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Friday, June 29, 2012

The Hesitant Boyfriend - Part 2

[Readers - This is Part 2 of a three part series. Part 1 published on June 22, and Part 3 will publish on July 6th. What do you think? Does this "new information" change your opinion at all?    - Bro Jo ]

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for replying so soon. There's a few more things you need to know that might change things:

He's actually been clean for nearly 4 months and has been to the temple with me in May to do baptisms for the dead with my ward. I was talking to him yesterday, and the only thing that makes him not ready to marry is that he hasn't yet gotten an answer from Heavenly Father. I specifically asked what is keeping him from being ready or making the decision. He's been praying and he wants to get revelation for himself if this is the right thing to do instead of just jumping into it because he wants to marry me.

How long in your opinion would he need to be clean to be sealed to me, if we decide to marry? We both want to, but are waiting for a confirmation from Heavenly Father before deciding to be formally engaged.


Dear Impatient,

My first response to this email was to write to you and say how wonderful it is that I'm wrong and that he's on the right track! But to be honest, and I apologize if this sounds pessimistic, but something still doesn't feel right . . .

And the "new" information doesn't change anything for me.

It's the timing.

The dude has been home from his mission for several years now. He "relapsed" into his porn addiction but has been "clean" for four months . . . see, what I'm seeing looks like this:

  • Pre-mission - struggled with porn
  • Mission - hopefully clean
  • Post-mission - "relapsed" into his porn addiction for several years (please note: in terms of repentance we don't call it "relapse", we call it "not yet repented of" - you can't fully repent until you "turn forever away")
  • Started Dating You 5+ months ago
  • Two months later stopped viewing porn
  • One or two months after that (and here's where I have the biggest problem) was cleared by his Bishop AND given a baptismal recommend (after being "clean" for a very short period of time) and allowed by your Bishop to go and do Baptisms for the Dead in the Temple

Forgive me, but . . . no way.

There's no way a guy has a life-long history of porn addiction, confesses everything to his Bishop and is given clearance to go to the Temple one month later.

Look, I'm not the guy's Bishop, and his repentance process is certainly none of my business - that's between he, the Bishop, and the Lord - but I find it very difficult to believe that a guy started dating a girl seriously (by the way, I hope you noticed that, based on what I've been told, his porn problem overlapped a large chunk of the time you've been dating), went and told his Bishop "hey, I've been a pornography addict for over 10 years, but I stopped a month ago" and the Bishop said "that sounds like true repentance to me! Here's a Temple recommend, son. Go with whatever ward you like."

I pray that I'm wrong; and as Sister Jo will tell you (as well as several of the "Dear Bro Jo" readers) I'm wrong all the time.

But something just doesn't fit.

Perhaps I'm being dumb.

Wouldn't be the first time.

Or the last.

There's no set timetable when it comes to returning to full fellowship with the Lord. Depending on the transgression and the efforts of the individual, six months to a year might be realistic.

But whatever you do, don't agree to a marriage until the repenting is over.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What Does It Mean When He's Nice to Other Girls?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey! It's me again.

I have a question about guys, since you are one.

Are guys smart and/or cruel enough to try and make a girl jealous by being a nice to another girl?

I'm just wondering if it's a possibility in my situation...



p.s., if he is, it's working ;)

Dear J,

Some guys are, but there's a big difference between "being nice" and "flirting". A nice guy doesn't intend to lead anyone on or make anyone jealous; a flirty guy is just trying to get attention and affirmation from a girl; a jerk is intentionally trying to hurt you.

All of this drama is why I keep telling you to focus on Casual Group Dating until you're out of High School and stop focusing on any one boy. Serious Single Dating is what you do once you get to college.

- Bro Jo

Monday, June 25, 2012

Non-Member Conversion and Future Missionary Boy Questions

Dear Bro Jo,

I am a non-member, first of all, but I have been seriously considering conversion to the LDS faith. But I sometimes worry that I won't be worthy enough to convert, since all the members I know currently are amazing people and I sometimes worry that I won't be able to live up to their standards as members.

But I love all the church activities I go to and I have felt the Spirit before when I went to a Scriptures Day a couple of years ago. I have felt it since then but that is the time when I think I felt a real change.

So I’m just wondering, how do i know if i will be accepted in the Church?
I have always been so welcome to all the events I go to, but I’m scared I will be judged a lot if I convert. Could you offer any advice?

I do go to activities and such things, but I can't actually go to Church to much because A) I usually have to work on Sundays and B) my father is not fond of the LDS religion.
He is always telling me I need to try out different religions and stuff, but when I did go to another service it didn't feel, I guess . . . right.

Does that make sense?

I kept comparing it to what I had felt when I went to Church services and I couldn't help but compare the two and see how much more I liked the LDS Church.

So I’m not sure how I should look into joining the LDS Church without making my father angry.

Any advice?

Just some guidance because I’m so confused about what I should do.

That was the first question I have.

The second actually relates to dating and such.

As I have stated before, I hang out with LDS youth and a lot of my friends are members. But there is this one guy who is a member that I have known since we were in 7th grade. We are both seniors this year, and he will be leaving for his mission before the beginning of the next school year. And I will admit, I have had crushes on him on and off for the entire time I have known him.

I start to like him again but then I remember that he just isn't interested in dating. Like at all it seems. And I don't know what to do about it.

