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Dear Gramps,

I am wondering what some of your thoughts are on marriage. I’m 20 years old and about to make that very important decision. We’ve dated over a year. Is it normal to get very scared as marriage becomes real and as I discuss it with my boyfriend? I know he is a man of God, so I don’t understand why I’m so scared. I know he loves me, but how do I know if I love him? Sometimes I wonder if it’s love that I feel, but I don’t understand why I wouldn’t love my boyfriend because he is such a good guy and completely worthy of taking me to the temple. What do these feelings mean?

Brittney, from Idaho

Dear Brittney,

You are talking about the most important decision that you will make in your entire life. (There! Does that make you feel any better?) This decision has far reaching consequences into the eternities, and it will affect generations to come. Because of that, not only is this decision one of deepest concern for yourself and your boyfriend, but it is of vital concern to your Father in Heaven, as well. He has a plan for you; your life here is not just left to chance.

It is not at all uncommon in the face of such decisions to entertain some doubts as to whether to go ahead or not. But if you lack some confidence in yourself to make such decisions, have instead confidence in the Lord. No doubt you have made this matter the subject of sincere prayer, and yet you still wonder what to do. Let’s talk for a minute about two concepts-faith, and the answers to prayers.

If you have faith, which in some sense is the opposite of doubt, you will act with confidence on the knowledge that you have. As you look objectively at your situation, it appears to be very positive-“I know that he is a man of God, and I know that he loves me.” Based on that knowledge and the impressions of your experience together, you can make a decision. Faith then would be to act on that decision. Once the decision is made, don’t revisit it unless the relevant circumstances change.

Now concerning the answer to prayer- Some people think that prayer is answered by a burning in the bosom, as in (D&C 9:8),

But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.That is true, but those kind of answers are generally reserved for things like translating the Book of Mormon and other sacred experiences where choices among alternatives must be made. The procedure, however, is appropriate in a general sense- you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right-but the answer may come in ways much more subtle than a burning in the bosom. A much more common way in which prayers are answered is given in D&C 8:2

Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

This means that we will think it’s a good idea (the mind) and that we will feed good about it (the heart). If that is the case in your situation, accept it and get on with it. The self doubts, nervousness and jittery feels you can attribute to the feeble attempts of the Adversary to dissuade you from an inspired course of action, and dismiss them.

Gramps

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