May 11, 2023

Podcast Transcript | Thriving as a Single Person in a Zion Community — An Interview with Ty Mansfield

Written by

Ty Mansfield

The Date to Your Potential Podcast

with Peggy Matheson

Thriving as a Single Person in a Zion Community—
An Interview with Ty Mansfield
(Ep 46)

— May 1, 2023 —

Intro: This is Date to Your Potential, inspiring, educating, and empowering single members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our hosts are Peggy Matheson, betrayal trauma recovery expert and Sharon Collier, certified life and relationship coach.

Peggy Matheson: Welcome everybody this is episode 46 we're talking to Ty Mansfield today. I am currently reading almost finish with one of his new books which is “The Power of Stillness.” I'm so excited to be with you Ty I'm actually really honored to have you sitting in front of me here now Ty and I'm going to tell you his background but then I'm going to tell you how Ty and I know each other and I've known we've known each other we were sitting here talking for 17 year.

Ty Mansfield: 17 years, yeah.

Peggy Matheson: 17 years. So, Ty let's see if I can find this Ty is a practicing marriage and family therapist and an adjunct instructor in religious education at Brigham Young University and you just said to me that you're going.

Ty Mansfield: I will be moving full time. I'll be a full-time assistant professor in religious ed.

Peggy Matheson: That is so awesome.

Ty Mansfield: Starting this fall or starting July 1st actually.

Peggy Matheson: Okay. Ty also works with areas of conflicting views on sexuality and gender and he has a full practice of clients and you said a percentage of those may deal with same sex attraction, right?

Ty Mansfield: Yeah.

Peggy Matheson: And I want to say I want to shout out to his wife Danielle. They've got 5 little ones and I'm so grateful that she gave me some time with you today, because I know that puts pressure on her and I know you're very busy. But this book is the “Power of Stillness” and Ty, I heard his talk from the Faith Matters First Restore Conference last fall and was just blown away. So now, you and I met 17 years ago and you were single at the time.

Ty Mansfield: Yes.

Peggy Matheson: I was married and because the man I was married to have same sex attraction and that was your background as well. You and I met during doing some of that work together.

Ty Mansfield: Yeah.

Peggy Matheson: for men who have same sex attraction and so that's how Ty and I first met. So, like I said I'm really honored to be to have you here and I'm super excited about the mindfulness He's here. Because of the work that I do in the journey work that I do which is restorative guided meditation and the power it has to heal and to shift people into a whole new trajectory of their life. So, and you know about mindfulness because of your studying and all of that. But I wanted to say you said that almost 20 years ago Desirette Book published your first book”Iin Quiet Desperation”, right?

Ty Mansfield: Yes.

Peggy Matheson: And you and so me what's happening now.

Ty Mansfield: So, with that specifically.

Peggy Matheson: With that specifically.

Ty Mansfield: In terms of what we were talking about a little bit offline. So, I have a big probably two of the major intersecting themes of what I do is kind of helping people navigating intersection of sexuality, gender, identity, and faith. And then the other piece is mindfulness, right? So, just this the power of contemplative practice to bring us back to ourselves, right? And to help us disentangle, right? A lot of the stories and unpacking emotions and things working through trauma.

Peggy Matheson: We talk a lot on this podcast about that I mean I say this a lot we are not our emotions. We are not our thoughts.

Ty Mansfield: No.

Peggy Matheson: And if we can realize that, that we're this divine being and we don't have to buy into all of that.

Ty Mansfield: Yes.

Peggy Matheson: To help people learn how to just sit with that and move through it.

Ty Mansfield: Yes.

Peggy Matheson: Which is what mindfulness is.

Ty Mansfield: Well, maybe we could even talk a little bit more about that because I think even this is maybe jumping a little bit of head but to state say it in state it and then bookmark it. But we talk a lot about coming to Earth to get a body, right? But I think it's a little bit of a misnomer. We didn't come to Earth to get a body. We came to Earth to learn how to be embodied and in learning.

Peggy Matheson: Oh my gosh. I just love that. I never heard that before.

Ty Mansfield: But we but we don't, right? We I think even though we have this theology of this value of the body and the importance of a body. We spend half of our lives running from it, right? Numbing, distracting, avoiding, right? And so, part of life in this part of our work here I think our purpose here is to learn how to really be fully with without to this is the paradox right that you were maybe even just describing to not identify with it to be fully with it.

Peggy Matheson: And not identify as it. Not attaching to it. The emotion and the thoughts. The stories that we tell.

Ty Mansfield: Yeah.

Peggy Matheson: The assumptions that we make. Yes.

Ty Mansfield: We're learning how to work with it but we get to attach to it and we over identify with it. Right, and so did to disentangle some of those tendencies as a big part of our purpose here.

Peggy Matheson: That's awesome. I love that. So, you said you're coming out with a follow up.

Ty Mansfield: Yeah, so next year will be 20 years since that first book “In Quiet Desperation” was published and so I'll be doing a 20-year follow up just kind of bringing kind of I'm thinking of it as a sort of magnum opus.

Peggy Matheson: This is specifically dealing with same sex attraction, sexual attraction issues and all of that.

Ty Mansfield: Gender and sexuality.

Peggy Matheson: Gender and sexuality. So, in quiet desperation was your story. About your dealing with same-sex attraction in your life and this 20-year, would you call it the.

Ty Mansfield: Magnum opus.

Peggy Matheson: Magnum opus.

Ty Mansfield: 20-year follow up but I can't imagine writing anything beyond this. I'm kind of seeing this as moving kind of switch.

Peggy Matheson: You want to follow up with everyone and say this is where I'm at. This is what's happened in my journey and you're now married like I said with Danielle and five kids. 13-year marriage and it's not something you deal with anymore. Really other than in your practice, right?

