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, September 28, 2016

Dating and Race in The Church

Dear Bro Jo,

Yo Bro Jo!

I'm so frustrated with my nonexistent love life right now and I apologize that I am writing to you about it, but I've been reading your blog and you seem to know more about it than I do...

So I'm in college and have been able to date for a while and just don't understand why no man is attracted to me.

I've been a convert for a while, baptized when I was twelve, and I live in a place where I can be spotted from a mile away.

Why?

Well, I immigrated to America from Africa when I was a toddler.

I'm from Sudan, and those are some of the very dark people in Africa.

Ever since I was baptized, I've felt uncomfortable because of the attention this gave me.

I am proud of where I'm from and the culture I've been born into, but it seems like that's the reason why no one is interested in me.

This is what I've heard from the guys and girls in my YSA:

     "Oh, she's black, I can't take her out."

     "No one likes black girls."

     "I mean, you're pretty for a black girl."

     "I just don't think black girls are good girls to date if I want a real relationship."

So I'm asking you, is this the mindset of every male in the Church?

I have the same desires of every young woman; I want to be married in the Temple, I want to be able to raise my children in a home that has the priesthood.

This becomes more and more of a fairytale every passing day and with the feedback I'm getting from fellow members confirms it.

I'm really active in the Church. I'm a Relief Society teacher, I go out on team-ups with the missionaries every chance I get, go to the Temple when I am able, read my scriptures, go to institute, and so on.

I do all the things I need to and I love doing them, but I guess keeping the commandments and standards only get you so far.

You have to "look Mormon", too.

Tell me that isn't true...

Signed,

- Miss Africa




Dear M.A.,

Absolutely not!

I know many, many men of various backgrounds that care not at all what ethnicity a person is.


[Tangent story.  

This goes both ways, you know.  

When I was in High School I tried very hard to get a very pretty girl to go out with me.  I suspect you and she have similar coloring.  

We'd flirt and all, but she'd never agree to go out with me.  

Finally, when I pressed her for a reason one day, she said "I just can't go out with a guy who's that white!  My parents would freak out and my friends would all give me a tough time."

True story.
]


If it means anything, and I think it should, the emails I get from women in your age group who are upset about their lack of dates and romance are from all nationalities, colors, and cultures.

So, in that, you're not alone at all.

Further, I say shame on anyone who has said the things you've heard!

Hang in there.

Continue to be of service to the Lord and others.

All things happen in the Lord's timetable instead of ours, but as we seek to widen our circle of friends (and it sounds like you could use some good ones) and lose ourselves in service the worries we have (like yours) seem to somehow resolve themselves.

Be Open.

Be Positive.

And remember:  this is a Global Church.  There's no such thing any longer as "looking Mormon".

God bless,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

You don't know how much that helps.

Really, thank you so much!

I'll open the New Year with an open heart, positive mindset, and remember that the Lord has it all handled.

Your reply reminded me of a scripture; 3 Nephi 13: 30-34

Thank you for bringing that to mind; it's calmed my heart.

You are the bomb, Bro Jo, I hope you know that!

- M.A.




Dear M.A.,

That is very kind.

Thank you,

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 26, 2016

Should He Move On from the Negative Girlfriend?

Dear Bro Jo,

I've been intermittently reading your blog for a while now, and I want to thank you for what you do. 

That being said, now I'm in my own predicament.

 A little about myself, I'm 25 years old and have been a member of the Church for about 3 and a half years now.

I spent the first 2 years of being a member at a family ward and the last year and a half in a YSA ward. I must say it has been a great journey so far with its ups and downs.

Anyhow, for some background on my situation, I met this girl through a mutual friend from our YSA stake about a month ago. I thought she was pretty cool so we went on a date a week later.

We hit it off really well, and as a result, we started spending a lot of time together.

We talked a lot on the phone as well and I enjoyed it, which was surprising because typically in the past I haven't cared for talking on the phone much and would feel bored or distracted. Things progressed pretty quickly and a little over two weeks after our first date we decided to go exclusive. 

Now fast forward to today and I'm at the end of the first week of being exclusive.

The problem is, over this week, I've learned a lot about her that makes me feel uneasy that wasn't apparent previously. I've discovered that she's actually quite negative.

She's 27 and doesn't think she'll get married. She said she's felt like this for several years now, because she doesn't really consider herself "wifey material".

She says she's not really the romantic or lovey dovey type (though she is affectionate, so not sure what she means by this), and she is quite independent.

Another thing is I realized that her testimony isn't as strong as I initially thought it was. I know she's had some issues in the past falling away and coming back to the Church but she seemed pretty good now.

We were talking about the temple the other day and she expressed her concern about taking out her endowments.

She said part of her doesn't really want to take out her endowments because she's afraid that when she ages out of the YSA and is forced to go to a family ward that she will not feel as connected to Church anymore and might fall away.

And she doesn't want to take out her endowments and then have that happen because she would feel so guilty about it.

