Things to know

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Waiting for a Missionary

Dear Bro Jo,

So I have been dating this guy all through high school and I really like him! But now that he has left to go on a mission going on dates is hard and the pressure of getting married is crazy!!!! I feel that I need to wait for him to get home off his mission to see if we still have something together. I think I owe it to myself and him. I mean he really likes me and really wants me to wait for him!! I’m so lost at how to just date guys and let them know that I’m just dating for fun, to get to know people, and that I’m waiting for someone...

Signed, Confused


Dear Confused,

Maybe the guy that’s on the mission is a right guy for you (not the Only Guy – Bro Jo doesn’t believe in that – but A Right Guy), but two years is a long time. People change and if you’re not around each other to see those changes happening and adjusting to those changes, you may find yourselves not in the same place romantically when he comes back.

Where will that leave you? Having wasted two of your prime dating years waiting around, perhaps missing a few good husband prospects because you weren’t open to the possibilities.

Don’t worry about the pressure of getting married; let it go- the only one who can really put pressure on you is . . . you. When guys ask you out, just go out and have a good time. If the guy is nice and he asks you out again, go out again. If he is ready to get serious and you’re not, tell him so. Just be upfront and honest. Don’t say “I’m waiting for a guy to come home”, but do say “I like spending time with you, but I’m not that serious about a relationship right now”.

Unless of course he’s not a good guy, then like any “Date Gone Bad”, thank him for taking you out, but when he calls again be honest: “I appreciate the invitation, but I’m not feeling like this will go where I want, so ‘thank you’, but ‘no’”.

- Bro Jo

Note: For all of you other pre-mission “couples”, do yourselves a favor: break up before the Missionary leaves, guy or girl. If you’re both available when the mission is over, date; you may find that you’re meant to be, but odds are you're not.

79 comments:

Mikaela said...

I think I might have to disagree a little bit with the last paragraph... every situation is different, and each couple should make their own decision as lead by the Spirit.

Dave Johnston said...

Mikaela,

Thanks for Reading and Sharing Your Thoughts!

I support you're right to disagree, and I'm certainly not above reproach or correction, but I'm totally right on this one. No Missionary should have a "commitment" waiting while they're gone.

Yes, everyone should always be lead by the Spirit, and I'll be the first to tell everyone that you should put the advice of the Lord and His Prophets ahead of me - EVERY SINGLE TIME - but I submit to you that you won't find a single Prophet, Apostle, or Scripture that disagrees with my council that Pre-Mission "Couples" should break up before the Missionary leaves.

Are there times when it's worked out? Absolutely! But we need to recognize those as the exceptions that they are, not Rules to Live By.

I Challenge you to find a Currently Serving Mission President that will write me and say "Dear Bro Jo, I disagree! I love it when my Missionaries come into the Mission Field Engaged, Betrothed, or Similarly Committed to a Boyfriend or Girlfriend". I promise you won't.

Here's a question to ponder: Why does the Church no longer send Young Married Men on Missions?

Can I submit to you, good friend, my guess that your opinion is based on your personal experience, personal hopes, or because you know of a successful exception to the rule?

My advice in the Note stands: break up now, if you're both available upon release, by all means date! But the Single Person at home is making a mistake if they're not open to other possibilities; and the Missionary in the Field statistically won't be focused like they should if their constantly dreaming of their Love Back Home.

Again, thanks for the comment!

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

Wow, Bro Jo, you sure do give great advice. But I'm curious: what exactly is your definition of "waiting" for a missionary? Being a freshman at BYU, I have a lot of friends who claim to be "waiting" for a missionary, but I have seen at least 3 different kinds of "waiting":

1-The girl absolutely locks herself away from dating and boys altogether, fearing that any contact with males will lure her away from her true love. (this kind of girl, I have noticed, cries a LOT about missing him)

2-The girl remains committed to the boy, writes him letters, sends packages, and still has feelings for him. However, she goes on dates, and if another Mr. Right came along, she wouldn't say no to trying out a relationship with him.

3-The minute he steps into the MTC, she puts him on the back burner, claiming him as "her" missionary just so she can have a "Plan B" if she doesn't get married while he's gone. This girl actively pursues other boys for serious relationships.

I'm just curious: which kind of waiting are you talking about?

-Laughing in Provo

Dave Johnston said...

Very well put, Anon!

3 kinds of waiting . . . I might have to borrow that!

I think type #1 is what I was thinking of when I wrote the response; very sad.

Type #2 is OK, even healthy, I give this type of waiting a "Thumbs Up!"

Type #3, well . . . that's just delusional, isn't it.

Nicely done!

- Bro Jo

ArielM said...

Thanks Anonymous for posting that! I got all worried about sending my Elder out after reading Bro Jo's mandate to break up with him. I thought, what good will breaking up with him do? I'll still feel the same way for him!

So #2 kind of waiting is okay then? I really just want to be a support to him on his mission. I am so excited for the experiences he will have. I understand that people change, and 2 years is a long time, and what I figure is this: Heavenly Father loves us so much that He wants for us the things that will make us the happiest. So He will lead us in the direction of the choices that will give us happiness. There is more than one "right" person for everyone, and maybe my misionary is right for me, but maybe someone else is even more right for me. All I'm saying is, if we trust in the Lord, He will help us find happiness, wether it's in the way we think it will happen or not. Either way, everybody wins! :) Isn't the gospel great?

Peace,
Ariel

Dave Johnston said...

Yes, Ariel, but he's not "your missionary", he's the Lord's (and I know you know that, but you used the phrase "my missionary" A LOT!).

Yes, you should break up with him, 'cause you certainly can't be a "couple" while he's gone.

At the very least you need to tell him "hey, while you're gone I intend to date every boy that asks me out, and I may even encourage a few guys to ask".

All I'm saying is: Don't limit your options and activities, and don't leave him hanging on a promise you shouldn't be making.

Good Comment, and Great Testimony!

- Bro Jo

Ross Barton Nelson said...

This has been a great thread! I am currently starting to seriously date a young woman who 'sent off' a missionary over a year ago. It is difficult for her because I believe she feels she needs to wait 'just to see' what would happen if they were to see each other again, I guess. It's difficult on me, to see someone I love So torn about me and her missionary, any advice??

Thank you!

Dave Johnston said...

Ross -

Thanks for sharing your perspective!

What you describe is a Big Part of why I say staying together is a bad idea.

(Have you told this girl that you love her?)

My advice bro is that if she won't move on, you need to.

She'll never be able to be serious about you until she lets go of the possibility that there might someday be a "them".

You certainly wouldn't want to marry a girl who was still wondering "what if . . . "

But don't just Stop Calling her. If you really do care for this girl, have the conversation. Tell her how you feel and what you'll need in order for the relationship to continue.

You may want to stick it out for a couple weeks to see if your Manly Charms can make her forget him, but don't hang around forever.

You're welcome!
(And Good Luck! - Let us know how it turns out!)

- Bro Jo

Dawn said...

"Where will that leave you? Having wasted two of your prime dating years waiting around, perhaps missing a few good husband prospects because you weren’t open to the possibilities."

Uhh, I truly appreciate much of your advice, and I have for quite some time... but "wasted"? I think one of the biggest confidence downers for young women in the LDS faith is when they think that they're a failure at life because they aren't married by age twenty-one. So no--not dating from age nineteen to twenty-one is NOT a waste so long as they've used it not just to passively wait, but to grow personally just as the missionary has.

And when Ariel said "my missionary" she did not mean that he was not the Lord's--so that was a bit of unneeded lecture there... she knows that he's the Lord's, she seems even more knowledgable than some mothers are about a young man's mission, so I applaud her on her maturity in the subject. She's definitely a number two!

Dave Johnston said...

Un-needed criticism? Perhaps. But just exactly what does a Young Woman mean when she describes a boy she likes as “my missionary”? (Over and over again! Did you miss that?) Hmmm?

“My” is a word of possession.

(Bro Jo suspects your sensitivity to this subject has some hidden motivation . . .)

I stand by what I wrote: refusing to go out on dates from 19-21 because of a possible romance upon the return of a missionary is a mistake, whether they end up together or not. It’s not fair to the missionary and not a good idea for her.

Regardless of anything else she does, to refuse to go out when asked at that age is, as I said, a waste of “two of your prime dating years”.

Note: contrary to your projected conclusion, I did not say she’d be wasting her life or that I believe the value of a Young Woman is tied to her getting married by 21.

(Again, I can't help but wonder why you jumped to that conclusion. . .)

Thanks for the comments, Dawn!

Anonymous said...