Ty Mansfield: Yeah, it's certainly not that I'd experience any conflict realm.

Peggy Matheson: There you go. I love it. So, when I heard your talk at the Faith Matters Conference, the thing that really struck me and then I kind of like to kind of really open up right here is that you were single for quite a while. And will you tell me a little bit about that journey and the mindfulness and how what God told you and how that moved you into where you are the journey you've been on.

Ty Mansfield: Yeah. So, some of, there's kind of two intersecting themes that have come together in ways that I didn't expect them to. So, my second to last year that I was at BYU was a total existential crisis like I just felt really conflicted. I was trying to figure out this intersection of sexuality and faith. Didn't know how to do it. Couldn't find other people who were doing it mostly.

Peggy Matheson: Yeah, you were a trailblazer back then. There just wasn't very much.

Ty Mansfield: There wasn't and most people that I could find just were either kind of doing the double life thing or I was a student at BYU at the time. We're just hanging on until they graduated and had plans to leave the church and pursue same-sex relationships. So, I felt really alone for a long time and that I just didn't know anybody else who was navigating similar terrain.

Peggy Matheson: Trying to stay on the faith path in the church and acknowledge that you have these attractions, right?

Ty Mansfield: So, I didn't know anybody who even had the feelings. But then once I finally started so that felt really lonely, right?

Peggy Matheson: Sure. Yeah.

Ty Mansfield: Then, once I started looking for resources, I couldn't find anybody who really wanted to stay and that was really important to me. So, that felt or the people who were who were active in the church, I started attending a support group there in Provo. That was the only place that I could find people, right? And there wasn't, I mean, man, this was still really, I mean, there wasn't online groups or anything that I could find. So, I find attended this support group, but I didn't really connect with anybody there. There was a couple of people that I actually resonated more with but they've been attending this group. One of them for like 10 years and I just thought I'm not doing this in 10 years.

Peggy Matheson: Yeah, I want to move forward.

Ty Mansfield: Yeah. Like I'm and I'm kind of an all-in-one personality and that's worked really well for me in some ways and not in others. But I just decided I'm going to figure this out and so I spent a year kind of exploring relationships with men dating. And at one point in that saw myself on my way out of the church and I didn't want to be there but I didn't know how else to do it. And had a couple very powerful spiritual experiences. One was just feeling God's love and more profoundly than I'd ever felt before. I think I would have said that I believed in God's love or had maybe even had felt it but was nothing like I here, right? And when I look back, I think whatever I knew before is probably more theological than experiential.

So, this experience with God's love just feeling completely enveloped was very powerful for me and led me to want to keep trying. And then it was a few weeks later I had the experience that I talked about there where I was at BYU. I was actually attending a devotional and had this and was just thinking, right? In my mind, I don't know if I could I just don't think I can do that and was thinking about what that would look like if I left and just kind of again kind of thinking about my past and how did I get here. And then I just very specifically heard this voice and I didn't say this in the faith matters piece, but it was the voice said to me if you leave, I will always take you back but I need you now. And I just felt then at in that moment I just felt completely like overcome in the spirit and then in that spirit it. Again, I heard the words prepare yourself to never be married, take life one day at a time, and focus on Christ and that was it.

Peggy Matheson: Wow.

Ty Mansfield: So, I interpreted that to mean that I would never be married.

Peggy Matheson: Isn't that interesting? That we add to what heavenly father tells us. I've started more recently like going, well, now am I filling this in with my own story?

Ty Mansfield: Yes.

Peggy Matheson: Correct?

Ty Mansfield: Because I and I I've become increasingly convinced that there's two different disciplines. One is the discipline of receiving revelation. The other is the discipline interpreting it, right? Because we can receive authentic revelation and very much misinterpreted and there been a couple times where I very distinctly misinterpreted that I know was God speaking to me but I interpreted it differently than what he was trying to tell me. so, but it takes hindsight to understand that, right?

Peggy Matheson: There's a level of maturity that you grew through and came to understand how to do that, how to sit with that rather than interpreting it incorrectly, right?

Ty Mansfield: Yeah. So, I always hold revelation tentatively and there's even probably a story here I can circle back in just even getting to BYU. Because I've been here for 10 years and felt coming to BYU or we moving back to Utah, I should say from graduate school. Because BYU invited me to come teach for a summer, just one summer term that Danielle and I felt very strongly that we should move back and I didn't have any plans to go back to Utah. But we had really feelings that we should move back. And I thought it was to that this might be where it was leading but for the last 10 years, it's been wondering, right. Just opportunities coming and going and things not working out and I mean ultimately for us full circle it did end up working out the way that I thought it would. But there were a number of different times in there that it didn't and just wondering like God what are you doing with me, right. Like and just having to trust the process but this was a 10-year process of just today's man today, right? Trusting the journey.

Peggy Matheson: Right.

Ty Mansfield: And there's still threads in my life that we've had specific impressions and I'm just thinking God I don't know what I'm supposed to do with us, right? So, but trusty but having had enough of those experiences that I know that it's going to work, right? God will always, we can trust God. I just believe that.

Peggy Matheson: I love that. I'm going to stop you for just a minute here because I'm really aware that our listeners, most of them are single. We do have a lot of married couples as well but most of them are single, because that's what we're targeting. But what happened to you when you heard, how did you, I know you say you can interpret or misinterpret. But tell me what happened to you when you received plan on never.

Ty Mansfield: Prepare yourself.

Peggy Matheson: Prepare yourself to never be married, because I think we have a lot of people in the singles world that have never been married I mean, tell us about that.

Ty Mansfield: So, with the feeling itself, I felt a lot of peace. Like something about the way, the spirit spoke it to me just completely spoke peace into my soul. I knew that everything would work out. I just thought it'll not be in this life, right? And so, I trusted, it's not will, it wasn't an if I'll get married. It was, it was believed that I would at some point but I just at this point, it was like, okay.