He has admitted to me before that he likes me, and then after that he won't talk to me for a couple of months. Now he is really busy, with sports and school and Church and his family, which is amazing. but here is my problem: it’s gotten to the point where every time I start to date a different guy, I start to wonder about him (the guy I’ve known for a long time) and then I start to doubt if i really like this new guy or not and it’s not fair to the guy I’m dating, because he likes me but I can't commit because I can't stop thinking about this other guy. . . and it’s a mess.

I’m just wondering . . . should I move on?

Completely forget this guy since he will be leaving soon and I will be going to college a couple hours away, or should I wait for him and see if anything might happen when he returns from his mission?

Not like not date anyone or anything, but not have a serious relationship with anyone. Because it’s likely that I will convert within the next couple years, and I want to know what to I should do . . .

Am I just holding on to a lost cause or being a silly romantic teen age girl?
I just don't know what to do. so any advice would be amazing.

Thank you for even reading this because I have been questioning this for so long, and you’re the only person I can think to ask.

- Name Withheld

Dear NW,

First and foremost, choosing baptism into the LDS Church (or any faith, for that matter) needs to be for you; it needs to be about your relationship with Heavenly Father; and it should happen because you believe that your life will be better (understand that does not mean perfect) for making that choice.

Secondly, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect, but His followers are not. If they were, they wouldn't need repentance and His atoning sacrifice. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone struggles, everyone has doubts and trials of their faith, whether they're active Latter-day Saints, not members, or anything else. You are a chosen daughter of our Heavenly Father and just as entitled to His blessings as anyone (and everyone). The worries and doubts you feel are Satan's way of trying to keep you from that which you deserve.

If (I prefer "when") you join the Church is it possible that you'll meet some members that don't treat you the way Christians should?

Sadly, you might. But my experience has been that most will treat you with love.

Whether or not you live up to the Lord's standards is up to you. Just remember that through Christ we all can grow and work on being better people. (And I have a suspicion that you're a pretty good person already.)

I do think you need to attend Church a few times before you commit to anything. And if you haven't already you need to meet with some missionaries and have them formally teach you about the Church. I recommend doing that in the homes of some of your member friends.

As far as your dad goes, that's a tough one. Let him know that you love him and respect him and that you'd like to find out more about the LDS Church. Suggest that he sit in on the lessons with you so that he can ask the missionaries any questions he has. If he's more comfortable listening to the lessons on his own turf, suggest that the missionaries come to your home. If it helps, your friends can be there, too, perhaps with one of their families.

Now, regarding this young man . . .

I never recommend that a young woman should wait around idle for two years while a guy is off serving a mission. You should be Casual Group Dating with lots of guys for now. Once High School is over, Serious Single Dating is appropriate, but if this guy is mission focused (as he should be) he probably won't be interested in that.

Guys can be fickle and confused; don't let it bother you too much. If you're still available when he comes home . . . well . . . cross that bridge then.

- Bro Jo

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Hesitant Boyfriend - Part 1

[Readers - Looking forward to your discussions, comments and analysis on this new 3-part series. Part 1 is today (June 22nd), Part 2 next Friday (June 29th), and Part 3 will be published on the first Friday in July (the 6th).  So? What do you think?  - Bro Jo ]

Dear Bro Jo,

Here's my problem in short:

I'm 19, my boyfriend's 29 and an RM. This may sound bad, but it doesn't bother me at all, and he doesn't care, either. Neither of our family's has a problem with this, and my parents are in fact several years apart.

We've dated for over 5 months now, and this is both of our first relationships (never dated anyone else for more than a few weeks).

We are both aiming for a Temple Marriage, and both active in the church. We're not in the same ward, but over the summer the wards in our area are combined and he drives me to church and we sit together every week.

Basically, we've talked (a lot actually) about getting married. The problem is that he keeps saying he's not ready, he's worried that he'll be taking me away from life experiences (didn't say specifically what), and I don't get it!

Why is he waiting? We get along so well, have never had a fight, and he's very good to my younger siblings, my whole family loves him.

Something else you should probably know is that he's in the process of repenting. He used to be addicted to porn, before his mission and relapsed after his mission. He's been completely honest with me, is seeing his bishop and it's been going very well.

Everything about us just feels so right, but I don't want to pressure him, maybe I'm just being too impatient for him to make up his mind but I think he might be the one. His bishop has told him to have a short courtship and short engagement (he believes in the long courtship, short engagement) because a long courtship can get people into trouble as much as a long engagement. I know he doesn't want to jump into this, and he's naturally shy and hesitant about everything, but how long should I expect to wait? And what should I do or say to him in the meantime?

Another factor is that I'll graduate from college next year and have my driver's license, which would make married life easier, but a year seems soooo long to me. He really thinks we should wait til next summer, if at all. I don't know what to do...

-Confused and Impatient

Dear Impatient,

Okay. Here's my "because I love you enough to tell it to you straight" opinion:

He still has a porn problem, and he's not Temple worthy.

When a 29-year old man who's an RM says he's "not ready" for a Temple marriage, it’s a HUGE Red Flag. In his case it means he's not yet worthy to enter the Temple again. (That's not true of every 29-year old LDS man, but it IS true of way too many of them.) The reason he's telling you "a year" is because he figures that's how long it will take to get his spiritual act together. (Many forms of Church discipline require that repentance be demonstrated over a certain length of time. For some transgressions a year is common.)