Listen here bro jo. Have you ever had someone wait for you? Have you ever been so in love that you couldn't imagine living without them? From the way you talk obviously you haven't. You can't sit here and tell people to break up with their missionaries because guess what overall that's their decision. Yes there are girls who promise to wait but don't, there are people who wait and get dumped when the missionary gets home, yes there are even people who marry their missionary. There are all types of people and situations. Everyone is different you don't know nor can you tell people to dump their missionary.
I've waited for my missionary faithfully, i've gone on dates and had fun but it makes me more in love with MY MISSIONARY! Yes he's my missionary. He is also the Lords and is serving him, but he's also my missionary. Its just like saying that he's my boyfriend. Girls use it as a term to let other girls know that she is waiting for guy who is serving the Lord/ her boyfriend. He's still focused on his mission and still cares for me. IF the missionary is distracted then its his fault not the girls. Get your facts straight before you tell your opinion.

Dave Johnston said...

You know, I wrote a very long response to this comment . . . perhaps I'll save it for another day . . .

Let me just say this: knowing what I know about you from your comments, if this missionary had wrote and asked, I would have told him emphatically to breakup with (not "dump") you before he left.

Thanks for proving my point,

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

Go Bro Jo!
I like this site a lot!
I have recently been called to serve a mission in Halifax Canada!!! WHOO HOO. I report to the MTC on the 18th. And leaving on a mission is hard enough. It's hard to say good bye to people you love!!!
A little over 2 years ago I was IN LOVE with the most amazing boy in the whole world! When he got back I realized that we had very little in common and we both changed a lot in the last two years! We are still good friends but I had no idea that he was going to change so much! I too was a little hostile when people advised me on the "waiting" for a missionary situation.



I love Bro Jo's advise because he seems to have a lot of experience. He is humble but says it how it is. He is not God. He does not have any authority to receive any revelation for any of us. IT'S JUST ADVICE. Take it or leave it.

The smarter choice is probably to take his advice on the missionary situation just because so many other great people in the church have given the same advice.

Heavenly Father gives us commandments to make us happy not to be a kill joy! All the commandments lead us down the path of least resistance from Satan.

It is your life and the choices you make you will have to deal with. Bro Jo makes his own choices and it isn't going to hurt him if you choose poor decisions.

I would choose the path of least reistance and go live your life! These are the best times! Don't wait it away!

BUT don't take it from Me! Praying about it is an EXCELLENT idea. Let the spirit be your guide! Heavenly Father will never let you down because he loves you and knows the whole situation! He will know how to comfort you in your times of sadness!

Sister RDB eh?

Dave Johnston said...

thank you for you kind words (though I'm not sure I always deserve them . . .)

may the Lord bless you as you serve him, with joy and honor,

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

You know I have read practically everyones comments about waiting for a missionary and I am not going to say that anyones opinion is right or wrong. All I really want to say is that everyone has a different story and nobodys is the same. I believe that we knew what our lives would be like before we came to earth. And i know that he knows exactly what we will choose and how it will turn out. But i also believe that there is one person out there for you and you will find that person eventually. So if you are in the position of waiting for a missionary. Pray about it. Know that its right or that Heavenly Father approves of that path for you. If you get married in the middle of his mission, then maybe the plan was for both of you to grow from that incident. If you wait and everything turns out the way you wanted then that is what was supposed to happen. I think there is no right or wrong answer to waiting. There is no stay together or break up. It is all based on your story, your life, and your faith in your Heavenly Father. If you feel its right then by all means do it. Your not wasting time. If you dont feel its right, then dont do it. Also, I know we all have personal revelation. With prayer, fasting, and scripture study, we can know what is right in our lives and its things that others won't know. Sometimes we may know if we are going to marry that missionary and other times we may not. Just listen to your heavenly father and you will know what is right.

Anonymous said...

THERE ARE PROPHETS WHOS WIVES HAVE WAITED FOR THEM.

Dave Johnston said...

I appreciate this last post, and much of what it's writer has to say, but there is one Very Wrong statement.

There's not just "one right person" out there for each of us. That's a fallacy that excuses too many people into a lifetime of loneliness.

The truth is that, if you're willing to put another's needs ahead of your own, there are many people who could be a wonderful spouse for you.

Readers: DO NOT spend your lives searching for that One Magical Being, that may or may not come by (or even exist), passing by many great and wonderful possibilities that you'd be fortunate to end up with!

- Bro Jo

Dave Johnston said...

OK - to clarify - I appreciate the PREVIOUS post - the one about "Prophets Wives" snuck in there

And I'm going to need some help on that one - I've run through my Church History Seminary stuff, and my Biographies on various Church Presidents, and I'm failing to find one single instance where a President of the Church had a committed girlfriend before he was called on a mission, and then came back and married the same girl . . . could have happened, but I can't find it . . .

I will say this though: even if it did happen, it didn't happen very often and, more importantly, neither matters nor changes my advice on this matter.

We should strive to live our lives LIKE the Lord's Disciples and Prophets, but not DUPLICATE their lives.

Seriously, too many of you Little Sisters need to set your obsessions aside . . .

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

I did the #2 kind of waiting. We wrote weekly, I went on dates. He had been out about six months when I started getting serious with someone and told him that we couldn't write romantically anymore. He took it really well and I'm really glad I went out with someone else and kept my mind open to the possibilities because now I'm with someone I'm completely crazy about! (And I was convinced that I would make it two years just because boys think I'm intimidating.)

My opinion: it's okay to write and send packages, but date other guys, frequently and quit thinking about some guy on a mission all the time.

I think that anyone you go on a date with you should picture yourself married to, and if you like what you see, go out again. You can't do that if you're pining for a missionary. (But that doesn't mean be all crazy because you went on one date with someone)

And I totally agree, Bro Jo, about there not being one magical person out there for everyone and it drives me crazy when people talk like that. I think the term soulmate should be for your husband or wife. They become your soulmate when you get married to them, but until then, there are potential soulmates everywhere. Any girl convinced otherwise is delusional.

Anonymous said...

I think that there shouldn't be so many negative feelings towards girls waiting for a missionary, or not. I was with a missionary for 2 years before he left. We broke up when he left but still remain to be best friends. We share our testimonies, scriptures, etc. I have been on a couple of dates but I don't want anything serious so I can see how things work out later on. Maybe if you know a woman who has waited or is waiting for a missionary, let her leave some advice for us as well. Missions are always so focused on the missionary.. but what about everyone else they leave for 2 years? We need POSITIVE FEEDBACK just like the missionaries do.

chantel-marie said...

Although I wouldn't say that waiting for a missionary is for anyone, I wouldn't say it's a bad thing either. A girl who writes weekly to her missionary doesn't need to be standing next to him to see these changes that he is going through. You will know them through your contact with each other if you continue to write each other. Waiting is not for the weak, it takes a strong girl who is willing to stick by her man. I'm currently waiting for a missionary and am also casually dating. Each guy that I've been out with knows my situation and that I'm not looking for anything serious and they respect it. I would also like to say thank you to all the waiter haters out there. It's because of people like you that keep me strong and can't wait to prove each and every one of you wrong. Waiting is a "when you know, you know" type of thing. If you aren't sure, then maybe it isn't for you. But I would never discourage a girl/boy for waiting for their missionary ever. A girlfriend or boyfriend can be a very strong support system to their missionary in those two years. You just need to know how to be that support system in the right way and know that you are not their number one priority. I am an MG, and all of the girls I know that are currently waiting are selfless and strong. I love each and every one of them. Keep strong girls. In just a few years we will prove them all wrong.

Chantel Marie.

Dave Johnston said...

You're a Girlfriend, not a wife.

And just sort-of a Girlfriend at that.

And if you're writing him once a week you're not a "support system", you're a distraction.

If it works out, that's great, but statistically it won't, and then where will you be?

I promise you, you won't be looking back at these years thinking you were "strong".

- Bro Jo

Caty + Sam = CAM! said...

I have to agree with Chantel. Waiting for a missionary is a very personal decision, and it takes a mature couple to be able to negotiate the boundaries, never crossing them, so the MG is a support system and not a distraction. I've spoken to many of the RMs who are "success stories" with their relationships, and they all spoke of the strength they received from letters, cheering them on and sharing testimonies. I'm proud to be an MG. In fact, I know with 100% clarity that this is how I need to spend this chapter of my life, supporting him as he does the Lord's work. I have it on good authority, it clearly states in my patriarchal blessing, that he is my future husband. So while he's on the Lord's errand, I am proudly supporting him, and I know that other girls have had spiritual confirmations, or what has been referred to as "when you know, you know." Yes the statistics are against MGs, but sometimes it's exactly what God has planned for two years of his and her lives, and can bring a lot of happiness and confidence to the MG and the missionary. I'm just saying, sometimes it's the best possible way to spend two years, not a waste of time, and it just might be the best decision. Not for all, but for some.

Caty

chantel-marie said...