Peggy Matheson: But you were letting go of any expectation that it would be in this life.

Ty Mansfield: It believe strongly that it would not be in this life.

Peggy Matheson: Got it. You believed that it wouldn't be in this life.

Ty Mansfield: Yes.

Peggy Matheson: And at that point, you were on your getting back in the church getting back in the covenant path. Are you still dating guys?

Ty Mansfield: I was never really inactive. It was just me trying to figure out do I stay or do I go? Like can I do this in? Because I was wanted to do it in. I just didn't know how to do it and feel peaceful. Not feel like I was in constant conflict.

Peggy Matheson: Yeah.

Ty Mansfield: So, when I had that revelation it was it was more of just feeling completely grounded and then just locking being all in, so from that point on I was all in. But the peace that I felt with it was really key and something about it felt also liberating at the same time. Like because I knew that God was in it and that God was with me. Like it wasn't something that I was just deciding to do. Like I felt like this was something that this was a God journey not a church a God journey.

Peggy Matheson: Yeah.

Ty Mansfield: Does that make sense?

Peggy Matheson: Yeah, totally.

Ty Mansfield: Feeling like I was walking with God through this gave it a kind of meaning and peace that I don't know that I would have felt if I didn't have that. So, that became really key was that this was a journey of me walking with God. And whatever life was going to look like, the conflict, I don't know if I would say was a conflict. But the big question that I had was, how do you be as a single person? Because I've never heard any, we don't talk like that in the church.

Peggy Matheson: No, we don't.

Ty Mansfield: And so, there's always whether it's, I don't know that I had ever heard it explicitly but there has always felt to be this implicit message that you can't really be fully happy until you're married. That the that a fullness of joy happens with marriage, right?

Peggy Matheson: Right.

Ty Mansfield: And you know, A, that's not scriptural and two, it's not true. I just don't believe that. I do believe there's a lot of joy that can certainly come with marriage. But Christ said in me, your joy is full. Not in marriage is your joyful or in any other thing is your joyful. In me, your joy is full. So, even though it's become kind of cliche at this point, right? President Nelson's statement that that oh now I'm going to botch it a little bit. But he said that your circumstances. How do you say true joy is not going to be found in your circumstance, the circumstances of your lives but it rather in the focus of your lives?

Peggy Matheson: Right.

Ty Mansfield: And that the when our focus is on Christ we'll experience your joy and I absolutely believe that even though that quotes could become, it's one of those quotes that gets you shared so much that it starts to feel a little cliché, right? But true very true. So, my focus at that point became just that. I knew I want to focus on healing, well and I didn't know part there was another kind of impression that I had shortly after that because I was like I don't really just don't know what to do to be happy. Like to find happy, how do you be, how do you live a full life as a single person? That became the next question on my mind. So, I had an impression that I was to focus on spiritual and emotional growth. And spiritual growth, I understood we talk about that. Emotional growth, we don't talk about that. Like I know we have emotions. But I didn't know how do you grow them, right? And so, the sense of like I like do I go to therapy, is this what I'm supposed to do?

Peggy Matheson: You weren't even thinking of being a therapist, right?

Ty Mansfield: No, I hadn't even crossed my mind. I didn't know what to do with that but I did end up seeing a counselor. I graduated shortly after that, well at the end of that first year. So, I had this experience I know there was my last year graduated, moved to DC and that's when I started seeing another therapist. That really got into the deeper emotional work that led me to where I met you, David, and then you and right and kind of intersected with that whole community.

Peggy Matheson: That whole community. I think it's really interesting Ty that, heavenly father took you down this path where he, where you could now do the work, you needed to do to move into the life that he had prepared for you. But the first step really was saying you got to prepare to not be married.

Ty Mansfield: Yeah. I had to focus on so the real work became I have to learn how to thrive as a single person and now in hindsight I still see that as an essential step. I just had to learn it the long way, right? And so, the next, that was the beginning of a 7-year journey. So, from that, the moment I had that impression. Until I met my wife was 7 years. So, a big part of that so a couple of years of really intense therapy and then five more years of just deeper therapeutic work, men's weekends.

Peggy Matheson: Right. Healing retreats.

Ty Mansfield: Healing retreats and so, a lot of deep work. So, that the healing work that I did for a number of years was a really big piece of it and then the next big piece is where this mindfulness part comes in. So then as I fell in love with healing work and that's when I was living in the DC area and that's when I decided to go back to school and family therapy. So, I'm still distrusting this whole thing on faith. So, I moved to Abilene, Texas to start my master's program in marriage and family therapy. And while I was there was introduced to mindfulness kind of through this mental health lens, right? So, you've got John Cambotzin right led this revolution really of this infusion of mindfulness into medical and mental health and so I moved to Lubbock.

Peggy Matheson: Lubbock.

Ty Mansfield: Lubbock after that, but actually while I was there was when I had this impression like why am I here, right? Because I was if as much as I loved what I was doing, I felt very lonely. Lived by myself for a big part of that. I was in student. I was just running; I was in student housing but they didn't fill it. So, I was living by myself for large chunk of it and loved the program, loved the students, loved the professors, but it was still just me a lot on my own and then praying to know what I was supposed to learn from this. I knew that I was supposed to be there. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to learn.

Peggy Matheson: I love your questioning. I love that you keep going back to God. You keep saying what is my purpose being here. It's a great question to ask on any of us on our journeys. What's my purpose at this point in my life?

Ty Mansfield: Yeah. Yeah, and that there is a purpose, right? I just have just learned that everything has purpose and design.

Peggy Matheson: Yeah.

Ty Mansfield: Yeah, and so elder Maxwell when I you know, his stay about how we all have a customized curriculum. Like that's felt like a life mantra, right? This is part of my customized curriculum.