I submit to you that he's being PARTIALLY honest with you. He's told you his issue. He's told you he's working on it. But he really isn't making any progress because he hasn't stopped the sinful behavior. His parents are "fine" with the whole thing because they're hoping you can help to save their son, and he's figuring that because your only 19 he's still got some time to . . . mess around, before he gets it all together.

He's figured that he can quit this addiction cold turkey whenever he wants, but he can't.

And he hasn't.

When he does finally get it together, and is ready to take you to the Temple, then, IF you're still available, he's worth consideration.

But you shouldn't wait around.

I say break it off. Tell him you'll keep dating him as long as he's making progress, but you're going to be dating other marriage prospects as well. No more talk of marriage until he's holding a Temple recommend and is ready to use it. Until then, you're just the safety net he's using that allows him to keep screwing up.

I know it sounds harsh, but trust me. Addicts need to know that we're not going to just sit around waiting for them to stop self-destructing.

Tough love is what I think this brother needs to get his act together.

And, this is important, if he balks or argues or tries to make you feel guilty, you'll know he's not ready to put you before the porn.

And, little sister, its best to find that out now.

Good luck to you both,

- Bro Jo

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bro Jo at BYU-I Sunday, June 24th


This Sunday, June 24th, I'll be part of a Fireside for the 82nd Ward. Check out the Facebook page for more details. Hope to see you there!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Letting Him Go

Dear Bro Jo,

Maybe someday I'll get married and my dating woes will end.....but until then, I still need your excellent advice. :)

I'm not quite sure what to do at the moment.

I met a guy in my singles ward and he asked me out.

I see him at Church activities and institute every week and he took me out almost every week for five or six weeks. (We'd held hands but hadn't kissed.)

Then he asked me to be his girlfriend.

I told him "not yet" because I wasn't sure and wanted to get to know him a little better. So then I pondered it for a few days and talked to my best friend and my mom. I realized that he's a wonderful guy and I enjoyed being with him and I didn't have anything to lose by dating him, so then I told him that I'd be his girlfriend. Well, now it's been two weeks and I'm not feelin' it. I still like spending time with him, but I don't feel twittered or emotionally attached at all. It's really hard for me not to flirt with other guys, and I hate turning down guys that ask me out.

So my question is this: Is my lack of emotional attachment and desire to date other people a sign that I shouldn't be in this relationship?

Or is it too soon to say and I'm not giving it half a chance?


Not Sure

Dear Not Sure,

It sounds to me like you never wanted to be his Girlfriend in the first place, and that you only agreed because everyone else thought you should.

Now, perhaps they know better than you, perhaps he's a great guy and you just can't see it. Regardless, you're not doing either of you any favors by continuing to stay in this relationship, especially when you want to be dating other people.

I don't think a relationship has to be filled with being "twittered" to be a good one, but clearly this one isn't working out. Talk to him. Soon. (Today.) And let him go. He deserves someone that feels about him the way you don't.

Neither of you are bad people, it just isn't in the cards.

It's not as if you'll regret giving him up and watching him fall-in-love with someone else, right?

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

You're right again.

Ok, I'll talk to him.

- Not Sure

Dear Not Sure,

Be kind, and don't burn any bridges lest you wake up tomorrow regretting what you've said today.

Good luck.

- Bro Jo

Monday, June 18, 2012

What If You Need to Talk to the Bishop and He's Your Friend's Dad?

Dear Bro Jo,

So I come from an indefinitely LDS family.

I am 15.

I just don’t know where things went wrong.

I started to have doubts in the Church and stuff.

I viewed pornography for a while (haven't for a while but I haven't brought it to the attention of my parents or bishop) and I feel like a patriarchal blessing would really help. I'm planning on getting the pornography mess cleared up... If I can get over my nervousness. (The bishop is a close friends father) which brings me to my 2 questions.

First, is there any advice you can give me to help my nervousness or help me know what to do?

And 2nd, do I have to wait till after I get the porn mess cleaned up to get my patriarchal blessing?

I just don't know where I started to go wrong... I am also about to move and have been discouraged knowing that I am leaving everyone I know. I'm moving from (location omitted) to (location omitted) so any advice you can give me on moving would help, too.

Thanks... Hopefully I'm not embarrassing myself and using this email the wrong way. I just saw it randomly on BlogSpot and saw your email and figured I'd just email you without researching it thoroughly.

Thanks for your time and help,

- Name Withheld

Dear Brother,

Father's friend or not, a Bishop is a Bishop and it will be a lot easier for you to battle what you're battling with his help. Fear comes from Satan. Put it aside and go talk to your Bishop today. The fact that he knows you will actually be more of a help.

And trust me, he's not going to tell your friend.

When you talk to him, bring up the Patriarchal Blessing. If now is the time, great! If you need to put some things right before then, that's okay, too.

The point is to get you back on track.

I promise you there's a link from Satan to pornography to your doubts. Porn is a very powerful tool of the adversary; addictive as any drug and just as dangerous, perhaps more so because of it's wide acceptance and encouragement by the morally corrupt, morally ignorant, and morally confused. It's ready accessibility is a huge problem, too.

Go call and make the appointment with your Bishop right now.