Thanks for trying to give good advice, but yours is purely one sided. And I do have my right to disagree with what you say along with anyone else. The fact that you say "I'm totally right on this one" causes me to lose even more respect for you. You seem completely egotistical about your so called advice and wisdom you are sharing with others. Because apparently you are right about everything. No, I am not his wife. But yes, I am his girl friend. And writing him weekly does not make me a distraction. And might I point out that Gordon B. Hinckley's wife waited for him and he said that she came to mean even more to him while he was away. So no, I wouldn't say that they would advise all couples to break up. It does depend on whether you are uplifting and supportive rather than a distraction. I won't argue that. Like I said before waiting isn't for everyone. But you have no right to say that all couples should break up before the mission. Perhaps you were a recipient of a dear john? I don't know. But you don't know everyone's situation. So I don't find you to be qualified to be giving this advice to people you do not know what so ever.

Dave Johnston said...

Hey, I'm not here to debate you, but some points of correction are in order.
For the record, I know I'm not Right about everything, but I AM Opinionated about everything. When people write to me they'll get my honest opinion, an opinion that I believe in and support given the information available; so "Yes", in that regard I think I'm right; I have to.
As I've said often, my readers can trust me to tell them what I think based on what I know, and that I won't insult them by sugar coating. I know that means I'm going to touch a few nerves; that doesn't mean that I don't love them, or that I'll think any less of them if we disagree. If anyone reads enough of my stuff I promise they'll find several things we disagree on. If a person insists on limiting their associations to those with whom they're in complete agreeance, they'll find themselves leading a very lonely existence indeed.
Next, I have yet to meet a current or former Mission President that would not categorize an "MG" as a distraction. I would argue that if you truly loved this boy you would have set him free so that he can focus on service rather than trying to possess someone who should't even talk to you while he's gone.
[Note: I've argued that a girl back home is different for a missionary than it is for a man in the military, but have been told that even military-girlfriends are a distraction . . .]
Perhaps instead of putting yourself first you should have taken a lesson from Marjorie Pay, who's history that you refer to also needs a little correction.
While she and the future President of the Church did date before he left, and while they both, in their hearts, planned and expected to get married upon his return from England, she supported him as a friend, not a Waiting Girlfriend - there was no pre-mission commitment. While Gordon was gone she dated, and even considered that, being 24 when he finally would come home, she was not likely to still be single.
That said, yes, there are thousands of examples where what you're doing has worked out, but that doesn't make it good advice. One prophet went on a mission at 15, and another didn't serve a mission at all; both great men, I wouldn't recommend either path to a Young Man.
I have every right, regardless of whatever qualifications I do or don't have (no one, save the Lord, knows everyone's situation; you're just mad about what I've written), and I'm sorry you've chosen to let it hurt you (I do sincerely wish you peace and happiness), but I stand by my original advice:
Every Boyfriend-Girlfriend should break up before either leaves on a Mission. Don't be engaged, don't be "promised", don't be anything similar.
It's not fair to either the missionary nor the person at home. EVEN IF both are going to serve concurrent missions, break up.
When the Missionary comes home, if the other person is unmarried, by all means Go Out! I Highly Recommend it.
(Since the missionary isn't supposed to date while serving, I find it fascinating that you still at home have any problem with this whatsoever. I have my opinions about why you fight so hard against this concept, but I'll leave them by the wayside for now, except to say that you're obviously doing it for you, not for them.)
You can write; once a month or once a quarter is plenty as far as I'm concerned.
No emails. No texts. No phone calls.
Keep the love out of it, focus on the Gospel; testify.
Now if you're a fair and honest person, which I believe you to be, I hope you and your co-hearts will let us know how it goes. If you end up with these boys I will gladly offer you my deepest heartfelt wishes and congratulations. Honest!
But if you don't . . . well, I think you owe it to everyone here to tell us that, too.
Whatever happens, as I said, I do wish each of you Joyous Eternal Marriages. As Daughters of God you deserve nothing less.

- Bro Jo

Nic said...

"....If missionaries will, when they leave Salt Lake City, the Mission Home - the day they are set apart - if they will just lock their hearts! If they've got a girl in there that's all right, lock her in! But if you haven't got one in, then lock it against all other girls of every description! And the same applies for young women, too. I am talking mainly to you Elders. You lock your heart and leave the key at home. And you never open it here! It's impossible to fall in love with someone unless you open your heart! Your heart is the only organ that has any ability to get into love, you see, and when a missionary says, "I just fell in love with a girl!" Well, that's as silly as it can be! Nobody does, nobody ever did!"

I got that from a talk Called "lock your heart" By Spencer W Kimball.
-----------------------------------

Taylor said...

Bro Jo, I'd appreciate it if you didn't say us girls wouldn't look back and consider what we did "strong." It takes a lot of courage to send a man you are deeply in love with away for two years and to go without them, even if you don't end up together afterward, is very very hard. I'm sending my boyfriend on a mission soon. I'd like to think of myself as strong. I agree with the #2 way of waiting. That is what I plan to do. I don't care if you support me on this but I'd appreciate it if you would call us "strong" because we are. That is the sacrifice women have to make. Men go on missions. Women send them. It takes strength and courage to do both.

Nic said...

@Taylor... your are strong. Sending my boy away on his mission was the hardest thing I have ever done. Im half way through the waiting now. and trust me, its well worth it. Its hard but does get easier.
If you ever need anyone to talk to you should think about joining the facebook Group "I'm Waiting for a missionary" -- its a great group and those girls are amazing, they have helped me through so much this year! I dont know what I would have done without them.
Good Luck!
Nic.

Dave Johnston said...

I hope the both of you, Nic and Taylor, and the many young sisters like you, agree with me that we can like each other and respect each other without needing to always agree with what the other says and does . . .

(What's really important, of course, is that the Gospel is true, not that we all agree on everything.)

And I hope you respect that I care enough about you to tell you how I honestly feel, straight up, without watering it down to make you feel better . . .

Here we go:

I KNOW you'd appreciate it if I called you "strong", it would make you feel better - I get it - and groups like the one Nic mentions fulfill that purpose very well, but I don't think you're being "strong" at all.

Delusional and selfish, yes, but not strong. (I feel the need here to remind you I'm not trying to be hurtful, just honest with my opinion.)

Point 1) - You're not "sending" anyone on a mission. You're not the wife, you'd Better Not Be the Fiancé (if it were my call, and admittedly it never has been, I wouldn't allow a young man to go on a mission that was engaged to be married), and you're not his mommy (though some of you act like you are). He's going. Without you. You're not sending him, the Lord is. Get that straight.

Point 2) You're not "sacrificing" anything. You're still home, free to date (and you should), the "waiting" isn't for the missionary, it's For YOU. You talk about being home, supporting him from afar, but this whole waiting thing is to make You feel better - you wrap your individual worth in your "relationship", clinging to it, it's as if you're saying "I still have value because someone out there loves me!" (Which isn't true! You have great worth with or without him!)

The sacrifice would be if you unselfishly let him go, so that he could serve focused on the service, not distracted by his potential relationship with you.

I'm heartened when you suggest that you'll date while he's gone. And "yes" I encourage appropriate letters and care packages, but acting like a married woman that's sent her husband off to sea is not appropriate.

You Waiters act like some misunderstood martyrs . . . your boyfriend is breaking up with you by virtue of leaving for two years; you're not a 19 year old widow. You two can act like you're still a couple, but you're not. Get over it. It's best for you, and best for him.

There's a movie that here in the States is called "The Fox and the Child". The main point of that movie is that Possession is not Love; to Love is to set Free.

If you sisters care about these young men as much as you purport, set them free. Let them go and serve without the encumbrance of a relationship with you. It will make it so much easier for him.

That, dear sisters, is strength.

That is sacrifice.

- Bro Jo


* I do appreciate this discussion. I think it's telling that we've never heard, here or elsewhere, a current or former mission president extol the value of having a girl back home . . .

I'd like to hear from those readers who have lived through this period of life. Who out there waited? Who didn't? How did it work out? What would you do differently?

I'm started a Discussion about this subject on the Facebook Fan Page - I'm going to copy all of this there - feel free to comment in either or both locations.

The Facebook Discussion is HERE:
http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic=15042&uid=52304699634

kyle said...

Keep to yourself and make personal decisions. You don't need the advice of some "bro jo" dude on the internet. Talk to parents, close friends and most importantly the Lord. Who cares what bro jo has to say. He's just some dude giving generic advice on the internet. You don't have to listen to him if you don't want to. No one needs to get offended. (Just realized right now I'm someone giving generic adive over the internet too hahahaha whatever you don't have to listen to me either.) Also, nowhere in the mission call does it say "break up with any girlfriend/boyfriend before you enter the mtc." I don't care if no mission president has ever said it's good to have a girlfriend or boyfriend back home waiting. You have free agency, so do what you feel is right and if it's a mistake, learn from it. Simple as that. I can't wait to hear what bro jo says back about me and my "hidden motivation."

Dave Johnston said...

