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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Friday, September 30, 2011

Get Help Now

Dear Bro Jo,

Someone told me you were good at giving advice, and right now I need all the advice I can get because I honestly don't know what to do at this point anymore.

I'm almost 19, and serving a mission is my focus right now, but I'm absolutely terrified that given behavioral patterns of mine, I won't be able to do that. I won't go into specifics, but I'm sure you can figure it out. I honestly feel like its too late right now or that I'm too far gone to do anything about it.

I've come to know and realize that it's an addiction that I've been struggling with for almost 7 years. I know I need to change what I'm doing. But I'm also embarrassed, terrified, humiliated to talk to anyone about what I've been doing, because what I've done I'm certainly not proud of.
It's ruined relationship that I've had, namely a girl and myself doing a lot of things I knew at the time I shouldn't have been doing but did nothing to stop it. This thing I've been going through has let to chastity issues, which I know is absolutely NOT okay. I've looked online for ways to help me fix the situation I find myself in, and nothing seems to work at all. I feel like if I tell me parents about it, they'll just feel disappointed or ashamed or something. I feel like I can't talk to any of my friends about it because they'll judge me and they'll stop being my friends.

But most of all I'm afraid of talking to my bishop about what's been going on because of the consequences. I'm petrified that if I tell him everything it'll either keep me from going on a mission, which everyone expects me to do because no one has any idea of what's been going on, or worse, I'll be excommunicated. I feel like it'll cost too much to talk to anyone about anything. But it's worse and worse the more I think about it.

I've lied in interviews, gone to the temple or taken the sacrament when I know I shouldn't have, and I just feel lost and hopeless. And I realize that's just Satan getting in my head, but honestly I feel like sometimes he's right and I have no business or right to go to church or socialize with members.

I know this is a lot to take in for a first email, but I took what little comfort I could in knowing that you are a complete and total stranger, so for some reason the thought of telling you about everything seemed a lot easier to bear then someone I knew.

Please, please, please help me out. I've prayed countless times to help resist Satan's advances and I know the Lord is trying His best to help me, which makes me realize it's me that's not getting the job done. And I know He's never going to give me anything beyond my capacity to handle, but still, this stuff I've been keeping inside of me is getting to be too hard to hold in anymore because I know time is running out. I turn 19 in 7 months and I fear a complete and total repentance process, while every single bit necessary, would postpone my mission departure or knock it out completely.

I'm scared that if it does get pushed back, people will wonder why and the reason will eventually come out and ruin any relationships I have within the church. At this point I'm willing to do anything to stop this and move past it, because right now I honestly feel like a complete and total failure with everything I do. I feel like my lack of ambition for life in general is attributed to this, and I'm just sluggish and don't have that peppy, bright, happy countenance that I see other people have. I pretend like everything is fine and fake my way through the days, but I'm tired of that. It's time to make a change, and I know that, I just don't know where to start, or if it's even possible at this point.

Any shred of help or insight I will gladly take. And I apologize for the nature of this email and for just dropping it on you out of nowhere, but I need help, and I need it now.

- Name Withheld



Dear Brother,

One thing at a time, my brother. You need to put your pride aside and get some help. Not the generic, pointless, non-personal kind of help you find on the internet, but the kind of help that will help you mend things with your Savior and your God.

Stop worrying about the consequences, and start thinking in eternal terms. Stop fearing man (your parents, your Bishop, others) and set things right with He who loves you most.

Those feelings you have (not going to Church, not socializing with members) and fears you have (missionary service, excommunication, the need to cover your sins with lies) are absolutely from Satan.

I'm going to be blunt with you, brother, because that's what I do and that's how much I care.

Stop making excuses! Stop allowing Satan to rule your life and make you feel miserable!

The time has come for you to stop procrastinating the day of your repentance.

Call your Bishop, and call him now.

Do it.

No excuses.

That's where you start.

And you start now.

Seriously.

Stop everything you're doing the instant you get this email. Make the call. Tell your Bishop that you have a serious need to talk to him right away. Tonight, if possible.

If you can't reach him by phone, go to his home.

If he's not there, go see his first counselor or a member of your stake presidency.

No kidding.

Go now.

When the appointment has been set (or concluded if you can see him right away), then please send me an email letting me know that you've done that which you know you ought to do.

