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Friday, December 28, 2012

Her Parents Hate the RM She Loves Because He Fathered a Child

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello again. Update: I've made some mistakes since the last email I sent you, but on the whole-especially now- I've been striving to live a truly repentant life to take the sacrament again and get my temple worthiness back and be able to go through it.

The reason I'm writing you again, is because I've met someone who makes me happy beyond anything (except for of course the gospel). The problem is, is that my family absolutely hates him. He served his mission in my area, that's how I know him, but we weren't close and definitely did not flirt or anything while he was an elder. A few years have passed since his mission and we maintained contact, but nothing too serious, until a series of seemingly random events brought us together again. The chemistry between us was insane. He is the first man (apart from my father) who has said he loved me and I know it's true. He treats me with respect as a person, as a woman and as a daughter of God. He's got a good job. He's really cute and funny and we connect on basically every level. Awesome, right?

Now for the bombshell, Bro Jo: he has a daughter with his nonmember ex-girlfriend. Believe me, there were some red flags when I found this out (I knew this before we started dating...and I did judge him for it at the time...). He tried getting her to join the church-when they started dating, when she was pregnant, and after the baby was born-but 3 years later and she still doesn't care for it. He pays child support for his one year old daughter. He wants to be married in the temple and is taking the necessary steps to be worthy of his priesthood and garments. But my parents and siblings don't see that. They only see his mistake (it's a big one… I know... I am fully aware...) and have painted him as the devil himself, set on taking their daughter away from them.

The other day, my dad called my boyfriend and told him he was never to speak to me again, for a period of 12 months. If he contacted me in any way, my parents would take other measures to keep him from me. I can understand their concern and I appreciate it. It shows they love and care for me and for my well-being. But I'm having trouble with the way they've handled the situation. I know for myself that I am having nothing less than a temple marriage. If my boyfriend doesn't do what he needs to do to take me there, I'll find someone else who can. But I love him. I want him to take me to the temple. I'm not even worthy to go to the temple yet. So it's not like I have to wait on him. My parents told me I'm too blinded to see the truth, but I really don't think so. I'm fully aware that if I marry him, his expenses become mine and that includes paying child support for his daughter. I know that he will still have to maintain contact with his ex because of his daughter. I know that it will take a lot of work-and time-for him (and for myself) to return to worthy standing in the Church. I know that since he has been given the M. Priesthood that his repentance is going to be different than mine-since I in fact do not have the ability to hold the priesthood and I also have not ever been an endowed member-but he truly wants to have all of that back.

To clarify, he was not excommunicated nor was he disfellowshipped. My parents believe he was, which adds to the whole devil thing.

I guess what I'm really wanting to know... is what to do... I feel like my parents are making me choose between a man that I love (one with baggage but I love him just the same) and them. I do love my family, but I'm less than a month away from 21, and I'm not a little girl anymore. I'm not saying that I shouldn't take their concern and advice into consideration. No, I will and I do, and I care that they care this much for me. But to completely take away my agency to choose for myself what to do with my life..? That's what they've done. They won't listen to anything I have to say and it's suffocating. They hear me but don't listen because "I'm blinded" by my "love" for him.

My mom said I could marry him if I wanted, but she wasn't giving it her blessing nor would she attend. If it's not a temple marriage, she's not going. I'm not marrying him if I can't go to the temple with him...

Please help me Bro Jo,

Dazed and Confused

Dear Dazed,

I need some more information, please.

Why did your dad say "12 months"? What's the magic in that number?

How long ago was your last "mistake", and how big of a mistake was it? (I'm recalling the issue we discussed last April.) Or were they? Have you "made mistakes" with your current boyfriend?

How old is your boyfriend?

What is his job? And what is the nature of his relationship with his daughter like?

How long have the two of you been dating? Does he pass the Bro Jo's "Five A's of Why NOT to Marry That Person" test?

Have the two of you been together long enough to have gone through Bro Jo’s "LIST of STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW TO BEFORE YOU GET ENGAGED" ?

Have the two of you seriously talked about marriage? Has he proposed?

And, most importantly, give me a timeline: how soon could each of you be worthy to enter the Temple?

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

12 months... I don’t know the magic in that number. Probably because it's a full year and a year is a long time.

My last mistake was in the beginning of November and it was a big one.

I have not made mistakes with my current boyfriend.

He just turned 25.

He works at a company that (details withheld). He holds a supervisor position there.

He absolutely loves his daughter and wants to take care of her himself.

He passes the reasons not to marry someone.

We have discussed some of the things on the engaged questionnaire.

We’ve been dating for almost two months. Yes, I know it's quite fast. He has not proposed but we have talked about our desires to go to the temple, and i really feel like he's the one i want to go there with.

In regards to a timeline, it would be about a year before we're both ready to go to the temple. The problem with what my parents have done, in my mind, is to keep us apart from each other during that time. I don't think it's a good idea to completely cut off our communication with each other. We motivate each other and help keep the other on the path.

- Dazed

Dear Dazed,

Do your parents know about April and November?

(In the grand scheme of things, a year isn't that long, by the way.)

What happened in your boyfriend's life that he needs a year to become worthy?

Has your father served in a Bishopric, Stake Presidency or on the High Council?

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

My parents know about what happened in April. I haven't explicitly told them about what has happened since then, but I’m sure they have their ideas.

- Dazed

Dear Dazed,

There are some . . . timeline things I want to make certain I have straight.

(Sorry for probing so much, but the details will help us figure out how to deal with you parents)

You said you . . . "made a big mistake" in November, one month ago, you've been dating this guy for two months, but he's not the one you had sex with, is that right?

He has a three year old child that he fathered shortly after returning from "serving an honorable mission" with a girl he started dating when he came home. Does that girl live in his mission field or is she a girl from home?

His daughter is now three years old. He supports her financially but has given up on trying to convert her mother. He is no longer sexually or romantically involved with the mother.

He says he's on the road to repentance, but has not yet spoken about his transgression with his stake president, which is why he has yet to receive any form of Church discipline and still has a year to work on his issue.

The two of you are dating, but haven't fooled around.

Am I getting it right?

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

He is not the man I had sex with, no.

His daughter is a year and 4 months old.

His ex is a girl he met at home.

He's not romantically or sexually involved with the mother.

We have not fooled around.

He was kind of stagnant in his spiritual process when we got together initially. But he's actively repenting.

- Dazed

Dear Dazed,

Thank you. That clears up a few things.

I still have questions, but I think I have enough to go on.

Look, you're an adult; who you want to date is your business. Your parents get to set the rules for their home, and that includes curfews and who can come over, but they can't control what you do when you're out of the home. They could declare that if you don't do what they want then you don't get to live there, I suppose . . . but all of that comes down to an almost separate issue of the relationship you have with them and their willingness to accept you as an adult. You'll always be their daughter, but you're not a baby anymore. If that's not a reconcilable issue, then you may need to leave their house to gain your independence; just realize how much more difficult life, and the temptations you're going to face, will be.

As for your boyfriend . . . well, there are some things that each of you can do that might make things easier for your parents to grow to like him. Whether or not they choose to is of course up to them, and it may take no small effort and quite a bit of time.

And, let's face it:  neither of the two of you have exactly been living "Temple Worthy" lives up to this point.  For a couple that's supposed to be "in love" and talking about making eternal commitments to each other, neither of you has yet chosen to get your act together or repent of your past transgressions.  (Thus the whole "still need to wait a year" thing.)  I mean, come on:  you had sex with some other guy while you were dating this guy who you now think is the love of your life; he (supposedly) served as a worthy missionary, but came home (after making Temple covenants) and knocked up some girl . . . and still (sixteen months later) hasn't made things right with God.  Your dad is right:  neither of you has shown the Spiritual Maturity yet needed to forge an Eternal Bond.  Frankly, all of this "Temple Marriage" talk seems drastically premature.

If your dad is anything like me, his two biggest concerns regarding whom his daughter marries is that A) he'll be able to support and take care of her, and B) that he's a worthy and active priesthood holder.

A) is taken care of; it sounds like he's got a good job and he cares for you.

B) is another matter.

Going to Church is great, but saying you're "actively repenting" is just talk until he goes and talks to priesthood authority. The man was an Endowed Member of the Church, made very solemn covenants with God in the Temple about staying morally clean . . . and isn't. It’s past time for him to man up and face the consequences of his actions. He needs to officially and formally begin the repentance process. If he's not ready to do that, then he's not yet unselfish enough to really love you the way that you deserve.

That doesn't mean he's not a Good Guy, it just means that he lacks the courage to do what's right. You can help him with that by offering the love and support that he'll need to take those first few steps.

Your father will witness the change in his countenance as he makes things right with God, and while that may not totally soften him, it will help.

