It’s funny. I had a secret crush on Clayton for a year before he finally asked me out, but after we became boyfriend and girlfriend, my nerves were suddenly wound so tight it was hard to really enjoy dating him. Doubts seemed to flood over me at the most inconvenient moments. Weeks passed before I let him kiss me again. Some days, I felt like I was on cloud nine with him. Other days, I was convinced breaking off the relationship would be better for both of us. I rarely mentioned details of my internal battle because Clayton seemed to have completely fallen for me and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. My decision to marry him evolved through weeks of serious, near-constant reflection.
One night six weeks after our first kiss, we decided to go to a few classes at BYU’s Education Week. There, I learned a principle that changed my life: Love is a choice.
"People talk about love like it's an accident sometimes," said our teacher, Justin Top. "We say, 'I fell in love,' as if we were walking along, tripped and faceplanted into love. But love isn't an accident; it's a choice. It takes effort and sacrifice."
Two days later on Sunday morning, one of the talks in church was about receiving personal revelation. For weeks, I had been praying, asking God if advancing my relationship with Clayton would be a good choice, and it suddenly hit me: God had already answered my prayer. His answer was: “Love is a choice.”
I felt amazing that day. I recognized God had given me an incredible gift: an opportunity to love and be loved by one of the best men I’d ever met. But Sunday passed and doubts crept back in. By Tuesday, I was trudging to the first day of my autumn institute of religion class, thinking once again it would be best to break up. There was only one problem: I couldn’t bear the thought of letting Clayton go. But didn’t he deserve someone who was totally sure she could marry him?
Happily, my inspired religion teacher came to my rescue that day. At the beginning of class, he asked everyone to say their name and one attribute they admired about themselves. I said my name was Jessica and I was an optimist. My teacher smiled at me and commented, “Just like President Hinckley. That’s a good quality.”
It probably didn’t seem like much to him, but to me that remark made a world of difference. As I thought of President Gordon B. Hinckley, I remembered some of his teachings and his optimistic, faith-filled attitude toward life. I realized the fear and anxiety I’d been experiencing as I contemplated marrying Clayton did not come from God, but the strong spiritual experience I’d had on Sunday did. That night I wrote in my class notes, “If I chose optimism, I’d choose Clay.” Since then, I’ve never reconsidered my decision to marry him.