I promise that as you begin to put this behind you, you'll feel a ton better.

- Bro Jo

PS - Moving in High School is hard, I know. But it will be easier if you've started down the path to conquering what troubles you. Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Communication is the Key . . . again.

Dear Bro Jo,

I'll just get this out of the way: I like a guy.

So typical, right?

Well I am 17 years old, he's 18, and I've really liked him for about a year. Then, a couple of weeks ago, he asked me on a date.

Obviously, I was pumped... But he cancelled the day of, and hasn't spoken to me since (It's been about 2 weeks). I know that there wasn't an emergency that necessitated his attention that day (I'm good friends with his sisters), he just cancelled.

And I'm hurt.

I don't know why he would randomly change his mind, and I don't know what I did wrong. I don't know what made him decide I wasn't date-worthy. And I don't know what to do about it. I do realize that I'm only 17, and I'm not looking for a serious relationship. He'll be going on his mission in a year, I'll be going to University, and we'll part ways. But that still doesn't really help the whole hurt-feelings thing. (As a bit of a background, I've been on a total of one date.)

For whatever reason, and this was only the second time I've ever been asked out, so I'm feeling pretty low.

To wrap this up, what should I do? Is he just being a jerk? Did I do something? Is there something wrong with me?

-Confused and Hurt.

Dear Confused,

I don't know.

And neither do you.

Rather than get all dramatic about it, why don't you just ask him?

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Do We "Fall Into Temptation"?

Dear Bro. Jo,

To start from the very start, this guy (which we shall call Ted) and I started dating.

I dated other guys too.

However after a while we began dating more seriously.

Both of our families are accepting of our relationship. He is a convert (baptized 3 years ago) and just turned 20.(I am 18)

About 8 months ago we fell into temptation and got involved sexually. It was the biggest mistake.

We went through what we believed to be the repentance process for this. We have felt at peace with the situation. However now he has his mission call (all the previous happened before he even decided on a mission) and he is leaving pretty soon.

Lately I have pondering back on the mistake and if we corrected it in the right way. Did we need to speak with the Bishop or Stake President?

'Ted' did confess to our doing in his interview with the stake president, of course without mentioning that the other person involved was me.

After that the bishop and him spent weeks together. Bishop would text him, check up on him and such, too make sure he was in the right thoughts I suppose. Am I just rethinking this too much? Should I Keep moving forward or did I miss something?

Dear Friend,

Ted did it right. You missed something.

You need to go talk to your Bishop. Sexual intercourse outside of marriage is a big enough "mistake" that it keeps us from being worthy to enter into the Temple, and anything that does that is something we need to talk to our Bishop about. Until we repent properly, which in this case includes talking to priesthood authority, all we're doing is ignoring what we did. That's not repentance.

Go make the appointment with your Bishop. When you've gotten this all straightened out with God, I promise you'll feel better.

Oh, and on a personal note, I wish people would stop saying that they "fell into temptation"; it’s not like you two were innocently walking through a park and you tripped into a rabbit hole; you knew what you were doing, you chose to be in tempting situations and you chose to have sex. This isn't something that "just happened", and it wasn't an "accident".

Ownership of our mistakes is part of being an adult and choosing to do the right thing.

God bless,

- Bro Jo

Monday, June 11, 2012

When a Guy Gets Engaged Instead of Going on a Mission - Part 2

[Readers - This is part 2 of a letter that posted on Friday, June 8, 2012. What do you think? - Bro Jo]

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for your words.

It's not that way at all, though.

I've never considered or desired to marry him, let alone even having a crush on him; he really is just a good friend.

I don't want to date him at all, that would be weird, and I'm very happy that he and his fiancé find joy together and are getting married in the Temple.

I just wanted to see if there was something I could do or say, though I figured there would be nothing since he's made up his mind.

Sure, I'm not thrilled that he chose to get married now instead of going on a mission, but that does not mean I have lost respect for him or treat him differently, but thank you for your words.

- Desperate

Dear Desperate,

I know guys and girls are different, but if you're not attracted to him at all (if he's a great guy and a "good friend", is it that you find him repulsive? Is he not any fun? Do you have your eye on someone else? Then, honestly, other than your disappointment in his choice (which is understandable), why does it bother you so much?

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

It's not that I find him repulsive at all.

I have no brothers of my own, and when I moved into a new ward, that he was in, he made me feel welcome and he's been like my brother ever since.

And I'm dating someone else anyways.

I guess it's not so much of a bother than it was a shock.

He would always talk about how excited he was to serve and all, so it just came as a surprise when I found out that he wasn't going to serve. So, yeah, it was disappointing, especially since he wasn't the one to tell me, and I was kind of just at a loss of what to do or say when I first found out.

Now, as I've had time to think about it more, I've accepted the fact that I can't change his mind, even if I may disagree with his decision, and that I can just continue to be happy for them, that they're getting married in the temple still, and pray for them that all may work out. I knew inside that I couldn't do anything; I guess I just didn't want to admit it because he, of all people, is the first one of my close friends who chose not to serve after he had been excited for it for so many years.

I guess I was just hoping that there was something I could do, but I'm glad someone else told me I can't change his mind, so I can admit it to myself and just be happy that he's still marrying a wonderful girl in the temple.