But it will take TIME.  If you truly love each other, then respecting each other should be top priority.  Sexual purity for a year while you work towards a Temple Marriage and save sacred things for that marriage is essential.  Again, a year isn't that long.

Stay out of tempting situations. Two non-virgins who are deeply attracted to each other but have goals of Celestial marriage will find that Satan will use their libidos and previous experience to make the temptations very difficult to resist. That means that you'll need to be vigilant in your efforts to stay clean. No making out in the car, horizontal, alone, in the dark . . . you know the drill.

Prove to your parents that they can trust him with you by never giving them cause to think otherwise.

A year may seem like a very long time, but it IS possible.

You'll need to move forward with your repentance process, too.

One more thing. And please understand that this is council I neither give lightly or often. If the two of you can't make it the year, if you really are in love with each other and willing to commit to each other for Time and All Eternity . . . but you realize that you'll can't keep your hands off each other and you deep down have very little desire to . . . not . . . you know, then tell your parents and go to the Bishop and get married first. It will be a harder path, especially with your parents - possibly setting their acceptance of him back many years - so it’s not nearly as good a choice as becoming worthy and being Sealed in the Temple first. Still, it’s far better than making choices that keep you further from God and His Spirit.

You've got a lot of work cut out for you. Both of you. But I can promise you this: nothing is more worth the effort and work than a strong Eternal Marriage.

Keep me posted.

Feel free to email any time.

And do yourself a favor: no more making your life needlessly complicated. Okay?

The guidelines that we're given about morality and the way we should keep certain things within marriage and sacred aren't just old fashioned values; their God's advice about how to make our lives easier and more fully know his joy!

Counsel with your Bishop.  Be Honest with him.

And Be Honest with yourselves and each other.

Now go Be Good.  Both of you.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Divorce and the Little Brother

Dear Bro Jo,

So let me give you some background information first.

For my entire life, I have looked up to my oldest sister, "Jessica". She was very athletic, spiritual, and always level-headed and gave the best advice. She was called to serve a mission to South America, but ended up serving in Southern California while waiting for her visa. (She really didn't need much training as she was well-prepared and already spoke Spanish.) Then she served about a year in South America, but came home sick. They tried to release her, but she wanted to serve 18 months of actual service, so they sent her to (location withheld).

After her mission, she got married in the temple and started her education. She and her husband eventually moved to Provo so she could attend BYU. They had two kids, and she has been the sibling I respected the most.

A few months ago, I went over to my parents’ house for Sunday dinner, and I knew something was wrong. My mom eventually pulled me aside and told me Jessica was leaving her husband, "Roger".

From what I had heard, she never could give a direct answer as to why she was leaving him, but both of my parents had to spirit tell them there was another guy. She of course denied it, but she then re-married less than a month after the divorce finalized.

This has been hellish to go through. I love my sister dearly, but I can't support her in this. I love her, and It's tearing me up to think of everything she's done and is doing. It's also killing me to see our family start getting torn apart.

The siblings who are active in the Church are against her choice; the siblings who are not active are apathetic to her choices, and are blaming us and our parents for not being behind her, and "driving her away" in one brothers words. This is been hard to deal with, and I'm not really sure how to forgive her. I love her, but my feelings about her are tainted.

This is also making me scared to get married and have kids. My oldest brother noticed that she is showing a lot of symptoms of postpartum depression, and thinks her judgment is being clouded.

This has been made harder by the fact that my Bishop is my dad, and I don't feel comfortable talking this with him.

How do I forgive my sister, and have a friendship with her again?

How do I move past this fear of marriage fear?

I want to be married, how do I get over the fear?

- Torn Brother

Dear Brother,

Divorce is hard on everyone, not just the couple involved. (It's not all about you, you know.)

Those of us on the outside though need to remember that there's always private personal stuff that we don't know; when a couple isn't working things out together, it's not likely that anyone else knows all the details, either.

And, as in so many things, there are always two sides. Rarely in any argument, and almost never in a divorce, is only one party at fault. 

I don't think it’s your place, right, responsibility or privilege to "forgive" your sister. You clearly don't know the whole story, probably never will, and frankly it doesn't matter. Even if her motivations for her actions are entirely selfish and unholy, then her actions are between her, her kids, her ex-husband, and most importantly, her God.

I know you love and look up to her, I understand that you’re hurt, scared and disappointed, but her actions really have nothing to do with you. 

That said, I think as her brother you have a right to tell her how you feel. The only good way to have those conversations, by the way, is to never use the word "you".

Tell her "I'm having a tough time", "I'm freaked out and worried about making marriage mistakes"; don't say "what you're doing bothers me", say "the situation bothers me".

The difference in the words you choose will keep her from feeling defensive, allow you to express how you feel, and help you both to rebuild the bridge between you.

Good luck.

It will be a difficult conversation.

But when the time is right . . .

Believe it or not, I grew up pretty scared to get married, too. Of the 21 cousins, I'm number 19. All of the 18 that are older than me, 16 got married before I did, and of those 16 marriages, fourteen of them failed. Not a very good family track record by any standards.

But at some point Brother, we've got to realize that the failures of others is not a roadblock to our success; we make our own destiny, if you will.

There are no guarantees in marriage, or in life, but we learn from the mistakes of others as best we can and push forward because we realize that the rewards are worth the risks. There are certain things in life for which nothing can prepare you; you'll have to live through them to understand them. Marriage. Children. And I can now add "your children growing up and moving out" to the list.

Your sister is still your sister. She's still a good person; she's just making some dumb and hurtful decisions right now; but she needs your love, not your judgment. Heck, for all we know, her decisions aren't as dumb as we may think they are. Isn't it very likely that she's feeling hurt, frustrated, and betrayed?

Consider: even the most irrational of behavior makes sense to the person doing it at the time.

If any of the siblings want to meddle or take a side, that’s their problem, regardless of which side they take. Sure, they're entitled to their opinions, and in a family those opinions are going to get expressed. And some of the opinions are going to be wrong.

Some of them are going to be based on the things that make the holders of those opinions comfortable with their own shortcomings.

As difficult as it may be, unless you're talking directly to your sister, the bet thing to do may be to keep quite about all of this. Let some time pass and some healing happen. And show her as much love as you can. 

Remember, we can't argue anyone into repentance.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,


I just feel so hurt by the way it has divided my family.

"Roger" is still, and always will be my brother as far as I am concerned; plus, he is still the father of my niece and nephew. I don't want him gone from my life, but "Jessica" is making it so that we have to choose. 

Thanksgiving last year, we had my grandmother, my parents, all of my siblings, all their spouses, and all of my nieces and nephews. It was the happiest Thanksgiving I've ever had. This year, though, there was only my parents, my grandma, and my oldest brother. It felt more like a Sunday dinner than a holiday.

More specifically about my marriage fear, it just begin scared of the fact that no matter what I do, my life could be completely turned upside-down by the choices of my wife.

That scares me.

It had always been in the back of my mind, but now I can't stop thinking about it.

Part of the problem I'm having is that my sister won't talk to me directly. I tried her cell phone, email and Facebook. None of them worked.

- Torn Brother

Dear Brother,

I think the "making you choose" thing is really a matter of attitude and perspective.

Jessica can't "make you" chose between her and Roger; all she can do is utter some unrealistic and selfish ultimatum and then remove herself from your life when she doesn't get her way.

(See the difference?)

Petty, childish and selfish, but then that fits with her current pattern of behavior, doesn't it?

Family dynamics change. Learning to roll with that is part of being a family.

I have some news for you about marriage: your life will be completely turned upside-down by the choices of your wife . . . and your children.

It’s scary.

And often wonderful.

There's not too much you can do about it.

If that freaks you out, let me tell you that I think it’s even scarier to realize that their lives will be changed forever by the decisions YOU make.

We're all connected. 

Jessica is choosing not to talk to you right now because of the decisions she's making. You can't force her to talk to you. It stinks, but then . . . well . . . see the comments above about being selfish.

Give her time. I'm sorry for your pain; I have no idea how to take it away; but I can assure you time will help.

And if you can find a way to be open to her when she's finally ready to talk, that will go a long way toward making things better.

One last thing:  I think this is one of those things that you should be talking to your dad about As Your Dad, not your Bishop.  Either way . . . you should talk to the man.

- Bro Jo

Monday, December 24, 2012

What Should She Write a Missionary About?

Dear Bro Jo,

I have been reading your blog and looking for a situation similar to mine but I can't quite find one, so I decided to write you.

Long story short, I am 16, a good family friend who at the time was 18 went to BYU.

He would flirt with me when he came home and just be a general teenage boy creepin' on girls.

Well he turned in his mission papers, came home for the summer and we got kinda involved.

We would see each other often and talk and so on and so forth. He kissed me the day before he got set apart.

I am the last girl he was I guess, "romantic" with before he left. I told him I would write him.

So I guess my ultimate question is, What do I write him about!?

