HOLLADAY, Utah — Sister Kristen Oaks shared a powerful message with single adults on Jan. 13:
“Know the Lord loves you,” she said. “Know He has a plan for you. Know there is nothing wrong with you because you are not married. That is so important for you to know.”
Speaking at the Holladay Region Mid-Single Adult Fireside, Sister Oaks focused her message on the needs of single adults ages 31-45, the same night Elder Dale G. Renlund and his wife, Sister Ruth Renlund, spoke to the young single adults of the Church. While they spoke on faith and doubt, Sister Oaks shared a message of positivity and keeping a broad perspective.
“I want you to know that you are so loved,” she said.
That love was certainly felt as she and her husband, President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, greeted and shook hands with as many of the men and women gathered in the chapel as they could — long before the meeting began.
Nearly every chair in this Holladay, Utah, Church meetinghouse was filled. And several people who could not squeeze into the chapel, overflow or cultural hall stood at the doors to hear Sister Oaks speak.
“It’s such an honor to be here,” she said, thanking them for coming to hear her speak.
During her remarks, Sister Oaks said she felt impressed to share some perspective of who she is. She is the second wife to President Oaks. After he lost his first wife, Sister June D. Oaks, she married him in her mid-50s. And while she had attained several degrees and worked for many years, “I had never acquired any domestic skills,” she said. But even though she could cook only a few things, it wasn’t her cooking skills that qualified her to eventually marry an Apostle.
“But I know it was in very large part of my learning to live the gospel of Jesus Christ as a single person that brought me through difficult situations and trials and really prepared me for marriage,” she said.
Sister Oaks shared a story about the great-grandmother of Sister June D. Oaks, President Oaks’ first wife. Margretta Clark was part of the Martin Handcart Company, which was caught in brutal blizzards on its migration west to the Salt Lake Valley. Freezing and exhausted, Margretta asked a wagon driver, Anson Call, to let her ride in the wagon. Rather than immediately pull her inside, he made her run alongside the wagon for a bit before pulling her in.
“Finally he pulls her in, puts a blanket on her and he said, ‘If I had pulled you in, when you begged to get in, you’d be dead. You needed to have that run to become warm,’ ” Sister Oaks said. “And I say to you, we need that, all of us.”
Cammie Taylor of the Oak Hills Single Adult 8th Ward, Provo Utah Oak Hills Stake, said that she saw wisdom in needing that run. “I’m such a better person now than I was in my young, mid-20s.” Rather than marrying young, she’s had “this life and experience that I’ve loved and cherished. I’ve traveled the world, I’ve done things that I feel very fortunate to have done.
“I feel fortunate by the relationships that I have now and that I’ve made in my mid-singles years that I would have missed out on.”
Many mid-single adults wonder what they are doing wrong resulting in them still being single. But rather than ask what they are doing wrong, Sister Oaks encouraged that they should ask, “What more can I do that is right?”
Sister Oaks remembers wondering if she was doing something wrong to delay the beautiful blessings promised to her in her patriarchal blessing. “I had 53 years to do this. Nothing was happening. I was beginning to think my prayers were going unanswered.”
But she had a spiritual wake-up call and began to realize that every moment was precious and that she was laying the groundwork for better things. She told the Lord, “however He wanted to use me to build His kingdom, I would accept.”
Changing her behavior, she began spending less time alone on the computer and more involved in ward activities. She changed her study of the scriptures, focused her prayers on an eternal perspective and searched for opportunities to serve and minister.
“My original question had been, ‘Am I doing something wrong?’ I learned that is the wrong question,“ she said. Her prayers, scripture study and behavior began to reflect a different question: “What more can I do that is right?”
“I think a lot of singles ask themselves that question,” said Marliett Davis of the Oak Hills Single Adult 8th Ward. “But that’s not the point. I didn’t go wrong anywhere.”
Despite her circumstances or that of any other single adult, there is hope, Davis said. “There are things that I can develop right now in my life, to help me be better and to develop towards ... becoming like Christ, like the Savior.”
Sister Oaks said Latter-day Saints must have compassion. “As members of the Church, we have to be careful not to judge one another and to suspend any previously held assumptions that might cripple our ability to accept one another on any level.”
In closing, Sister Oaks reminded the audience of their divine destiny. “God expects us to have enough faith and determination and trust in Him to keep moving and living and rejoicing,“ she said. “He expects us not to simply face the future but to embrace it and make it beautiful. He is eagerly waiting for the chance to answer your prayers.”