- Desperate

Dear Desperate,

Just curious: if you weren't dating the other guy, and this guy wasn't engaged, and he'd asked, would you have gone out with him?

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

I would have gone on a date with him, but I don't think I could ever be his girlfriend; I just don't like him that way. I never have. He really is just like my brother.

- Desperate

Dear Desperate,

A "brother" you would date if he asked.


Got it.

Well . . . it's good that you've found a way to be happy for him.

And, for what it's worth, I agree:  he should have gone through with his mission plans, but only if he could let this girl go.  A missionary that's constantly pining for the "girl back home" often isn't a very effective missionary, and can be a real anchor for his companion.

Despite what the MGs of the world want to believe, Missionaries and Girlfriends Waiting Back Home aren't a good idea.

- Bro Jo

Friday, June 8, 2012

When a Guy Gets Engaged Instead of Going on a Mission - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

Just to start off, I love your blog and greatly appreciate the advice and tips you give to the youth and YSA's like myself.

I guess I'll just jump right into it.

I am a college student, just finishing up my Freshman year. When I went home for Christmas, I saw a good friend of mine from high school who's in my ward and had been away at basic training for the Army while I was at school. We had become very close friends during our senior year of high school and we had been in the same ward for many years, so we knew each other well.

He's a strong young man, a worthy priesthood holder, and an excellent LDS member. We kept in touch while he was in training, and when we were both home for Christmas, I saw him at Church, but he wasn't alone. Apparently, sometime between graduation and basic training, or even during basic training, he started dating another one of our good friends from high school in a different ward.

I had no idea they were dating, so it surprised me, but they are both wonderful people. He and I had talked a lot about his mission as we kept in touch, and how he planned to finish training and then serve a mission, and we were both excited.

But then I got a phone call.

It wasn't from this friend, but from another good friend who's practically my brother who is very close with the girlfriend of our Army friend.

As we were talking, he explained to me that our Army friend had decided to forego serving a mission and marry his girlfriend in June instead. Though they are still getting married in the Temple, as they are still both wonderful, incredible people, it has hurt many to see him make this decision.

In high school, we had a group of strong LDS members, and none of us would have ever expected him, of all people, to pass up on one of his most important priesthood responsibilities of serving a mission.

I am happy for the two of them, especially that they're still getting married in the Temple and that they are both still faithful members, but it's brought so much pain to both of their families, to me and other close friends, and I'm sure, to the Lord.

Do you have any advice as to what I, or any of us, could do that might help him to ponder the decision he's made in hopes of making him realize the importance of serving a mission?

I've prayed so hard, and I don't think anything I do would end up changing his mind, and I'm just at a loss of what to do. I still respect him and love him like my own brother, but can you think of anything that I could do?


Desperate to Rescue

Dear Desperate,

Not only is there nothing you CAN do, there's nothing you SHOULD do.

Let's be honest, here: your real issue is that he's decided to marry Her Now, instead of possibly marrying You Later. (If you don't know let me teach you now that when a person is speaking - or writing - and they use the word "but", everything before that word is a cover, and everything after that word is how they truly feel. That certainly enlightens one when reading your email.)

Should he have chosen to go on a mission? Yeah, he probably should have.

Is there anything you can say to change his mind now? As the Lord has told you, very doubtful.

Even if you went for broke, pulling him aside, confessing your feelings, telling him that you've always hoped he would serve and then come home and date (perhaps even marry) you, it's not likely to change anything. (Unless of course he's not as Good a Guy everyone thinks he is, meaning that a simple confession from you would prompt him to drop another girl he's already committed to making temple covenants with.

I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but think it through: if he really liked you, why pick her?

If in that scenario he picked the mission and/or you, you would likely just be an excuse to get out of the other relationship, and you couldn't necessarily trust that he would then commit to you for the long term.)

He's afraid to go.

I'm not calling him a coward, please understand, by any means, but he is afraid.

What he probably fears is that he'll lose this girl to someone else.

And he's probably right. (When you're 18, 19, it's difficult to understand that there's more than one great person out there for you, even if you're convinced that several people out there would love to steal the person you like.)

And let's be clear here: it's not like he's a big jerk and a spiritual loser. The dude is getting married in the Temple for Time and All Eternity; like you said, while we wish the timing were a little different, we can't help but be happy for them.

He likely would have been a great missionary, and someday he'll look back and regret not going (at least a little), but those types of decisions and the consequences for them are between the person and Heavenly Father.

As much as it may be difficult to write (and read), not everyone who should serve, and CAN serve, will. That doesn't make them bad people.

And don't worry, you'll find another Good Guy to fall for.

- Bro Jo

[Readers -

What do you think?

Does she like him?

Should she say something?

Part 2 will post on Monday.

- Bro Jo]

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Girl's Value Comes from God, Not from Guys

Dear Bro Jo,

So I always read your blogs and the help people come to you for. I think this is an awesome website and I have some problems of my own.

Mostly right now it is about dating.

I've been 16 for 8 months and i haven’t been on a single date.

My friends have and I’m the only one that hasn’t. I’m scared I’m never going to and also never end up getting married. I don’t feel pretty at all.

I’m also not skinny and I think that is why no boys talk to me.

My mom always asks me "when are you going to get some guy friends?"

But the problem is that nobody talks to me.

I haven’t been to a formal high school dance because no boy asks me. I feel really ugly and I get really depressed sometimes. I want help on how to get boys to talk to me.