Kyle,

When it comes to thinking I’m off my rocker, you’re not alone. Even Sister Jo doesn’t agree with me all the time, and I respect her opinions more than anyone else’s.

This Advice Column thing I do is admittedly weird. Like you infer, who am I to be helping people?

And yet, in the 18 months I’ve been doing this “Dear Bro Jo” has been read by nearly 15,000 people in 100+ countries. I’ve published over 375 letters (some of which won’t hit the internet for a couple months) and answered dozens more that won’t be published because of writer request, not fitting our standard audience, or other miscellaneous things (like being too personal or graphic).

Everything you advocate, I advocate too: talk to the Lord, your parents, your friends, and your priesthood leadership when appropriate; I can never be a replacement for any of those, and I don’t try nor claim to be.

The only real mistake in your comment is the phrase “free agency”, which is actually pretty common in the Church (the word is “agency”; there is no “free”).

I have no idea what your hidden motivation is; I don’t know enough about you to tell. I do think it’s interesting that out of all the columns I’ve written, many of which have ruffled a few feathers, that you picked this letter, a letter that’s over 16 months old, to leave your comment on . . .

If you want to send me an email to discuss why you feel the way you do, I’m always here. My email address is: dearbrojo@gmail.com.

Whether or not I share our conversation is up to you.

Sorry that I’ve rubbed you the wrong way, but as I said, you’re not alone. I stand by my opinion on this one, and respect your right to disagree. You mention that no one needs to get offended; I agree with that, too, and I hope you include yourself.

God bless you, best of luck, and thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts,

- Bro Jo

Natalia said...

Well, Bro Jo, I'm a #2 waiting kind of girl, and... I'm going to venture and say that I agree with you, or that my situation agrees with you.

My best friend and I went on dates for 9 months before he left. We both extremely loved the Lord, so we decided to not date exclusively before his mission. We had fun together-we were happy. We knew we liked each other-but we felt the Lord was more important. We accepted the reality that I could be married while he's been gone.

Since he's been gone we’ve written once a month and send packages. We don't talk about relationships or love at all, but always about the mission, the gospel, important life events and uplift one another. I would do everything to make his mission the best experience. He’s even extended 30 days; I told him I was so excited for and proud of him-- because I am. I think that is the most wonderful thing in the world.

I've also been seriously dating since he's been gone. I've had 2 boyfriends since he's been gone. The first boyfriend I fell in love with, but he broke up with me. During that time I didn't "Dear John" but I stopped writing for a couple months. We were never together officially so I didn't feel a need to "break" things off. He didn’t need to know anything about me that wasn’t going to uplift him.

When you say "break up", we never were together, but we always wanted to be. But the mission was more important, but our friendship was important to us too. I still dated but I was crazy about him-I think he never knew, I rewrote my letters tons of times to make sure they were only missionary-related, scriptural and uplifting. One of his companions came back and we had lunch and I discovered through him that my best friend was still crazy about me. He was surprised that I had no idea. He was even more surprised at how sincere my feelings were for my best friend. WE have been so good at keeping a laser-focus on the mission in our letters.

I have no idea what will happen when he gets back, but all I know is that I'm supposed to be dating. My 2nd boyfriend knew about my best friend before we dated exclusively. He said it was fine to like two guys, that I didn't have enough information to make a decision between them. He is right. Which is why I eventually broke up with him. He needs to be dating other people too because I need to figure out my "what if" situation when my best friend returns in a couple months. And I can't have anyone wait for me while I wait for him.

I know your opinion is "don't be promised don't be anything similar". My best friend told me not to wait, he told me to date seriously even while he was gone. He told me that I needed to get married if it was right while he was gone. He didn't tell me the extent of his feelings because he loved me enough to make sure I was free while he was gone. So I tried to be free. But something about him stole my heart. Our favorite phrase is “we’ll see”. So I’ll have to see what happens, no fear attached. Whether or not it works out, I know that the Lord will bless my life. I’ve not wasted two years because I dated to the best I could, even if part of the time my heart was not completely free.

I’m not recommending waiting for a missionary, even with #2 kind of waiting. I’m not recommending to stop wait for a missionary if you’ve fallen in love with someone worthy and are both seeking to do the Lord’s will first. My advice to everyone is that they do the Lord’s will and keep His commandments, first and always. Everything else will fall into place after that. Do what feels right, live the best you can, and in the end it will be made right.

Best Wishes,
Natalia

Natalia said...

Well, Bro Jo, I'm a #2 waiting kind of girl. I'm going to say that my situation agrees with you.

My best friend and I went on dates for 9 months before he left. He was graduated from high school and I was a sophomore at BYU when we met. We both extremely loved the Lord, so we decided to not date exclusively before his mission. We knew we liked each other-but we felt the Lord was more important. We accepted the reality that I could be married while he's been gone.

Since he's been gone we’ve written once a month and send packages. We don't talk about relationships or love at all, but always about the mission, the gospel, important life events and uplift one another. I would do everything to make his mission the best experience. He’s even extended 30 days; I told him I was so excited for and proud of him-- because I am. I think that is the most wonderful thing in the world.

I've also been seriously dating since he's been gone. I've had 2 boyfriends since he's been gone. The first boyfriend I fell in love with, but he broke up with me. During that time I didn't "Dear John" but I stopped writing for a couple months. We were never together officially so I didn't feel a need to "break" things off. He didn’t need to know anything about me that wasn’t going to uplift him.

One of his companions came back and we had lunch and I discovered through him that my best friend was still crazy about me. He was surprised that I had no idea. He was even more surprised at how sincere my feelings were for my best friend. We have been so good at keeping a laser-focus on the mission in our letters.

I have no idea what will happen when he gets back, but all I know is that I'm supposed to be dating. My 2nd boyfriend knew about my best friend before we dated exclusively. He said it was fine because I didn't have enough information to make a decision between them. He is right. Which is why I broke up with him. He needs to be dating other people too because I need to figure out my "what if" situation when my best friend returns in a couple months. And I can't have anyone wait for me while I wait for him.

I know your opinion is "don't be promised don't be anything similar". My best friend told me not to wait. He told me that I needed to get married if it was right while he was gone. He loved me enough to make sure I was free while he was gone. I tried, but something about him stole my heart. Our favorite phrase is “we’ll see”. So I’ll have to see what happens, no fear attached. Whether or not it works out, I know that the Lord will bless my life. I’ve not wasted two years because I dated to the best I could, even if part of the time my heart was not completely free.

I’m not recommending waiting for a missionary, even #2 kind of waiting. I’m not recommending to stop wait for a missionary if you’ve fallen in love with someone worthy and are both seeking to do the Lord’s will first. My advice to everyone is that they do the Lord’s will and keep His commandments, first and always. Everything else will fall into place after that. Do what feels right, live the best you can, and in the end it will be made right.

Best Wishes,
Natalia

Dave Johnston said...

Amen.

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

Hi Bro Jo,
I am the mom of a wonderful young lady whose story is quite similar to the one described in the last message (the one you answered by amen). The missionary my daughter is "waiting" for is also returning in a couple of months. She writes and sends him packages about once a month and also learnt by a "former companion" that the missionary still keeps her in his heart. She has been dating a few young men but it usually has the same ending, she ends the relationship after 2 to 3 weeks. But I have just come to realize that while she dates other young men, her heart is never much into it. I think she feels guilty because she doesn't want the young man she dates to "waste time" dating her while they could date other young girls, since she has decided to see what happens when the missionary returns. My daugther seemed very much interested with this last young man she dated. And he is very very fine young man. They started dating in November and he knew about her waiting missionary but still liked her enough that he wanted to see where their relationship would go. She was pressured by her roomates to choose one of the two (we told her it was okay to date this new young man and keep writing the missionary). Then this last week, she broke up with him out of the blue. My feeling is that she didn't give herself or this young man a chance. I am somewhat sad because they seem so very much "in tune" with each other. I guess as a mom, there is nothing I can do but pray. I suppose she will just need to make sure to see what happens, the "what if". It just pains me that she would feel so guilty as not to give herself and this last boyfriend a chance to see how their story would have developped. Was it wrong of me to tell her it was okay to keep dating this young man since he knew the whole situation? . I think the MGs shouldn't feel guilty when they date and should give themselves and the new boyfriends a chance to see how their relationships develop. I see that my daughter is doing her best, but I see that unknowingly she has sabotaged this last relationship because of her guilt. Sorry to write such a long message. May Heavenly Father help all those young ladies and young men in their search.
Thanks for your site,
CJ, a loving mom

Anonymous said...