And when you do meet, pray first, and spill your guts. Get it all out. I promise you will feel better when you do, even if it means your road to repentance seems long and difficult. Better to be moving in the right direction than continuing to slip the wrong way.

Pornography is a dangerous thing, my brother. Stop and get help now.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

When the Girl at Home Gets Asked Out

Dear Bro Jo,

k so here is what is going on.

I have a boyfriend who is on a mission. He has been gone for a little over a year and before he left we discussed it and decided I wouldn't date. So far I have held true to that. We write and I email him about once a week (just a paragraph pretty much just saying what I was up to doing the week) and a letter once a month. He writes me a letter once a month.

I hadn't had very many issues and didn't really feel I had to go on dates or pressured until recently because I had moved to a city for a while and the boys who asked me out while I was there were never LDS and so I didn't really ever even consider going on dates or accepting and most didn't know me very well and so I could just say I had a boyfriend and they would drop it. I have recently moved back home though and live in an LDS community.

Anyways, the issue I am having now is that there is currently an RM who seems to be very interested in me and is way more persistent than the other guys have been. I know him cause I was in his family's ward while I was in High school. He was a lot older though so I didn't ever really talk to him until I moved back(I'm now just barely 19 and he is almost 27) and he hung out with me and a group of my friends one night and that was like the first time he talked to me.

Ever since then he always talks to me. He knows about my boyfriend and every time he sees me he asks a ton of questions about him. I would consider this guy my friend and I am nice to him but I try to make it clear I have a boyfriend though and he just won't give up. He always hints about going on a date and yesterday he asked me if I would like to go on one I explained about my bf and told him I still really loved my boyfriend and he still wants to go on a date though and he told me he thinks my boyfriend doesn't write me enough or show enough interest.

He is fine as a friend but I feel like it would be so weird I am friends with his sister and him and I just don't have very much in common and he comes on so strong. This guy is a nice guy he just comes on so strong though and I have a boyfriend and I am not interested in him like that. Sorry for my rambling I just feel like for him he thinks I don't have any excuse not to go out with him so he keeps pushing. I'm sorry I am just confused and not sure what to do? I really love my boyfriend and I I'm pretty sure if we go on one date he's going to keep going out with him and I just don't see all this ending very well.

Also I'm not interested in this guy that way and if I were to go on a date with him too I don't know how I would tell my boyfriend. UGG!


- Taken



Dear Available,

Okay.

First things first: you don't have a "boyfriend".

There's this guy you used to date whom you made a foolish promise to that you never should have made (and the coward never should have asked you to make) that you can't go out with right now because he's too far away AND A MISSIONARY. Oh, and while I'm at it, you two write and email each other too much. If his mission president knows I'm sure he's hoping you both knock it off. (If I were his mission president I'd revoke his computer privileges for emailing you at all, let alone Every Week!)


You're 19 and a nice guy who's an active 26-year old RM asks you out? You go out.


This is going to sound harsh (as if I haven't been already), but I don't think you "love" your boyfriend. I think you "love the idea" of your boyfriend. See here's something that MGs don't get: when a guy is gone for two years, doing all the spiritual stuff a missionary is supposed to do, it's the stuff that he's NOT doing that keeps her attracted to him, and it's that very same stuff that makes it NOT a relationship.

You're not dating. You never see each other. You have nothing to fight over. You never catch him talking to or checking out other girls (which, even though he's a missionary, I promise you he's doing; he's still a guy after all). There's no relationship pressure; to move forward, to commit, to slow down, to see each other . . . or call . . . or not . . .

And there's no commitment there at all, either. You know when he comes home that he can chose to never see you again, let alone ever take you out on a date, right?

And what if he does take you out a few times and you both realize "Holy heck! This is not who I want to spend eternity with!"

He could be a perfectly decent guy and you a wonderful woman, but when the magic and mystery of him being gone wears off you might find, like thousands and thousands and thousands of couple before you, that it just isn't meant to be.

Sure, sometimes it works out. But most of the time it doesn't. Everyone thinks they're the exception. And again, some are. But most are not.

By pretending to be in this (as the oldest Jo Daughter says, using air-quotes) "relationship" look at what you're risking and missing out on!

How dare he ask you to wait!

Very selfish.

What if 26-year old RM Man is a great choice for you? What if it's some other guy? What if you sit around during your prime dating years only to have Current Missionary come home and not be a good match?