Peggy Matheson: Yeah.

Ty Mansfield: So, but I had then I had as I was praying, I had this impression that it was to learn meaningful solitude. So, that's when I really started practicing mindfulness.

Peggy Matheson: Got it.

Ty Mansfield: And then to had a fairly consistent practice through by time at Abilene moved to Lubbock. Again, started attending this Buddha Sanga, doing kind of half day meditations almost every Saturday. And then it was in there but as I kind of reached this point through all of this and the thing that was a really key piece of this is eastern conceptions of love, I think are closer to gospel conceptions of love then our western Victorian romantic, expressive individualist kind of expressions of love. Because in eastern conceptions of love, love isn't love unless it's free. So, the to which I need you is the degree to which I cannot love you, right? Is the degree to which my capacity to love is compromised because now it becomes about me and my needs, it becomes transactional rather than gift, right?

Peggy Matheson: So, love is a gift rather than love is a transaction to fill my needs.

Ty Mansfield: Yes. Or it's not love. We might like the feeling but it's not love. There's a difference between love and liking the feeling that I'm having, right.

Peggy Matheson: Yeah.

Ty Mansfield: And so, this this Eastern idea that love must be free in order to be love, right? It doesn't mean that those feelings that romantic feelings are bad. It just means that they're not love. In the truest sense. They can overlap with love. But they are not love. Because we can experience those with love and we can experience those without love. Does that make sense?

Peggy Matheson: Yes, let's say that again. You can experience romantic feelings with love. Or you can experience romantic feelings without love.

Ty Mansfield: Yes, exactly.

Peggy Matheson: I think our listeners need to take a moment, take a breath, and listen.

Ty Mansfield: Breathe it in. Breathe it in and it's the same with a lot of things. You can experience sexual attraction with love that can be present with love but it can also be present without love, right? These are not, we've conflated ideas and that's the problem, right? As we tend to think of these things as synonymous with love as opposed to the potential for them to overlap with love, but them being distinctly different concepts.

Peggy Matheson: So interesting.

Ty Mansfield: So, let me read you. I mentioned there was a couple extra some additional quotes that I brought but there's two quotes that I kind of came across early on that were really kind of formative for me. One of them is and these are both by Eastern Thinkers but one of them is a yoga teacher talking about love and I think, the sentiment here is something that I think we would like. It doesn't feel as conflicting but when you really start to unpack it, you realize how hard it is, right? But this teacher said, “True love in a relationship is realized only when two people, each connected with his or her deepest self-unite. Now, we have a synergistic, not a draining relationship. We love one another not because we need love and not because the other needs love but because love overflows our cup and we must share. Then rather than fall in love, we rise in love”.

Peggy Matheson: I love that. “Rise in love”.

Ty Mansfield: Yes. So, very idealistic in a sense, right? But the idea here is that we have to be connected with our deepest self-first.

Peggy Matheson: That’s the part of the inner work that you were talking about. We have to do that first.

Ty Mansfield: Well, in one of the things that I realized and this was when I had done, this was in men's weekend where I first met David. Where I'd had this very, was doing this experiential process and had this very cathartic realization that I had spent 26 years living somebody else's life and I had no who I was. And that was the most powerful and painful. Painful, but also cathartic realization of this whole piece that I did because then I knew what my work was. I needed to figure out who I was and really start to connect more deeply with me. I mean, there were things, there were things that I knew and I experiences with God that felt very real to me that I knew were very real and very powerful. But a lot of, I think a lot of my pain was trying to conform to the teachings of the church. It was always kind of this externally mode of things as doing what everybody was telling me that I should do. And doing that so much that I just didn't even know who I was, right?

Peggy Matheson: And you were in your mid 20s at this point.

Ty Mansfield: I was 26, yeah.

Peggy Matheson: You were 26. Okay.

Ty Mansfield: So, that was just a few months after I had graduated from BYU and moved to Washington DC. So, I had that realization and then that became another big part of my work. That's when I really started doing the founding a therapist out in Washington DC and started doing a lot of the deep emotional work, a lot of attachment work and child work and just all the stuff that I didn't even realize was a thing. There were wounds that I didn't even know were there, right?

Peggy Matheson: And you can't really and how you explore this stuff.

Ty Mansfield: No, yeah, you can't. So, it was very painful. It was but it was also very powerful and very liberating in that it gave me a way forward and I knew what my focus needed to be, right? And so, that became, so learned the next few years was learning how to connect with this deepest sense of self. But now, this other quote is by Osho who's also another contemplative writer. But he said this, he said, “The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love”. It may look paradoxical to you but it is not. It is an existential truth. Only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of another person without possessing them, without becoming dependent on them. Whereas another writer says, “Without claiming them for our own needs”.

Peggy Matheson: Wow.

Ty Mansfield: They allow the other absolute freedom because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now, their happiness cannot be taken by the other because it is not given by the other.

Peggy Matheson: Wow,

Ty Mansfield: And this is where and I and again this betrays so much of our romantic sensibilities, right? Because we this idea of you complete me and you had me a hello and I can't live without you, right?

Peggy Matheson: Yeah. All this stuff were fed every day and the media and music and everything.

Ty Mansfield: We consume a steady diet of it and we love it, right? Because it comes with the dopamine and the neurochemical cocktail, but it's not love.

Peggy Matheson: It's not love.

Ty Mansfield: And this became a really important part of again my own journey and also became a little bit of a, created a little bit of a stumbling block early on with Danielle. I'll share that, because here I am in learning these things and my prayer became, I want you to teach me how to love. Like I want, it wasn't about I can't have love or because I'm choosing not to pursue same sex relationship or something that I'm missing something.

Peggy Matheson: But this was at the point when you were still thinking you weren't going to be married right?

Ty Mansfield: Yes, for sure.