Hi Bro Jo,
I am the mom of a wonderful young lady whose story is quite similar to the one described in the last message (the one you answered by amen). The missionary my daughter is "waiting" for is also returning in a couple of months. She writes and sends him packages about once a month and also learnt by a "former companion" that the missionary still keeps her in his heart. She has been dating a few young men but it usually has the same ending, she ends the relationship after 2 to 3 weeks. But I have just come to realize that while she dates other young men, her heart is never much into it. I think she feels guilty because she doesn't want the young man she dates to "waste time" dating her while they could date other young girls, since she has decided to see what happens when the missionary returns. My daugther seemed very much interested with this last young man she dated. And he is very very fine young man. They started dating in November and he knew about her waiting missionary but still liked her enough that he wanted to see where their relationship would go. She was pressured by her roomates to choose one of the two (we told her it was okay to date this new young man and keep writing the missionary). Then this last week, she broke up with him out of the blue. My feeling is that she didn't give herself or this young man a chance. I am somewhat sad because they seem so very much "in tune" with each other. I guess as a mom, there is nothing I can do but pray. I suppose she will just need to make sure to see what happens, the "what if". It just pains me that she would feel so guilty as not to give herself and this last boyfriend a chance to see how their story would have developped. Was it wrong of me to tell her it was okay to keep dating this young man since he knew the whole situation? It was his choice to decide to keep dating her or not. I think the MGs shouldn't feel guilty when they date and should give themselves and the new boyfriends a chance to see how their relationships develop. Sorry to write such a long message. May Heavenly Father help all those young ladies and young men in their search.
CJ

Anonymous said...

My opinion on this subject is pretty strong. I really disliked your last comment, I don't think it's going to do anyone a "favor" if we break up. I really dislike when people try to break you up just because he's going on a mission for two years. I am currently waiting for a missionary, yes, it's been a roller coaster of emotions for me. But I love him with all my heart, and I wouldn't change waiting for the world. He loves the fact that I want to wait for him. However, I do date occasionally. And I told him that I need to do it for me, and for him. Dating while he's gone has helped me to cope with him being gone. I have been on dates with tons of guys in the 5 months my boy has been gone. It hasn't felt right with any of them. I agree that dating is good during the wait, but you don't have to "break up" unless you want to. Every couple is so different in so many ways. Our love is what keeps him sharing the gospel everyday. If their the RIGHT one for you, you want to wait, and he wants you to wait! DO IT! I WOULDN'T CHANGE IT FOR THE WORLD. And I can't wait for the day in 19 months when I can see him again and hopefully have a successful relationship with him. Waiter haters don't understand how great this builds your love and his testimony and yours as well.
Sometimes in life we need to take risks, take challenges, that's what makes us grow so much more. I know through this whole waiting experience it has brought me definitely closer to my Heavenly Father.

Dave Johnston said...

HA! "Waiter hater" . . . very funny.

Let's be clear: no one hates you for "waiting", they just disagree with your "strong opinion" that it's a good idea for a young woman to sit around non-dating for what are arguably the best Serious Single Dating years of her life.

But then, you agree with us, don't you?

You recognize the value of dating during this time in your life, even if you haven't dated anyone you prefer over the guy that's gone. THAT'S PART OF THE POINT! Isn't it?

I have no doubt, and am indeed grateful for, the growth of your testimony and your relationship with Heavenly Father; I'm also grateful for this young man's service. Good for the both of you!

I wish that the both of you were mature enough for those things to be happening without the pretense of some commitment between you, and that's part of the reason why I say that failing to "break up" is more cowardly than courageous.

If things work out between the two of you when he comes back, that's wonderful. If you fall for someone else in the next 18 months, I hope you give that a chance.

I know you don't want to read it, but you really would have helped this young man out if you'd had the maturity and courage to break things off . . . but I digress.

You MGs are a pretty militant and vocal group. I can tell you that the list of people who waited and didn't date only to find that marriage was not in the cards is a much larger, even if much quieter, group.

There's more than one person out there that will make you a great companion. Whomever that is, I wish you every blessing and happiness.

- Bro Jo

AlixPaige said...

Bro Jo there is one thing I must agree on with you. There isn't just one guy or girl for everyone.
And I firmly believe that if someone else came along and I felt it was right and Heavenly Father told me this was it. I would go for it.

While waiting for a missionary (I've been waiting 18 months now) I have experienced everything from support to anger towards me waiting. I'm not necessarily waiting..we were a "we'll see what happens couple" and I have gone on dates since he left. All I have done while he has gone has just strengthened my love for him and I know Heavenley Father is on my side. Whether we broke up or not still would not change how I feel about him. More than once he has told me that I have been a true blessing to him. I don't see how not breaking up is cowardly. I think it's pretty courageous to try and keep a relationship over long distance. Eric has been a blessing in my life. This is definitely an experience I will never regret this time...even if I don't end up with him.

Dave Johnston said...

Alix -

You and I are on exactly the same page. "We'll see what happens" is something I can absolutely get behind, and what I've been saying all along.

I use the word "cowardly" to counter balance the word "courageous". I believe it takes courage to let each other go, to recognize that putting the Lord first, putting the mission first, is more difficult than clinging to a non-relationship, clinging to something that may or may not happen.

Missionaries ask a girl to "wait" because they fear that she'll end up with someone else, rather than have faith that if they're both supposed to be together that's exactly how it will work out.

Girls promise to wait because it sounds better (to them) to say "I'm waiting for a missionary" rather than "I'm not in a relationship right now" (which, let's face it, is true).

Especially for those of you that think you've found "the one", or even "a one", you chose to "wait" because it's easier than letting go. By putting off some hurt now, you think you may avoid hurt altogether.

It's really no different than the teenager that claims to have a boyfriend or girlfriend that lives in another town, state or country.

A truly courageous and faithful girl will set her boyfriend (if he really is her boyfriend) free to focus on the work, removing herself from his concern.

A truly faithful guy won't ask a girl to wait.

Not in these times, anyway.

Not breaking up is easy; the courageous thing rarely is.

- Bro Jo

Kelsie D. said...

Bro Jo --

I absolutely could not agree more with your last comment/response. I am currently dating a guy in my YSA ward at BYU, but he is leaving on a mission in about three or four months. We are both love each other very much, but we also both understand something that is equally (or more) important - a lot can happen in two years. When he leaves for his mission, we will no longer be "dating", at least during the two years he is gone. During those two years, he should be 110% dedicated to the Lord, and it is completely unfair of me to try and divide that loyalty by expecting him to meet any of my perceived needs in addition to that.

On the other hand, I have received strong spiritual confirmation that the Lord has led me to him and that he would make a wonderful eternal companion. That being said, that doesn't not mean he is "THE ONE", however much a girl might want to believe otherwise. There is no one right person out there for each person. We have certainly been guided to each other, but that does not necessarily imply marriage is in the cards for us (though I certainly hope it is, and feel that it is a good possibility).

We both have the same "we'll see what happens" philosophy about the situation. If the Lord truly does want us to marry one another after he returns from his mission, then two years of dating (serious or casual) absolutely will not hurt a bit. If anything, it will only solidify your confidence that he is a right person for you because you have seen the alternatives out there. (I hesitate to make this comparison, but it needs to be out there... when you buy a computer or make some other large purchase, you don't just get the first one that you like... you look around, compare the other models, whether or not they have the right qualities, and if you come back to the first computer... FINE! But you made an INFORMED DECISION!)

Finally, I just want to leave a little food for thought, mostly for the other readers, as it certainly appears they THEY are the ones who need it, and not you, Bro Jo. And that thought is this -- If that missionary you are "waiting" for is someone the Lord wants you to have as your eternal companion, it is drastically unfair of you to be unwilling to let the Lord have the unwavering and undivided attention of him or her for a mere TWO YEARS, when He is allowing you to have that person as your companion for ETERNITY. Just throwing that out there...

Love, Kelsie :)

Natalia said...

Hello Bro Jo,

I wanted to leave my feedback now that it has been 8-9 months since my missionary has returned. I still believe whole heartedly in my last comment that I posted.

I was going to respond because I read Kelsie's comment. I had a lot of spiritual confirmations that waiting to see what happens when my missionary returned was what I needed to do. I am so glad that I waited like I did, dating while he was gone (I prayed and felt that that was what I should do), but still date him when he comes back. We dated 4 months, and we broke it off mutually because we both felt that it wasn't right anymore. He was very much still righteous, I was very righteous, we were still best friends, but just our goals changed and we both found we didn't want to marry each other.

Soon after I found my sweetheart and my now fiance, who I would not have met at the perfect time I did had I not waited for my best friend. It was perfect timing and I am so glad I had the opportunity to chose him as my eternal companion. I do not regret waiting for a missionary at all. I was dedicated in writing letters and supporting a missionary, not a potential husband. I wrote him as my best friend. I am so grateful I waited like I did, and was able to objectively date him when he got back and give it enough time to know that the "what if" was a "not happening" and found my eternal companion soon after. We'll be married this March.

Thought it was only fair I wrote down my follow-up. I am so grateful that I kept the Lord's commandments and stayed prayerful to obtain personal revelation. I have been immensely blessed for it. I recommend all that they should do the same and keep their eyes and their hearts open to the Lord's will on how they should deal with their respective situations. I know that I have been blessed seeking His guidance in my situation.

