Things to know

Regularly read by 50,000+ readers in over 140 countries around the world, "Dear Bro Jo" is published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (with occasional additional posts, too).

This is column is just one guy's opinion, and while he does his best to keep what he thinks, says and writes in-line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Bro Jo is not a spokesman or authority for the LDS Church. (And Sister Jo thinks you should know that he's sometimes wrong, and often way too opinionated for his own good.)

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Not Sure If She Should Serve a Mission or Not

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a 18 year old girl with a dilemma. I can't make a decision on whether or not to serve a mission.

When the announcement was first made I thought I was for sure going to go, but as these few months have gone by I've found myself going back and forth more and more. I've prayed about it and studied my scriptures, I know that I wouldn't regret going on a mission,

I just don't know if its right for me..and I want to be SURE it's right!

(It's a life altering decision as well!)

I've talked with my family (we are strong in the Church) and they honestly don't really want me to leave - they say they would miss me to much.

I know my mom would be a wreck ... (we are a very tight knit family) but they also say its ultimately my decision.

I just don't know if I can leave them either!

I've been living out in a third world foreign country for about 6 months with my family (for my dad's job) as well, it has been a very trying, humbling and wonderful experience all at the same time!

I'm very thankful for the many things I have learned out here, I am so much more grateful for the blessings I have. I feel that I have grown up out here and i know what matters most now.

But frankly, I just want to be home for awhile!!

Honestly I'd like to be able to go out to movies and parties and restaurants and dates and dances, and have some freedom!!

(And maybe take a little break from being with my family 24/ . . .  I love them so much. But its really hard sometimes!)

Things of that nature that I haven't had the opportunity to do for a while and wouldn't have that opportunity on a mission, (I mean, can't a girl have a little fun?! Haha:))

I also think that going to school would be good for me too (I've been to one semester and took a semester off to leave the country and be with my family).

I want to help others come to Christ and to be truly happy. I want make Heavenly Father proud, and live up to my divine potential.

(I understand that I can do that without going on a mission...I'm just feeling very torn on saying I will for sure go or I will for sure not go..)

There are some things in my patriarchal blessing that I feel lead up to going on a mission..I am just confused on what I should do, I don't want to have any regrets...I know that it's up to the Lords will and that things will work out, but I thought that any advice you have wouldn't hurt! 

Thanks so much,

-  Debating

Dear Debating,

Sounds to me like you have your answer.

- Bro Jo

PS:  Readers, if you are similarly struggling with this issue, I invite you to read this talk:

For Young Women: Making the Mission Decision

Monday, October 5, 2015

What Does a Girl Do When All the Guys She Meets are Eager to Get Married?

Dear Bro Jo,

First of all your blog is probably the coolest thing ever. I spent way to long reading it. (I just discovered it.)

Second, I'm a first semester freshman at BYU-I.

I grew up in Rexburg so coming to school here I had an idea as to what it would be like.

But, I've been extremely surprised.

People told me that everyone is marriage hungry. However, I underestimated how much. It seems like all the 'older' (old by LDS standards) guys aren't following the spirit when trying to find a companion.

Instead, they pick a girl they like and make her a project. A project to get married.

There's been numerous times this has happened to me and my roommates. I've been in school almost 2 months.

In early October I met a guy and we became friends and hung out a 2 days in a row. After those 2 days, not dates, he asked me to be his girlfriend.


I don't understand it.

I graduated from high school in June, like 4-ish months ago.

In high school you aren't supposed to date to get married right???

More to get to know what you like and don't like.

But, now that I'm in college it seems to magically make me older.

I know I'm not ready to get married. I'm 18!

The school stresses marriage so much, it comes up all the time. And it drives me nuts because I feel like a bad person not wanting to get married right now.

I know I'm not mature enough, I'm still in the stage of figuring it out.

How do I (and my roommates) handle the guys that are hunting for marriage?

And how do I not fall under the pressure to get married?

Thanks so much,

- New Girl

PS: My Bishop said the reluctant ones get married first. Is it really so?

PSS:  Sorry for being so long winded!

Dear NG,

If I ever publish your letter, I promise to keep you anonymous. 

Working backwards . . . Your email wasn't that long winded. (Wait 'til you see the response!) 

Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  There is some truth to the notion that being reluctant draws attention and makes you a challenge . . . but I wouldn't worry about it.

I'm sure your Bishop was, on some level, teasing you.

I think the best thing you and your roommates can do is to not do anything special.

Typically the guys at BYU-I are pretty good guys. You need to remember that they're under as much pressure as you feel . . . if not more.

See, when a guy has his last meeting with his Mission President the MP will encourage him to go home and find a great girl to marry for Time and All Eternity.

Then, when he has his release meeting with the Stake President he's told the same thing.

Plus he's got the added pressure of being the one who's supposed to do the finding (as opposed to being the one who's hoping to be found).

Take all of that and put him at a school with great girls, many of whom want to get married just as much as he does . . . and Viola!

You get what you got.

Even I don't think (generally speaking) that 18-year old girls should get married. (Though I have no problem - breathe - with 19 . . . assuming of course everyone is being smart and making good decisions.)

So there's no need for you to be "ready to be married"; not now; not yet.

So you don't have to do anything different.

If a dopey guy wants to turn you into something you're not or push you to do something you're not ready to do or starts with the "it has been revealed to me that we are meant to be together forever" bull . . . just let it go.

Or stand up for yourself.

Tell him you're not his project!

