I have loved our married student ward here in Provo, and I am going to miss it dearly! I especially will miss the Sisters who have been in the ward, as they have influenced my life in many ways. I guess, this post is a goodbye letter to them, as well as an encouragement for those who are also in married student wards.
For those of you unfamiliar with what a “ward” is, it’s a way of referring to a local congregation within the LDS faith. In Provo, with the large number of LDS members (especially newlywed members going to school here), they have many wards that consist of just married students, and some of the couples may have young children. I have loved being among so many women my age, as well as in general, just being around other couples our age. My favorite part about the ward was how much we all had in common with each other, like being in our twenties, working, school, similar financial situations, having children, and of course, we were all freshly married ;) These similarities helped us grow closer to one another. I truly enjoyed the friendships we made within the ward and I know that many of those friendships will continue even though we will be moving out of the ward this weekend.
Trevor and I have already visited our new ward in South Jordan, and we really like it so far. I mean, it will take some time getting used to the number of toddlers we will be around now (haha), but we are looking forward to the diversity that comes with living in a family ward. Even though some of you have experienced living in a married student ward before, I thought I would share my experience of it.
Five things I learned while living in an LDS married student ward
1: I learned why we should avoid judging other women or couples.
You never know what another Sister or couple is experiencing in their life. Especially in our culture, where we try not to disclose specific details of our marriage to other people. There are also different marriage dynamics among us, and though another couple’s way of doing things is different from how you do things, it doesn’t mean it is wrong or that one of you has a bad marriage or something.
2: I learned how common infertility struggles were.
It was so common that our Stake Presidency felt like doing firesides, or seminars once a month on the aspects of infertility as support for those couples or Sisters struggling with it. For those of you women who feel like you are alone in these struggles, I can assure you that many women around you have experienced what you are experiencing, whether you know it or not. For LDS couples, the aspects of pregnancy are so new to us and I found it a comfort to be able to just talk to other women about those aspects.
3: I learned the importance of the Marriage and Family sunday school class.
I loved the discussion setting, and being able to hear how other couples do things. Not only does learning from each other help us to formulate standards of our own marriage, but it helps us understand what is going on in marriages. I enjoyed the open honesty from couples about how they work to get along through arguments, for example. I was able to feel like whatever situations Trevor and I were experiencing, were also being experienced by other couples too. I also realized how beneficial the class would be for veteran married couples as well, because we all need a few humbling lessons no matter how knowledgable we think we are!
4: I learned the importance of being outgoing, or just putting yourself out there.
When we first got in the ward, I thought that I wouldn’t have trouble making friends because I was a very friendly person. However, I kind of felt intimidated in some ways by all these amazing women, so I became a little shy. I realized that there were so many couples moving in and out every few months that we all seemed new to each other so someone had to put forth an effort. We can’t sit around the Relief Society room waiting for someone else to sit by us. Sometimes we need to be the person to sit next to someone else in order to make friends. This method worked pretty well for me.
5: I learned the power and influence that other Sisters can have on us.
I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of Sisters in my ward who honestly created an impact on my spirituality, marriage, or just on my life in general. I saw amazing examples of Sisters who went out of their way to be kind to other Sisters. I heard inspirational words from so many Sisters that I will never forget. I saw amazing examples of Sisters who carried themselves through difficult trials and experiences, some that I didn’t even know were going through those trials. Each of these moments built a great admiration and strength between us.
A weird kind of love
Every one of these things I learned had to do with other Sisters in the ward. With nearly every intuitive comment, or open honesty they shared with either me personally, or publicly, I grew this sudden love for them; sometimes without even knowing them personally. It’s this weird kind of love. The kind that makes you feel like you just discovered your soul sister when you find out they have something major in common with you. Or the kind of love that brings you to sadness when you find out they are moving out of the ward.
I’m very grateful to the Sisters and couples that made a difference in our lives the past year. Some of you have moved out of the ward already and some plan on staying for awhile. I hope that we stay in touch, and I hope that you know the example you were in my life. Like I said, we look forward to our new ward and the diversity of babies, teenagers, long-term married couples, and retired couples. I know I’ll continue to learn a lot from this new ward. I especially hope I learn more things that will strengthen my marriage, of course!