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.)

Nothing here is meant to take the place of talking with parents, leaders, or Church authorities. Please, if you need serious help, talk to a trusted adult, leader, and / or professional counselor.

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Everything here is copyrighted. If you're going to quote any part of anything here, please get Bro Jo's written permission. You can reach him at dearbrojo@gmail.com.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Reminder About Courtesy

Hey Bro Jo!

I thought of you when I saw this article... pretty good write-up.

The only part I disagree with is holding the door for other parties who follow your date. I believe you should if they follow quickly enough after... anything else is awkward. I had never really noticed my father's chivalrous actions growing up as unusual... they were engrained from an early age that’s just what you do. I'm thankful now.

http://artofmanliness.com/2011/06/08/opening-door-for-woman/

- BJ




Thanks, BJ.

Good article.

I find it very frustrating when I'm holding the door for Sister Jo and some other guy comes through. Old guy, wheel-chair guy, that's fine.

But guys under 60?

Very irritating.

I've started watching them coming, and then when they get to me I say "here you go; I'm going to stick with my date" and I motion for them to take the door. Most guys are pretty good about it. They don't mind holding the door for their party, they just need some education. Probably because their fathers weren't as good an example for them as yours was for you.

Thanks for this great reminder about how we should all treat each other with kindness.


- Bro Jo

Monday, August 29, 2011

Prayer Beads

Hello,

I am 16 years old. Recently due to a lot of medical setbacks i haven't been my full self. I can no longer walk or eat along with much more ,what i call, medical nonsense. Because of this set back, I cannot leave my bed and haven't been to church in nearly 3 months ( I attended a mutual once but I got really sick after and my condition got worse). Usually when I am sad i cook or clean, but for obvious reasons I cannot do that. I once owned a CTR ring, which i would always twiddle with when I was nervous or concentrating, but I misplaced it when I visited a friend from out of town.

After watching the movie "Eat. Pray. Love", I saw prayer beads and loved the idea of them. That they are meant to take away bad energy and stress and bring serenity (I am half Japanese so I had heard of them before in Buddhist customs from my dad's side, but didn't understand the idea) something I need at home when I am in pain or when I am having some work or procedure done and am nervous.

My mom gave me a cross (she came from a catholic family and it is an old family heirloom) in the mean time to bring with me for my next doctor appointments just to help me spiritually until my Grandma finishes my prayer beads.  (She too is a Mormon and is making them as an effort to help me in any way she can.)

I was wondering, however, is it sacrilegious for a Mormon to use Prayer Beads for a meditation purpose?

What if a Mormon were to use a Rosary?

Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon!

Sincerely,

- Wondering



Dear Wondering,

"Sacrilegious" is treating a Holy Noun (person, place, thing or idea) as if it isn't holy (or sacred). I believe that Good People treat the Holy Nouns of others with respect, even if they don't subscribe to the sacredness of that particular item. While I'm a Latter-day Saint, and as such am a Disciple of Christ, I would never defile another faith's parish, statue or icon; it's disrespectful, and certainly wouldn't speak well of me as someone who should be representing the teachings of Jesus.

So, to use "prayer beads" for the purpose that they're are intended, unless that culture feels that such items should only be used by faithful members or members of the clergy (for example) would not be disrespectful, and therefore not sacrilegious.

Now, for various reasons, old Bro Jo is familiar with several world religions and cultures. (Perhaps that's not a surprise.) You may not know that the "purpose" of a Rosary is to keep track of certain pre-scripted prayers as one says them in a certain quantity and progression.  Rosary beads also are to remind the user of certain events in the Gospel, or other things as denoted by the Pope.  As you've noted, other religions use prayer beads, too, some even calling them a "rosary".

As a Latter-day Saint, I believe that prayer should follow the pattern that Christ set, being guided by the Spirit, and not using the exact words recorded or written by another, except in the case of performing an ordinance (like the Sacrament Prayer). That is, as taught:

1. Open by addressing Heavenly Father (for it is Him and only Him to whom we should pray)

2. Thank Heavenly Father for that with which he has blessed you and others (all good things come from God, and to be thankful is to be humble)

3. Ask Him specifically for what you need (but acknowledge that it is our will that needs to bend to His, not the other way around)

4. Close in the name of Jesus Christ (for it is through His atonement that we call can return to live with Heavenly Father again)


Do I think it's "okay" for a Latter-day Saint to use the sacred objects of other religions to help them remember the Savior and His sacrifice on our behalf?

Well . . . I don't know that I see anything wrong with it (although I'm sure not everyone agrees with me), other than I think it might pull one's focus away from Christ and the Church and on to things that are not Gospel centered. Remember, the focus should be on Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, not another person or object. Please ponder how that applies in this situation.