Peggy Matheson: And you were seeking to learn how love.

Ty Mansfield: Because we're learning how to be love. Not just in a romantic context. We're learning how to become. If God is a being who's defining essence is love and light and wisdom and truth. We're becoming those beings now. And if we don't start that process when we marry, right? And so, to be learning all of these things at any life stage that we're in regardless of our relationship status. And this is one of the things for 10 years I've been teaching this class called the eternal family at BYU. And that idea, it's called eternal family’s singular for a reason. It's not called eternal families. So, this idea and we could wax theological and go on a whole rabbit hole there but there's a whole idea. I think we've completely inverted what God is calling us into because when we think historically and if the order of operations, right? In terms of the revelations. What God wants us to know in the order that he reveals it to us.

If there's anything about the order of what he reveals, in terms of being like what he wants us to know first, he wants us to know, he wants us to understand something about Zion before he wants a to understand marriage, right? Because we get this revelation, right? In D&C 18:32, right? This what we now have is D&C 76 where Joseph and Sydney have this vision of the celestial glory and it's this collective society, this collective church, all of us together, all exalted beings, seeing as we are seen and knowing as we are known, right? Which is the definition of intimacy. So, there's this infinite quality of intimacy that we all experience collective This becomes prerequisite to understanding how to build Zion. Marriage is a capstone covenant. A capstone ordinance once we're getting all this foundational stuff first, right?

Peggy Matheson: Yeah.

Ty Mansfield: But in our current culture we think we had marriage love and marriage down with Victorian romanticism in Disney and you know Jane Austin, right?

Peggy Matheson: And all of that.

Ty Mansfield: The patron saint of romanticism. So, we have, but the Lord is trying to teach us something very very different that once we get, once we understand love, once we understand intimacy, once we understand Zion, then he's going to teach us something about marriage.

Peggy Matheson: Wow. This is mind blowing.

Ty Mansfield: And we've done it the other way around. We've inverted it in our culture.

Peggy Matheson: Wow.

Ty Mansfield: And so here we are. So, these are the things that I feel like the Lord is teaching me right along in this journey. So, I'm learning these things and I just feel like God is teaching me so much and at one point I even had Camille Frank Olsen. She's retired now.

Peggy Matheson: She was to as a professor at BYU in ancient studies.

Ty Mansfield: Ancient scripture.

Peggy Matheson: Ancient scripture. Yes.

Ty Mansfield: She was the chair of ancient scripture when she retired, but she and I were having a conversation once and I was single at a time. She was married but she didn't get married until she was in her mid -50s. But she was telling me part of her story. She said, I had this realization at one point when she was single as late 40s, early 50s that she said, I was sitting at this table, my table, eating my breakfast, eating this bowl of cereal and just thinking to myself, “I have such a good life”. She said, it would require a really good man to be better than no man at all, right? And I'm thinking.

Peggy Matheson: So, and was she single her this whole time?

Ty Mansfield: She was married by the twin pen time she said this. So, she was sharing this. Yeah. So, she didn't marry until she was in her 50s.

Peggy Matheson: That's what I was asking.

Ty Mansfield: Yeah. So, at this point she. hen we were having this conversation, she was married to her now husband Paul.

Peggy Matheson: But she was saying I have a really good life.

Ty Mansfield: She was just sharing this as part…

Peggy Matheson: Really good man.

Ty Mansfield: She was talking about singleness. Some of the things that I had learned and she felt she's like I had felt like I'd learned certain things. It feels a little bit sexist for a man to say that, right? I was, if she said this, I'm like that's how I feel, right. I feel like I would I feel really happy and I could do this for the rest of my life. Like I'd come to something and so to say that right, to say anytime, I've tried to say it out loud right, I'm really happy and it would take a really good woman to be better than a woman at all, right. It just sounds wrong, right? And so, I have a hard time saying it but the principle I think should be true both ways.

Peggy Matheson: Yes absolutely.

Ty Mansfield: So, but how I felt and then as I was kind of coming into halfway through that first year in Lubbock, again my prayer has been I want you to teach me how to love like this. I want this love and I think more even though I didn't really come to it through Moroni, right? Moroni 7 where he said, he talks about true love right, charity is, he doesn't use this language but ultimately is a spiritual gift that comes only the true disciples of Jesus Christ who pray with all the energy of their heart. Right? So, that I believe more that that's kind of what God was leading into. Like the kind of love that you are growing into isn't something you can develop on your own. You're going to have to pray for this, right? And so, this is something that I'm going to give you, but you've got to clear you got to create space for it too.

So, this becomes a part of my practice, feels so liberating. When I get into Lubbock, it was probably coming to the end of that first semester I had just felt like I was really happy. I was working on my PhD program, felt a lot of hope for the future. I just felt good and I felt like I had a lot of love to give and at one point I had this prayer where I just thought maybe we could revisit this question, right? Of marriage, right? I'm prepared like I'm prepared to never be married and I'm okay with that. But over the course of the previous 7 years, I went from believing I would never be married like really for mine. And then I actually I would tell people that and I felt rebuked at one point. And in the rebuke, it was if you were to have true faith in Jesus Christ, it is not for you to decide that you will not be married but rather to prepare yourself to not be married and then to leave it in my hands. So, that was a clarifying rebuke, right? That I felt.

Peggy Matheson: From Heavenly Father. At first when you said that I thought it was someone else.

Ty Mansfield: No. It's a very spiritual but loving rebuke. But it was one of those like remember this is about faith. This isn't about foreclosing, right? As a way of sort of maintaining some kind of control over your life. This is about having faith and taking this again one day at a time and trusting the process. So, then I started to feel over the years like maybe I could see myself getting married in this life, but probably later rather than sooner. That started to shift. Like I could imagine it sooner than later and I'm also okay if that ever happens. Like, I’m prepared if that never happens. But then I thought like God can we just revisit this question. And had a prayer one night that is this something that could be a possibility. Because if it is, I want to open myself to it. Didn't get any kind of immediate like impression or feeling, but it was within the next week or two Danielle, my now wife reached out. Because I was friends with her brother. I didn't know her very well, but I was good friends with two of her siblings.

