How I Met Lani

One day in December, about four months after I got home from my mission, I was walking home from school when I ran into one of my friends, Ethan. “John!” He said, “We haven’t hung out for a long time. Why don’t you come with me to a leadership class I’m taking and we can do something afterwards.”

I went with him to the class and immediately noticed the teacher. She was beautiful, but there was more. I can’t really describe it, except to say that I could sense that she was a really good person. During the class I felt the vibes going between me and her. I don’t think she felt anything, but I sure did!  Ethan could feel it too—after class he came up to me and said, “John, I can tell that Lani is perfect for you! We can hang out another time. You’d better talk to her.”

So I stayed after class; we talked for about five minutes, but I couldn’t get up enough courage to ask her out. After I left I went straight to Ethan’s house and said, “Why didn’t you set me up with her sooner?”

For the next 24 hours the only thing I could think about was Lani. I found her number on BYU’s online directory (I know, be your brother’s keeper, not your brother’s creeper!) and called her the next day.

“Lani, this is John the guy who visited your student leadership class yesterday, how’s it going?”

“Great, thanks.”

“I was wondering if you’d like to go out tonight?”

“No.”

Well, she didn’t exactly say “no.” She said, “I’m sorry, I already have some other plans.”

“That’s okay,” I said. “Maybe some other time.”

“Okay. Thanks for calling.”

“Bye.”

As soon as I hung up I realized how stupid I was. Of course she already had plans! She probably had tons of guys pursuing her. For the next few days I could not get Lani off my mind. The next time I called her up I had a plan. Instead of asking her out for a specific day (when she might already have a date lined up) I said, “I’d love to go out with you, when are you free?”

“Saturday afternoon.” Lani said.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but she had a Saturday morning date and a Saturday night date. Nevertheless, I was happy to take whatever time slot I could get. Fortunately my good friend Jared gave me tickets for a matinee performance of “A Christmas Carol just a couple blocks from Lani’s house. I thought we should do more on the date (there’s not a whole lot of interaction watching a play), so I planned that we would bake cookies together first. I was excited (and a bit nervous)!

The date got off to a rocky start. Lani lived with her family in Orem. When I knocked on her door a guy (later I found out it was her little brother) answered.

“Is Lani here?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. Then he shut the door.

“Are you going to find out?” I wondered to myself.

I waited. For one minute, two minutes, three minutes—he didn’t come back. I knocked again. This time Lani’s sister answered. She was a lot nicer, and Lani came to the door. As we were walking to the car we ran into another guy (I thought it was one of her neighbors, but I found out later it was a different brother.) This guy gave me a goofy smile and said, “Lani, are you going out with another guy?” I felt about two inches tall.

I opened the door for Lani, we got into the car and drove off. From that point on, the date went great! We talked as we made cookies and I found that we had tons of things in common. The play was marvelous—the whole time we were together I was impressed by the kind of person Lani was. It sounds cheesy, but she was everything I had ever dreamed of in a girl.

When I dropped her off, I asked her if she wanted to go out to lunch the next week. She said yes!

But as I was driving home I began feeling uneasy. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. I got home about 6:00 PM (remember it was an afternoon date). I had planned to do homework that night, but I couldn’t concentrate. I had this terrible feeling that would not go away. I went to bed early, but the next morning I still felt bad, and as I thought about it, I realized why.

I felt bad because I knew I wasn’t good enough for Lani. She seemed practically perfect and I had a lot of faults. She was doing many good things with her life, and though I wasn’t wicked, I knew I wasn’t at the same level Lani was. It really hurt! My whole life I’d been waiting to meet the woman of my dreams; now I had finally met her, but I felt I wasn’t good enough for her.

I needed help. I knelt down and prayed hard. I told the Lord what I was feeling, that I wanted to spend more time with Lani but that I didn’t feel good enough for her. I asked if I should keep pursuing her. I knew that the scriptures could help me with any problem so I grabbed my scriptures and prayed that I would be guided to a verse that could help me. I randomly opened up my scriptures to page 421 and saw 3 Nephi 3:21.

In order to understand this verse, some background might be helpful. At this point in the Book of Mormon all of the righteous people were gathered together, and the wicked Gadianton robbers were in the wilderness and mountains preparing to attack the righteous. Some of the righteous people came to Gidgiddoni, the leader of the army, and asked if they could go into the mountains and attack the robbers. In verse 21 Gidgiddoni said to the people,

The Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together and we will not go against them but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this, he will deliver them into our hands. 

When I read this verse, I felt like Gidgiddoni was speaking to me. When he said, “The Lord forbid” I felt like the Spirit was saying to me, “Don’t go out with Lani anymore–at least not yet.” Instead, I felt I should prepare myself in “the center” areas of my life—meaning I should focus on myself and making myself a better person. If I did this, things would work out.

I told Ethan that I wasn’t going to see Lani again. “You’re crazy!” He said. But I was determined to do what I had felt when I read 3 Nephi 3:21. I called Lani, cancelled our date and didn’t see her for the next four months. (I’ll have to write a separate post about my rigorous self-improvement program!) The point for now is that I did my best to follow the direction I felt as I studied the scriptures.

Four months later, I was about to take a class that Lani had taken. She was the only person I knew who had taken the class. I didn’t want to “go up against her” so I just emailed Lani a question about the class, but instead of emailing me back she called me, and asked if I wanted to talk about it over lunch. 3 Nephi 3:21 said, “We will wait until they come against us” and when Lani asked me if I wanted to have lunch with her, I felt like she was coming to me!  We had lunch and to make a long story short, as it says in verse 21, “therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this [wait until they come up against us] he will deliver them into our hands.” We were married a year later.

Let me make something clear: I’m not recommending waiting for the other person to come to you as a dating strategy. I do recommend that when you need help—whether it is in dating, with school, work, or any situation in your life—that you turn to the scriptures. The answer won’t always come right away like it did this time for (some times I’ve had to search for months!)

I’m sure that when Mormon wrote the words of 3 Nephi 3:21 he was not thinking about my dating relationships. But when we read the scriptures we put ourselves in a position for the Holy Ghost to teach us what we need to know at that moment. It was studying the scriptures, combined with the insight from the Spirit that taught me what I needed to do.

Thanks Lani for not giving up on me! I love you.

It’s been more than 20 years since I discovered 3 Nephi 3:21!

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