Late this spring, I released “Awakening Avery,” my LDS women’s novel dealing with a recently-widowed middle-aged woman’s struggle to redefine her life and her family after the passing of her husband. While promoting the book, I met just such a woman. Her name is Valerie J. Steimle, and she was a member of a women’s writing group I belong to.
As soon as she heard the premise of my book, she said it sounded very much like her own life, which as it turns out, has become the topic of her own writing career, addressing the particular needs LDS over-30 singles confront in a very family-driven church.
Valerie Steimle’s current release on the topic is “Of One Heart, Being Single In The LDS World.” It is not a dry, professional discourse. Instead, it’s a non-fiction collection of personal essays with a journal-like feel, as if Valerie Steimle were inviting you over to her house to offer you the benefit of her personal observations and experience.
And her experience is vast and unique. Her personal story is so compelling that a fictional account would be criticized for being over-the-top. On December 31st, 2005she awoke, a married, mother of nine children, ages six to twenty-four. One was on a foreign mission, one was married, two were college and post-college, and five were still at home. Minutes after midnight, her fifty-year-old husband of twenty-five years passed silently away of a massive coronary, leaving her to start the New Year alone as a widow, singly-parenting a large family. In the next year she would also become a grandmother, and a success story about not just surviving, but thriving in the face of adversity.
Steimle recognizes the unique needs of singles, but she also points out the nee
d for singles to step up and claim their place in their wards and families. To these ends, she wrote “Of One Heart” to:
a) inspire singles to excel despite being alone in a two-by-two world,
2) to help loved ones better support singles, and
3) to help leaders better minister to singles
In addition to Steimle’s personal observations, “Of One Heart” also represents the insight she’s gleaned from talking to singles in all situations, and from surveys she’s
conducted amongst her peers. Beautiful, insightful quotes and scriptures, that kept her going, are sprinkled throughout.
“Of One Heart” is almost a hands-on manual on living singly, including advice on organizing successful conferences and activities to involve members of this frequently lonely sphere. I caught up with Valerie and asked her opinion on a few topics dear to most adult singles' hearts.
1. What was the hardest part of being an LDS single-parent?
The hardest part of being an LDS single-parent is bearing total responsibility for my children. I can have home teachers and visiting teachers helping me, but the ultimate responsibility was mine and that was overwhelming at times.
2. What is the single best piece of advice for over-30 singles?
Stay active at church. Go to the temple for peace, and keep yourself worthy always. Whether you realize it or not the Lord is watching over you always.
3. What is the best piece of advice you can give to RS and Priesthood leaders trying to minister to over-30 singles?
The best advice is to not judge too harshly. I have seen this occur unnecessarily when there was no fault on the part of the single member. The Lord knows our hearts and why we are in the situation we have found ourselves. Just love those singles in your area. Love them back to the Gospel.
"Of One Heart: Being Single in the LDS World" would make an excellent resource to share with over-30 Singles, as well as those who love and lead them.