His Reason for Fasting

All his life, the young man’s mother referred to a story of a couple she knew. The man had gone on a mission, and partway through his mission, he developed a crush on a girl in one of the wards. He started writing to her. This was against the rules: missionaries cannot write to someone of the opposite sex within the mission. The two kept up the letters his whole mission, and when he went home, they got married. They had endured a difficult marriage for years, nearly divorcing several times. His mother always said, “It wasn’t the only reason for their problems, but I always thought starting on a faulty foundation was bad for their marriage. Maybe if they had obeyed mission rules . . .”

The young man never broke mission rules. He never thought of marrying anyone in or from his mission until after it was over. He never wrote to anyone within the mission. So he felt fine about dating former Sister Elliott when they both got home. Now, they seem to be drifting toward marriage, and today he has fasted to know from God that she is the right choice.

Today has been a disaster. He went to her singles ward this morning with a headache. Then, they got in an argument. He didn’t feel like meeting her for dinner but agreed to meet for the fireside. None of these things are big deals, but maybe God is telling him something. Maybe you just aren’t supposed to marry someone you knew from the mission. Maybe he needs to take the hint and move on. Maybe this is the answer.

He meets her at the top of one of the stadium sections. His headache has not gotten better despite three ibuprofen. They take a couple of seats about halfway down toward the floor. He leans forward and doesn’t hold her hand.

“How’s your head?” she asks.

“Still hurts,” he says.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’ll pass.”

An intro speaker introduces President Monson, and then Monson steps to the lectern. Monson is a storyteller, and the young man always liked listening to his stories in General Conference when he was a kid. But as he’s gotten older, he’s cared less for the folksy stories. Still, when a general authority speaks at BYU, this is what you do . . . you get a date, and you go. Monson starts off with a story. It’s about his time as mission president in Toronto, Canada, and how, after he got home, he realized that many of his best missionaries had not yet gotten married. So he and Sister Monson hosted a social dinner at their house for an equal number of former elders and sisters. They watched happily as six different pairs of elders and sisters walked away together after the dinner, and sure enough, six different marriages sprang from that dinner. The young man is hardly paying attention, just feeling the thump in his head.

Monson erupts in a big smile. “Some of you have come here tonight because you’re not sure what you should do. Some of you have a special someone, and you’re not sure whether you should go forward.” A titter runs through the audience. The young man is now paying attention. “This is your day of decision. Think, ponder, and pray about the decisions in your life. Very few are trivial.” Wait. He said he helped arrange the marriages of some of his missionaries. So that’s okay!

“And for those of you in doubt, I’m here to tell you to go forward.”

The young man sits back, thunderstruck. The headache is gone. Lauren looks at him. She smiles. He smiles. He reaches out and takes her hand. He will not remember the rest of the talk or much about the rest of the evening, except that now it is all clear and the question he had, his reason for fasting, has been answered.

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