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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Letting Him Serve

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi! How are you? Thanks in advance for the help!

Well, to get straight to the point of my letter, my best friend is leaving for his mission in a little over two months. I'm hesitant to say this, because I don't have much life experience, but I think we might be in love. We both definitely have very strong feelings for each other. We've already talked about how he needs to put the Lord first. And we've discussed how I shouldn't wait for him, but if I happen to be available still when he gets back, we would like to see if things will work out then.

So that's the general situation. Basically, I know that it's generally not a good idea to wait for missionaries, but I want to give this one a chance once he gets back. So do I wait or not?

So I guess my questions for you are: How can I best support him as he gets ready to leave? Do I need to stop seeing him or stop being physically affectionate with him? Once he goes, how often can I/should I write to him? And what's your opinion on waiting for missionaries?

And the other thing that's been slightly troubling me is as I watch him and other guys that age prepare to go through the temple and to serve the Lord, is that I feel kind of behind. They're going to be having so many spiritual experiences and growing so much as they serve. Do you have any advice on how I can keep up with their progress here at home? I don't want them all to get back and find that they're miles ahead of me in spiritual maturity!

If you need any follow-up information, feel free to ask. I'm just feeling kind of conflicted and confused; this is a period of transition in my life and it's an odd feeling. Sorry if my letter was confusing, I'm just trying to get all my thoughts on paper! Any advice you have, I'd greatly appreciate it!


Can't think up a good penname :)

Dear Pentel,

(I'll worked out a pen name for you, see above.)

I've written about how I feel about this a lot, but clearly it bears repeating.

And that's totally okay.

Let's do it this way.

Q. How can I best support him as he gets ready to leave?

  A. Be mature. Tell him you're proud of his willingness and worthiness. Instead of acting like a grieving girlfriend (not that you are, but many do), be a supportive and sustaining sister.

Q. Do I need to stop seeing him or stop being physically affectionate with him?

  A. Once he's set apart you absolutely need to stop. In fact, I think you should kind of back off the last couple weeks (last couple months would be preferable) and let him focus on his family and all of the things he needs to do to get ready. A kiss on your "last date" is okay (so long as appropriate); a kiss goodbye is not.

Q. Once he goes, how often can I/should I write to him?

  A. Once in the MTC if he's a two-week guy, twice if he's a six-week guy. Once a month after that is plenty. Keep your letters positive, asking him about how it's going and what he's doing. Don't tell him you miss him or talk about people, places and things that might make him wish he was home, but share important news. "So and so got married" is okay; "wish you'd been there to dance with" is not.

Q. What's your opinion on waiting for missionaries?

  A. If a young woman is old enough to get married, and by "waiting" she means "living like a nun, going on few if any dates, and telling every guy she meets that she's already in a relationship", then I think that's a very bad idea. If she means, just as you said, "dating, keeping her options open, and recognizing that regardless of how they both feel now, they may or not may feel the same when he comes home, so they'll part and see what happens IF she's still available when he comes home", then I'm on board.

Q. How I can keep up with their progress here at home?

  A. If you're talking about Spiritual Progression, then the thing is that it's wrong to compare our progress to anyone else's. We can grow our testimonies of the Savior and His Atonement by doing the basics: search, ponder, pray, be active and be of service.

Hope that helps,

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for responding so quickly, that was really what I needed to hear.

And I definitely mean the second kind of waiting you mentioned. Cutting yourself off from the dating world like that I feel is unfair to yourself, the guys that want to date you, and the guy you're waiting for; people change a lot in two years. I don't know if it's true in all cases, but I've heard a couple times that the RM and the girl had both changed so much that trying to get back in a relationship was basically like courting her all over again.

So again, I appreciate your straightforward answers, you're the best!

- Pentel (ha ha - I get it!)

Dear Pentel,

Back at ya!

- Bro Jo

PS: BTW - It's true in almost every case.

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