I don't know how non-Mormons talk about marriage, but when Mormons talk about it, they often talk about "timing" and more specifically, "God's timing." When two people "find each other," it's often because God has stepped in and caused a miracle to happen at just the right moment. It could be the moment when two people meet at a party or the grocery store. It could be the moment when a friend introduces two other friends. It could be sitting next to someone on a plane, running into an old friend after decades of not seeing each other, or spotting that new guy at church on Sunday.
This way of talking bothers me. It suggests that there is one right person to marry, that God displays a good deal of favoritism, and that He is the only one who is truly in charge of our destinies. The last implication is the one I want to address tonight.
I don't deny that God affects change in the world, and I don't think it's outside of the realm of possibilities that he has a hand in what happens in people's lives. What we DO with the hands he deals us, though, is entirely up to us.
If my mom hadn't moved away from New York City at the exact time she did, she might not have gone to Provo when she did, and she might not have lived in the apartment complex that she did. She then might not have met my uncle, and he wouldn't have introduced her to my dad. Was God involved in the timing? It's possible.
But. If I hadn't moved to Texas to go to grad school, and if I had taken classes that first summer, I wouldn't have stayed an extra semester to finish my thesis, and I wouldn't have met that person I loved. Was God involved in the timing? It's possible. And yet, I didn't marry that person.
It probably sounds like I'm bitter, but I'm not. I'm simply trying to illustrate the point that timing isn't everything. Timing may not even be most things. To me, it's more meaningful to say something like this: If my mom hadn't learned what qualities she was looking for in a spouse and my dad hadn't learned to drop his pride, then they never would've gotten married.
I'll do the same for myself: If I had learned not to let people push me around, and the person I loved had learned to communicate, we might have gotten married.
Is God involved in the timing? Maybe. Is that timing instantaneous? Is it just one moment? An unlikely encounter? Maybe. But I don't think it's common. More common, however, is a lifetime of character-building, countless moments of thought and reflection, an openness to divine revelation, and the give and take of learning to communicate with a significant other.
Remember my favorite scripture from a few weeks ago? "For the power is in them!"*
We are agents unto ourselves and have the ability to "bring to pass much righteousness"—or in this case, love. We choose who we love, and we choose who we marry. It's as simple as that.**
*Exclamation point added. (See Agency Is the Very Best
**To my married friends and family: You made a conscious choice to marry the person you did—to work through difficulties and show love. I deeply admire that.
Thing I'm thankful for: German pancakes with whipped cream, cinnamon, and maple syrup from Vermont. I eat very well. I'm grateful for that every day.