You, your roommates, and most of the other girls out there are going to have to Train some of these guys how to woo women. 

And one of the biggest things y'all need to do is STOP HANGING OUT!

You need to stop treating every date, or request for a date, like it means anything more than "hey, you seem interesting, I'd like to get to know you a little better" because That's All It's Supposed to Be! 

Trust me, despite the pressure, and regardless of their age, many of them aren't any more ready to get married than you are.

You should be flattered that guys have shown an interest in you.

You won't believe how many emails I get from girls at Church schools, who are just a couple years older than you, complaining that they "never get asked out".

That's a much harder problem to fix.

So I say "RELAX".

Enjoy the attention. 

Let these guys who are interested in you take you out to dinners, movies, fro-yo, walks in the park, bowling, sporting events, concerts, hikes, picnics . . . whatever!

(And tell your roommates, please, that this is my advice to them, too.)

If a guy wants commitment before you're ready, simply tell him that. "I'm not ready to be exclusive with you."

You want to be sure to add the "with you" because, who knows, you might be ready when the next guy comes along.

And remember this: simply becoming someone's "girlfriend" does not mean that you're obligated for life. Nor does it mean that marriage is going to happen in the next year.

At your age, even if you really like someone, it could easily take a year before you know them well enough for a proposal and an acceptance to be smart on either person's part.

Yes, sometimes it can happen sooner.

But not always.

In fact, not often.

Once an intelligent proposal is offered and accepted, then yes, I think a wedding (Sealing, of course, is preferred) should happen in under 6 months (I think three or less is best, but I can't seem to get too many people to agree with me on that).

But you're not even close to that right now.

So, again, Relax and Enjoy.

Thank you for the kind words!


- Bro Jo

[Dear Readers,

Since answering this email, two years ago I think, Sister Jo and I have observed what we feel is a disturbing shift in LDS culture:  many of our Sisters seem to be afraid of, and unprepared for, marriage.  Not just the 18-year olds, but even those in their young to mid 20's.

We don't know if this is a lack of training, worldliness, parents who aren't ready to deal with what it means to have adult children, a belief that pornography exposed Young Men will have frightening expectations of their wives . . . or something else we still haven't discerned.

For so many years we've focused on our Young Single Adult Men not being prepared.  That lack of readiness now seems to have shifted to the Sisters.

Some Young Women are indeed Called to Serve, and they come home from their Missions prepared for Temple Marriage.  We have no idea why so many of the Single Men of the Church seem to be so unaware of these Wonderful Sisters.

Some Sisters are using a Mission to dodge adulthood, go on an adventure, and avoid Temple Marriage.  Not all.  But too many.

I absolutely believe that no one should get married if they are not ready.

And I believe with all of my heart that anyone who works with all of their heart, might, mind and strength will reap wonderful spiritual blessings from missionary service and bless the lives of those whom they serve and serve with.  Men and Women.

My concern is that our young people are not at all ready for Eternal Marriage when they should be.

Wedding bells need not sound in that first year (after high school for girls; after a mission for guys) but both should be reaching that point in their lives . . . PREPARED . . .  should the opportunity arise.

And I am deeply concerned that so many of you are not prepared, even when you come home from your mission.

What do you think can be done?  What should be done?  Am I totally off base?

I invite your comments and questions.

God bless you all,

- Bro Jo]

Friday, October 2, 2015

Dating for the Future Missionary Girl

Dear Bro Jo,

I love reading your dating advice and am looking for a little advice myself.

A little about me: I'm 18 years old (soon to be 19) and I'm attending school and have my mission call!
So I'm not very focused on boys or dating, but I still want the "practice" of dating.

I frequently went on dates with different guys in high school, which was so fun! I like to date!

I'm also sort of a natural flirt.

My problem is finding guys to date.

Lately I seems that EVERY guy I talk to has a girlfriend!

For example, in my institute class there is an RM who met a girl, went one date.. and BAM suddenly she was his girlfriend.

And the week before that the guy had asked me on a date... Another RM in my class- met his girlfriend at EFY and she lives in a different state.

I could go on with similar stories like these!

I'm very frustrated and embarrassed when I have to learn the hard way that a guy has a girlfriend!

(And sorry, I think it's stupid- can't we not settle on someone and date around before deciding?)

My question: Am I wrong for flirting with guys who have a girlfriend I don't know about?

Am I the only single person out here?


- Soon to Be a Sister Missionary

Dear Sister,

To be very candid with you, if I was a recent RM and Serious Single Dating I wouldn't even think about going on a date with a girl who already has her mission call.

Heck, I wouldn't even go out with a girl who is working on her paperwork.

No offense, but for guys who should be looking for an Eternal Companion, dating you right now is a waste of time and money, neither of which they have in abundance.

Those guys you're complaining about are doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing.

I'm sorry they picked someone other than you, but it's not like you're girlfriend material right now.

If they've found someone that they want to be exclusive with and that wants to be exclusive with them, GREAT!

That's what's SUPPOSED to happen.

It's no different for the boys who are also "this close" to a mission, by the way.

You're certainly not the only single around.

I hear from guys all the time that feel exactly like you do hitting on someone only to find out that their exclusive . . . or married.

Are you wrong for flirting?

No. Of course not.

Heck, unless there's a Ring and a Date, I say "Flirt Away!"

But I think you do need to understand that, as a missionary, dating is off the table (flirting, too) for the next 18+ months.

- Bro Jo