I have no idea what to say.

Do I share scriptures with him? And be spiritual?

Or just keep it casual and talk about the weather?

I really like him but I DO NOT want to distract him from his mission.

But I don't want him to forget me either.

I am not waiting for him.

I fully intend on going on lots of dates and liking other guys but ultimately I care about him.

I don't know if he feels the same way or not. It's hard to know what to do.

- Being a Teenager

Dear Teen,

On the left-hand side of the "Dear Bro Jo" page is a Google Search that will allow you to enter a word or string and then search all of my published columns for any topic.

Below that is a list of the tags I've placed on those columns.

At this point there are several that specifically address "writing a missionary" which might be helpful to you. 

You should definitely write him.

Keep your letters focused on him and his missionary service.

Ask him about his experiences and what life like (the people, the culture, the climate, the Church) in the areas where he's serving.

Don't write too much about things at home; avoid "who is doing what" and "just went and did something cool" stories that might make him homesick or sound too much like gossip.  But don't write like he's living in a monastery, either.

And being too casual might make him think you lack substance.

Write about spiritual things that are relevant, like your own missionary experiences, feeling the Spirit, talks that inspire you (or that you're asked to give).

Focus on him and give him encouragement. Tell him that you're proud of his service, the example he's setting, and how you admire his dedication and obedience. Like talking to a guy in person, you'll go pretty far asking him to tell you about him.

Don't worry about how you feel or how he feels until he comes home, and then only if you're still single.

And you're absolutely right; go on lots of dates!

 - Bro Jo

Friday, December 21, 2012

In Your Dreams

Dear Bro Jo,

So I had a thing with this guy (we’ll call him Jake) and I was frankly very rude to him. (This was when I was a sophomore, he was a junior. Now he’s heading off to college and I’ll be a senior.)

I blew him off; I just wasn’t ready for the type of (in-lack-of-a-better-word) love he wanted to give me.

He’s a super-Mormon guy. He’s nice to everyone, respects women, and is just all around a great guy. I ended up hitting on his best friend who ended up being a jerk. I went just a little too far with his friend (who is Mormon, too, btw). But no worries, I repented and I’m good now!

It’s been about a year and a half, and Jake is now just starting to talk to me normally. I really hurt his feelings.

Last week at girls camp, I made fairly good friends with his mom, who Jake is very close with. We talked last night at a Stake dance normally. I miss him so much!!

My question is, would it be okay to ask him on a date?

Like a double date before he goes to college?

I want to at least be on good terms with him. I really like him. He never asked me to slow dance last night; I think he’s afraid of getting hurt. He’s a very sensitive guy, and he really put out his feelings when I first met him.

I blew him off though and boy do I regret it!

I miss him.


Name Withheld

(P.S. Bonus question: Same guy as above (Jake) I had a dream about him about a week ago. I don’t know what to think of it, but my mom said it was beautiful. I was walking down a gravel-ly mountain with two Mormon friends on each side. One friend who moved away about three years ago and the other one I’ve been BFF’s with since diapers but is now struggling with depression. I kept falling down the mountain when Jake all of a sudden rushed over to help me. I wasn’t wearing pants and was embarrassed but he didn’t care. I suggested we go over to the grassy side of the mountain and he agreed. It was easier for me to walk there. About half-way down he stopped and kissed me. I blushed and said he shouldn’t love me. He said he knew, but he did anyways. We continued down and when we reached the bottom, my friend with the depression problems handed me pants. Then I woke up. Any thoughts?)

Dear NW,

No, you should not ask him on a date.

No matter how guilty you feel.

You shouldn't be asking guys on dates anyway, but doing so to just try and make yourself feel better or mend what you did in the past is even more wrong.

What you SHOULD do is apologize. That's what we do when we hurt people's feelings or behave badly. Apologies are best in person (which I think should be required except in very rare circumstances).

If you want to make a treat and or a card to go along with the apology, that's fine. 

And maybe appropriate.

Now, if you want him to take you out (and please understand that my advice to guys once they've turned in their mission papers is to stop dating and focus on the mish) then you could invite him to ask you . . .

"Please accept my apology. I hope someday you'll consider asking me on a date; I'd love to go out with you."

Okay. Perhaps more flowery than that. But you get the idea.

As for your dream . . . I don't read too much into dreams. I think too many people, ESPECIALLY LATTER-DAY SAINTS, make too much out of dreams.

Most dreams are not prophetic, very rarely do they contain personal revelation, and never do they contain revelation for anything or anyone that exceeds our keys or stewardship.

I think, in a very non-scientific way, that dreams are our way of working things out that we're dealing with when we're awake.

You are thinking about making things right with this guy and he showed up in your dream. Kissing someone in a dream, even when you're not embarrassed to not be wearing pants, does not necessarily mean that you're in love with them.

Or that he's in love with you.

It was a pleasant dream that is inspiring you to do the right thing. It isn't, nor does it need to be, anything more than that.

 - Bro Jo

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Some Words of Wisdom

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm not really one for words, so I'm just going to have at it.
Last year was a really hard year for me at school. Schoolwork was hard, I drifted from several friend groups, and spent many Friday nights alone in my room. (I was 16/17, a junior in high school). I eventually tried marijuana and did it twice. I hated the feeling and regret it more than ever.

I've talked to my Bishop before about something else and I truly hated it. My question is, do I *have* to go in and talk to him about this? I've been praying about this, and I don't know whether I have to or not. I'd really prefer to not have to go in and know my Bishop's worried about me and all that stuff. I keep apologizing through prayer. A few weeks ago in YW we had a lesson about how not every sin needs to be brought to the Bishop.

Bro Jo, I'm doing a lot better. I've found a group of fun Mormon girls at girls camp that I've started to hang out with. I don't even talk to the "bad" group I used to hang out with. What are your feelings on the subject?


Consciously Confused

Dear Consciously,

Anything that places one's Temple Worthiness in jeopardy requires a conversation with the Bishop.

And if you're ever not sure, it's better to error on the "talk to him" side of things.

Smoking MJ is a violation of the Word of Wisdom. In Temple Recommend Interviews we're asked "do you keep the word of wisdom".

So guess what?

That "hated it" feeling you had before?  Keep that with you as motivation to make your future decisions in such a way that future visits of this type aren't needed.

Now go talk to your Bishop.

And don't wait for your next semi-annual interview, either.

You'll be glad you did.

I'm glad you've found some good friends!

- Bro Jo

PS:  Be very careful of something that I see as a trend in your email, namely:  justifying bad behavior.  There's no allowable excuse for sin.  We do it, sure, but under no circumstances is it "okay".

Monday, December 17, 2012

Can a Victim of Rape and Abuse Ever Trust Enough to Find Love? - Part 5

[Dear Readers,

The writer in this series has endured some pretty bad experiences with guys.  So bad, that one can understand why she has trust issues and why those issues have her concerned that she may never meet a man she trusts enough to marry.  So she starts by asking what will be the Eternal Consequences for her if she doesn't get married in this life.

But the emails reveal other concerns as well.

Below is Part 5.  

Please keep your comments sensitive to her situation and experiences.

 - Bro Jo]

Dear Bro Jo,

I thought that you'd like to know I've been able to receive counseling.

I never realized how many blocks I've been putting up through the years. And how hard I tried to numb the pain.

Even though I could talk about my experiences I didn't want to have any emotional connection or think too much about it because it was too painful.

The recovery road sucks.

It's long and dark.

But there is a light at the end of this road. And I'll get there.

And hopefully one day I'll be blessed enough to find a young man who will treat me with respect and take me to the temple and I won't have to worry about the past.

Thank you for your help and for your kind words.


- NW

Dear Little Sister,

Good to hear from you!

And I'm glad to hear that you were able to receive counseling.

What happened in your life that you took that step?

Where did you find the help you needed?

And would you mind sharing with us what you think others who are going through what you have, who have felt the way you have, need to know or do? What counsel would you give them?

Thank you for sharing your testimony about the light at the end of the tunnel.

God bless,

- Bro Jo

PS: For the record, I want you to know, that I do believe that you will find a Good Man who unconditionally loves you and that you can trust. I pray that joy will be a part of your life.

Dear Bro Jo,

That's an interesting question.

Honestly what changed was I hit an all time low.

I was ashamed of what had happened, and I blamed myself. I was depressed I felt like I had no control.

As a way of coping with my emotions I began to self-harm.

There were times I felt so anxious; like I was crawling out of my skin – I felt like didn’t do something physical to match the way I felt inside, I would explode. I hurt myself to take my mind off of everything that I was going through. I no longer cared what happened.

It wasn't that I was suicidal, I just felt so horribly about my self on the inside- I had to match the way I felt on the inside to the outside. If that makes sense.

 I HAD to change. It was taking a toll on my health, education and career. I didn't want to live the way I was living.   In fear.

