health.
She served a mission in Nampa, Idaho. Stephanie has a deep gratitude for the Atonement of the Savior and desires to share His hope and light with others.
You can connect with Stephanie on Instagram or find her books here.