She reached out because she knew that I was an MFT or that I was in a had done my graduate work in marriage and family therapy. She was thinking about going back to school in marriage and family therapy and I was one of the first that came to her mind is she was thinking like who could I ask questions about. So, she reached out just to ask me if I could, if she could ask me some questions about the field. This was getting close to Christmas break, so I…

Peggy Matheson: And Ty how old were you at this point?

Ty Mansfield: 31.

Peggy Matheson: 31, okay.

Ty Mansfield: At this point. So, was it? Yeah, 31 and because I was going to be back in Utah, I just said, I'd love to just take you to lunch and because I thought a date couldn't hurt. Because she would send, she would like comment on my Facebook, but we're kind of a Facebook success story. Like she would comment on my post and she would say these really witty. You know Danielle. She's super witty.

Peggy Matheson: Super witty.

Ty Mansfield: Very witty.

Peggy Matheson: Super funny.

Ty Mansfield: Very funny and she would just write these little witty funny things that I would find myself just kind of smiling about like a day or two later. And when she reached out and ask me this question, I just thought, worst case scenario, I don't want to go out again. But like a date could’t hurt. And as I started thinking about it, I just started to feel like maybe this was actually like an orchestrated thing.

Peggy Matheson: Before you actually went out with her.

Ty Mansfield: Before even went out. I started feeling like this could be something. She didn't know that any of that, but so we ended up going out. And even before I went home, I was like, okay God, I've got I'm going to be home for 3 weeks.

Peggy Matheson: Ty, I remember, I think you and I had a conversation about this about this time.

Ty Mansfield: Did we?

Peggy Matheson: Well, it seems like because I remember this. I remember that you were just going to spend a bit of time with her and for some reason, I think we had a conversation about this.

Ty Mansfield: We might have time. But I thought I'm going home. I've got 3 weeks between semesters and I prayed a very specific prayer. I said, God I will do my part. If this is a possibility. And if there's anything right about this. I will do my part. And you have three weeks to do yours. That's right. We're on a timetable.

Peggy Matheson: We're on a timetable.

Ty Mansfield: So, but I took her out to lunch and we didn't even talk about MFT and then we went out again maybe 9. We went up probably nine times in that three weeks that I was home.

Peggy Matheson: Wow.

Ty Mansfield: By the end of that, we both knew that we were interested but I was also going back to Texas for school. So, then she came down and again it was really just kind of ambiguous like how do you make that work. But she came down to visit two or three weeks later. She had a friend from her graduate program that was living, he was doing his doctorate at the at Texas Tech in business. So, she thought I've always wanted to go visit him. I could hit two birds with one stone. If this doesn't work, I wanted to visit him anyway. But she came down for about four days and it was after that and it was just again felt so divinely orchestrated. Like just kind of writing this wave of spirit and rightness. I mean it felt like I had come home, but it was just, this kind of really it was hard to describe a feeling. But it felt really right.

So, at the end of that even though we hadn't used the M word or L word or any of that. We just both kind of felt like this is probably where this is going. And then we had some conversations over the phone after that and made a decision that she would come down. She would move down so we could pursue dating but then even before she moved down, we ended up getting engaged but one of the things that when she came down to visit and this is where this kind of mindfulness piece comes in. She was looking, when I moved to Lubbock, I wasn't get, I didn't want to live, I wasn't going to do student housing anymore and I just didn't want to do this student thing. So, I had my own apartment. I can decorate like it's one of my stereotypical qualities. So, I'm not doing the man cave or bachelor pad. I've got my own nice little apartment and she came to visit and she opens the fridge and I've got food in there and she opens my pantry and I've got plenty food in there and my linen closets organized. And at one point, it wasn't then but later she's and there was a kind of deflation. I felt rather deflating for her and she said, I just feel like you don't need me.

Peggy Matheson: Oh, interesting. Wow.

Ty Mansfield: And that was very discouraging for her but to me, and I just said, I don't need you, right? And to me, this is like this liberating like I've come to this place of like enlightenment, right? But she.

Peggy Matheson: This is the part you were talking about earlier where this kind of.

Ty Mansfield: So, I said, I don't need you. I'm interested in you like I really like you and I can see I really want like having you in my life feel. I don't remember the exact words after that but it was kind of like having you in my life feels like I want to see where this goes. I want you in my life, right? Just this kind of thing.

Peggy Matheson: There's a pathway kind of opening in front of you.

Ty Mansfield: Yeah, like it just felt really good like I see, like I want I didn't say this at the time but the way it kind of felt like I want to gift love, like I want to love you. Does that make sense? But it wasn't like an aspirational kind of thing, it was like I have a lot of love to give and I want to give it to you and so…

Peggy Matheson: I choose you.

Ty Mansfield: Yeah, I choose you.

Peggy Matheson: Awesome.

Ty Mansfield: So, she didn't like that at all and she came to me and her version of this might be slightly different but it's pretty close. Because I think the timetable of when I, because she's heard me tell this. She's like, that's not when I said that. But it but it was a little bit later. She came back and said, ‘I want to talk about that conversation because I thought a lot about it and why I hate it so much. Like what you said, like why that bothered me so much?’ But it was part of her own moment of self-reflection that one of her own kind of shadow impulses was of kind of trying to create security in relationships was trying to make people need her. Because if you need me, you won't leave me.

Peggy Matheson: So, this was not in her awareness but as she reflected on it, she realized and that's what you mean by shadow as it was in the dark, she didn't really see it.