You're dealing with some pretty big trials right now, and I don't know what God's will is for you, but I believe in miracles, I believe in healing, and I believe that as hard as they are, our trials here are but a blink in the eternal scheme of things.

I hope you've received a priesthood blessing, and encourage you to ask for one if you haven't already.

If those symbols bring you and your family comfort and help you focus on the Savior, then I personally think it's fine. If I were in your shoes and a non-LDS grandma brought me a statue or object that she thought would help me, and if that item didn't detract from the Spirit I needed to feel and the Gospel I needed to remember, I'd display it out of gratitude and respect for her.

Now, that said, over the years I've received a few presents that represented either other religious cultures (including a couple "heirlooms") and some things that advertised products or things that aren't in keeping with LDS culture (like R-rated or otherwise inappropriate movies and TV shows, alcohol containers, and even pictures of family in places or doing things that weren't good examples of the Word of Wisdom).  None of those things can be found in our home.  Some of the "heirlooms" are safely packaged away, lest the giver ask about it some day.  Most of the stuff is . . . gone.

Not to be ungrateful, except for the items given with the intent of dragging my family from "the oppressive LDS Church", most items were given out of sincerity; but Sister Jo and I want people who enter our home to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our family is LDS.  We don't display much, but we hope that what people do see on our walls, bookshelves and in other places throughout our home, won't lead them to question our faith or sincerity.

We hope.

Were I in your shoes, the things I would want near me to help me remember the important spiritual things might include:

- A picture of Christ (I prefer the ones where he's living, or resurrected, instead of those that focus on his death, but that's me)

- My scriptures (not just a reminder, but something to read as well)

- My wedding band (which reminds me of my eternal covenants with Sister Jo)

- Pictures of my family (whom I plan to be with for time and all eternity)

- My Temple Recommend (a reminder of covenants I've made and the Spirit I've felt)


And, as an endowed member of the Church, I would of course be wearing my garments which remind me of many aspects of the gospel. (If surgery or hospitalization or some other circumstance, prevented me from wearing them, I'd want them close.)

Remember, though, that while they can help us focus on the Savior, it's not an object that truly releases stress and helps us spiritually heal; it's Him.

I hope this helps a little.

Please know that I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love you. Trust the Spirit.

May you be blessed with what you need,

- Bro Jo


PS: You can find some interesting, and perhaps insightful, articles online regarding the religious symbols of other faiths through the Church website. Simply go to LDS.org and in the "search" bar type in "rosary" - or anything else you're curious about - or click on this link HERE.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dating a Pregnant Girl - Part 3

Dear Readers,

Last October I posted a letter from a young man who was dating a girl who was pregnant (by someone else). Then, the following week I posted part 2 (the letters had actually been sent to me a couple months apart - you all realize, I imagine, that most - not all, but most - "Dear Bro Jo" letters are posted quite a while after I actually correspond with the writers). In the second letter, the young man said that she had given the baby up for adoption (something that, as someone who was adopted, I have a lot of gratitude and admiration for), and they were dating, but with extreme caution.

Well, in case you were wondering how it all turned out, here's part three.

(You can read the first letter by clicking HERE, and jump to the second by clicking HERE.)


- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Awhile back I emailed you asking for advice about a pregnant girl that I was dating. We continued dating and she gave her child up for adoption. Things progressed between us and now we are getting married. On (date withheld)! In the (location withheld) Temple!

I just wanted to say thank you for your advice and being a listening ear during a turbulent time in our relationship. Sometimes things really do have a happy ending.

Thanks Bro Jo!

- Still Smitten



Dear Smitten,

Congratulations to you both!

Sister Jo and I wish you every happiness.

- Bro Jo

Monday, August 22, 2011

Will Her Patience Pay Off?

Hey Bro Jo,

Soooo...I have a friend on his mission in (location withheld) who gets home in just a couple months. I REALLY like him...a lot! We met 3yrs ago this coming summer on a commuter train where he used to work. We hit it off. I really liked him then and told him, but he shot me down and told me that he just wasn't interested. (This was before he decided he even wanted to go on a mission).

So about 4-5 months after that I found out he was putting his mission papers in....I was way excited for him and yet sad that I wouldn't get to see him for 2 years. Well, we have been writing back and forth consistently this whole time and have become just super close friends. I've been the good friend that encourages him, bears testimony and just does what I can to help keep him focused on his mission.

But, now....he comes home in less than 4 months. He's changed a lot and well, so have I. In his letters he's always saying he loves me and always inquiring about my plans for the future, etc...Is that just the "missionary" in him?