Go on the date.

Go on lots of dates.

You don't owe the guy in the field any explanations at all.

When he comes home in under a year, if you're not engaged or married (and you probably won't be), then absolutely by all means date him! It could turn out great!

But, I'll tell you now, if you don't go out with the guys that ask you while you're sitting around home and single, even if you two end up together, you may always wonder "what if" . . . and that's not good.

For every couple that "waited and worked out" in the Church, I believe there are many, many more "Single and over 25 Sisters" who wish they'd dated more when they were younger. And except for the MGs, I think my readers world-wide will back me up.

Go out. Have a good time.

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Aggressive Unworthy Girlfriend at the Y of I

Dear Bro Jo,

I am a 26 year old male BYU-Idaho student. I have transferred schools several times, and find myself feeling a little old to still be getting a degree, but because of the rules here I live in a student ward where virtually everyone is younger than I am, and most of the women are significantly younger than I am.

I've never tried to dismiss anyone, but I find that most of the women are at a different stage in life, and while I've gone on dates with them, I've never really dated them.

I try to date mostly returned missionaries because they tend to be older, but most of them seem to take every date way too seriously, to the point of planning weddings if I ask them on a second date.

Recently, I have started dating a beautiful twenty year old I met in class. She was hesitant at first, but has eventually come around, and we are now boyfriend/girlfriend. I respect this woman quite a bit, she is funny, well-grounded, affectionate, smart, perceptive, excellent with people, sweet, and a top notch communicator. I should be head over heels, and sometimes I feel that way.

Now that things have started to get serious (we've been dating almost two months) she has started to really open up to me, and I've begun to learn rather unflattering things about her. The most troubling is that she is not worthy to attend the temple, and while we kiss she is often trying to push the boundaries, never to anything outright inappropriate but often to places that feel uncomfortable, I usually stop her, or say something but she often comes back and wants to do the same thing, and let's be honest it may feel uncomfortable but it also feels so so good.

The other thing that is unsettling is that while we enjoy each other’s' company on dates, when we spend time together that has not been well planned out beforehand we have found very few things to do together that we both enjoy. I am at a point in my life where I am starting to question how effective my earlier dating behaviors were and I wonder if I've been too picky, and if the unsettled feeling I am having is just nerves that I am moving on in my life, but if I'm not being too picky it is also silly to let this relationship go on too long.

I certainly won't be in a place with so many eligible LDS women for long.

Sincerely,

A Maybe Picky Bachelor



Dear Bachelor,

It's my unqualified belief that this girl you're seeing believes that her value is reaffirmed by your physical response. In her mind, if she can sexually excite you then that means she's pretty. That's not entirely untrue; we men tend to find women more attractive if they find us attractive, right?

She may also be thinking that if you "want" her you're more likely to marry her . . .

She could also just be . . . horny.

(The reason she's "unworthy" is also something to give strong consideration. Not every issue is the same, in my opinion. A promiscuous girl, regardless of where she goes to school, is a big red flag.)

You're wise in recognizing the danger signs. If she's not Temple worthy then she's not really BYU-I worthy, either. That means she probably lied in an interview somewhere. Not a good sign. (Unless of course she's repentant.) Let me ask: when she's all over you does she seem like a girl who's repented of past wrongs and is ready to make herself worthy to enter the Temple?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Look, that doesn't mean she's a bad person, it’s just that she hasn't been taught that virtuous is beautiful and that a man needs to respect a woman if he's going to love her. Guess whose job it is to tell her that? To help her feel that?

Yup, yours amigo.

Are you too picky?

I don't know.

I think it's inspired to focus on return sister missionaries. Not just from the age advantage, but spiritually as well. As you're finding out, women have a tendency to get in their own way when it comes to romance. I'm not saying that you should give up on the current girlfriend entirely, but I do think you need to have a heart-to-heart talk with her. Preferably somewhere out in the open, with people nearby, in the daylight . . .

I also think your notion of being too picky may just be a prompting that you may want to expand the sphere of women you're considering. I get piles of letters every month from girls at BYU-I who are closer to your age, live high standards, and have clean dating histories (if they've dated at all) who would love to meet a guy just like you. It's not that big of a campus; they should be easy to find.