Ty Mansfield: Yes.

Peggy Matheson: But this brought it up for her and she was willing to look at it.

Ty Mansfield: Yes. And so, she has this awareness that like this tendency to want to make people need her, but that's a double-edged sword because the other side of that is but if you didn't need me, would you want me? Right?

Peggy Matheson: Right.

Ty Mansfield: And so, the very thing that she would do to create security also in some way undermined the very security that she was seeking.

Peggy Matheson: How interesting.

Ty Mansfield: Yeah, and we do. We all do different kinds of this and this is why this kind of transactional nature of relationships doesn't work. Because as much as we like to think of it as love at some point it boils down to utility. You make me happy and you meet my needs, but what happens when you stop making me happy and meeting my needs. Then I need to go find somebody else who's going to make me happy and meet my needs.

Peggy Matheson: And the cycle continues.

Ty Mansfield: And the cycle continues. So, when she told but then she said as I realized as I had this realization that this was kind of what was going on for me and that she said, at the same time that it felt very vulnerable to have trust your love. That I couldn't do something to make you need me. That felt very vulnerable but at the same time, I believed your love was a choice and I trusted that you would not unchose it and that trust led me to feel very safe at the same time.

Peggy Matheson: Wow.

Ty Mansfield: Right? So, she's having this sort of her own kind of realizations around a lot of this, right? So, that became and that's been a lot of our journey has been just choosing, right? To love each other and for some people kind of and again in our western context that feels very unromantic and maybe empty but it's felt very full. I think there's a German psychologist Eric Frome who wrote a classic book called “The Art of Loving”.

Peggy Matheson: Right.

Ty Mansfield: And he makes a comment in there. He said, “The problem with love is that most of us think that loving is easy. It's finding the right people to love that's hard”. He said, “But when we understand what love is, we understand that developing a capacity to truly love is very very hard. But once we do, finding people to love is very, very easy”. And this is what it comes down to. That when we understand love is a spiritual gift, right as Brad Wilcox would say, “God and Christ don't love us because of what we do. They love us because it's what they are”.

Peggy Matheson: Yeah.

Ty Mansfield: It's outside of their character. They can't not and if this is the kind of being that we're becoming, the love has to flow out of us. It's not something that we earn or that becomes part of this transactional relationship romantic or not, right? So, there certainly be a romantic flavor but romanticism, romanticism is a beautiful flavor of relationships and it's a horrible foundation. It's an unsustainable foundation.

Peggy Matheson: Romanticism is an unsustainable foundation for relationships.

Ty Mansfield: Beautiful flavor, unsustainable foundation. Feelings, and certainly not a neurochemical cocktail of dopamine and oxytocin.

Peggy Matheson: We talk a lot about the chemicals. Yeah, whoo-hoo.

Ty Mansfield: Yeah. That neurochemical, if we're relying on a neurochemical cocktail to sustain a relationship. It's kind of dead from the start, right? It might feel good, but once you kind of just ride that wave, you're going to write it right out. So, love all of that again can be present with love but it's not love. So, that's these are the things that I'm learning through all of, this is mindfulness stuff and where it comes down to I had shared too and you had brought this up as something you were thinking of the Henry Nowen quote.

Peggy Matheson: Yes.

Ty Mansfield: Where Henry Nowen, right? And I think the first time I read this talk by Henry Nowen was when I was in Abilene. So, there was kind of early on as I'm and that wasn't even really a spirit of kind of mindfulness or contemplative spirituality, but one of the teachers, the contemplative Christian teachers that I was listening to had quoted something of his. So, I went and then read it but, in this talk, right? It's moving from solitude to community to ministry. He shares this episode in the life of the savior I think in Luke 6, where the savior goes up into the mount, communes through the night in solitude with God, comes down in the morning, brings his apostles in into community than they together going on to ministry. He said, this order of operations is essential, right? That if we look to other humans to give us what only God can give us, that's going to ultimately fail. We have to go to God to get first what he can give us and the more we feel full in God, the more space we can hold for other people to be who they are.

Peggy Matheson: Wow, yeah.

Ty Mansfield: Right, I'm not claiming to this phrase if I can just read another one more quote.

Peggy Matheson: Yes.

Ty Mansfield: This phrase claiming them for their own needs that comes from Henry Nowen because he made the statement. He said, “When we think back to the places where we felt most at home we quickly see that it was where our host gave us the precious freedom to come and go on our own terms and did not claim us for their own needs. Only in free space can recreation take place and new life be found. The real host is the one who offers that space where we do not have to be afraid and where we can listen to our own inner voices and find our own personal ways of being human but to be such a host, we have to first of all be at home in our own house.” So, this idea of being in solitude with God, communing with God.

Peggy Matheson: Being able to be alone.

Ty Mansfield: Being alone, right? Knowing that we're the beloved, coming into relationship with others who know that they are the beloved.

Peggy Matheson: Yeah, he says that. “I am beloved and you are beloved”. What's that quote? “I am beloved you are beloved”.

Ty Mansfield: He said it this way. He said, why is it so important that solitude come before community? It's because that if we do not know that we are the beloved sons and daughters of God, we're going to expect someone else in the community to make us feel that way, right? But be that spouses or peers… 

Peggy Matheson: We see this all the time in the single's world.

Ty Mansfield: It's what Brene Brown calls the hustle for worthiness.

Peggy Matheson: Yes.

Ty Mansfield: Right?

Peggy Matheson: Right.

Ty Mansfield: Yeah, and so is it we're going to expect somebody in the community to make us feel that way, but they cannot. We'll expect someone else to give us that perfect unconditional love. But community isn't loneliness grabbing on to loneliness. I'm so lonely and you're so lonely. It's solitude grabbing on to solitude. I am the beloved and you are the beloved and together we can build a home. We can build a home together and create space for God and for the children of God.