Love,
Natalia

Mel said...

If guys would simply just casual group date before their missions, as counseled, we wouldn't have this problem in the first place...

Dave Johnston said...

Exactly!!!

- Bro Jo

Katie said...

Brother Jo,
My boyfriend and I broke up a few weeks ago and reverted back to being best friends (which is what we were before we dated) because he is leaving for his mission in a couple weeks. Even though he doesn't leave for a couple weeks, we have stopped texting and calling and we are only sending letters. It has been hard on me, and it feels an awful lot like abandonment, but I know it's not. But honestly, I know this is the right thing. I feel it's right. To all you girls who have argued with the things Brother Jo has said, please listen to this: No one is the same, but I guarantee I know how you're feeling right now. You love this boy with all your heart and you want to be with him someday. But trust me, letting him go as a single, uncommitted missionary is the best thing you could do for your future relationship with him. And dating other men is the other best thing you could do for your situation.
I have a friend who is officially waiting for a missionary. Their Facebook profiles still say they're dating, and they write those lovey-dovey letters. But he is so distracted. A guy I know just got back from serving in that same mission. He served with that young man for a while. He reported to us people back home that the young man only talked about that girl back home, and he was totally unfocused on the work. You girls may feel like you need to be true to your heart and that you can do it without distracting him, but you can't. During his mission, he needs to belong to the Lord 100 percent, and he can't if he has a girlfriend back home. I will tell you, I am completely in love with my bestfriend who broke up with me for his mission. I truly am! But I have prayed, and I have put those feelings on the back burner so I can focus on my life, and he can focus on his. If we are not right for each other, I will get over those feelings and meet the right man when the time is right. If this guy is right for me, then we will fall back in love when he returns.
When we refuse to put away your romantic feelings, we are telling the Lord that we don't trust him, we don't have faith in His plan for us. If the Lord wants you together with that boy, He will make sure you are together! I promise. Now, please don't feel like I'm attacking you or telling you you're wrong. I'm not. Different people are at different places in their lives, but please consider the wonderful advice my boy gave me: "If we are meant to be together, it will be the Lord who makes it so, not us, because only He knows what is best." And my dad told me this in a blessing He gave me when I felt I couldn't let go: "Don't look at it as a loss, look at is an investment." And I do. And I have let go, and I bear my testimony that you can let go too. When you're writing, share your growth and experiences with each other, but please leave the romance until he has returned. I love you all for your strength because I know it's hard, and I pray that we can all have sufficient faith.

Katie said...

Oh and one more thing, be careful when you say there is never "the one." I think there is sometimes. Let me share this experience with you: My mom was fighting with my dad and prayed and basically just complained to Heavenly Father about him and his faults. My very spiritually in-tune mother received this response: "You knew and loved him before the world began." I definitely believe in soulmates. Some people may have more than one soulmate, but every one has at least one. :)

Anonymous said...

Okay here's my question....
So my 'friend' went on his mission. We hung out for about six months before his mission as friends and about two months before he left we went on a date and it was obvious that we were beginning to feel a little more than friends. But he was going on his mission so neither of us pursued the idea. While on his mission we wrote regularly and he shared with me in his first that he would like to pick up where we left off when he got home, but at the same time telling me that he didn't want me to miss out on anything over the two years he was gone - completely selfless. And so I continued to write to my friend and as his letters have become more and more spiritual they have also become more open and we have shared small ways of letting each other know we are looking forward to seeing each other when he gets back. He gets in just a few days!!! I am excited and scared. I was open to dating and everything over the two years but nobody really took my fancy and now I am still single and he's coming home, I feel like we are meant to be together. Then I read that it is the 'odds' or the 'exceptions' that make it in this way. Do you think that because we were really just friends before we left that we have more chance of eternities? I hope so.

Dave Johnston said...

@ Katie -

There's no such thing as "the one".

It's a nice romantic idea, but not true.

Imagine: if there was only one, then if something happened to either of your parents, or if they hadn't made it work to begin with, then they'd be "destined" to be lonely for a very long time.

That doesn't mean that they're not great together; I'm sure they are.

- Bro Jo

Dave Johnston said...

@ Anon -

I have no idea!

I hope that if the two of you are a good match it works out.

If you're not the good match that you're hoping for, that's okay too.

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to me that this topic has been running for several years now.

I have such a range of thoughts, feelings and experiences on this topic, ranging from my experiences as a young woman to when my son was on his mission along with some experiences with my daughters.

I had a lengthy letter written discussing my experience along with a couple of experiences some of my children have had. However, my experience, my neighbors experience etc. really doesn’t matter. There seems to be some sort of a misunderstanding that some members of the church have regarding counsel from our leaders, in particular counsel from the Lord’s mouth piece here on earth our Prophet.

https://www.lds.org/youth/ask/top/dating?lang=eng#why-is-it-so-bad-to-steady-date-before-guys-go-on-missions

Why is it bad to steady date before guys go on missions?
“Young women, . . . avoid steady dating with a young man prior to the time of his mission call. If your relationship with him is more casual, then he can make that decision to serve more easily and also can concentrate his full energies on his missionary work instead of the girlfriend back home. And after he returns honorably from his mission, he will be a better husband and father and priesthood holder, having first served a full-time mission” (Ezra Taft Benson, “To the Young Women of the Church,” October 1986 general conference).
There is nothing to debate. He did not say this counsel was for Peggy but not for Susan etc. Young men should not have a “girl back home” because that way he can concentrate his full energies on his missionary work. So says the Prophet in General Conference, which makes it scripture. End of discussion. Period!

If you follow the counsel to “avoid steady dating with a young man prior to the time of his mission call”, then there would never be any MGs nor Dear John Letters or distracted missionaries because they have girls back home. There would be no heart break at seeing a boy leave on a mission because you would not be in a serious relationship with him in the first place. How much heart ache and struggle would be alleviated simply by following that counsel? The young men would be free of that sort of emotional baggage which will distract them from being 100% focused on their service to the Lord and the young women would be dating as they should be during that time of their lives and discovering who they are and follow the path that will lead them where the Lord would have them go and with whom. We really must stop second guessing our Heavenly Father.

Yes girls it really is that simple. No there really isn’t an exception for you and yes your Heavenly Father knows and understands the things of your heart. He knows the beginning from the end, we do not. We are to have faith in his plan for us and know that he wants our happiness. We are to follow his counsel and know that in doing so we will be follow the path towards our happiness. We do not have to see the purpose of what he requires of us we are to walk in faith. That is what he has asked of us.

Dave Johnston said...

@ Anon -

Interesting indeed!

I'll be running an entire week of columns dedicated to "Missionaries and the Girls that Love Them" at the end of this month.

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

Just want to say I am now engaged to the guy I waited for. I waited but only wrote every two weeks and wasn't lovey dovey just let him know what was happening in my life. I did go on dates but other guys just didn't compare to my fiancee. Maybe there's not one person for everyone but I do believe that there's a good, better, and best choice. Heavenly Father guides you to that person and how is different for everyone.

Dave Johnston said...

@ Anon -

That's wonderful!

Congratulations to you both.

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

I'm getting married to the person I waited for in 3 months, we're getting married in the London temple and I would love for you to come, maybe then you will see why waiting can be an amazing thing.
Also I would like to add that I DIDNT date while I was waiting but this did not stop me from growing, it did not stop me enjoying my life and it did not stop me from having amazing experiences.
There is no one who can say that waiting is right or wrong, it's down you you and your partner AND our heavenly father.
I would also like to add that my missionary was a district leader and also a zone leader.... Do that sound very distracted to you? He was an amazing missionary and he says that I helped with that by supporting him the way I did.
Hope to see you at our wedding!

scoutingchick said...

Dear Bro. Jo, and all the sweethearts out there,

I appreciate that you're trying to make lives and missions better for everyone involved with them. I went on a mission myself when I reached my 21 years of age. :)

But before I went on my mission I went to college, had a job, went on a few dates, and wrote my boyfriend every week while HE was on a mission.

We wrote for 16 months until I left, then continued to write missionary to missionary until he got home. 1 year later, I returned home. Obviously, after 3 years of not physically seeing each other, we had both changed a lot, but because we wrote to each other about our feelings, experiences, new things we were learning, and our hopes and dreams, every single week for 3 years, although we were apart, we had grown together.

We are happily married now.

The first couple months of my mission I told my mission president in one of our interviews that I had a boyfriend and that we were writing. I asked him his opinion about writing him (frequency, content, etc) and he told me to absolutely continue writing him. He said that love requires communication, and as a missionary, that means letters.

I followed his advice and wrote my sweetheart every week. Sometimes our letters were just one side of a page, just to let the other know that they are loved. We shared many scriptures in our letters, and always ended them with an "I love you."