Me and my friends are really close and whenever a boy says something to us we freak out because a boy talked to us. Now there is one guy I met and talked to recently but he is a senior.

One day I was waiting for my mom to take me home from school and I saw my friend standing by herself. So I went up to her and asked if I could use her phone to call my mom. She let me use it but my mom wouldn’t answer. So she told me she was getting a ride from this guy (let’s call him L) so this guy saw me with my friend and asked me if I needed a ride home.

I really needed to get home so I said ok.

So I always hear about this guy and how nice he is and so Christ like. He was really nice and the ride home was not awkward at all we talked all the way home. This is more than I’ve ever talked to a guy in a year!

At the end he gave me a pat on the back and said if I needed a ride anytime to ask him.

I said thank you and went inside to my house.

Then I saw him the next day and he said hi.

My friends freaked out and whenever he passes by there always like say hi!

But it’s been a week and I see him in the halls and he doesn’t say hi to me anymore. He takes my friend who let me use her phone home all the time.

I really like how sweet and nice he is. He is always doing something good for someone; he is a student body officer. I want to get to know him more, but I’m really self-conscious. I want help to have more guy friends and talk to boys.

I feel really ugly each day and think that is why boys don’t talk to me. Please give me some advice.

Thank you!


Hopeless Romantic

Dear Romantic,

(You're not Hopeless.)

I've said it a hundred times: while I wish, and am working towards, all girls getting to go on Casual Group Dates with Good Guys, the truth is that many of the best girls date little or not at all in High School (including Sister Jo, by the way). Does that mean they'll never get married?

Absolutely not.

Nor does it mean that they're unattractive or lacking in value.

I don't believe that any woman, or man for that matter, is truly unattractive; sure, not all of us get the same attention for our looks that others do, but everyone has something good-looking about them. Now, that said, even the "best looking" people can do something to improve their appearance, and to be honest, many of the people we all consider "great looking" are doing something. Or multiple somethings.

Now, I'm not an advocate of crazy diets, and I fight against eating disorders and elective surgeries, but there are some things that are less drastic that can improve not just or appearance, but how we feel about ourselves. Here is a short list of Do's and Don'ts

• Don't drink soda, "energy" drinks or "sports drinks". Loaded with sugar (or chemicals), carbonation and often caffeine, these things add lots of empty calories and can wreck your complexion. Sports drinks are for after a big workout, not a substitute for soda.

• Do drink water, and lots of it. Most of the time when we shove food in our faces it's because we're thirsty, not because we're hungry. Staying hydrated (you should drink a glass of water before every meal) will help to reduce your bad calorie intake and clear up your skin.

• Don't eat high processed or sugary foods. Cut the candy out, and keep other deserts to a minimum.

• Do eat lots of vegetables and reach for fruit (the real stuff, not "fruit snacks") when you want something sweet.

• Don't skip showers or teeth brushing.

• Do keep your body clean. (Somewhere around here I posted a story about a girl I had a huge crush on, but when I took her on our one date she smelled like a . . . well, it wasn't pleasant. Never dated her again.)

• Don't sit for long periods of time.

• Do find a sport or other regular physical activity. Even a light workout will make you feel better about yourself.

Look, I'm not above following this advice myself. All of us can do better, right?

(You can find more stuff like this at Bro Jo's "HOW a GIRL CAN GET a BOY'S ATTENTION")

But the point is that you need to take matters into your own hands. Don't just sit around feeling sorry for yourself, do something about it!

Honestly, I have no idea what you look like or what shape you're in, I'm just responding to what you've written. I think each of us has a God-given responsibility to do the best we can with what we're given, and that includes taking better care of the temple we're living in.

Now, all of that said, I want you to realize something very important: who you are, your value as a human being, has very little to do with what you look like, and very much to do with who you are inside. Kindness, a good sense of humor, smarts, drive, compassion, cheerfulness, resolve, making others feel good about themselves, wit, charity, service and magnifying your talents are all infinitely more attractive than how you look. Maybe not all of the guys in high school will get that, but some might. And eventually you'll meet a Good Man who's smart enough to get it, too.

Plus, and this is what's really important: no matter what we do, looks fade and our bodies break down; that other stuff lasts forever.

Never forget that you, my little sister, are a daughter of God, who loves you. You value comes from Him, not from the boys at school who do or don't ask you out.

- Bro Jo

Monday, June 4, 2012

Do Not Procrastinate the Day

Dear Bro Jo,

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

I'm almost 19, and serving a mission is my focus right now, but I'm absolutely terrified that given behavioral patterns of mine, I won't be able to do that. I won't go into specifics, but I'm sure you can figure it out.

I honestly feel like it's too late right now or that I'm too far gone to do anything about it. I've come to know and realize that it's an addiction that I've been struggling with for almost 7 years. I know I need to change what I'm doing. But I'm also embarrassed, terrified, humiliated to talk to anyone about what I've been doing, because what I've done I'm certainly not proud of. It's ruined relationship that I've had, namely a girl and myself doing a lot of things I knew at the time I shouldn't have been doing but did nothing to stop it.