Peggy Matheson: I love that. It's just a total shift.

Ty Mansfield: Yes.

Peggy Matheson: Total shift, but absolutely what Sharon and I talk about all the time on this podcast is you have to do your own work.

Ty Mansfield: Yes.

Peggy Matheson: You have to get yourself a place where you're whole and you feel good about yourself and have confidence and know who you are before you get in relationship with someone else.

Ty Mansfield: Yes, and this is where I think the mindfulness piece kind of intersects with the God piece, right? Because on some level and I think the best metaphor for this comes out of Either, right? So, you have the brother of Jared who is trying to figure out this whole light solution, right? For the barges.

Peggy Matheson: Right.

Ty Mansfield: Goes and takes these stones and moltens them until they are clear as glass and takes these clear stones and brings them to God and says, will you touch them with your finger?

Peggy Matheson: You're talking the stones represent us.

Ty Mansfield: The stones represent us. So, when you say do our inner work and this is sort of a symbiotic process too, right? Because God helps us in that. It's not linear.

Peggy Matheson: Correct.

Ty Mansfield: But we have this inner work is we have to do the work to create that.

Peggy Matheson: To make this stone nice and clear and clarity.

Ty Mansfield: And the more the clearer we are as we go to God and say, will you into intimacy into community or to communion, will you touch me with your finger that I can shine.

Peggy Matheson: Will you bless my life? Will you bless my clarity? Will you use me for your good?

Ty Mansfield: Yes, and so that together right because we can't, the light you know for all the clearing out that he did he couldn't create light, right? That light has to come from God. There's a power and a sustaining grace right, in that intimacy that endowment, right? That we receive from God, that power. But we have to, but he can't just do that for us without us doing being willing to be a part of that process, right? Of clearing out and looking at the wounds and bringing those wounds right as long as they were kind of, we're sort of living in this compartmentalized way you know burying emotions and exiling our trauma and this sort of thing. The more we bring that in and bring that to God. It works with us.

Peggy Matheson: Our whole self, our whole experience.

Ty Mansfield: Everything.

Peggy Matheson: Everything and I love this is one of my favorite stories in the scriptures of the 16 stones and I every now and again go back to and study it. But I have never thought of it in this way.

Ty Mansfield: Yeah.

Peggy Matheson: I love this.

Ty Mansfield: And this was the gift that I feel like I had. I was able and it was with God, right? So, again, I don't want to send a message. This is perfectly linear process, right? Because God was with me even in the clearing. And kind of led me to what needed to be cleared.

Peggy Matheson: Absolutely.

Ty Mansfield: But in that process of healing and integrating, right? And feeling like I was really growing in and becoming this core true self, I mean, I had the luxury of bringing that into and I still got my work to do. But it's sort of, but to be able to do so much of that before I ever came into relationship as opposed to discovering that later and having that impact a relationship in a traumatic or painful way. I mean it really was a gift to have the space for all those years to be able to do that and then bring that into a relationship in a way that the relationship is it's just been uphill and life giving rather than again this sort of negotiative, transactional. 

Peggy Matheson: So, you've just been uphill you've just been on your journey going where you need to go and look at all the things you're doing. And it's like God used you and you were willing to be used. You were present to that and you were willing to do whatever you needed to do to get yourself to this clear place so that you are on the path you're on. Which so, you don't have to spend all of this negotiating and angst and all this stuff in your marriage you can be moving forward in both your and Danielle's life purpose and missions going forward.

Ty Mansfield: Yeah.

Peggy Matheson: How beautiful.

Ty Mansfield: Yeah. And so, that's been our life together. So, and we both continue to do a lot of our own work even as you know in his marriage is a crucible, right?

Peggy Matheson: Yes, and so we have back to us our things we need to look at.

Ty Mansfield: Yes, right. And so, for both of us the marriage has been a gift and that it's revealed to us where our ongoing work is, right? There's a Christian writer who wrote a book called “Sacred Marriage”, but the subtitle is a sermon in itself. The subtitle is, “What if God designed marriage to make holy more than to make us happy”. It and it can be both, certainly it's not, those aren't mutually exclusive.

Peggy Matheson: It’s not either or. Yeah.

Ty Mansfield: But there is this idea that if we go in realizing that this is a crucible that is designed to bring more holiness into our lives and in that holiness ultimately greater joy, right? But then we don't feel betrayed right when we have when hard things happen.

Peggy Matheson: When hard things happen, yeah. Beautiful perspective. I love this whole shifting of thinking to this place of doing our inner work being in a place of Zion within ourselves and then we can come to the relationship that God ordains us to come to and that we choose for sure there's choice in it.

Ty Mansfield: Yeah.

Peggy Matheson: I love this Thank you Ty so much for sharing with us this has been fabulous and I just really, really hope that all of our listeners will take a listen to this. Because I think there could be mind shifting body shifting life shifting things that can happen in people's lives if they're really take to heart some of your experiences and what you've been through and the things you've learned.

Ty Mansfield: Yeah.

Peggy Matheson: So, thank you so much for being with us today.

Ty Mansfield: Such a pleasure to be with you.

Peggy Matheson: Okay. Thanks everybody for listening. Talk to you later.

Closing: Thank you for listening. We hope you enjoyed today's episode and that it inspired you on your dating journey. Please share this with anyone you think might benefit from what you've heard today and click the button to follow us. You can reach either Sharon or I at “”. We work with people who are single or married. We want you to know you are not alone. We support you. We are in this with you.

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Podcast Transcript | Thriving as a Single Person in a Zion Community — An Interview with Ty Mansfield


Podcast Transcript | Thriving as a Single Person in a Zion Community — An Interview with Ty Mansfield


Podcast Transcript | Thriving as a Single Person in a Zion Community — An Interview with Ty Mansfield