One last thought: if you really have reached the point where this relationship seems "silly" and pointless, it's time to move on. However, like I said, I think you should have that conversation first and see what happens. After all, if you can get past this issue, if you're making a bigger deal out of it than you should, if she's not as "unworthy" as we fear . . . you might be making a big mistake to let her go.

Good luck!

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 23, 2011

Don't Rush to Serious Single Dating While You're Still Casual Group Dating Age

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey!

I messaged you before about whether or not I should say yes to the "bad boy" prom date... Well I've got another boy question!

I know your opinion is that girls shouldn't call boys.... But I have a special situation!

I was working on Friday, and a really cute guy pulled through the drive through. When I gave him his change back, he gave me his business card and said "This is for you." I said thanks, stuck it in my pocket, and went back to work. After I got home, I decided to check out the website on the card. Turns out he's pretty much the coolest, most inspirational kid ever.. and he's famous! He's been in a Wheelchair since he was little, and he's pretty talented on that wheelchair around the skate park! I checked out his Facebook, and he had EFY pictures up so he's (most likely) LDS!

So here's my problem.. I have no clue if by giving me the business card he was saying "call me" or "I want you to be aware of kids with disabilities."

I'd love to get to know this kid better.. But I really don't know what to do! Advice please?

- Another Whiny Girl Who Probably Has the Answer Right In Front of Her


Dear Probably,

Let me ask you, what do you think the answer is?

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Sorry this took so long to reply!

I thought about it, and since he DID made the first move by giving me his card, I decided to send him a message via email.

I said something like "Hey! You gave me your card the other night at Del Taco! I decided to check out your website.. you seem really cool!" I figured then he had a way to contact me if he wanted, but it wasn't like I was making any moves.

He replied, and it went back and forth for a few emails before he asked for my number.

Eventually he asked me on a date! I didn't even have to use any of your ways to get guys to ask you on dates! (They really work by the way.. I've tried out most of them!)

It took a few weeks for the date to actually happen since he's a pretty busy kid, but we finally went on a date this weekend! :) It turned out to be really fun!


Another quick question!

My parents seem genuinely worried that I DON'T have a boyfriend. Every time I get home from a date, they ask "Well are you going to date him?" or "Did you kiss him?" It's really frustrating that they automatically assume that EVERY guy I go on a date with is my "boyfriend". They (mainly my dad) can't seem to wrap their heads around the idea of casual group dating. (Possibly because they never did any casual group dating of their own in high school.. They were dating each other.) And they're shocked that I don't do more kissing!

Now that I'm 18, it's getting worse. My parents pretty much bring up marriage every single day. They were married fresh out of high school, so why shouldn't I be? Honestly, I am sooo not ready for eternal commitment! I'm still in High School! It seems like everyone is pushing me towards single dating! Even my bishop suggested that I try out singles ward.

I guess I'm at that iffy in-between stage.. and I can't decide which side of the line to be on! I'm older than everyone in high school, (late birthday) so I'm the same age as all of my friends that are ready to hop into the YSA world.. and everyone's waiting for me to join them!

So I guess my question is... Should I try out singles ward and open the door for the opportunity for "real" dating, or should I stick with what I'm comfortable with til after graduation?
I've heard it both ways! So what do you think?

- Probably


Dear Probably,

Well first of all let me tell you that I was excited to hear about your date and I really appreciate hearing the "How a Girl Can Get a Guy to Ask Her on a Date" stuff has worked for you.

It's not my place to disagree with parents, but I'm not going to tell an 18-year old girl that she should have a boyfriend and do more kissing, either. And I'm not going to tell someone your age that she should run out and get married or do dating stuff that makes her feel uncomfortable.

Besides, as far as your parents wanting to talk to you about your dates and inquire about your physical activities, I'm not sure they mean to pressure you. When you love someone it's natural to want them to be happy, and we tend to think that what makes (or has made) us happy will make them happy, too. Add to that a parent's desire to be a part of their children's lives, and you should expect (and be grateful for) your parents asking you about your love life.

Keep Casual Group Dating. Don't rush to the Singles Ward. The time for that and Serious Single Dating will come soon enough.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Medical Marijuana

Dear Bro Jo,

I love your blog and have asked you many questions. In past questions, I have mentioned medical issues, I have been sick for 5 months with chronic pain and other things due to an auto immune disease. I am unable to have many foods and have refused to take pain killers such as Norco and hydro-codeine. Due to the pain they are now looking into alternate treatments such as acupuncture and medical cannabis since nothing is working.