This thing I've been going through has let to chastity issues, which I know is absolutely NOT okay. I've looked online for ways to help me fix the situation I find myself in, and nothing seems to work at all. I feel like if I tell me parents about it, they'll just feel disappointed or ashamed or something. I feel like I can't talk to any of my friends about it because they'll judge me and they'll stop being my friends. But most of all I'm afraid of talking to my bishop about what's been going on because of the consequences.

I'm petrified that if I tell him everything it'll either keep me from going on a mission, which everyone expects me to do because no one has any idea of what's been going on, or worse, I'll be ex-communicated. I feel like it'll cost too much to talk to anyone about anything. But it's worse and worse the more I think about it. I've lied in interviews, gone to the temple or taken the sacrament when I know I shouldn't have, and I just feel lost and hopeless. And I realize that's just Satan getting in my head, but honestly I feel like sometimes he's right and I have no business or right to go to Church or socialize with members.

I know this is a lot to take in for a first email, but I took what little comfort I could in knowing that you are a complete and total stranger, so for some reason the thought of telling you about everything seemed a lot easier to bear then someone I knew. Please, please, please help me out. I've prayed countless times to help resist Satan's advances and I know the Lord is trying His best to help me, which makes me realize it's me that's not getting the job done. And I know He's never going to give me anything beyond my capacity to handle, but still, this stuff I've been keeping inside of me is getting to be to hard to hold in anymore because I know time is running out.

I turn 19 in 7 months and I fear a complete and total repentance process, while every single bit necessary, would postpone my mission departure or knock it out completely. I'm scared that if it does get pushed back, people will wonder why and the reason will eventually come out and ruin any relationships I have within the church. At this point I'm willing to do anything to stop this and move past it, because right now I honestly feel like a complete and total failure with everything I do.

I feel like my lack of ambition for life in general is attributed to this, and I'm just sluggish and don't have that peppy, bright, happy countenance that I see other people have. I pretend like everything is fine and fake my way through the days, but I'm tired of that. It's time to make a change, and I know that, I just don't know where to start, or if it's even possible at this point.

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

- Name Withheld

Dear NW,

One thing at a time, my brother.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Call your Bishop, and call him now.

Do it.

No excuses.

That's where you start.

And you start now.


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

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

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

No kidding.

Go now.

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

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

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

- Bro Jo

Dear NW,

It's been nearly a month. I've been thinking about you and your email; how are you doing?

- Bro Jo

[Readers - I got no response for several months, then I got this email.]

Dear Bro Jo,

I don't know if you remember me or not, but I sent you an email about some struggles I was dealing with and asking for help and a way out. And now I realize the only way out was to do the right thing.

It wasn't until this morning I finally did that right thing. I'm disappointed in myself that it took this long, I know I should have done this months sooner. And, in all honesty, it took someone else to call me on it. I had an interview with my Bishop about the progress of my mission papers and one thing led to another. but I've got everything out on the table now. he knows what's happened, I've talked to my parents about it, and I know now what I have to do to correct my path. I don’t know why I was so afraid to do this. I can't even begin to say how relieved and happy I am knowing I did the right thing. all parties involved were so so so so supportive and helpful, and I felt so much better afterwards. now that I've told the people that need telling, I honestly feel like a weight has been lifted and I can smile and genuinely mean it now.

I'm sorry for not taking your advice sooner, but you were 1000% right about this.

I went in ashamed, spilled my guts, and came out with my head held high knowing I did the right thing and I can work through this. it'll take some time, it'll probably be a little rough, but I'm so exceed for a clean, fresh future.

- NW

Dear NW,

Thank you for sharing this with me today. I certainly remember you, and I'm proud of you and happy for you!

May the Lord continue to bless you as you continue your journey.

As you've alluded, it may not be easy . . . but it will certainly be worth it.

And I believe your testimony of repentance will inspire others.

- Bro Jo

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Family You Marry Into

Dear Brother Jo,

I first off would like to express my gratitude for your blog. I have used it and have found it very insightful. I served in a YW presidency and some of the issues and topics you talked about were very useful and helped me help them, so to speak. So for that, I thank you!

I have read quite a few stories about troubled youth and struggling YSA’s but I seem to still find myself in a debacle that I'm not that sure of how to handle. However, before I just jump head first into my situation, I feel an intro is in order.

I am (age withheld) and just moved back to my home town after finishing my college studies; I just graduated from school. I have good a job and making pretty good money.

I am dating a young man who is part of the singles branch here and we have been together for almost 2 years now. I really do like this guy and the topic of marriage has come up over the last few months and we seem to have the same views about marriage which is kind of exciting. My family, the members who have met him anyways, all seem to really like him and he does spend quite a lot of time with me and my parents.

However, it is his family that seems to be a setback. His mother and I are quite good friends but his father and I are not so much.  To be more accurate, it’s his step father.

When I first met his family, they all seemed rather friendly, he grew up with 4 other brothers and he has no sisters, so you can imagine they are all a little rough around the edges. It took me a few tries to get used to them but after a while we were totally fine.

After time though, the secrets of his step father’s secret life started coming out and all the peace that was in their home went away. It has been a VERY bad environment ever since. Their marital problems then turned to money problems and now they are all pitted against each other and they constantly fight.

Luckily, the young man I am dating left right before it got really bad, I should say that he got kicked out, but now he has been disowned by his step father, which really broke his heart because he was really close to his brothers and now he can’t really see them as often. His step dad also said that I am not welcome in their home either because I am guilty by association.