I think its great he cares but the last thing I want to do is to get my hopes up. u know? I have never met anyone like him....honest. What kind of a guy would still want to be friends with a girl who told them they really liked him?

I mean, basically every other guy that I've done that to has turned and ran away as fast as they could and then never talk to me again. haha. On top of that, he's super spiritual and funny and friendly and we get along so great. I'm really good friends with his best friend and it just seems like things keep falling into place one step at a time.

I'm 26 and he'll be 22 in April when he comes home, but I'm drawn to him and keep thinking maybe he could be that someone I've been waiting for all along...and then, maybe not....who knows?

Am I being irrational over this whole thing? What do I do? I definitely don't want to be dumb about this whole thing. I want him to give me a chance but, I don't want to make the same mistakes as before when I first met him.

Any advice would be sooo great!

Thanks a million,

Unsure



Dear Unsure,

I don't know what "mistake" you made before, and I don't think I'd call what you're feeling irrational . . . premature, perhaps, but not irrational.

The guy isn't even home yet - relax! Let the guy focus on the last season of his mission. When he comes home and has had a chance to breathe then you can switch modes from "supportive girl back home" to "girl he should ask out".

If he does and it works out, great! If he doesn't or it doesn't work out, well . . . at least then you'll know and can move on. If someone asks you out in the interim you should absolutely go; no sense hanging all of your dreams on just one star.

Yes, at some point you may need to confess your feelings and see if it's mutual, but let's not try to cross that bridge before we get there.

- Bro Jo

Friday, August 19, 2011

Getting Ready to Confess

Dear Bro Jo,

So I've finally decided to talk to my branch president. I've needed to for a few years, but I had tried convincing myself I was fine. I now know that it's time to let go of my sins and quit beating myself up for them every second of every day. (I'd rather not elaborate)

What I'm wondering is how would you tell your bishop/branch president what the sin(s) were, and that you want to be done with them and fully repent? I've been so close to self-harming because of this (and other reasons, but thankfully I haven't gotten that far).

So how do I tell him? I'm worried about it, but part of me isn't. I feel like I've made myself suffer enough. I need to deal with this. I need to be able to move on.

Any help would be amazing. Thank you.

- Trying



Dear Trying,

Make the appointment.

Pray before you meet.

Once you're in his office and it's your turn to speak (he may want to open with a prayer) take a deep breath and just start talking. Don't hold anything back.

Let the Spirit be your guide. You'll be fine.

Very proud of you for taking this step.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Becoming a Better Man

Dear Bro Jo,
I'm just writing to you hoping you'd have some advice for me...

This doesn't need to be published, unless you really want to.

Around 6 months ago, I made the mistake of getting too involved with a girl, relationship wise.
I'm keen to start casually dating good, Church member girls, although the only reason that I want to date is to learn about myself, women, and qualities I want in a future spouse.

My main goal with dating is for me to learn what I want in a wife, as I believe choosing a wife is the biggest decision I will ever make..

I'm here to ask if you have written anything about becoming a better man - I want to use the time I have now to grow and become a great potential husband.

Also, what ages of girls should i be looking at dating? girls my age and older just want RM's . . .

Casual Dating is not as easy as I thought it would be, mainly because there are not a lot of girls age 16+ around.

Thanks,

B



Dear B,

To become a better man, in my opinion, one must work at being a better Disciple of Christ. As you read through the New Testament, look at what Christ says we will do if we love him; and notice where He says how He will know we are his friends.

Nothing worth doing in life comes easy, and that includes Casual Group Dating. Keep trying.

 As a 16-19 year old young man, I think you should focus on 16-18 year old young women.

- Bro Jo

Monday, August 15, 2011

Getting a Guy Ready for Casual Group Dating

Hey Bro Jo,

You, sir, are a genius. I read your blog every day. Thank you so much!

Now I have a question...

Next week is the birthday of the guy I've liked ever since I moved in at the beginning of the summer. This is important because it means he is 16 and able to date.

We've talked about dating before and he said he wasn't sure he was excited for that. We haven't talked about it recently, but he's sweet and kind and I guess what my question is: how do I help him be excited to date, and specifically, to date me?

I've read your tips on how to get a guy to ask you out, and they all seem too forward for my personality. I just want something a little bit subtler that actually gets my point across. Is there something like that I can try?

I'm pretty shy, especially when it comes to guys.

J.



Dear J,

Thanks for that, I've been trying to convince Sister Jo of my supreme intelligence for years . . .

Hasn't worked yet!