As an LDS youth, you can see my issue. What do I do?

I suffer from a phobia of needles due to a wrongly done spinal tap and blood tap epidural.

What is your view on use of medical marijuana?

Sincerely,

Lost and Confused


Dear Lost,

If a member of my family was in a similar situation, I would counsel them not to smoke marijuana for medical purposes. I feel that violates the Word of Wisdom, and I think meeting God with a clear conscience, having obeyed his commandments and enduring the pain is much better than the alternative.

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 19, 2011

Gossip, Forgiveness, and the Power of Service

Bro Jo-

This isn't a question about dating. I'm looking for advice from a fellow Mormon about forgiveness. I hope that's okay.

My sophomore year of high school, a girl who had been my "best friend" suddenly turned on me - literally overnight. Her name will be Sarah. I honestly don't know what I did to make her act the way she did. It was all the classic "mean girl" things - spreading gossip and lies to our mutual friends, telling me I couldn't sit at lunch with them anymore, giving me the silent treatment, etc. Sarah was in my ward, and as a result, most of the young women were very mean to me. So I stopped going. She turned all of my closest friends against me and I spent the rest of sophomore year alone and quite depressed.

I have inferiority and guilt issues from abuse/neglect as a child, as well as an anxiety disorder. Things like this seem to affect me more than normal people. After Sarah did this - and after another very close friend, Doug, did a very similar thing the following summer - I found myself seriously struggling with my relationships. I went back over Sarah and Doug's actions over and over, trying to figure out what I had done to drive these people away, and couldn't come up with anything.

So I guess I decided that it was just me, people just could only stand me for so long until they inevitably left me behind. I felt like there was something deeply, innately wrong with me that kept other people from really wanting me, and those feelings showed in my behavior. I felt unable to trust people's intentions and withdrew from them, convinced that if I spent too much time around them or invested myself in them, they would abandon me, too.

It seems extreme, but I'm just telling my story.

I can't tell you how many times my mom and my therapist tried to convince me that these peoples' actions were not my fault, that it was "their problem." I wanted to believe them. I just couldn't. That, basically, was the root of all of these issues.

I'm now in my junior year and am doing much better. These issues come up occasionally, but in the last few months I have been working really hard on stretching myself, serving others, and gradually trusting others. I even have a few close friends, whereas last year I couldn't even get to that point. The Lord has been helping me a great deal.

I recently reconciled with Doug. He apologized for his actions and wouldn't let me say that any of it was my fault. It took an enormous weight off of my shoulders just to officially end that conflict and feel the peace it left. But it made me think about Sarah. I realized that I haven't forgiven her at all. I feel an enormous amount of bitterness and pain when I think about her. I don't see her in person anymore, because she moved and changed schools, but she still hangs out with many of my friends.

They practically worship her, and I resent that. I tried to reconcile with Sarah towards the beginning of this school year, but she refused to listen to me and insisted that I had deserved everything that happened (but never explained what exactly I did wrong). I'm sure she has no idea the magnitude of her actions.

Due to all my efforts with these issues, along with help from the Lord, I am beginning to truly believe that I am a daughter of God who is worthy of being loved by other people and that I am not really responsible for Sarah's actions. But without answers, reconciliation, or an apology, I find myself unable to forgive her. I genuinely want to. I don't want to carry around this burden anymore, and refusing to forgive is a sin that I don't want to be guilty of. I keep thinking of the Savior and his admonition to forgive always, and I really want to let go of this.

What steps can I take to finally forgive her?

Sorry if this was long. I can't help it.

:)

Thanks in advance.

-Still Hurting



Dear Hurting,

Some things take time, even more time than we want them to. That's ok.

You're right to want to forgive, and you're right to keep trying. Be patient; it will happen.

I posted something once on the Facebook page about what Sister Jo says regarding service; nothing makes us feel better than being of service to others. As you work towards forgiving your friend keep looking for opportunities to serve others. I promise that your service will help you feel better and help you to forgive.

Remember the reason we're supposed to forgive others is because Christ has helped us to be forgiven. Our forgiving shows gratitude. As you continue to grow closer to the Savior you'll be better able to forgive.

You're on the right track, just keep moving forward.