I was taking a psychology class at the university, and had to talk to my professor about a project approval. So I visited with her about my project after some discussion she knew something was wrong with me, through some coaxing she was able to get a little bit of my background out of me and referred me to a close friend of hers for counseling, she even made the appointment for me.

I was done fighting it. I knew I needed help and gave in. It has been the biggest blessing.

I'm happy.

There are some days that are so hard, but that's to be expected. It gets better.

As for advice, Take note that this is what I learned from my experiences.

  1. Healing takes time. Once I understood that healing takes time and that the effects of an experience like this isn't going to go away in just a day, that helped my progression. I wanted to be "normal" , I thought if a put on facades and masked the way I was feeling I would magically feel better. It doesn't work, in fact it makes things much worse.

  2. Your body is sacred. After being sexually abused and abusing my self I had a hard time seeing my body as sacred. It had already been through so much physical damage I didn't care anymore. It’s crucial that you get your feelings out — but don’t ever inflict harm on your own body because your body is so sacred. I think it's important to remember that you are worthy of life and that your life has meaning. You can overcome and get through anything.

  3. Get help I was SUPER skeptical about this one. I didn't think anyone would care enough about me to want to help me. I feel like a lot of times counseling is seen as abnormal and that if you go something must be REALLY wrong with you. I didn't want to be seen as weak. But seeing a counselor isn't like that at all. Through the help of my counselor I've been able to face my challenges and overcome them. Some are bigger than others and it takes longer to over come. But through the love of Christ, overcoming them is possible

  4. Take it one day at a time Some days are so hard. Some days are easier. And on those hard days I remembered something I would recite in young women's "I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father who loves me" which brings me to my last piece of advice, 

  5. Your Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother love you. This is what got me to the light at the end of my tunnel, strengthening my testimony of the pure love of my heavenly parents. I am their daughter. They love me. They want the best for me. And most of all they want me happy.

I hope this all made sense. I apologize its kind of a lot. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement to help me get where I needed to be.

- NW

Dear Little Sister,

Please don't apologize. Not only does it make sense, I think your wise counsel may help others.

Thank you for sharing all of this.

- Bro Jo

[Dear Readers, 

It's been my hope through this series that others who have had similar experiences and feelings to this brave sister would be inspired to seek the help, the counseling, that she eventually sought out. I know that some of you struggle with self-harm. I'll be running a series about this early next year. Please take this sister's words to heart: self-harm is not the solution you seek. I pray that each of you, what ever your challenges and trials may be, will feel our Savior's love. If you need help, please get it. May the Lord bless you all, 

 - Bro Jo]

Friday, December 14, 2012

Getting Rid of "The Creeper Boy"

Dear Bro Jo,

For me and all the other girls out there wondering the same thing.......I know this may sound silly but it feels like the only kind of guy that is ever attracted to me is the CREEPY STALKER kind of guy.

Why is that?!

I dress modestly, I act appropriately, I do everything that I can to make sure I'm living the way I should.

Is it because I'm just so outgoing and nice to everyone that they think I'm flirting with them?

Are all the Nice Guys just to intimidated to talk to me? and that's why I get all the Creeps?

Are there just no nice guys in the area or is there something else wrong?

Also how do I kindly let a guy know that I am NOT INTERESTED!!

I hate being rude and feel like no matter who the guy is I should still be nice to him and show him respect. but how do I do that and get the point across to them?!

Or is there even a way to be nice and let them know? like seems like guys don't get it when you tell them you just want to be friends.

Are Guys really THAT DUMB?!


[by the way.....I love your blog! thank you so much! :) ]


Dear TW,

Typically we attract the kind of person we are . . . but not always.

Is the problem that you attract Creepers or that you're not attracting the guys you want to attract?

Are these guys flocking to you because you're "too nice"?  Or do you have an inflated opinion of your awesomeness?

Because let's be honest: the world is full of great Nice Guys . . . so yeah, something else must be wrong if creepers are "the only type of guy" you attract.

I mean, you could be SO nice that the socially awkward guys cling to you because you don't cold heartedly reject them the way many other girls do . . . (and that's not an entirely bad thing).

But then we also have to face the fact that if a Great Looking guy did the same things that Creeper Boy is doing (depending of course on what it is), you'd probably be all giggles and wiggles, right?

Because we all know that the difference between a Creeper and a Crush often comes down to whether or not you think they're attractive.

So . . . um, you know what that means, right?

And, in answer to your other question: yes, guys are that dumb.

Even more so than you realize, actually.

Clear and concise is the best shot you have at getting your message across, and if you water it down any it won't work.

See, "Guys Can't Stay 'Just Close Friends' with Girls".

They can't.

And they don't want to.

For us "good friends" just means that we're close enough that eventually we may wear you down far enough that you'll smooch us.  (This, by the way, is the reason Sister Jo is the only Close Female Friend I have.) All it takes, in our minds, is a bad breakup, a fight with your parents or best friend, or (for the less scrupulous) . . . a little alcohol. (Another reason not to drink the stuff, sisters.)

Maybe if we come over, hang out, study in your room, and you're sad or desperate or lonely enough . . . you'll decide we're the man of your dreams.  Well . . . one can hope . . .

That's how dudes think. And it's best that you figure that out . . . NOW.

Any guy who argues is a liar (and likely trying to use his argument to get closer to you).

Dad's know.

We're guys.

That's why Good Dads, Smart Dads, never let guys in your room (in my house, friends aren't even allowed on the same floor as the bedrooms) and they actively disapprove of certain outfits and situations.

So, for all of you Too Nice Girls who can't shed the Creepy Stalker Boys, once again, here's what you say: "I'm not interested."

Don't add ANYTHING.

Don't say "thank you", or "you're really sweet", or "at this time", or "but we can still be friends", or "that's flattering".

If he's already decided to creep on you, all of that stuff is just encouraging.

Be Nice. Be Polite. And Be Smart.

And Be Honest with yourself.  Is the guy really a Creeper?  Has he crossed the line into "Scary Stalker"?  Because if he has, you need to get more help than just writing to me.  Before he starts following you home, if talking won't make it stop, then other adults, people you trust, need to be told right away so they can help you.

Lastly, consider this: the world is full of women who are happily married to guys they would have found weird and creepy in high school.

Something you may want to ponder before you totally reject this guy.

 - Bro Jo

[By the way, Thank You!]

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

When Your Overprotective Family Makes Dating Difficult

Dear Bro Jo,

Okay . . . So I have 2 older protective brothers (1 is a geeky nerd, the other is a pro fighter) and super-duper protective dad (I’m the "daddy kid" in the family and his first girl). I'm 17 years old and I have only been out on a few dates because:

  1. Any guy I even has so much as friend on FB my brothers start interrogating him!!
  2. My brothers and dad insist that whenever I do go out on group dates or hang with friends one of my brothers has to be there, or they have to know exactly who is going to be there an they have to drop me off an say hi to everyone. and thirdly because my family is kind of crazy an my oldest brother is very well known in our city an I’m known as his little sister!! 
Also the guys who have taken me out in the past have been total jerks!  They don't stop when I tell them to stop an my last date I had to leave in the middle of the movie an call my mom to take me home.

So I guess what I’m trying to ask is that is there any way I can talk to my family about this an get them to lay off just a little, so that I can have fun and how can I get NICE, HONEST, FUN guys to ask me out???

I honestly just want to have fun and get to know people not get into anything serious or inappropriate .... please help me!



Dear Under-Protected,

I'm confused.

You haven't gone on any good dates because all of the guys in your family intimidate boys . . . the only dates you do go on one of your brothers has to be there . . . and yet these date jerks are all over you, not keeping their hands to themselves . . . Is that right?

Because if it is, it sounds like your father's plan is backfiring and your tough-guy brother isn't as well-known or intimidating as you think, and that all sounds like you'er UNDER protected to me.

It doesn't really add up, but another part of your email clues us in to what your problems are as well as the solution.

You said that your brothers drop you off. And there you go.

You're not following the Dating Rules. Because they don't pick you up, your "dates" don't meet your father, they don't have to listen to his expectations about how they should treat you (or what he and your brothers will do if you're not respected), and your father doesn't know who you're with.

You're being dropped off like a toy, not picked up like a princess.

That doesn't entitle these boys to manhandle you, but your dates need to know that there are people in your life who demand that you be treated well. And that INCLUDES YOU!

You need to demand respect from all the guys in your life, and that includes you brothers and father.

Read the Dating Rules and call a family meeting (your mom needs to be there, too). Tell them what you want (dates with good guys who plan, pick up and pay), tell them what hasn't been working (guys are all over you and you've had to walk out), and tell them what needs to change (your father needs to meet your dates in your home Every Time, and talk to them about his expectations and rules, and your brothers need to start setting you up on Casual Group Dates with guys that both they and you respect and like).