As for this guy, just talk to him. Get to know him better so he feels comfortable around you. (Remember that talking is more about Listening.) Don't become his buddy or his pal, but be the cute girl that's fun and nice to talk to. (Do you see the difference?) Use his birthday as an excuse to talk about dating a little. Make this less "you should date me" and more "so . . . now that you just turned 16, have you changed your mind about Casual Group Dates?"

If he doesn't know what CGD's are, well then . . . tell him! Explain that they're great because it's like a priest-Laurel activity, just paired up and without leaders. (Or get him a copy of "Bro Jo's Guide to Casual Group Dating" for his birthday! Or suggest to his parents that they get him one!)

And remind the other, older priests that they have a moral obligation to teach this new guy how it's done.

Have fun!

- Bro Jo

Friday, August 12, 2011

In Love at 17?

Dear Bro Jo

Is it a bad idea to think you might be in love at the age of 17? I don’t know how to describe these feelings other than love. Could you help? I’ve known this person for about seven years and I know he likes me back so what can I do when I think these feelings are a lot more than liking each other?

-Confused




Dear Confused,

It's not a bad idea to think you're in love, and it's totally possible.

However, it's NOT a good idea to do anything about it. Serious Single Dating shouldn't happen for guys until after they're home from their mission and for girls until they've graduated high school and turned 18.

As far as your feelings go: enjoy them. Write in your journal; describe how you feel so that in the future you'll be able to go back and recall these great moments. And, occasionally, go on Casual Group Dates with this guy.

Follow the Dating Rules. That means going out with other guys, too, even if you're not "in love" with them.

Guard yourself against temptation. No alone time and no serious commitments.

Love is grand; have fun!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Married Really Young or Not at All

Hi Bro Jo!

I'm so glad I stumbled upon your blog! It's GREAT!

Anyhow...A lot of your questions seemed to be aimed at younger LDS members so I have a question about older LDS singles. When I say older, I mean 22. ha.

I'm a recent convert to the Church and one of the things that is scaring me the most is that it seems like there are two extremes in the Church with regards to dating. Either you're married REALLY young (like my age, and younger) or you never get married at all.

I'm 22, about to graduate from college with no boyfriend, no single LDS boys in my immediate area, and am beginning to panic. I know this is silly, but am I doomed to be single for the rest of my life??? :(

Hopefully, you don't think I'm too nuts and help me out!

- Too Late?



Dear Just Fine,

Welcome!

You're not too late and you're not "doomed to be single", so don't panic! (And how you feel isn't silly, either.)

Because our faith celebrates the joys of families many members are drawn to that path younger than much of the world, and there's nothing wrong with that. While there are challenges with being married "young", (and my personal opinion is that 19 for girls and 21 for guys is as young as they should go), if two people are committed to making a marriage work (and believe you me, it IS work), then I think it's fine.

But for others, (most actually) finding an eternal companion doesn't typically happen under 23 (sometimes even 30). If the existence of this little column (now regularly read by over 20,000 people, members and non, in over 40 nations around the world - mind blowing!) proves just a couple things, one of them has got to be that there are literally thousands upon thousands of Single Latter-day Saints who are your age and concerned about marriage. So, not only are you not alone, but there are lots of great prospects out there!

If you're interested in meeting a great and temple-worthy spouse (and as one who is constantly grateful for a good marriage - didn't say perfect - and great kids - they're not perfect, either! - both take lots of work, let me say that you should be!) then there are things you can do.

You've just graduated college; the world is at your feet! Get active in Church Activities in your area; go to Young Single Adult Conferences and Firesides and Sacraments and Institute Classes and everything you can find where you can meet new people with your same standards.

If the pickings are just too slim in your area, consider moving (it's not as scary or as impossible as you might think).

Maybe marriage will happen for you during this existence, and maybe it will happen in the next one; your obligation is to be the best person you can and actively seek those blessings which Heavenly Father has in store, married or single.

Relax.

And go on some dates!

- Bro Jo

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Morning After

Dear Bro Jo,

I love your blog btw. It is pretty awesome.

The reason I'm emailing you is not awesome. In fact, its pretty downright terrible.

I'm just going to get into it: I'm in YSA and have been on a few dates with some guys in the ward. Good, wholesome dates. Yeah, maybe we stayed out a little too long but there wasn't anything bad done (no kissing or even physical contact) and nothing inappropriate was said/implied in any of them.

However, I went on a date with someone recently from my ward that I don't really know all too well and we started talking about how I am working on taking the sacrament again (I transgressed a few months ago and have been working on getting my worthiness back) and he said he was doing the same.

We got back to my house and sat in the driveway just talking about things...until the conversation turned to kissing and more. We mutually concluded that we wanted to kiss each other. So...because kissing in front of my parents (still live at home...im only 20) house is awkward, we went to his house. I KNOW: BAD IDEA.