When you're ready, try doing a selfless and anonymous act of service for "Sarah"; it will feel wonderful!

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Apocrypha and Other "Missing" Scriptures

Dear Bro Jo,

I know you usually don't take this kind of question, but I'm really curious and just feel like you're the person I should ask.

I was reading through the Bible Dictionary and found the part about the "Apocrypha." I was wondering if you could tell me what exactly it is, since I didn't get a good description of it from the BD.

It basically just said it was a book (partially?) revealed in D&C 91. Have you heard anything about it?

Do we have it, or is it lost like parts of the Book of Mormon?

- Curious



Dear Curious,

Great question as Seminary this year is covering the Old Testament!

"Apocrypha" is a term applied to several different texts in any of several combination, more a collection of works (like the Bible) than an individual text. Typically these works cover a period of time between Malachi and the New Testament. Over the centuries there's been some debate as to their authenticity and validity as "scripture", but to be honest, that can be said of other parts of the OT as well (such as the "Song of Solomon"). These books aren't missing, per se; they still exist and can be found in older (think 1600's) versions of the scriptures and as separate texts on their own (you can buy them at Amazon).

Wikipedia actually has a pretty good explanation, discussion of the history of the term, and lists of the texts located therein (click HERE).

You may also want to research the Septuagint, which is also mentioned in your Bible Dictionary. Of interest, I think, is that the Books of the Maccabees (1 and 2) are often included in one or the other, the Septuagint or the Apocrypha, depending on which religion is considering them. Its from the Maccabees that we get Hanukkah.

I personally don't see anything wrong with reading uplifting and inspirational texts in addition to canonized scripture, but the more I've researched and read the more I have a Testimony of the statement made that a person can grow closer unto God by reading the Book of Mormon than by any other text.

The Apocrypha and other potentially sacred texts (if you search you can find several lists, not surprisingly some are better than others), and things such as The Dead Sea Scrolls, may indeed have great Spiritual value, but I think we're better off spending our time understanding basic truths (like what it feels like to feel the Spirit and the meaning and purpose of the Atonement in our individual lives) than digging through spiritual minutia. Plus, the truth is, a lot of that stuff gets pretty muddled and contradictory, which is another reason why modern day prophetic revelation is so important.

Hope that helps. Keep up your Gospel studies!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How to Break Up with Her - Follow Up

[Readers - About 9 months ago I published "How to Break Up with Her", my response to a letter from a young man in Australia who was being pursued by a girl at school, and he wanted me to give him a list of ways on how to gently break it off. The Follow Up to that letter follows a rerun of the original post below. - Bro Jo]


Hello there Bro Jo,

I’m a teenager writing to you after having read your blog for a while (it’s a very great one I have to say) and noticing I need some help of my own after some recent events.

You see. There’s this girl (non member) that likes me (and I have to admit I like her a bit too) that has asked me out. I said yes and almost instantly I felt a weird feeling that felt like it was saying “no” (and I’m pretty sure I know what that was). Now she is already saying stuff like “I love you” in a text, or “miss you”

I have met up with girl a few times before this and on those occasions we have kissed (they weren't too passionate) and held hands. Etc. but on those occasions I always felt ‘empty’ inside when I did kiss and afterwards I felt down.

I’m pretty sure I know this girl is not the right one for me. Because in my patriarchal blessing it says something about a beautiful young woman and me marrying her in the temple (yay!!) but right now I just need some help in breaking up and also to help prevent events like this happening again. I don't want to be too mean to her as I am not a very good talker with girls.

I just want help with this girl so I can prevent sins that I know will tempt me if I continue down this path because I know this church is true and I have a strong testimony of the gospel. And I don’t want to lose the chance to marry a “beautiful young woman” when I am older

Yours truly,

Marcoda



Dear Marcoda,

Breaking up is tough, my man, especially if you want to maintain your "good guy" status.

Before I give you advice on this one, I hope you don't mind if I point out that: A) this is why young people should avoid the whole boyfriend-girlfriend thing at your age, and B) what I've been saying to girls for years is true: don't be the pursuer.

Okay, now that I've got that out of my system, here's the key to breaking up with a teenage girl: do it fast and keep it simple.

