Posted by: Lula in London | March 30, 2008

What to do while the bridegroom “tarries”: My talk to a single’s ward relief society.

Today I got to give a talk to a college relief society. In thinking what would be a good topic, I thought it would be great to give the talk I wish I had been given so many years ago. In a way this talk has taken me 11 years to write. So here is part of it for you:

Okay, so I’ve used this formula before:

birth -> baptism -> dating -> marriage/mission -> kids -> winner

This this the formula that we’ve all grown up with in the church. The problem is that sometimes we have the “winner” in the wrong spot. This is how it should look:

winner -> birth -> baptism -> dating -> marriage/mission -> kids

When we are able to see it in this order, we can focus on marrying the right person and not focused on marriage at the “right” age. It’s not a race to be a “winner” if you start out that way, now is it?

Okay, for my inspiration, I quoted Matthew 25. What better story to use than 10 virgins waiting for marriage?

1 aThen shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten bvirgins, which took their clamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all aslumbered and bslept.

6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the abridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their alamps.

8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps aare gone out.

9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were aready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was bshut.

11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I aknow you not.

13 aWatch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

It’s common to think about this parable as describing a testimony of the Gospel, and it does. But there was something new that I noticed about this parable, “the bridegroom tarried”. The man they were waiting for must have tarried for a while, because they got tired. Then at an unexpected hour, he arrives and they quickly prepared their lamps. (Who starts a marriage at midnight?) The ones that only had enough oil if the bridegroom didn’t tarry were left behind. I look at this parable as teaching us that we must fill our lamps, because the bridegroom may tarry a while.

The virgins who only had oil to last them until he came, didn’t make into the marriage. Why? Because you still need your lamps burning after you enter marriage, not until marriage.

This is where I think the culture aspect of the church sometimes confuses with the doctrines of the Church. All around me growing up were examples of people graduating from high school, going to college for a few years, getting married and having kids at a young age. This was the expectation, and when I didn’t meet this expectation, it was hard not to feel like a bit of a loser (and for others to not feel sorry for me).

This expectation is what I call the “Beehive Plan”. The “Beehive Plan” is the life schedule you make for yourself when you are 12. For me it was to graduate high school, go to a certain college, and get married my first or second year of college if I felt like being independent. Then, if by some bizarre chance I wasn’t married by the time I graduated, I would go to BYU. That was my Beehive Plan.

Well, I finished at my certain school, and bizarrely enough I was not married. By this time I realized BYU didn’t fit my academic goals so I applied to another school. I prayed about what to do, but no real answer came. It was a very strange feeling, almost like my Beehive Plan was a set of railroad tracks and suddenly the tracks were done and I had to find another mode of transportation.

There weren’t many people around me who had been through this end of the tracks phase. No one talks about what you should do between dating -> marriage. Especially when you don’t seem to be getting asked out on many dates. It’s just not in the Young Women’s manual.

I decided that to move on, I would go to graduate school. I needed to fill my lamp, and education seemed like one good way to do it. I remember debating it for a while, with this doubt in my mind:

“If you improve your education, you will intimidate the good men,
and you will never get married.”

Now, who do you think is the author of that? The Lord? Not a chance. This was the adversary. Funny enough, I’ve heard grandparents say this to their young eligible granddaughters, “If you get more education, you are just going to intimidate those young men.” This is so wrong in so many ways. The sentence should read more like this:

“If you improve your education, you will intimidate the dumb men that don’t want an educated wife, and your chances of marrying a loser will decrease automatically.”

With that said, bring on the education! Bring on traveling and seeing the world, experiencing new cultures and getting a different view of your place in the world! Bring on fitness, serving others, your unique sense of humor, your career, your interests your hobbies! There is no need to feel guilty for wanting that, here’s proof:

From President Hinckley:

“Relief Society stands for education. It is the obligation of every woman of this Church to get all the education she can. It will enlarge her life and increase her opportunities. It will provide her with marketable skills in case she needs them.” Gordon B. Hinckley, Oct 2006 General Conference

“Marketable skills in case she needs them” I think connects with the girl who if for not this fear of a dead husband and no way to feed the kids without an education to get a job, wouldn’t bother going to college at all. The first points he makes is enough for me.

The Lord wants all kinds of people, educated in all kinds of things:

“I want to tell you why I personally believe that, despite all odds, you should seek learning.

The Church of Jesus Christ, from the time of the Savior even until now, has been largely composed of working people, individuals who pursue honorable professions and trades common to the societies in which they live. Jesus commented on the diversity of people who would be gathered into the kingdom: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind” (Matt. 13:47). Unlike some other religions, the gospel of Jesus Christ does not grant special status to theologians, philosophers, or other academics. All are welcome to enjoy the bounteous blessings of the gospel, regardless of educational background or social status (see 2 Ne. 26:24-28). Those called by the Savior to serve in His kingdom represent this broad cross-section of humanity. Jesus Christ, raised by Mary and by Joseph the carpenter, first called as His disciples fishermen and others engaged in common professions. Paul noted this fact in his letter to the Corinthians: “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” (1 Cor. 1:26-27). Paul Alan Cox, “On Becoming a Disciple Scholar (H. Eyring) >> Journey to City Creek: Adding Scholarship to Discipleship (link may not work because it is a subscription service)

D&C 90
15 And set in order the churches, and astudy and blearn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with clanguages, tongues, and people.

D&C 88
78 Teach ye diligently and my agrace shall attend you, that you may be binstructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;

79 Of things both in aheaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must bshortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the cnations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a dknowledge also of countries and of kingdoms.” (travel!)

The better you make yourself, the better you make the person that will be attracted to you, so improve your bridegroom “magnet”:

Doctrine and Covenants 88
40 For aintelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; bwisdom receiveth wisdom; ctruth embraceth truth; dvirtue loveth virtue; elight cleaveth unto light; fmercy hath gcompassion on mercy and claimeth her own; hjustice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things.