You deserve better! Now it’s time to demand it. You're not a helpless baby anymore, stop letting the guys in your life treat you that way.

- Bro Jo

Monday, December 10, 2012

Can a Victim of Rape and Abuse Ever Trust Enough to Find Love? - Part 4

[Dear Readers,

The writer in this series has endured some pretty bad experiences with guys.  So bad, that one can understand why she has trust issues and why those issues have her concerned that she may never meet a man she trusts enough to marry.  So she starts by asking what will be the Eternal Consequences for her if she doesn't get married in this life.

But the emails reveal other concerns as well.

Below is Part 4.  

Part 5 will post next Monday.

Please keep your comments sensitive to her situation and experiences.

 - Bro Jo]

Dear Bro Jo,

I apologize it’s taken me so long to reply.

I took an internship out of the country and didn’t have access to my email.

Which I think, in a way, has been a good thing because it has allowed me to maul things over.

You’re right. I am wrong.

No I wouldn’t turn the other cheek if I witnessed someone else being abused.

But I don’t know if I could go gouge their eyes out or something like that to defend the other person.

That being said, I haven’t yet witnessed that, I’ve only experienced it, so I couldn’t tell you how I would react.

You’re correct; I do believe things are my fault.

But you have to understand the mindset behind it.

If I had listened to the Holy Ghost the night I was raped it would not have happened.

And I can’t tell you how much I wish I had listened and not blown it off, maybe I believed it was just my mind and me thinking.

But to be honest with you that’s just an excuse.

If I had listened, it would not have happened and that Brother Johnson is my fault.

The choice of those brethren that night was awful and has caused me much emotional turmoil and distortion but if I had made a better choice, it would be different.

I agree, maybe seeing a professional couldn’t hurt.

But I do not trust my Bishop.

You have to first understand, I belong to a Deaf ward even though I am hearing. I love deaf culture, I really do.

However, Deaf culture is very different from hearing culture. It’s much more open. Everyone knows everything about everyone. That’s just how the culture is.

Deaf people do not trust hearing people, and with my experience things that I had confided in the Bishop previously had gotten out, and the deaf community was aware of the situation, even though it wasn’t anything bad at all, it still made me feel uneasy about ever confiding in him again.

He is called of God and I do believe that, his counsel is from God, but because of culture he is more open to discussion at the dinner table.

(PS, I know it was him who told members of the ward because he apologized to me later.)

As for a psychologist, I’m worried that they care more about getting paid then helping me.

My opinion.

You have to understand, this is a subject that is really, really difficult to talk about to someone. Even emailing you causes me some anxiety due to flashbacks.

So along with trust problems I guess I’m just afraid.

Yes, I have told someone, but it’s hard.

And trusting someone to really help me is hard. I don’t know if that makes sense. It’s just a difficult situation and something I would never wish on someone else.


- NW

PS. I apologize this has turned into a "woe is me" session, I honestly was just curious about a gospel principal. I know you have much better things to do, but thank you for your time.

*** Several Months Later ***

Dear Little Sister,

Did you ever get help?

 - Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm working on it.

- NW

Dear Little Sister,

What does that mean?

  - Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

I haven't found someone that I trust and like yet, so I'm still looking for a good counselor. I really am trying. I'm just funny about trust and people.

But I've been praying about it and I'll find someone.

- NW

Dear Little Sister,

Did you ever go talk to your Bishop?

 - Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,


- NW

Dear Little Sister,

You need to.

Or at least your Stake President.

Prayer is good, but we also need to take action.

Oh, and two more things:

  1. I learned Sign Language, went to a "no hearing camp" and was a tour guide for non-hearing kids a couple times. So I know a little bit about the culture.

  2. While listening to the Spirit might have kept you from being raped, failing to heed that prompting does not make the rape your fault.

 - Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

I just don't understand what they can do for me. I've told people. I'm seeking professional help.

I feel like dragging more individuals into it makes me more vulnerable.

I'm glad you have an understanding of the culture. It's an amazing culture and I am so blessed to be a part of it, but there are no secrets.

I know it's not, but it sure feels like it.

- NW

Dear Little Sister,

Your Bishop and Stake President can help you find the professional help you need.

That's why they're there.

You won't be "dragging" them into anything.

(Joke from non-hearing camp: "Deaf people can't keep secrets because it's not like you can sign quieter!")

I pray that you'll find the peace and joy that Heavenly Father has planned for you, and I believe that, with His help, and with time, you will learn to trust others again; and, perhaps more importantly, you'll be able to know whom to trust and whom not to.

I pray for your safety.

And I hope that, if it's God's will (and I think it is), one day you'll find someone to spend Time and All Eternity with.

I also hope you'll seek the help you need to heal, and I want you to know that if you ever need to vent, cry, joke or chat, I'm here for you.

God bless,

 - Bro Jo

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Guy Asks About Temple Dates

Dear Bro Jo,

I heard from someone a while ago that it was a bad idea to go on temple dates with any girl before you're engaged or married.

I didn't think anything of it until recently when my girlfriend asked if we could go do baptisms together sometime.

I decided to start trying to do some research, but I haven't found any real good discussions, or teachings on the matter. I stumbled upon your site and was glad to see what you had to say.

I was wondering if you could perhaps shed more light on the matter by either directing me to a talk or a book that explains the idea more in depth or any quotes that you may have. It may very well be that it's only opinion based, but if you have any sources or other information I'd be very grateful if you could point me in the right direction.


- Can't Cache Me

P.S. I'm also very impressed and grateful for your site. It provides great advice and direction to many teenagers and young adults. Thank you for putting in the extra time and effort. Thank you for also getting Sister Joe's opinions as well. It's always nice to have a second point of view to see from, especially if it's someone that understands and can explain the female mindset.

Dear Cache,

ALL of my stuff is opinion based, though I hope none of it conflicts the Gospel or Prophetic teaching.

You're right, I've written on the topic of "Temple Dates" a few times . For me dating at the Temple violates the Spirit of why we're there, confuses the heart and the soul, and . . . frankly, is just plain weird.

You should be dating to get to know each other better, not to prove you have a Temple Recommend or to scope out how great your love interest looks in white.

Plus, and I think this is a significant point, you're not supposed to be TALKING in or about the Temple. At least minimally at most.

It's not like a movie date where the two of you can chat up whether or not you liked the film at dinner after. I'll bet someone of authority has spoken about it here and there . . . if you find anything, let me know.

- Bro Jo

 PS: Thanks! I do the best I can. I know about as much as I don't know about women. That's why I differ to Sister Jo so much.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Should You Look for Your Birth Parents?

Hi Brother Jo,

I'm adopted and I have been wondering about finding out about my birth family; I would like to know about my family history.

Do you think I should try to find out about my family?



Dear C,

I think that's a personal choice.

I was adopted and I've never been ready to meet my birth parents. I'm no longer bitter; instead I'm grateful that they gave me up to good people who raised me with love.  I consider myself an "abortion survivor", and it saddens me quite a bit that people choose that route at all.

The people who raised me are my parents; I may never seek out my "birth parents"; it's just not important to me.

I have a good friend about my age who was also adopted; he chose to meet with his birth mom and it went well.  He liked having some questions answered, but certainly has no intention of keeping in touch or making her a new part of his family or his life.

So I think the decision needs to be up to you. My only advice is that you be careful not to hurt the feelings of the people who have sacrificed so much in raising you. They are, after all, your Real Parents, and from my understanding they are the people you'll be sealed to for Time and All Eternity.

- Bro Jo


US National Adoption Day is typically the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  You can find out more about adoption at LDS Family Services.

- Bro Jo

Monday, December 3, 2012

Can a Victim of Rape and Abuse Ever Trust Enough to Find Love? - Part 3

[Dear Readers,

The writer in this series has endured some pretty bad experiences with guys.  So bad, that one can understand why she has trust issues and why those issues have her concerned that she may never meet a man she trusts enough to marry.  So she starts by asking what will be the Eternal Consequences for her if she doesn't get married in this life.

But the emails reveal other concerns as well.

Below is Part 3.

Part 4 will post next Monday.

Please keep your comments sensitive to her situation and experiences.

- Bro Jo]

Dear Bro Jo,

Sorry it took so long to reply.

Yes, I understand, and it's always good to check.

And I appreciate that.


No he never apologized.

To my understanding It wasn't an accident.

As I left he yelled, "Its not that big of a deal" and it surprised me because I thought he was better than that or I never would have gone in a date with him.


I took a self-defense class a while ago and I hated it.

I don't like physically injuring others in anyway.

I know that there are times that its most definitely necessary, but for some reason I can't physically hurt a person, animal, or in the self-defense classes sake a mannequin.

I guess I feel like if I fight back something worse will happen.

I would rather if I can just walk/run away.

But also I don't want them to feel the physical pain like they caused me to have.