The longer you wait the more horrific it can be. Unless she's decided she doesn't like you or, more likely, she's found someone else, she's going to be hurt and angry and mad no matter what you do or say. I'm a firm believer that there's no such thing as an amicable mutual breakup. So hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

There are some things you can say to lessen the blow. Here are some favorites (but keep in mind that Ol' Bro Jo got dumped WAY MORE than he did the breaking up):

Bro Jo's THINGS a GUY CAN SAY to SOFTEN the BREAKUP

1.  "I think you're a wonderful girl, but I'm just not in a place right now where I want a girlfriend"



Yup. That's it. Pretty short list, huh?

The truth is that anything more than that spells disaster. Any reason you give, any explanation, is just going to make it worse. Don't make any promises you won't be able to keep, like "let's just be friends" or things you don't believe like "it's not you it's me".

Be brave. Try to do it in person.

But do it soon. Do it now.

Good luck.

Let me know how it goes.

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

As for an update I'm sorry for taking so long to reply....I've been really busy with school and other things (one of them being EFY...and I'd like to say this to all youth...it will change your life so much. Go to it no matter the cost, you will never be the same again). I never really thought about your question until recently.

Well you'll be happy to hear that me and that girl no longer go out, and she goes out with other guys. But she has tried to ask me out again recently when she broke up with a guy but this time I took your advice and said that I don't want a girlfriend right now.she kinda begged for me to be her boyfriend but I stood firm and still said no.

I'd like to say that yes you are right in that its not a good idea to have a girlfriend around my age, and i know without a doubt in my heart that this church is true... and I do look forward to that day where I meet that beautiful young woman I will marry ...whoever that is...=)

Thanks,

Marcoda


Dear Marcoda,

You not having a girlfriend is not a source of joy for me. You staying focused on a mission, realizing that this girl is just using you between boyfriends, and holding true to your standards makes me very proud of you.

All the best,

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 12, 2011

Does He Like Her or Not?

Dear Mr. Bro Jo,

So there is this guy that I like right?  And he's super cute, totally my type, and such a sweetheart.

Well... a while ago I finally asked him if he liked me as well. It seemed like it, and people had told me that he did... but I just needed to know for myself, ya know?

So I talked to him and he's like yeah I really like you but I’m not really the boyfriend/girlfriend type. which was totally fine by me!

Time passed and now I have no idea whatsoever if he still likes me or not. Some days it seems like he does, and some days it seems like he doesn’t. How do I know if he does??? I don’t know what to do!

Sincerely,

(well I can’t tell you. haha)



Dear Anonymous,

Well . . . he told you he did. Perhaps you should talk to him and see what's up.

But if you're still in High School I'd say back off a bit. He already told you he's not looking for a commitment.

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo

Yeah... you’re totally right. I was making it a lot more complicated then it needed to be.

Thanks for clarifying it for me!

- Annon



Dear Annon,

Anytime.

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 9, 2011

Has She Really Repented, or Did She Skip a Step?

Dear Bro Jo,

A few months ago, I was finally able to honestly say to myself that I would never cut myself again. I felt like I had resolved my problem with myself and the lord and been completely forgiven by both.

After repenting, it was as if someone else had done those things, not me. I could no longer feel that sin on my conscience. But after reading some of the things on your blog, I feel like I "skipped a step" in the repentance process by not talking to my bishop.

My parents never knew, my bishop never knew. I only ever told one friend about it. So even though I was completely sure that it was over, I'm wondering if I should see my bishop about it. Should I? You always tell people to see their bishops, so I'm wondering if I should even though it's over.

- Conflicted and Confused


P.S.- Are there any sins that absolutely everyone needs to see their bishop about? I know you hate "listing" sins, but are there some that, just by their natures, need to be told to the bishop no matter how much you've repented on your own?




Dear Conflicted,

The rule of thumb is that you should talk to your Bishop if you need help repenting or the sin is something that might call your worthiness into question. If you're ever not sure, I say error on the side of having the conversation.

It sounds to me like you have everything resolved. If you feel you need to talk to your Bishop, then do.

And, by the way . . . I'm very proud of you.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Should a Missionary Hear About Troubles at Home?

Dear Bro Jo,

Okay so I know that you don't agree with the idea of girls waiting for missionaries, and I respect that, but that is (sort of) what I'm doing here... so if you don't want to give me advice on said missionary that's okay, I plan to ask my parents when they come home from work later anyway... I just thought I could use some outside advice.

This isn't about waiting for a missionary . . . or dating.