If the Lord thinks that “intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence” then that is enough evidence for me. I love this verse, it has helped me during those times when I wondered if I was waiting for a bridegroom that got hit by a donkey and may never show.

I don’t think it was a coincidence that because I went on to get more education, and moved to a foreign country that I met the right man for me.

So this time waiting can be frustrating, but it is not a curse. I had 11 years of waiting after high school, and I see those years as a gift and not wasted time. Even though I gradated with three degrees as a single person, I’ve been able to take so many opportunities that have helped me understand better who I am, and what I can bring to someone else.
I am so glad my Beehive Plan didn’t work out for me.
The Lord has another parable that relates to this, in fact it’s right after the 10 virgins parable which I think is a nice coincidence:
Matthew 25
14 ¶ For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

15 And unto one he agave five btalents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.

17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and areckoneth with them.

20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou adeliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful aservant: thou hast been bfaithful over a few things, I will make thee cruler over many things: enter thou into the djoy of thy lord.

22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.

23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and afaithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an ahard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

25 And I was aafraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and aslothful servant, thou knewest that I breap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:

27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with ausury.

28 Take therefore the atalent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29 For unto every one that hath shall be agiven, and he shall have babundance: but from him that hath not shall be ctaken away even that which he hath.
So, if the Lord gives you 5 years, take those 5 years and really turn them into something! It is such a unique time in your life to not have a husband or kids or responsibilities that can keep you from education and traveling and pursuing who you are. Don’t bury that time in the ground because you which you had something else.
Here is the Single Mormon Girl’s Guide according to Doctrine & Covenants 33:
12 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my agospel; and remember that they shall have faith in me or they can in nowise be saved;

13 And upon this arock I will build my church; yea, upon this rock ye are built, and if ye continue, the bgates of hell shall not prevail against you.

14 And ye shall remember the church aarticles and covenants to keep them.

15 And whoso having faith you shall aconfirm in my church, by the laying on of the bhands, and I will bestow the cgift of the Holy Ghost upon them.

16 And the Book of Mormon and the holy scriptures are given of me for your ainstruction; and the power of my bSpirit cquickeneth all things.

17 Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your alamps btrimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be cready at the coming of the dBridegroom
18 For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that I acome quickly. Even so. Amen.
It’s got it all right there, just keep working on doing the best you can, and be ready for the right person, because he’ll show up eventually.
No matter what, the Lord is in charge. This is what I ended my talk on:
Doctrine and Covenants 88

41 He acomprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever.

42 And again, verily I say unto you, he hath given a alaw unto all things, by which they move in their btimes and their seasons.

Amen to that! The right guy is out there, there is a plan for you. Have faith in that, trust the Lord, be as picky as you want. Make your life as intimidating as you can, and be willing to wait for the right person to come along no matter how many “talents” or years you’re given while tarrying for that slow bridegroom. It is a gift, use it!



  1. Hi, I was really inspired but what you have said in this post. I just broke up recently, and I should say, I am the one hurting not him. I already had 3 relationships that failed, so accepting another one hurts so much, and am thinking I couldn’t find another one, but I am sure there will be. I just had to wait, and make myself busier now than before. And be prepared for that right man.

  2. What a great example of how much the parables can teach.

    I enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Mailman.

  4. Not all bridegrooms are tarrying! Some are working really really hard.

  5. In response to Keith- the word “tarry” means “to wait”. Could it be possible that the right guy out there is also waiting for the right girl to come along also, one who, like him, has tried to receive as much experience and education. “Tarrying” is not negative. I don’t mind if my future man is tarrying at the moment, as long as he isn’t selling himself short in the process 😉

  6. Amen to that!

  7. i thought that was a beautiful talk. How funny I never thought of using the parable of the bridegroom to compare to a bridegroom himself. Ironic. I’m at a crossroads myself (just graduated from BYU, already served a mission!) and am looking to relocate back east, but I’m a bit scared…Thanks again.

  8. I sure appreciate the thoughts behind this post. I am a strong believer that the Lord has a purpose for us all and has specific roles for us to fill. Thanks for the reminder to have faith in His timing…

  9. you are awesome! This is just what I needed right now. Thanks

  10. Thankyou thankyou! Someone has to stick up fo all of us! I had the same sort of “beehive plan” I think in YW the put SOOO much emphesis in getting married. My plan was simple get married RIGHT out of high school like my mom! yuck. I am so happy for the time i have had to learn and grow. I never really thought about the time in between highschool and marraige. But I know with all my heart our heavenly father has a plan for each of us, and its so important to have faith, and patience, and really live and love life in the meantime!

  11. Thank you so much for this.

  12. You are SO right on with this entire talk! I loved it b/c it’s entirely true and like someone else said….how in the world did I never look at this parable literally? I also have 3 degrees, have traveled, and have been out of high school for some time (nearly 13 years). It’s good to hear about other people’s experiences, b/c at times you feel like a bit of a freak. I think it’s important to develop ourselves, just as you said, b/c we probably need a LOT of strength and preparation if we’re going to raise the generation that may usher in the millenium.

    THANK YOU for your blog! I just stumbled upon it and am thankful for the laughs/being able to relate. =) Congrats on finding your Mr. Right aka your bridegroom. YAY!

  13. As an oldmaidmormon who enjoys singing and playing the piano as well as searching the scriptures I’ve found Isaiah 54:1 to be most comforting for those like me longing for marriage and motherhood while lacking a bridegroom, “Sing O barren, thou that didst not bear break forth into singing and cry aloud thou that didst not travail with child for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife saith the Lord.”
    Your blog rocks!

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