The emotional turmoil they've caused for themselves is enough for me.

And I know that sounds twisted but that's the best I can explain it.

And it's true, it's my fault I've become a victim but like the primary song says "I'm trying to be like Jesus, I'm following in his way, I'm learning to love as he did in all that I do and say" I know there are times that you need to fight back but I can't remember any place on the scriptures where Christ fights the people who beat him.

And for me violence brings hate and it makes it that much harder for me to forgive someone as well as myself because I am filled with so much hate and despair. And bad things will happen to us.

It's life.

But heavenly father has done a pretty good job of making sure I get out of situations safely and as long as I have my faith in him I know things will be ok.

I apologize if that sounds twisted or weird but I guess that's just how I feel.

Is that wrong of me?

Is it bad that I just take it then walk away?

I apologize of this makes no sense at all.

I appreciate your help.

You and Sister Jo.

- Name Withheld

Dear Little Sister,

You've caused me to think of two things.

The first is the old joke where there's a flood and a minister is trapped in the church. Do you know the joke?

The second is that you totally miss the point of defense.

Whether it’s yourself or another person, there's nothing "Christ-like" in doing nothing while harm is done to you or another.

 Your body is your temple, and you have a moral obligation to do your best from keeping it from being defiled; if you have the ability to prevent harm from coming to another and do nothing, you're as guilty as the person who's harming them.

By failing to stand up for yourself you let these guys get away with their behavior and put the next girl in jeopardy.

You're not just allowing yourself to be victimized, your allowing the next person to be victimized, too.

I pray that if you were ever walking down the street and saw someone assaulting a child that you wouldn't "turn the other cheek" and walk away.

As far as we know, Christ didn't get into fist fights during his mortal existence, but he did violently throw the money changers out of the Temple and he often stood up against violence to others (remember the woman who was about to be stoned to death).

And you need to also recall that the mortal Jesus is the Old Testament Jehovah -same guy - and he often reacted with force against those that would harm the innocent.

Jerks who attack, grab, fondle, and abuse women aren't feeling any "emotional turmoil".

What you're expressing isn't "twisted" . . . you're just . . . wrong.

I promise you, if I ever saw a man mishandling you, or any other girl, I'd make him stop, one way or the other, with no remorse whatsoever.

You don't owe me any apologies . . . but I am concerned about your state of mind; know this: being attacked or abused is not the fault of the victim.

You keep acting like things are your fault, and that, Little Sister, IS bad.

Candidly, I think you need to talk to someone professionally about your abuse and the guilt you feel.


Your Bishop can direct you to a professional counselor.

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 30, 2012

When Your Buddies Have No Interest in Dating

Dear Bro Jo,

I've been sixteen for about 4 months and have gone on a total of about 4 dates.

My problem isn't that I don't want to date, because I really really want to!

The problem is that my friends have no desire to date!

All my friends are LDS and are sixteen or older as well, and they just have no strong desire to go on group dates.

We hang out all the time, and we have a lot of fun together as just guys.

At school we hardly ever see each other though, and it's not really seen publicly in our school that we're all really good friends.

We all come from different backgrounds as well.

One of my friends is more into the theatrical and singing group in the school; one of my friends is into just about everything and is super funny; and the others are heavily involved in sports like lacrosse and basketball.

I am way into the sports scene as well running cross country, track, and being a triathlete, but I'm sorry to say I don't really have any really close friends outside these LDS group of guys in my ward.

I was in the "popular" group as a freshman with all the stud freshman football and basketball players but I decided to separate myself from that group because of their issues with drugs and alcohol leading into sophomore year.

Now the problem I'm faced with is that I want to date all these girls in my school, but the only one's that I want to date are in the "popular" scene as well.

The classes that I'm in are super rigorous and the girls in those classes aren't exactly the kind of girls I want to go on dates with.

I have girls though, that I know pretty well from Church activities and Stake Dances, and I know they'll go on a date with me but I want it to be a group date!

And my friends aren't exactly willing to find a girl to go out with.

They think that getting a group of girls together that don't even know each other will be awkward and just won't work out.

I agree with them too, I think that getting girls together that don't even know each other at all will be super awkward!

I've talked to my parents about what I should do, but they haven't provided any good insight. I've fasted and prayed too for help with my dating situation because I really feel and want to start dating!!!

I need your advice Bro Jo.  I need help on getting to know more girls that I don't have classes with and on getting my friends together to have group dates!

We sure talk a lot about getting all these girls that we could date when we hang out as guys, but we never put it into action!


Needing a Buddy

Dear Buddy,

First of all, four dates in your first four months of being 16 is pretty darn good!  The goal is a date a month, and you're right on track.

But when it comes to struggling to get your pals to be good dating buddies, you're not alone. Even the Jo Boys have from time to time struggled to find a good dating buddy.

(A house full of brothers who have a testimony of dating is no guarantee; brothers can be busy with stuff.)

So there are three things you can do.

1. Widen your circle of friends. There's a lot of Good Guys out there who aren't members of the Church (yet); guys who aren't doing drugs and drinking alcohol. The Jo Boys have found that some of their best Dating Buddies, and best friends, are non-member guys. You may also find that you're doing a little missionary work.

2. Focus on just one Church Buddy. Rather than deal with the challenge of getting a bunch of guys to buy in, pick one. Preferably one who isn't afraid of girls. Maybe even try to solicit help from his siblings and parents.

3. Take a step back. Set up some movie parties and game nights at your house. As they guys and girls become more comfortable with each other, they'll be more open to dating. Have patience and be positive.

And you're wrong about a couple things:

A)  Getting together on a Group Date with a bunch of girls you hardly know need not be "super awkward"; if you have the right attitude it can be a lot of fun to get to know new people

and B) you shouldn't limit your dating to just the "popular" girls; there are some great girls out there that are tons of fun and may not come with all of the "popular group drama"; don't limit your options to just one social click at school; don't be so shallow.

Don't give up.

Happy Dating,

- Bro Jo

PS:  Maybe you can have some success pointing out to your brethren that Casual Group Dating is great missionary prep . . . it is, by the way.  That's one of the reasons you're supposed to do it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Overcoming the Spiritual Void Left By Pornography and Mastubation

Dear Bro Jo,

I have done something wrong.

Starting when I was young (around 5 years old is the 1st time I remember) I . . . did things with myself.

Things that I am not proud of now at all.... I would masturbate.

This activity, along with looking at pornography started when I was so young I couldn't understand it was wrong and progressed until I knew better and couldn't stop.

My sin it felt like was always in the way of my relationship with God.

I could be doing my best at reading my scriptures and praying, but this thing along with other sins just felt like I was doing everything in vain and I would always fall back into my old ways.

Fortunately since that time in my life I have progressed.

Over the summer I had some good spiritual experiences and I made some major changes in my life.

I am now 16 and it has been since around my birthday in last year that I have done anything close to immoral with myself.

I honestly feel that I won't do it again :).

However, in some ways I still feel trapped. I am soooo ashamed at what I have done. If anyone found out about this evil thing I did I would be sooooo upset I can't even imagine!

For me being a girl it makes it worse.

I feel so alone.

This sin is usually found in guys who can't control themselves and that makes me feel weak and disgusting . . .

This is where I have become very indecisive.

How could I ever tell my sweet Bishop of this sin I committed for so long?

Do I even need to because I know I've stopped and it started before I was 8?

Also is this something I need to let people know? People I date?

Am I not worthy to enter the temple?

Finally, could I be excommunicated for something like this?

I'm sorry if I’m piling this on you and maybe this is not the usual question, but I really need some perspective.

Thank you so much,

- Ashamed

Dear Little Sister,

You need not be "Ashamed"; even though we make mistakes, through the Atonement of Christ we can become clean again.

And you're not alone.

Yours is not the only email on this topic I've ever received, from guys . . . or girls. It's natural to be curious about one's body, particularly when we're very young.  But, as you've discovered, masturbation and pornography become addictions that taint our view of sex, and mess with our hearts, minds and spirits.

Loneliness is one of Satan's most powerful weapons against us, but we're never alone. The Savior knows anything and everything we may ever have to endure.  He is the friend that never leaves us.

Any behavior that keeps us from feeling the Spirit is behavior that we need to cleanse from our lives.  It's wonderful that you've stopped, so now you need to do what you need to do to feel whole; so that you feel free instead of trapped.

Your Bishop cares about you, and will want to help you feel the love of the Savior. He's the one who can answer questions about your worthiness and will be able to help you feel like you can go to the Temple.

You certainly don't need to tell people you date (and shouldn't) about your transgression.

If there's nothing more to your story than what you've told me, then I highly doubt you'll be excommunicated. But that's between you, your Bishop, and the Lord.

Trust me: your Bishop has heard much worse.

Talk to him.

I promise you'll feel tons better.

Call your Bishop now and see him as soon as you can.