It's a long story... but, The missionary I have been writing to for 21 months comes home soon, and a lot has happened while he's been gone. I've had limited contact with his family because they live so far away from here; it’s mostly been texting his brothers every couple of weeks and some talking on Facebook.

Anyway, since Elder F left on his mission both of his brothers have left the Church. I found out that one of his brothers had a baby with his girlfriend . . . I just assumed Elder F knew but hadn't said anything about it in his letters because he was so busy teaching people at that time.

Apparently I was wrong... today I got a letter from Elder F.

"I only found out about S at Christmas during my phone call home. I really do not know anything. It’s like I'm non-existent or something. I'm going to go back and not know who is my family at this rate. A lot changes in two years . . ."

Now I don't know what to do... I know his other brother is also having a baby; I have been sent pictures of his nephew . . . Should I send him a picture? I feel awful that I knew months before he did and that I also have pictures.


- Best Friend of a Missionary.



Dear Friend,

It's not your place to interject yourself into family business, so sending him pictures is a no-no. However, encouraging his brothers to do so is a good idea. (Clearly one reason they haven't is because they're embarrassed to admit to their doing-right brother that they've screwed up so horribly. They may also be thinking that if they clouded his life with their issues it would distract him from the Lord's work - another reason why you shouldn't butt in.)

For now continue to write him encouraging and supportive letters. In a month or two it will also be appropriate to write to him and let him know that you're looking forward to seeing him again, and that you hope the two of you can spend some time together.

He is right, you know, a lot changes in two years when someone is gone.

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

I know a lot can change in two years, I'll be the first to admit a lot has changed while Elder F has been gone but in all honesty, him being gone has just made me like and respect him more and I'm looking forward to spending time with my best friend again when he comes home.

I know it isn't my place to 'butt in' which is why I have always been careful when he asks me about his family -- his family don't write that often, he only hears from his parents every couple of months and he's never had a letter from his brothers (who are both older than him) so I’m not entirely sure encouraging them to send him pictures of his nephew would work but I'll give it a try.

- Friend


Dear Friend,

You don't “have to” encourage his brothers, but you can.  There's a difference, you know.

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 5, 2011

He's Desperate for a Second Date - Part 8

[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 D,

So . . . tomorrow we run part 7 of our conversations. There have been lots of comments. What have you taken away from them and this experience?

Something struck me in your last correspondence. You said "no engagements yet" . . .

Funny, but I think that sums up everything I (and everyone else) have been trying to say.

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

I'm so sorry! Please forgive me for not writing back.

In my last e-mail, I said that I was going to take a break from dating... and that's what I have done. I haven't asked for a date in almost 2 months and it has been great! Remembering what you said about not pushing so hard, I've just gone out and had a good time. I've rediscovered the joy that comes in forgetting about myself. Since I've stopped stressing over my dating disappointments, my church service has developed strongly. I've focused on people in my ward that I can help in some small way, and that has been wonderful. Some of my friends have remarked that I seem calmer and less frustrated with things. My professional life has never been better! I'm in line for a promotion at work and I am far less anxious each day I'm there.

All of these blessings I can attribute to my decision to stop worrying over things I can't control. There are several hundred LDS girls in my area, 95% of whom are not interested in me, and nothing I can do will ever change that. The other 5% I've dated already and realized that things won't work out. While I may start dating again, it's not on the cards at the moment.

As to what I've taken away from the comments? I've gained a greater testimony of relying upon Christ. He has experienced every pain and disappointment, and I know that through Him I will be lifted up at the last day. Whatever opinions people might have of me, they mean nothing compared to what the Lord thinks of me. He sees me as a glorious being, filled with endless potential. Most importantly, I must be happy with myself. And I am!

Although your counsel hasn't been ultimately successful, it has still been a blessing to have come across your blog. And I LOVE the happy stories that others share. They inspire to be worthy of and ready for more great opportunities.

I'll let you know if anything changes.

Kind regards

- No longer disappointed



Dear No Longer,

I'm glad you're happy.

I'm not certain you followed anything I suggested . . . exactly. I suggested to stop pushing . . . not to swear off dating entirely. As I know you know, life is about balance; when the pendulum swings back the other way, don't let it swing back quite so far.

Remember, "we only lose when we quit".

With best wishes for your continued joy,


- Bro Jo