But I (naively) thought all we were going to do was make out. He even said that all we were going to do was make out. But when we got to his house and went to his room, the first thing he did was push me on the bed, put his hand in my shirt and started kissing me. The transgression I mentioned before was a VERY close situation to sex. This situation I am emailing you about turned INTO sex. I didn't want it. I also didn't say no (I wanted to..but I was afraid he'd get mad...so I let him). I lost my virginity to a guy I barely know on a first date.

I guess what my question to you is....am I "damaged goods"? Even if I am completely repentant (because I will be... it will just take some time..again), will guys in my YSA, or any YSA for that matter, not want to date or possibly marry me because I'm not a virgin anymore? It wasn't my choice.. I didn't go into the date looking for sex with this guy. Yeah I wanted to make out with him, I won't deny that. I've read some of your other postings about similar things to this, and it was said you don't need to say anything until you're serious with someone-serious to the point of marriage.

I'm just worried because in Mormon culture, virginity and not having sex before marriage are so stressed and I messed up. Big time. I'm afraid the only guys who will be willing to go out with me are sleaze-bag Mormons who want to "get some" from me because I've already done it.

I know this was a long-winded message. And probably really confusing. But thats kind of what my brain looks like right now. Confused and all over the place.

Also, how could I have known he was going to do that to me? My previous transgression-guy was also LDS but he was really inactive, so it made sense to me. This guy is active in the ward. I thought I would be safe with him...and not have to worry too much about boundaries because we have the same boundaries. AND I had even told him that I was working on getting my sacrament and temple worthiness back. So shouldn't he have been like "oh ok she's trying to be good. im not going to take off her pants tonight" instead of being like "oh ok well she knows how to to this, this and this so i am going to take her pants off tonight." ??

I feel betrayed.

And sexually assaulted.

---what to do, what to do?

ps is it possible for you to just reply to this email? ...like not post it online? i don't mind, ultimately, if it goes up...but i would prefer to just get an email back with your insight into the matter...



Dear What to Do,

I typically email those that write in long before I publish their letters. As you might imagine, I get tons of letters, and while I try to answer them all as fast as I can, many don't get posted in the column, and those that do generally (although not always) get posted quite a while after I receive them. A letter like yours will likely get posted because I believe it will help many who have found, or may find, themselves in a similar situation.

Now, I'm going to be very straight with you. Part of that is my style, and part of that is because I love my readers too much not to tell it to them straight; at least as I see it. What follows isn't meant to bring you down or put you down, but my honest assessment given to you in hopes that a dose of honesty and reality will help you mend things with God. Please know that I wrote these things with love and sincere caring for you, my sister.



Here we go.


You weren't sexually assaulted.


You look back now with regret and remorse, and I agree that this guy took advantage of you, but there's nothing about your behavior that would have suggested to him that you didn't want to have happen exactly what happened. A girl who is guarding her virtue, even one who is incredibly naive, does not do what you did. And, let's face it, you're not exactly naive.

Look at what happened.


You talked sexually with a guy at the end of a date while you were alone with him in his car.

You confessed to a man you're not in a relationship with that you'd previously gotten pretty close to sex.

You left your home to go somewhere that you could "make out" with him without getting caught or being seen.

You went back to his house.

You went into his room.


And look at what you didn't do.

You didn't protest at any time. Not when he suggested all of those things, not when he pushed you on the bed, not when he put his hands in your shirt, not as clothes were removed . . . not at any time!

At no time did you in any way communicate your lack of willingness to have sex.


Frankly, my dear, given your behavior, what else was he (or any guy, for that matter) supposed to think?


(If it means anything, Sister Jo is much harsher on this subject than I am. She absolutely loathes when "morning after regret" turns into false claims of sexual assault. In her words: "it mocks and marginalizes actual rape victims and has become an all-too-frequently used excuse when girls don't what to face the sins they've committed". She's not wrong, you know.)


Now, are you damaged?


Well . . . yeah. You are. You've had sex outside of marriage against the commandments of God and the advice of His Prophets.

HOWEVER, and this is very important, through the Atonement of the Savior this kind of damage can be repaired.

You'll never be a virgin again. That which should have been saved for your husband is gone. Yes, there may be many young men out there who hold that as important enough that (when and if they find out) will take you off of their "potential spouses" list. And yes, if this becomes public (and I pray for you that it does not, but you and I have no control over the mouth of the young man that you had sex with) you may find that people treat you differently (they shouldn't, but they may).

But the spiritual damage can be repaired. And that, my dear little sister, is what's really important. Making things right with Heavenly Father is one of the best feelings in the universe, and worth every effort we need to make.

