Though my life as a single woman may not be as I would have shaped it, I am preparing myself now for the eternal blessings Heavenly Father has to offer.

I look over the last fifteen years of my life and I marvel. It is good for one’s soul to stand on the occasional mountaintops we have climbed—not just to look ahead and see if we are going where we want to go, but to look back and see where we have been.

As I stand on this mountaintop and look back, I realize that one of the most significant experiences of my life has been learning to deal with my marital status. For years I was taught that I would grow up, get married, and have children. This is a normal thing. My parents and grandparents were married; the neighbors down the block were married; aunts and uncles were married. This is what grown-ups do.

Naturally, I thought, when I am an adult I, too, will marry and have children. It became my number one goal in life.

But what do you do if, for some reason, you have not yet attained your number one goal in life?

Oh, how I struggled to find my place, trying to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and do everything to live worthy of an eternal companion. I dreamed of a man who would honor me and take me to the temple.

Instead, I saw friends, cousins, and brothers get married before me. I suffered bad relationships and good ones that somehow didn’t work out. I saw good men, whom I truly loved, choose others as their companions. And the years went by, filled with loneliness and the frustration that comes from wondering, What is wrong with me? What is wrong with men? And why would God have me suffer this social ostracism?

After all the tears were shed, all the blame laid to rest, all the whys asked, there were only these questions left: What is the purpose of life—my life? If I made any promises before I came here, am I keeping them?

I stand on a mountaintop and look back over the last fifteen years and I marvel.

I marvel at what the Lord has taught me. He gave me knowledge that helped me find peace in my individual circumstances. Being single, I asked a host of questions I might never have thought to ask otherwise. I learned that all the trials of my life were lessons and could be viewed as loaded with gospel instructions very central to me—to my personality and my circumstances.

I marvel at the blessings God has given me. He helped me see that though I have no children, I do have a family. My father, mother, and brothers, their wives, and their children have become increasingly more important to me. I recognize that I am provided for. I have a good job with a good income, and a lovely home.

I marvel that earlier in life, I didn’t take the time to understand what Heavenly Father had been trying to tell me all along. The messages were there. I simply refused to see or to accept his messages for me because my life hadn’t worked out according to my own set of expectations.

In the last fifteen years, I have learned that we all have a wonderful opportunity to devote our precious time to developing a deep testimony of our Father in Heaven. By using this time wisely, with our patriarchal blessings as a guide, we will gain the knowledge and wisdom we need in order to know how to proceed with our lives. We can know what to pursue and what to let go. The Lord seems to require us to struggle to find answers. But what a powerful blessing to know—really know, through the spirit of revelation—why you are where you are and what you can or may do with your life.

The blessings of this life are so abundant. Marriage and parenthood are among them, and it is part of our nature to desire them. However, great blessings come when we place our lives in the hands of the Lord, whatever our situations, and begin to see what wonderful people he is making of us.

It is at times like these I think of a scripture that impressed me many years ago: “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?” (Isa. 45:9.)

After pondering these words, I realize I don’t want to strive against my Maker. I have decided I am willing to commit myself to letting God fashion me into the person he wants me to be.

I had no idea that being put upon the wheel of life and shaped by the hand of God would be so hard. I have had to learn that regardless of whether I have what I want in life, I need to trust in my Heavenly Father, knowing he will help me be happy.

Through years of struggling to understand the Church of Jesus Christ and where I fit into it, I have come to know that the responsibility is completely mine to maintain my testimony and righteousness. Just because I may not like the circumstances in which I find myself, that does not mean I can walk away from the gospel or my Heavenly Father. To do so would be to abandon the only source of purpose and comfort in life.

I have learned that we have all of eternity to gain the righteous desires of our hearts. Today, we are on the potter’s wheel, and as we permit, his fingers are shaping and molding, lifting and pulling us upward.

This little knot in time we call mortality is so short. There is no need to strive against our Maker, not when such compassionate hands are seeking to guide us.

[photo] Photo by Craig Dimond; lettering by Warren Luch

Meralee Stallings is a Valiant A teacher in the Murray Eleventh Ward, Murray Utah West Stake.