I understand that there are many bad ways to "wait" for a missionary, but there are also good ways. My life was changed, and our relationship was strengthened by our time apart.

Respectfully,

Amanda

Dave Johnston said...

@ Amanda -

That's wonderful!

I'm very happy that all has worked out for you.

But we must all remember that the exceptions don't make the rule.

And, as you said, it's not exactly like you sat around "waiting".

- Bro Jo

Dave Johnston said...

@ The Anon Getting Sealed in London in December -

Congratulations! That's wonderful!

I truly wish I could be there.

But a correction is needed: "waiting" isn't what's wonderful; what's wonderful is that you two will be making Eternal Covenants in the House of Our Lord.

I also wish you sounded a little less bitter. Yours is a wonderful exception to the "don't wait" rule. For every "success" story like yours and Amanda's, there are THOUSANDS of "I waited and it didn't work out and I missed out on lot's of great guys" stories.

With millions of Young Single Adults in the Church there's bound to be a few fairy tale endings like yours.

And again, that's great!

But no one is saying that "waiting" will keep you from being a good person, or keep you from personal growth.

What I'm saying, and what I hope you can one day understand, is that more often than not, Much More Often, Waiting for a Missionary is a HUGE mistake.

Perhaps that's why we're counselled not to do it . . .

Many happy returns of the day,

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

Dear Bro. Jo,

Thanks for writing about this issue. I just found this blog today and this is the only thread I've read so forgive me if you've covered my concern elsewhere.

As I read the comments on this thread, I didn't see anything specific that touches the side of the return missionaries, that didn't have an MG, and who struggle with dating because girls will shun us off because they're waiting for their missionary. You made comments about "hidden motives" and so I'll specify that I do fall in this boat of RM's.

It's frustrating to like a girl and date her only for her to cut it short because she has a missionary. I read comments about girls saying that they'll date other guys because it'll make their love for their missionary stronger, but that's very inconsiderate to the RM. Sure, the girl admires the missionary for being one, great, but I was one too! I gave two years of my life to the Lord. Now that I'm back in the dating scene looking to date His daughters and find my eternal companion, it's very disappointing to have girls cut me short because they have missionaries. They'll give me a date or two, but no more than that. I feel that they really don't give me a chance; it's as if they see me as "the bad guy I'm the scene that is out to ruin her relationship with her 'one and only'."

I understand that, as a guy, I have it easier to initiate dates with a girl because I do the asking. I also understand that there are many girls out there who are available and are not waiting for a missionary. At the same time, I don't know ahead of time whether or not a girl has a missionary. I've been interested in several MG girls and it hurts. People will say "man up and find someone else." I try to move on, but I just wish that girls wouldn't wait for missionaries so that they could be available for the great guys around them. We RM's already served. Some of us are jerks/players/bad/etc, but many more of us really want to do what's right and be a quality boyfriend and husband for our Heavenly Father's daughters....please give us a real chance.

I agree that no mission president wants missionaries to have girls waiting for them. To go with that I feel that, if Heavenly Father unconditionally wanted a particular guy and girl to marry for a specific purpose, then He would have made it so that the girl met the guy as an RM. That way he would serve a faithful mission undistracted and she would grow and prepare better for marriage by dating in her prime years like he's suppose to.

Sorry for the long message. I look forward to hearing any input from you that addresses this issue from the RM guys perspective.

JA

Rachel Guy said...

Hey Bro Jo,

I enjoyed this read. I actually am of the opinion that I would not encourage my children to wait for missionary even though I did...and married mine. For me, my husband serving a mission was the best thing that happened to me. I loved him fiercely but focused my attentions on being his best friend. I threw myself into missionary work to. I went on a couple of dates (which wasn't a positive experience for my relationship but I am glad I did it) and I studied hard at university. I was determined to be the very best I could be. I am glad I waited and cannot imagine those two years without the hope of him coming home, but I recognised that those 2 years were not a place to be re-kindling a romantic relationship. I also had a strong testimony of missionary work. If I thought my missionary would have been distracted by me, I would have broken up with him because MY priority was his mission. As such, he went on to serve as assistant and bless the mission in so many ways...his service blessed me and I'd like to think my serving as a ward missionary and Young Women's President blessed him.
I would never encourage waiting though because I feel you have to understand ALL of this before you can do it successfully...the risk is too great. I feel grateful it worked for me but I also see girlfriends who write things and say things to their missionaries that make me cringe. In President Kimball's adddress 'Lock your hearts', he discourages waiting, but does say that if you do have a special someone, lock them in your heart and keep them there. I would echo his words. If you're going to wait, you need to be in it for the long haul- no dear johns. If you're going to wait, you need to serve the Lord too so you can understand your missionary. If you're going to wait, you need to focus on being a good friend, rather than a good girlfriend and, if you're going to wait, you need to have a testimony of missionary work so that you will want nothing to come in the way of your boyfriend's service. Oh, and you need to recognise that he's the Lord's...not yours.
I am grateful for your sound advice and recognition that it can work for some people- because it does... At the end of the day though, it's the Lord's work that's the most important thing. If that's the priority, the right thing will happen at the right time and in the right way. =)

Dave Johnston said...

@ JA -

Great to hear your perspective!

I'm going to post your comment, and my response to it, as part of this week's "Missionaries and the Girls that Love Them" series.

http://dearbrojo.blogspot.com/2012/09/upcoming-letters-missionaries-and-girls.html

Look for it on Wednesday!

- Bro Jo

Christine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Guess what? I waited two years for my missionary (And yes, I call him mine) I dated other guys and such but I held onto my guy. He got back, we dated a little more, and guess what? We got married. You just don't like to be wrong, that's your problem. I agree with all the girls that say that they are strong, you are. It's not easy to say goodbye to someone that you love for two years. Support him, write him, date other guys. I wrote him once a week and he asked for letters once a week. He didn't have a huge support system at home. I know you said you've never heard of a mission president who encourages a MG but his never discouraged it either. Why do you feel that waiting is so wrong? He was never distracted and he loved his mission. He lead the mission for many months, became the AP. Ladies, it's not a distraction to write him, but it is a support. Tell him every week how incredible he is, what a good example he is. Let him know that his service is appreciated. Pray for him. And if you want to wait, go for it. I see nothing wrong with it. If he comes back and things work out, congratulations! If they don't, then you tested it and you can move on. But never tell yourself that you wasted 2 years, ever, because you didn't.

Dave Johnston said...

I'll post my response to this last comment in a column this Friday, February 8, 2013.

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

Hi Bro Jo,

I just read this post and all the comments and I guess I have a question. I dated someone for 2 years in High School and he went on a mission. I broke up with him before he left because I didn't want to wait for him. He's been gone about 14 months, and I write him weekly and send him packages frequently. I agree that waiting is silly and that holding yourself back is easy to do when you do wait. But it's pretty hard to just stop loving someone and stop talking to them. I don't think that loving him is holding me back - I go on dates and I've actually received my own mission call. He comes back November 2013 and I'll come home in November of 2014. So my question is, when he comes back I think he'll want to wait for me. It'll be a year where he's home without me, and we both still have a great relationship that's supportive and encouraging. I think that both of us have needed each other in these past months. How do I get him to do the right thing and not "wait"? He keeps saying he's not going to want to date anyone when I'm so close to coming home and we can be together (we've never discussed our wedding or even told each other we want to get married because I feel that's inappropriate) I realize now that this was a big long ramble, but I wanted any 3rd party advice I could get before I ship off to the MTC in May.

Dave Johnston said...

Great comments and questions!

I'll respond to them in a separate column this Friday, March 8th!

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

All right, so first of all, I want to say thanks for posting this letter and all of the other advice you give.
I totally agree with you on this one- waiting is (generally speaking) silly and selfish. However, I think the advice I need is something related, but very different.
My really good friend just left to serve his mission. He's going to be awesome- he loves the gospel and he's excited to serve, and I am so, so excited for him. He and I never Seriously Dated, although we like each other a whole lot. Actually, the fact that he was leaving for his mission made us decide not to Seriously Date at all, because we'd been told that would be a dumb thing to do and honestly it didn't seem fair to either of us. I thought this was going to solve all of my mission/dating/relationship problems.
It didn't.
I think the problem comes from the fact that I really care about him and love him- which makes this whole situation really, really painful. Out of a list of eight of my closest friends (him included), only two aren't serving missions (and that's because one of those is getting married, and the other isn't even LDS). I don't know if I'm going to serve a mission yet- it's something I'm seriously praying about and discussing with my family and my bishop- but it's hard not to feel left behind by everyone my age. I know it's selfish and I know it's mostly Satan's influence that's making me so sad about the wonderful things my friends are doing, but I can't help but regret the fact my almost-boyfriend and I didn't date for real, or feel miserable that I'm going to be all alone next semester while my friends are spread across the globe. I'm trying to look at the bright side of things and really dedicate myself to serving the Lord in the best way that I can, but I need some reassurance that I did the right thing in not dating my friend, and some advice about how to feel less down about the whole situation. I know I shouldn't feel so bad- but how do I stop myself from being in love with someone, or from seriously missing my friends (in a detrimental way, rather than a normal one)? You always advise us not to get into Serious Relationships, and I didn’t, but somehow I ended up with the heartache and the sorrow anyway. How on earth do I get rid of it? I didn’t date specifically so I wouldn’t have to deal with this! And how do I get myself to feel less inadequate about the fact that I may not be serving a mission when so many people I know are? How do I know if my reasons for going/NOT going are the right ones? I know I want to serve the Lord and I know I’d love to spread the gospel, but sometimes I feel like I’d be going just so I wouldn’t be left behind! How do I know if that’s something real that I’m feeling or if it’s just me being paranoid and cynical about my own motivations? How am I supposed to figure any of this out??
I know it’s only kind of relationship-y advice, but it’s something that I really need help with, and I think there are other girls out there who feel the same way.
And even if there aren’t, I really need the help.
Thanks so much,
Lonely and Seriously Confused

Dave Johnston said...