So here's what you do: go see your Bishop today. Tell him everything, including the name of the boy (he'll need to talk to him, too). Get back on the path of repentance, and use how you feel about this event to motivate you in the right direction.

Learn from this situation. Learn about standing in Holy Places and about temptation and about keeping yourself honorable and pure.

Learn that not everyone who is active in our faith is what they pretend to be. Some very bad people use their Church membership (this happens in all faiths, by the way) to mask their addictions and bad behavior. You might be as shocked as I was disappointed to learn just how many people are addicted to pornography (which, as a side note, I'm very confident is one of this young man's problems). And, come on, how righteous did you think this guy was when he told you why he wasn't allowed to partake of the Sacrament either?

Learn that you're not alone, that we're all imperfect and make mistakes, and that through the beauty of the atonement we can be made spiritually whole.

Learn to take responsibility for your actions and inactions.

Learn that rape is an act of violence and control, not simply having sex when you shouldn't have.

Learn what you should and shouldn't do on a date. Learn that you can't be alone with this guy in his car or house again.

Learn that forgiveness is for everyone.


And learn that just because you made this mistake, no one says you have to make it again. YOU are in control of your destiny.


Begin your repentance today.

Don't delay this process. Satan will be working very hard on you (through temptation, embarrassment, and feelings of inadequacy) to keep you from the Love of God that you, yes you, and yes even now, are so deserving of.


You are still a Daughter of God, you are still a good person. You can become Temple worthy again. You can work your way back to partaking of the sacrament again.

And if you follow your Bishop's counsel, and make things right with God, I promise that you will feel wonderful. You'll likely never forget this incident. The Lord forgets our sins, but we don't (that's part of why we don't do them again).


I want you to know that even though we don't know each other, through the Spirit I have love and concern for you. Know that I know that Jesus is the Christ, and that through his atonement we can all be made whole again. Know that I have a testimony of repentance, and that I know that you are now and have always been a Daughter of God who loves you, that you are one of his choice and elect Spirit Children whom he wants to come live with him again.

I pray that all will go well for you, that you'll have the strength you need to make things right. That as you accept forgiveness in your own life and discover your Divine Nature and Individual Worth, that you'll be able to forgive others, even he who treated you with such disrespect.

My heart goes out to you.

Please see your Bishop right away. No excuses.

And know that I'll always be here to help in any way that I can.

May the Lord bless you with what you need,

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you. Frankness is oftentimes the best.

I spoke to my bishop today and I told him everything (including his name). I've been relatively calm since I spoke with my bishop, which I consider a good sign. At least I'm not freaking out or hysterically crying everywhere.

I was really nervous about it because I didn't want the guy to know I talked to the bishop...because, like you said, I didn't do anything to tell him I didn't want it. But the bishop knows what’s best and I trust him. He said I needed to speak with the guy and tell him how this has affected me. And I just don't know if I'm ready for that yet. I feel angry at him for using me like that and I'm angry at myself for allowing myself to be used. I feel myself getting hostile when I think about forgiving him.

I've never had to deal with anything like this before (and hopefully never again) and so I just don't know how to even go about forgiveness..I know about the scripture reading and the daily prayers and avoiding bad situations and whatnot, but to actually forgive?

Thank you,

*new name: baby stepping through the atonement


Dear Stepping,

I'm so proud of you!

You're entitled to be angry, at him and at yourself. I think that's part of the process.

Things take time.

Trust in Christ; you'll never go wrong there.  Never forget that you will always be a Daughter of God, and as such are entitled to the Love and Blessings He has for you.

Keep stepping forward.


- Bro Jo

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hold Her Hand, Man!

Dear Bro Jo,

I've got 2 questions about the same girl, so hopefully you can help me out a little bit!

1. My first question is about what constitutes a "date".

Here's the situation: Me and this girl (we've both acknowledged that we like one another) decided to hangout one night. Yes, it was just the two of us (which in retrospect may not have been the best situation given the current dating standards). But we went for a walk to get some ice cream (I paid). We walked and talked for a bit, and she ended up taking me to a playground I'd never been to before. We didn't do a whole lot, just sat on the swings and talked. But it wasn't just the normal "Hey, how's life?" kind of deal. We talked about books, and movies, and future goals, and what we want out of life for the foreseeable future. I mean, it was a pretty neat talk, especially considering that's really the first time that's happened between the two of us before. So I walked her home, we hugged goodnight, end of story. My first question is, would this be considered a date?