As you can see, she has a very negative outlook on her future and her activity in the Church.

I told her I didn't understand why she would even let that be an option.

Why would you ever let falling away from the Church be a possible option?

She later agreed that she shouldn't be thinking this way.

The point is, this kind of stuff is very alarming to me and I'm not sure how to approach the situation. 

It's just so odd because, for the most part, she is very pleasant and such a sweetheart and we get along great and have great chemistry when we spend time together, until somehow the future is brought up and then I feel like she's a completely different person.

While part of me is telling me to jump ship, another part of me feels like I can help her but at the same time I kind of feel like that's not my responsibility.

If we were married and her testimony started wavering, then I feel it would be my duty to help her as husband, but considering we've only been steady for 1 week, it is seriously concerning to me.

I feel like maybe this is why we met in the first place, so that I can help her. I almost feel like if I don't help her, that she very well might fall away at some point in the future, especially if she doesn't get married like she envisions will be the case.

I'm just not sure what to do, and it's kind of stressing me out. I would appreciate any advice that you may have.

Thank you so much for your time.

Sincerely,

- Conflicted 





Dear Conflicted,

Negativity could be a deal breaker.

Few of us want to spend eternity with someone who is a downer all the time.

But before you write this girl off try putting a little more effort into understanding her. You might find that building her self-esteem and confidence ... showing her that she's "worth eight cows" (Mormon culture reference; if you haven't seen Johnny Lingo, do) might work wonders.

Sounds like she's worth the try.

- Bro Jo

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Should She Wait for Him to Overcome His Addictions?

Dear Bro Jo,

I have not always been a member, but I was raised in the Church. I had to fight for these beliefs and because of parental dissension, I had to wait to be baptized until after I was legally an adult.

Being temple worthy and a good member is so important to me.

I have not always dated members, and the last guy that I dated seriously was verbally and emotionally abusive.

I broke up with him right before FHE one night this last summer, and a friend of mine went with me because I was afraid I would be struck by this boy I had thought loved me.

After I ended that relationship, I had a blessing that told me God would reveal himself to me in the form of a friend, and I immediately pictured the friend who accompanied me to protect me from my ex.

A few months later, and that friend and I had been going on a few dates and flirting, but he was struggling with a masturbation and pornography addiction.

We prayed about it and decided to enter into a relationship because we brought each other closer to God, we both pushed each other to be better, and we both wanted to give each other a healthy relationship.

After a month of dating, the physical temptation was too strong and we broke up rather than make a big mistake.

During the break up it was difficult because we both still had feelings for each other and still had to see each other at Church.

We both felt it was imperative to stay in each other's lives, especially since he had just been called as my home teacher, literally that morning.

So during this break up we came up with a deal. We agreed to be in "waiting."

He and I would be single people, not attached to each other, yet we would be "waiting" for the other one.

Single, yet unavailable to other suitors.

We gave ourselves a one year time limit, if we aren't ready to date once again within a year, we will move on for good.

Bro Jo, am I insane?

Waiting for a boy who can't go on a mission and has had these serious addictions for years?

I tell myself that I'm young, turning 20 in a month, and that I have only ever dated seriously, so some single-time would be wise, but am I just waiting for more heart break?

I know you've said that boys with these issues look for girls like me, ones who want to fix them or to hold their hand while they get better, but I just keep hoping that he's different.

Am I insane for playing the waiting game?

Sincerely,

- Waiting




Dear Waiting, 

Well ... I certainly wouldn't recommend the course of action (or lack thereof) that you're taking. 

(You know what the definition of "insanity" is, right?) 

I'll be candid (I'm sure you expect nothing less), I think your "promise" may be hurting the both of you. See, by telling an addict that you'll "always be there" for them, we often give them permission to continue the behavior. 

It's as if there's no consequences for the addiction, so there's no motivation to change. 

We think we're being helpful and supportive, but often we're enabling them. 

And what if you meet a great guy? 

Are you going to let that opportunity get away because you've roped your boat to this anchor? 

I'll go a step further. I think you need to let your Bishop know that because of the sexual temptations in the past that you don't think it's a good idea that this guy is your home teacher. 

What happens if, in a moment if horny weakness, he comes over? 

What if you invited him because you're feeling lonely? 

Never date or wait for an addict. 

Insist that they get clean first, then you'll think about it. 

If you were already married and the addiction was new and he was seeking help I could understand sticking it out for a little while ... as long as honest progress was being made. 

But that's not the case here. 

(You do realize I hope that there are only two reasons for him to tell the girl he's dating about his problem: either A) he wants you to encourage him to see his Bishop and get his act together, or B) he's hoping it will lead to fooling around.)  

Don't shun him or completely cut him out of your life. 

Recovering and repenting people need to know that they're lived and have friends. But one can be a friend without being the girlfriend. 

And as long as your commitment is to him, and you can't possibly be dating anyone else, that's exactly what you are. 

You're too young to not be going out on dates with nice guys who ask. 

- Bro Jo