The words “Single Adults” (SA) were enough to strike fear the instant they were spoken to me. This is the name given by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to those who are older and single. In my early days as a member you became a SA at the age of 23. When at that age I was still unmarried I dutifully went along to my first SA activity at the Dunedin chapel. The dinner conversation that night still causes me nightmares. A sweet little old lady turned to another sister and said, “Betty, you got your own teeth?” Lucky for me that within a couple of months the regulations changed and the Young Single Adult (YSA) age was extended to 30yrs old by which time I was a married woman.
After my divorce and then after my arrival in France I realised it was time to put my nightmare to bed and I applied to attend a SA conference in Belgium over the New Year’s period, 2008/2009. I had heard lots of jokes about people going to SAs to find their spouses and it being a bit of a meat market so I was real nervous when my new friend, Jean-Philippe picked me up at La Défense. I knew that no way was I ready for any kind of romantic relationship but I did need to get to know more friends in my new country.
The trip to Belgium with the 4 of us was fun and by the time I arrived at the conference I was totally at ease. Divorce is highly stressful so it had felt like I hadn’t really laughed in years but I made up for it in Belgium! This was a group of people who understood where I was coming from because they were in the same boat as I was. It was the best of weeks and I left with a whole group of new eternal friends.
Although being with my ward family members is always wonderful, since the Belgium conference I looked forward to every chance to be among the SAs. At the Paris based conference in April 2009 I was reunited with many and met more. With summer coming I naturally registered for the SA conference in Montauban. My feelings had not changed-I was still not ready to be in a romantic relationship but these conferences and the company of SAs was preparing me in all sorts of ways. Emotionally I was beginning to let go of my marriage and look forward to a new future.
I have been spiritually enriched as well. At Montauban the Stake President of Toulouse gave a talk on Sunday on the subject of keeping the Sabbath Day holy. At the very beginning of the talk he gave a scripture, Doctrine and Covenants 84:88,
“...for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”
No explanation was given and no apparent connection to his theme. The scripture struck right to my heart: I had heard this before, in a priesthood blessing I received just before I left New Zealand. It was suddenly all I could think about. I wrote the reference down to refer to it later. After the meeting I spoke with the Stake President, asking him why he had used that particular scripture when it had no connection with the rest of his talk. He looked at me blankly: “Scripture? I didn’t give that scripture.” I was taken aback, looked at my paper and there it was written down. I asked others if they had heard it and they looked at me equally blankly.
The spirit just kept hitting me hard repeating the words of that scripture over and again in my heart. All that day and then the next as I travelled home on the train it kept coming-I cried all the way home the feelings were so intense. Never have I felt the spirit that deeply for such an extended period of time-2 solid days! I heard the Lord’s message and it was a personal one for me at a time I needed it.
Demons of SAs now well and truly banished, New Year’s approaches and I am planning my next conference visit to Belgium. Should be fun!:)