- Bro Jo

Monday, November 26, 2012

Can a Victim of Rape and Abuse Ever Trust Enough to Find Love? - Part 2

[Dear Readers,

The writer in this series has endured some pretty bad experiences with guys.  So bad, that one can understand why she has trust issues and why those issues have her concerned that she may never meet a man she trusts enough to marry.  So she starts by asking what will be the Eternal Consequences for her if she doesn't get married in this life.

But the emails reveal other concerns as well.

Below is Part 2.

Part 3 will post next Monday.

Please keep your comments sensitive to her situation and experiences.

- Bro Jo]

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you.

It helps to have a better understanding of that Gospel principle.

Of course I told someone other than you about the rape. I couldn't have told you that if others didn't know. No offense.

And about the other guy, we were in a big wave pool and he was behind me. It was crowded so his hand was on my shoulder. I didn't think anything of it I just assumed he didn't want to lose me in the crowd.

He got a little closer to me and his hand slipped off my shoulder and down the front of my suit.

No, I didn't slap him.

I know everyone says that’s what you should do but I couldn't.

I can't hit people, even though what he did was very wrong I couldn't hurt him.

I just went into shock.

Moved his hand and left. I'll try to keep dating it just takes time to get over but I will go when I'm ready.

And ya, I have rotten luck with guys but, to be quite honest, Good Guys are hard to find now these days.

I know they're out there but it sure seems like every guy has only one thing on their mind.

And it's sad.

But I figure why date them if they can't respect me?

I would just be repeating history.

And it's true this world is becoming a disgusting place and women aren't proving themselves very well either.

But I feel like good, righteous women are much easier to find then righteous men.

Sorry for my rant.

But I appreciate you getting back to me.

So thank you.

- Name Withheld

Dear Little Sister,

No offense taken; you might be surprised at just how many letters I get from people who have serious problems, or suffered serious abuse, and never told anyone.

Did the guy whose hand slipped ever try to contact you and apologize?

Is there any chance it was an accident?

I mean, I know it happens, but to intentionally cop a feel in a crowded place is not the kind of thing most people would do.  Plus, like you said, it was crowded and he "slipped".

I'm not here to defend him, but I believe most people are basically Good.  I disagree with you that "Good Guys are hard to find"; I think it's quite the opposite . . . IF you're looking in the right places.

And isn't it possible he was just as mortified as you were?

Don't take this wrong, but (to be candid) a lot of guys frankly couldn't distinguish between a shoulder and a breast.  Seriously.  I know that sounds weird, but I know a guy who sang in a Show Choir I was in who spent a whole number thinking he had his arm around a girl's shoulder (as was the choreography) only to learn when we all saw the video that he had reached around her shoulder and been holding her boob the entire number.

He was horrified!

(And, rightfully, so was she.  Although I think she recovered much quicker than he did . . .)

Look, he may have been a total jerk, but isn't it also possible that this moment was tainted by your previous experience?

What was his reaction to your reaction?

Now, even if it was an accident, you needed to stand up for and defend yourself.

I'm not an advocate of using violence to solve all problems, but there are times when force may be necessary to protect yourself.

Seriously, no joke: take a self-defense class.

Better yet, have one as a Young Women's activity; there are lots of people and organizations that will come and teach basic defense techniques to your group for free, and I'll be you're not the only one who could benefit from such a class.

(I personally think Self-defense classes need to happen twice a year in EVERY YW group, world wide.)

You should never go on a date with a guy that scares you, but believe me: there's a lot more Good Guys in this world than Bad Guys. I'm sure, given time, you'll find one.

You have every right to be jaded, but hang in there.

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Chat About Some Last Minute Missionary Questions

Dear Readers, 

A while ago I had this chat with a reader who was about to enter the MTC. 

His comments are in RED

Mine are in BLUE. 


- Bro Jo

Bro Jo HI! 

You might be able to give me one final piece of advice before I head off on my call to serve... 

I'll do my best 

My friends around me have been really supportive of me leaving 


A lot of nice and amazing things have been said, a lot more attention has come my way in the past 6 weeks 

As I leave for the mission field though, I suspect there a few girls out there who in some way wish they had spent more time with me... If you get my drift... 

that's a good thing 

A few of the comments have been saying that straight up; Other comments I can easily read into; I've received a few tight hugs & kisses on the checks... 

Which amounted to zero before the call had arrived 

girls are funny that way (wait until you get engaged

My final farewell is at the airport on Thurs my time; I suspect there will be a few more words said. I've got 2 books I've had going around with messages of support etc. etc. also good 

As I read them on the plane over to NZ MTC (Keeps things interesting) and as I receive letters in coming months... ... How should I react to these "over-the-top" letters at all ... 

Or any letters that will come across in a flirty way During AND After the Mission 

2 years is a long time I know - But it will fly by, and even though I have in my mind right now that all girls by the time I get back will be at least engaged - Makes things SO MUCH easier in my mind at the moment.. 

I kinda have just smiled my way through the past few weeks - But that's only cause I can usually find an excuse to move on fairly quickly

DURING - you focus on the Gospel - ignore the flirting but be thankful for the correspondence - and respond with stories, experiences and testimonies related to your mission 

AFTER - the mission, you date my friend - a lot - a date a week for RMs is my recommendation, you know

Or a reason finds me fairly quickly - I'm a busy person Just ignore it sounds good Dating sounds better Yea... 


So just don't keep the fire burning... 

it will burn on its own - no need for you to add fuel - that will just make you more homesick and distract from the work 

I never have wanted to 

the old adages about a successful mission are true:

work hard 
love the people 
be of service 

that's all you have to do 


 not every day will be dancing trees and singing flowers, but when it's all over the Lord will say to you "well done"

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dating Questions

Dear Bro Jo,

I have two questions.

The first is more of an actual situation.

I like this guy in my ward. He's a good guy , nice etc. And I've been on a couple of group dates with him.

But I've known him for so long that I find it hard to think of things to keep the conversation going. I had a look at your list of things to talk about on a date but most of that stuff I already know.

So I was wondering if you had any suggestions.

The second question is more general.

I don't know if you have the answer but I figured I may as well try.

I want to know how to change my mentality about things.

It seems to me that I always know the rules. I know what I should be thinking or feeling but then something happens and I get jealous or cranky or something.

I suppose it's a tendency to think of situations as the world would think of them. Like wishing I could just have a boyfriend or wishing that the guy I like would stop flirting with my friend and her sister as well. So is there a way to change the way I think?

Cause I can easily tell myself that I should just be group dating so it doesn't matter, but that doesn't stop me from feeling as though something should be happening.

Any ideas?


Over Being Seventeen

Dear 17,

Once you know all of the trivia stuff, what's left are deeper, more meaningful conversations.

You find out each other's opinions about stuff. Current events, politics, conference talks, people you know, things you've learned are all never ending topics of conversation.

You can talk about goals and plans and hope and dreams.

Of course all of that may be much deeper than a 17-year old wants to go. That's also part of why you're supposed to be dating lots of different people at this point in your life.

As for your second issue, and please understand that this comes from a logical kind of a guy, what you need to change is not your brain, but your heart.

Nothing is wrong with having thoughts and feelings, but if you want to align your life more with that of the Savior (and I'm not saying you need to, only commenting because of your expressed concern) then you need to do those things which He would have you do. 

And you know what the Sister Jo answer to that is, right?


- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for that.

Sorry to be a bother but when you said about dating lots of different people that reminded me of another question I had.

I live in an area where our ward and stake boundaries are quite geographically large. Which means that the people my age are spread out and a lot of them I only know by face or name.

In my ward there are about 3 active priests. And that is matched by 3 active laurels.

So when we had our priests and laurels ball the four of us who were available went as couples together and we have been to a few other things as kind of double dates.

One guy does most of the organizing and other than the ball nothing has been officially labeled as dates.

The thing is if it wasn't for these two guys I wouldn't be dating at all. I know of some people in our stake who go on actual group dates but most of the guys who would do the asking are either now in YSA or are people who I've never spoken to.

I don't know how I'm meant to date lots of people when no one is dating?

How can I go on three dates and then stop when there is no one to date in between?

Am I meant to start saying no just on the principle that I should be meeting new people?

Or just enjoy the fact that I can date at all?

As for that second question - I think that was exactly what I needed to hear.

It really touched me and made me want to stop thinking and start doing.

So thanks again!

- 17

Dear 17,

A lot of my readers your age will say that you should be grateful that you're dating at all . . .

And they're right.

Some of them would point out to you that anytime you go out with kids your age in even numbers, especially if the guy plans, picks up, and pays (but not necessarily), where people are paired off (but again, not necessarily) it's a date, whether you call it that or not.

And they'd be right, too.

But let me add this: Casual Group Dating need not be limited to only members of the Church.

(I commend the two young men in your stake that are taking the initiative!)