2. This, I suppose, isn't so much a question, as more of a general plea for help.

A few days after this evening stroll with said girl, we started talking about how we both enjoyed the previous evening and such. And she asked about "an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu" (because we've both had times in the past where we've liked each other, but then drifted apart a little bit). So I was curious about where she was going with it, and I continued the conversation.

Now, I don't remember exactly what was said, but it basically amounted to her saying she wished I had held her hand. I told her I had thought about it all night but put off making an attempt because the last time I tried something like that with her she didn't take very well to the idea, and didn't talk to me for a few days afterwards. So I told her the thought had crossed my mind but I thought better of it because we had finally started becoming really good friends again and I didn't want to try anything that would have resulted in us taking steps backwards, making things awkward, etc. This girl also happens to be one of my best friends, so I didn't want to try anything that might ruin our friendship. And because I'm soon to turn 19, and she's about to move away for school, to try anything of that level I thought would be ill timed. She agreed with me and said she was glad we were on the same page about this stuff.

But then every time I walked her home from church (which I do most weeks, because I like spending time with her and I'm trying to be chivalrous) I was hesitant to even hug her on account of me being afraid of how she'd take it. I didn't want her creeped out or thinking I was looking for anything too serious. So we'd just say our goodbyes and look at each other for a few seconds waiting to see what the other would do, then just walk away. So one day I asked her if she wanted to hangout, and she agreed.

We agreed where to meet, I told my parents where I was going, and they seemed hesitant that it would have just been the 2 of us (which is completely understandable). So I invited some other friends to join us and told this girl last minute. She said she was fine with the idea, but all night she seemed like she had something on her mind, or she was bummed out or disappointed with something. It got me thinking maybe she was upset it wasn't just the 2 of us, which confuses me because I feel like she's sending mixed signals (not that I expect her to leap into my arms or anything, but a little clarity would be nice).

So that night I walked her home, and kept telling myself "there's nothing wrong with a friendly hug when we part company, just man up and do it!" But when I did do it, she seemed a wee bit hesitant like she wasn't expecting it or she was uncomfortable with that notion. So NOW I'm even hesitant sometimes to walk her home. And I don't know what to do! I feel like now it's awkward between us sometimes because we had sort of a "next step" talk. She doesn't really text me as often as she did before, which makes me think she might be weirded out and avoiding me a little bit. But then again, maybe it's all in my head and I'm just way over thinking things. But any help or advice you've got would be fantastic!

- Brother


Dear Brother,

Situation 1. Yes that was, by every definition, a date. And a good one, at that.

Situation 2. Stop "talking about it" all the time, and just reach out and hold her hand, man! At the end of your next Casual Group Date with her (which you should definitely arrange soon), when you're saying Goodbye at the Porch, I say "go for the smooch"! Keep it simple, make sure the timing is right and that said smooch is welcome, but other than that . . .

Look, Brother, as a pre-mish guy (which I hope you are and is implied when you talk about being almost 19), you're right that now is not the time to have a Girlfriend. And you certainly don't want the entanglements or temptations of that right now, anyway. Keep all of your time with this girl (and all other girls, for that matter) chaperoned or in groups, and any "alone time" to under 60 seconds. Your parents were right to be concerned about the two of you alone in the park, but I don't see a problem with you walking her home from Church, so long as it's public and observable and your behavior is above reproach.

- Bro Jo

Monday, August 1, 2011

He's Desperate for a Second Date - Part 7

[Readers - What follows is the next letter in a series of emails between myself and "Desperate".  He's frustrated that his dating life isn't going the way he hopes it will.  If you'd like to read the previous letters, I posted parts 1-5 starting on June 20, 2011.  Click HERE to jump there.  I'll post a new letter in this series the first Monday of each month.  Please feel free to comment; I only ask that you be sensitive and sincere.  - Bro Jo]


Dear Desperate,

How have the last couple months treated you?

My 14-year old uses a smarmy voice when he says this, kind of sounds like Tank Evans from Surf's Up, but "how are the ladies?"

- Bro Jo



Hey Bro Jo,

While there is still no success to report (not engaged, not in a relationship), I am feeling greatly at peace with myself right now.


"When the Lord commands us to do something, sometimes he's more interested in our obedience than our success."

Thank you for sharing that with me! I have pondered this greatly over the past few months - I even used the phrase when I bore my testimony last fast Sunday. I have asked out every active LDS girl in my area - and before you say it, I'm not being 'picky', I honestly can't think of one I haven't asked - and I believe I have come to the point where the Lord has 'accepted my offering' (D&C 124:49).

Women don't have the courage to be direct... which doesn't help at all. My married friends are absolutely dumbfounded as to why I'm having it so hard. We have been praying, studying and searching to find out what's wrong... and they've practically given up. Married female friends of mine all uniformly say that the single girls are missing out big time, because I am an absolute keeper once you give me a chance.