Dear Lonely & Confused,

The best way to get responses to your questions is to email me:

DearBroJo@gmail.com

If you forget, you can click on my signature on any post.

Typically I respond to emails LONG before they get posted (and not all emails do) here on the blog page.

Since your comment is anonymous, I have no way of responding to you directly.

Let me just say this:

1) How you feel now would have been much more difficult had you and this boy seriously dated before he left on his mission

2) The only ways to get over loneliness and heartache is to let time pass and lose yourself in service to others.

Hope that helps,

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

Chantel- Marie, it has been about 5 years since you were waiting for this missionary and posted this.. You seemed very determined in you and this missionary ending together, so I am very interested to know what ended for you guys? Thankyou!

Nic said...

@ Anonymous,

I don't know what happened for Chantel-Marie but I can tell you MY story...

I waited for a missionary from April 2009 till April 2011, he served in the London England South mission and was a fantastic missionary. When he left on his mission we had been dating for a little over 18 months, he was my best friend. While he was serving we wrote weekly and I carried on with my life, I went to church, I went to Collage, I met new people and made some really good friends I didn't hide away or waste my two years. I prayed constantly to be sure I was doing the right thing in "waiting" and to be sure I Was taking every opportunity to grow that was given me.

The week he was due to come home I went with his parents to pick him up from the mission office in London where we met his mission president who thanked us both for being faithful and supporting each other. We dated and got married a little over 5 months after he got back, we where sealed for time and eternity in the Preston England temple, we have now been married happily for 3 years and have 2 beautiful little girls, we are both still strong in the gospel and have been blessed to no end.

I have no regrets, though I wouldn't encourage my daughters to wait for a missionary, nor would I encourage my future sons to date seriously before serving a mission, I would however support them 100% if they choose to do so.

Anonymous said...

I Really love this article because I am in the sort of the same situation! I have been looking for something like this for so long, thank you! My situation is kind of complicated. I met this guy in high-school, (his senior year and my junior year), and the minute I saw him, I knew I wanted something to happen. We talked a little and then there would be a pause (a long pause that would last until the next semester). We both had a class together and that's when we started talking more and more and then there was a small pause again. And then we finally went on a date that summer (we hung out and went on a few dates that summer and fall). It was all so very casual and fun, I felt so good and happy because of how slow things were being taken. Nothing serious ever happened because I believe there was a silent understanding -at least for me- That he had a bigger commitment, a commitment to the Lord to go on a mission. I got to know him a little, not very much, but a little. Which has helped me because if something serious does ever happen between us, I can get to know who he has become after his mission and also, I wasn't heart broken and eating Ben and Jerry's when he left. It made things soooo much easier. Anyway, After that Summer and Fall, there was another pause. A 6 month pause, and I was KIND OF okay with it. Strangely. And next thing I know, I'm at his mission farewell. We kind of picked up like nothing had changed, and it felt so much more like a friendship then anything else, yet I still liked him a ton. It was great! I remember when he left on his mission, I was pressured by family and friends to tell him how I feel about him and I absolutely refused because I did not want to be a distraction, and this wasn't about me. So I didn't.
Well, here I am, nearly a year later. Confused as ever about this Young Man, yet happier then ever because I have been living my life like nothing has changed, yet I still message him uplifting things, and send him packages. He is like a close friend to me. I'm excited to see what will happen in the future. Who knows what the Lord has planned? I've just got to trust in him. So many things could happen between now and next year that I am not going to limit my options to just one (him). I'm just going to let life happen, and continue encouraging this missionary to do the Lord's work. I think many young women and young men out there would be happier if they trusted the Lord more, kept things light hearted, fun and friendly with relationships and dating, and realized that the missionaries and future missionaries in the LDS church have a duty to Heavenly Father and not a duty to their girlfriend or boyfriend. It would make it even easier if they could be happy about that. I am so happy for this Young Man, and for his opportunity to not only learn and grow himself but to also help bring others to the Gospel. It is an amazing work! It can get a tiny bit rough sometimes when I get really confused, but I never let that hold me back because in the end this isn't about me at all. It's about the work at hand, which I'm perfectly okay with! :)

Anonymous said...

I bet everything I own that they aren't together. Hopefuly he grew from his mission, came home and realised what an unsufferable knoa-it-all she is and dumped her promptly for somebody who is mature enough to see that the world doesn'r revolve around them.

chantel-marie said...

As I was checking my old e-mail account I came across a notification for this post, as I posted on it in the past.
I see that a few of you have asked what happened with Chantel-Marie, so here's your answer!

I continued to write my missionary while he was away, and I went on dates here and there. When he got home from his mission we just clicked. We had both grown so much during the time he was serving, and I am so grateful for the blessing that his mission has been for us both. We were married in the temple in May 2013 and will be celebrating our 3rd anniversary next week!

Waiting isn't for everyone, but it brought me closer to the Lord and my missionary/husband, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

chantel-marie said...

As I was checking my old e-mail account I saw some notifications from this post. Out of curiosity I opened the page and saw that a few of you were curious about what happened with my missionary and I.
I continued to write my missionary and go on dates while he was away. When he returned from his mission I was invited by his family to meet him at the airport. We clicked from the moment he was home. We ended up dating for a year before we got engaged, and we were married in the Salt Lake temple May 2013. We'll be celebrating our 3 year anniversary next week!

My husband's willingness to serve a mission has blessed our lives so much. While he was serving my love for the Lord and my missionary grew so much. I know that waiting isn't for everyone, but I wouldn't trade that time in my life for anything.

Bro Jo said...

Congratulations!

And Happy Anniversary!

- Bro Jo

Alyssa said...

Dear Bro Jo,
I've been reading through the comments and a lot of sights about this topic, because it's a very popular and confusing one in the church, and I just have a few things to say.
First let me clarify that I personally would never wait but I do recognize a lot of people make it work because sometimes when you know you just know.
Secondly, I get you are strongly opinionated about this topic, but you need to chill a bit. Last time I checked you weren't a general authority so I don't think you can go around commanding/condemning people. Last time I checked God told us not to judge others, leave that stuff up to the big guy. And I know you are going to try and defend yourself here, but you are judging those who choose to wait and the concept of it and there isn't any council on it so you have no ground to do so. The only things I've heard is "lock your heart" which included if they had a SO before their mission. And also "behind every powerful man is a strong woman" which I love. In the CHURCH film the other side of heaven, he locked his heart and that literally saved his life and motivated him so much. Yes relationships can be distracting if young men choose to make it that way, but (and I speak from experience) writing and supporting the opposite gender (in a relationship or not) can be such a powerful experience. You grow so much from hearing each others testimony and I wouldn't deprive anyone from that experience. I just think a little more open mindedness should be used here. Love is a powerful thing and who are you to set rules and judge people for how they go about it.
Sincerely, Alyssa

Alyssa said...

Ugh

Bro Jo said...

Dear Alyssa,

Just a few quick things:

1. "The Other Side of Heaven" is not a Church film.

2. I've never commanded or condemned in this column.

3. That word you keep using, I don't think it means what you think it means.

4. I simply give people who ask for it my advice based on experience. There's LOTS of stuff here about that topic. Enjoy!

- Bro Jo

Caitlin Winget said...

Dear Bro Jo,

My missionary, whom I love, is coming back in less than 4 months! We have been talking marriage and I am really afraid to be vulnerable. How do I not freak out? I've spent a lot of time working on myself and really making sure that I'm in a good place, but now that I am and he wants to come home and marry me, how do I not freak out?

Sincerely,

rainbow road

Bro Jo said...

Dear Caitlin,

I've tried messaging you. Send me an email. Let's discuss.

- Bro Jo