All that needs to happen is that the Dating Rules be followed. Expand your dating pool! 

Plus, think about it: with two guys and two girls, all you have to do to keep it casual is to switch who's going out with whom every other month. (See "Bro Jo's Guide to Casual Group Dating").

It's as simple as that. Relax and have fun!

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Okay that's a comfort :)

I just wanted to check it wasn't inappropriate.

Thanks so much!

 ~ 17

Dear 17,


- Bro Jo

Monday, November 19, 2012

Can a Victim of Rape and Abuse Ever Trust Enough to Find Love? - Part 1

[Dear Readers,

The writer in this series has endured some pretty bad experiences with guys.  So bad, that one can understand why she has trust issues and why those issues have her concerned that she may never meet a man she trusts enough to marry.  So she starts by asking what will be the Eternal Consequences for her if she doesn't get married in this life.

But the emails reveal other concerns as well.

Below is Part 1.

Part 2 will post next Monday.

Please keep your comments sensitive to her situation and experiences.

- Bro Jo]

Dear Bro Jo,

I have been rather concerned recently.

About 5 years ago I was raped when I was walking home from a school dance.

4 years after that I had just turned 17 and decided I would be courageous and accepted this guy’s offer to go on a date.

Due to the incident before I had a really hard time accepting guys offers to go on dates. Even though they were group dates I was worried I would be taken advantage of again.

On this date, my very first might I add, we went to a water park.

I was modest, one piece bathing suit that didn't even go low in the front, but to my dismay it didn't stop this young man from reaching down the front of my suit.

So as a result of these incidents I have a hard time with guys.

And I'm not yet a fan of the whole dating scene.

But I'm working on it.

So here is my question:  I read somewhere, I can't remember where it might have been, the journal of discourses or in D&C, that you cannot reach the highest glory in the Celestial Kingdom if we are not married.

Now I know I'm 18, these things take time to get over, and me personally I am nowhere near ready to get married. Heck I can barely date.

But I guess my concern is that I won't get married and receive those blessings.

So if I can't get over my fears now will I have an opportunity in the next life?

Or because I may have the opportunity now, and if I don't take it am I stuck?

I know I may not be seeing the whole gospel picture here and am probably missing important principals.

So if you could help me understand?

I appreciate you taking time to this read letter, so thank you very much!

- Name Withheld

Dear Little Sister,

To reach the Highest Level of the Celestial Kingdom we must enter into the New and Everlasting Covenant of Eternal Marriage.

That's true.

It’s also true that God is both just and merciful, so Sister Jo and I are looking forward to acting as proxies for the Sealing of my grandparents, who were not members. They, my grandparents, will of course have the choice to accept or deny that sealing. (Law of Agency, you know.)

The Lord, through his prophets, had also taught us that those who have not had the opportunity to marry, or marry well, here will have an opportunity after this life.

That said, we've also been taught that its much easier to meet and marry here than in the eternities.

I believe that if we do the best we can, always trying to be better today than yesterday, that everything will work out.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, don't worry about it.

Now, regarding the rape and the guy that felt you up on your first date . . . I hope you've told someone other than me about the rapist. He needs to know the consequences of his actions. I understand that being a difficult thing, but when jerks like that go unreported they keep hurting other people.

Five years is not too late.

Tell an adult you trust; parents, priesthood leader, auxiliary leader, someone.

As for the other guy . . . I have a question: just exactly what were you doing that he was able to do what he did?

I mean the hand down the front of a swimsuit thing is pretty difficult to do . . . unless you're already in close to begin with . . . Don't get me wrong, I hope you slapped him . . . or as my Football players say "hit him so hard he lost his testimony"; don't be a victim anymore!

Take a self-defense class or something; you don't deserve to be someone else's target for abuse. You're much more valuable than you've been treated.

Keep dating, definitely in groups, and keep yourself safe.

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 16, 2012

Is Marriage Worth It?

Dear Bro Jo,

My parents are divorced and my mom's forays into the dating world have not been great experiences for her.

As such her view on dating, marriage and sometimes even men in general is not very positive.

I really would like to hear how great being married is and how it can last, happily, forever.

I know it's possible but sometimes this negative perspective really brings me down and sometimes I begin to doubt.



 Dear Anon,

Yeah!  It's worth it!

I'm not gonna lie:  being married is lots of hard work.

There are trials, heartaches, arguments, and every emotion you can imagine.

There are tears, fears, and things so difficult you can't possibly know what they're like until you live them. 

And despite all of that, being married is the best thing in the world!

Find a good companion and be a good companion and every trial and tribulation will be worth all of the challenges.

I can't imagine how much harder my life would be without Sister Jo as a part of it.

 - Bro Jo

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What If You Only Get Asked Out By People You're Not Attracted To?

Dear Bro Jo,

I've heard about you from younger people and after reading your advice, I think you're my kind of person. 

I'm a YSA.

Since I was about 13, there have been guys who liked me, and whether or not I noticed, other people said it was obvious to them that these guys liked me. They've all been the kind of guy who don't take care of themselves well, physically, spiritually, socially or mentally.

You know the type?

(If you were to print this, please feel free to omit this phrase, but in spite of trying to be modest, I'm very smart, very involved and active at Church, I'm not shy / backward, and I don't think I'm ugly. Everyone agrees with me. So I understand why I attract these guys, but why don't the guys who I'm interested in ask me out?)

Starting at the young age, I tried to be nice / polite / Christ like with these guys, while being as obviously totally uninterested date-wise as I knew how, and because of the whole "guys don't get it" thing, they all assumed I really liked them because I even included them in group conversations, etc., especially when no one else in the group tried to do that.

It was hard for me to hear from people (including my parents) that I needed to be less "nice" to them if I expected things to change.

I have a personal rule that if I can stand to date a guy at all I'll go with him once if he asks me, and if it isn't totally awful, then if he asks me again I'll go out at least once more. That way I'll have made some effort to actually know him before I dismiss him.

But since this is the kind of guy who asks me out, most of my dates have not been much fun for me. I'm confused because after everyone has told me I had to be a little less nice to these guys, and assured me no one would think I'm mean for doing it, when they hear that this kind of guy continues to meet me and hang around and I don't encourage them, they give me tons of grief for "not being the polite one in the room" if no one else acts any nicer to the guy.

They still admit it's true when I suggest that if I did anything nice for these people now after no one else did, that would make my problem worse.

But they always point out that other girls have decided they liked and even married such guys since that was who they attracted. It gives me the shivers to think of guys like that now unfortunately, but I'm not sure whether it's right to say, I've learned my lesson and I don't need to have any more unpleasant experiences if I don't want to no matter what guilt trips people give me, or to say, it seems really bad to treat a person less than the best I can, and I ought to suck it up and do it.

(If so many girls have married guys like this, then they ought to have some insight, even if it's something I'd hear and make sure to do the opposite, but everyone's remarkably devoid of advice.)

What do you think?

-Nice Girl

Dear Nice Girl,

It actually took me a few reads to figure out what your questions for me are . . . but I think I've got it.

I think you're asking me whether or not you should be . . . not "mean", but "less friendly" to pathetic loser types so they'll stop getting the wrong idea, confusing your being polite with encouraging their attention.

And, perhaps as a follow-up, how can you "upgrade" the quality of guys that ask you out on dates?

Then, finally, should you expect that you'll have to "give in" and marry one of these slobs because they're the only kind of guy that you seem to attract?



Here goes.

1. No, you should never be "less nice" to anyone. To do so wouldn't be very Christ-like.

2. Widen your circle of friends to include the type of guys you like. You can't catch a trout if you only fish in the lakes stocked with bass.

3. Never marry out of desperation or pity. We're commanded to get married, but no one says you should violate the "Five A's of Why NOT to Marry THAT Person" just so you can have a ring on your finger. Sure, "socially awkward" isn't enough of a reason to totally dismiss a person, but "Apathy" is, and that includes being apathetic about your health and appearance.

I know that some of our readers will initially judge you as "too superficial", but I think there's a point to your letter.  Each of us could probably stand to do better with that which we've been given, plus "attractiveness", or the lack thereof, can go much deeper than that.

I am proud of your policy of giving everyone a chance, or two.  I think that's the right thing to do, but (and I know that this might be misconstrued or unpopular to say) there's also a point of being a bit discerning at your age and stage in life.  I'm not saying to change your "everyone gets a chance" policy; what I am saying is that you'll want to be sure to help the guys you're more attracted to understand that they have a chance, too, and should be smart enough to ask you out.

For example, there's not too much point at this stage in your life to going out with guys who have no chance at this moment of marrying you in the Temple, for whatever reason.

And one thing you may want to consider, is that you may need to be more busy than you are currently so that you only have time (I'll let you ponder what that means) to go out with guys you're at least slightly interested in.

- Bro Jo