My last 2 dating experiences I'll share:

1. A sweet, interesting girl and I had a couple of dates just these past few weeks. She hadn't been asked out for almost 2 years when I came along, and we just went out to 'have a nice time'. Well, I enjoyed her company enormously, she was lovely. After the 2nd date, I said that I wanted to take things to another level - exclusivity; she said she wasn't sure. So, we went out a third time. I still was interested in going further, even though I wasn't wildly attracted to her. She then said "I don't think I'm ready for a relationship right now...".
I think we both know what that means!

2. I started seeing a girl that I was really into. Smart, confident, happy, attractive. We got along great and things were progressing well. Then she expressed almost the same sentiments as the girl on page 53 of "Bro Jo's Guide to Relationships". 'You make me feel special and safe, you're everything that LDS girls dream about finding... but I just don't return your sentiments'.

With these girls, they we're both in their mid 20's, both RMs, and both having a lot going for them. Girls that I would be 'equally yoked' with if you will. And girls you would think would have that next stage of eternal progression on their minds.

I don't know, but do girls have a secret rejection competition amongst themselves? The one who rejects a guy's advances in the most creative way is the most admired of all?

Honestly, I've prayed and fasted about this and it feels right to take a break from dating for a few months. We all need time to rejuvenate, to get that freshness back again. So I'm planning to move forward with my career and my personal goals, not worry about women at all, and just go ahead and enjoy life - although, President Monson's words are in my head (don't have 'too much fun being single'). And that's where I'm at right now.
I enjoy reading your blog posts and your Facebook comments - they help a lot of people, me included. Keep it up!

What do you think of my plans and experiences? Good, bad or indifferent? I welcome and appreciate any advice you (or indeed Sister Jo) might have.

Sincerely

D


Dear Bro Jo,


Another question I'd like to know:

How exactly did you win over Sister Jo? What did you do to earn her love and devotion for time and all eternity?

Do you know any other similar stories of friends or family members? I would love to hear and study them!!

- D



Dear D,

Good to hear from you, but I've got to tell you that after only a couple months I didn't expect you to be in a relationship, and certainly not engaged.

That's a comment on time, not your value or efforts.

To that end, I agree with your assertion that you should slow down. You said "take a break from dating", I'd say what you need to take a break from is more along the lines of "aggressively looking for a spouse".

Frankly, my brother, I think you blew it by pushing to take things to the "next level" with Girl #1 after only two dates. WAY TOO FAST, my friend. (I think you realize that, now.)

Sister Jo and I were kind of young when we met. Okay, not that young by LDS standards, but young just the same. There was a long time between that and the marriage proposal. It was several months before I finally talked her into going out with me (not that I tried right away - I was in a relationship with someone else when I first saw the future Sister Jo). Depending on which of us you ask, you'll get a different story on which was our first date - a story for perhaps another time - but while she now says that she knew we'd end up together that first day we met, and I say that I started to fall in love with her on what I consider to be our first date, neither of us brought up any type of exclusivity agreement until we had been dating only each other for several months.

I certainly don't agree that both you and I "know what that means"; I think you believe it means "forget it pal", while I think (and so does Sister Jo, by the way) it probably meant "slow down, Mr. Overeager, and try courting me and making me feel special for a while instead of dragging me off to the Temple before I'm ready".

Oh, and I think your line "not wildly attracted to her", is telling as well.  Do you always talk yourself out of wonderful women, jumping ship at the first sign of trouble and thinking that the excuses make it better?


And your story about Girl #2 makes me wonder whether or not your troubles lie not in the getting a date, but in the "advancing".  I know there's pressure to get married in our culture, and I admire you for working so hard to follow the counsel of the prophet, but the same advice I've been giving you all this time still holds true.

Widen your circle.  Keep dating.  Stop pushing so hard.  Be the best "you" you can be.  Relax and have fun. 

And be patient.

Oh, and don't be afraid to go back and date some of the girls you've taken out before again. Feelings can change and grow over time.

Thank you for the kind words about the column. I think this next week might be interesting for you; it's a week of postings about our conversations. (Actually it spills into the next week as well. This correspondence, however, won't post until several months down the road.) It will be interesting, I think, to see what the readers have to say and comment. If they're critical, don't take it too hard; let's focus on the positive things people say and the insight that they offer. Who knows? Maybe a Single Sister will feel inspired to meet you!


As for wooing Sister Jo . . . I don't know that anything can be gained by studying and emulating anyone else's story, but I'll tell you this: it took time, patience (especially on her part) and a lot of work.

 Just like marriage.

- Bro Jo