The man is very stubborn and prideful and sees nothing wrong with how he is living his life. It has also come to my attention that he is also abusive towards his family, mainly his wife, and that just scares me to the point that if I see him anywhere, I turn around and walk away.

I guess my question is how do I deal with this?

I'm scared that if I do ever marry this young man, how am I going to deal with his family?

I have talked to him about his father’s behavior and I have been very blunt in saying that if he does follow in his step dads footsteps that I will not stick around and he knows how I feel about that. I have also prayed about this and I know that when he says that he will not be like that, I believe him. I just don’t know if I can handle this whole thing.

Our Bishop knows about what is going on, but nothing has been said or done to help this family and that isn’t sitting well with me.

I know I just gave a “readers digest” version of this whole story, but I didn’t want to get too in depth and write a novel. If you do have more specific questions about this I will gladly give it. I will take whatever kind of advice that you are inspired to share!

Thank you so much for your time and patience,

(Name withheld)

Dear NW,

I'm happy to withhold your name, and if this is ever published you'll see that I've withheld some other details as well to help protect your privacy (although the details do help me help you).

You've raised several issues.

The first one I want to write you about it the all-too-common notion within the Church that "the Bishop is doing nothing". That may be true, and it may not.

Frankly, the only people who know the answer to that are the Bishop, the Lord, and the individual being helped. I've seen many situations where parishioners were "outraged" that nothing was being done by priesthood leadership when in fact things were being done, it just wasn't any of their business.

Another thing that people need to realize is that there's often a disparity between gossip and reality. We may think we know a situation based on what we've heard, but we forget that what we hear is third-party or biased information; sometimes abuse is real, sometimes things are labeled incorrectly because we make assumptions or because people twist things to hide some of the information.

Or they're just ignorant.

And (this is important) the job of a Bishop (or Stake President) is not necessarily to hunt people down and make them change their behavior. Like conversion, repentance comes from within. There are times when an individual's actions are deemed to be doing public damage to the Church or that their behavior is such where a disciplinary council is held with or without the individual, but even then the hope is for repentance. (You know, going back and reading, it's not clear to me whether or not the step-father is a member of the LDS Church . . . which might make all of this moot, anyway.)

Plus, it's always possible that a Bishop or other Church leader doesn't know what we think they do.

Which brings us to the issue of being your "brother's keeper".

I have no tolerance for child abusers, and I feel very strongly that if you know something concretely you must notify whatever authority (priesthood or otherwise) of the abuse. Please don't delay.

(Frankly, that may include having a chat with the Bishop which includes you expressing your disappointment in his lack of action.)

That's how you "deal with this".

Gather the facts and notify authorities to protect those that can't (or won't) protect themselves.

As for your possible impending marriage, when you marry someone you marry their family, too. If you "can't handle" being one of the relatives (whatever that means) then the marriage is a no-go.

Not that he's proposed . . . yet. (While Bro Jo is a proponent of "long courtships and short engagements" two years is a bit long even for me; seriously, you need to know SOON if this is going to happen or not.)

One of my "Five A's Why Not to Marry THAT Person"  is Abuse (the same list is also found in "Bro Jo's Guide to Relationships"); if you're satisfied that's not an issue (and you seem to be), and if you can find a way to deal with the family drama (you marry into a family, but every family has its problems) and if your future husband will cleave unto You even when it means separating from Them, then I think you're okay.

- Bro Jo

Dear Brother Jo,

Thank you for getting back to me so promptly!

Your advice makes sense and I appreciate the things you have said.

You asked a question that I would like to shed some light on: his step father is in fact a member of the Church and was serving in the Elders quorum presidency.

As for the abuse issue I did take your advice.

I didn’t know if anyone knew about it, and the only reason I found out was because I saw her one day on the street wearing a long turtle neck and huge sunglasses. Now, the sunglasses made sense, seeing as we live in (location withheld), but the turtle neck didn’t. This was a few days ago and the temperature has been rising and it’s just too hot outside to wear something like that.

I told my boyfriend about it and he called her and that’s when she broke down into tears.

We then found out that she had bruises up and down her arms and a black eye. She had also spent the night before in the hospital with some broken ribs from the same fight. I wanted to call in a welfare check that night, but she begged us not to, seeing that her husband is a middle school teacher and if the school found out he would be fired from his job immediately.

However, after reading your response, I decided to take some action. I couldn’t get a hold of our Bishop, but I did go and have a nice long talk with our ward's Relief Society president. She didn’t know that it had escalated to that point. She knew that they were having some problems but not like that. She said that she would be contacting the Bishop about it and that I didn’t need to stress. She then thanked me for telling her and told me to keep their family in my prayers.

Thank you for your advice. It was very much appreciated.


Dear NW,

Thank you for having the courage to do the right thing.

Let's pray that this family can overcome these trials; that repentance will happen where needed, and that people will do the right thing.

For you that may mean making sure that you don't gossip about any of this.

For you and your boy, that means being supportive.

And perhaps putting a little pressure on him. Two years is plenty of time to decide if he's going to marry you or not, so have the talk. Either move forward or move on.

Always wishing you the best,

- Bro Jo

{Readers - Never let someone's job keep you from reporting abuse. The fact that this guy works in the school system made this whole situation worse, not excusable! - Bro Jo]