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Friday, February 8, 2013

Is Waiting a Waste?

Dear Readers,

Nearly four years ago, in one of my first columns, I addressed "Waiting for a Missionary".  (You can read the original HERE.)  Since then it's been our most commented on post.

Yesterday I got the following comment.  Below is my response.

Best to all,

- Bro Jo

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Waiting for a Missionary":

Guess what?

I waited two years for my missionary (And yes, I call him mine)

I dated other guys and such but I held onto my guy. He got back, we dated a little more, and guess what?

We got married.

You just don't like to be wrong, that's your problem.

I agree with all the girls that say that they are strong, you are.

It's not easy to say goodbye to someone that you love for two years.

Support him, write him, date other guys.

I wrote him once a week and he asked for letters once a week. He didn't have a huge support system at home.

I know you said you've never heard of a mission president who encourages a MG but his never discouraged it either. Why do you feel that waiting is so wrong?

He was never distracted and he loved his mission. He lead the mission for many months, became the AP.

Ladies, it's not a distraction to write him, but it is a support.

Tell him every week how incredible he is, what a good example he is. Let him know that his service is appreciated. Pray for him.

And if you want to wait, go for it. I see nothing wrong with it.

If he comes back and things work out, congratulations!

If they don't, then you tested it and you can move on.

But never tell yourself that you wasted 2 years, ever, because you didn't.

Dear Anon,

First off . . . CONGRATULATIONS!!!

I’m truly happy for you both.

I have LOTS of problems . . . just ask Sister Jo!

When it comes to being wrong, I think I’m like most people.

I don’t mind being wrong when the result is positive, not that it’s fun when people gloat or belittle . . . but I can’t be angry when something good happens.

In fact, when I’m expecting something bad I love it when I’m wrong!

I don’t like it when I’m right, or think I’m right, and people want to argue . . . it happens all the time, so I should just get used to it I suppose.

Of course, in this case at least, I wasn't wrong.

In fact, it seems you and I agree on almost everything!


He wasn't “your missionary”. I don't care what you call him.

It was his mission, and he was his parent’s son, but he was the Lord’s Missionary. It’s in the song, you know . . .

And I’m glad he found joy in service; what an excellent testimony and example he set!

Now he’s your husband, and (hopefully) your Eternal Companion, and those are Very Good Things.

You dated other guys, which is exactly what I recommend; good for you!

By following that advice, you didn't wait.

At least not by my definition.  Again, good for you!

You also said to support him and write him, which I wholeheartedly agree with. I think it’s very unwise for a young woman to blow off all dating for the two years “her missionary” is gone, but writing non-romantic letters and being supportive is Always good.

If you read my columns on this you’ll see that I say “sure it can work out, and when it does, that’s great!”, but when it doesn't work out, which again is most of the time, it’s a big mistake.


Consider this: I submit that your opinion is what it is because things worked out the way you wanted them to. I think it’s very easy to sit there and say that you wouldn't feel that you’d wasted two years had things worked out differently, but I've got piles, PILES of mail from Young Women AND Young Men who “waited” and it didn't work out and they all, ALL, say exactly the same thing “I wasted my time waiting around and now I’m worried I won’t find anyone”.

Those letters and emails talk about Great People that they could have dated but didn't because they hung all of their hopes on a fantasy line. I've got letters from girls who waited because Uncool Coward Missionary Guy was scared or wanted to get lots of mail from star struck girls that he had no intention of marrying; I've got email from Good Couples who had every intention of being together forever only to discover that, shock of shocks, two years of experiences and maturity have led to the realization that they weren't a good match after all (glad they figured it out Before the Temple); and I’ve got tons of correspondence from Good LDS Guys who are pretty tired of how many of you good sisters use them for free dinners or act like nuns because you treat some guy who can’t even call you for two years like he’s your husband on military deployment.

I’m so, So Glad that things worked out for you!

I really am . . . despite your smugness.

But for every story like yours I’ve got many times more stories from people who found a great eternal companion rather than wait around for “maybe”, or for whom waiting was a waste.

See, there’s no truth to “there’s only one person out there for you”.

How could I possibly in good conscience tell someone to wait, tell them to lock themselves away, tell them that at 16 the 18-year old boy they have a crush on is worth skipping Prom for . . . worth not going to any movies for . . . worth risking a life time of loneliness for . . . just because it worked out for you?

“Dude, you should totally jump off this bridge! The first forty guys who did it are in the hospital, but I heard that it really worked out for one guy . . .”

That's why I tell people "all bets are off" and "don't wait around".

Stories like yours are why I tell people "go out, date others, and when the missionary comes back, if you're still single and you're both still interested, by all means DATE!".

One last thing: it may bring y’all comfort to spin this with “but his Mission President didn't tell him to dump me” as “I wasn't a distraction”, but that's not the same thing.  And I’m sure some of you aren't distractions . . . too much . . . but I’ll tell you that’s not what I hear from the guys that have had missionary companions with serious girlfriends back home.

Wishing you every happiness,

- Bro Jo


Amberlie said...

I have feelings for a guy in the mission field right now. I know it's a very hard sacrifice and has brought me closer to my Savior. But I've also learned about how important it is to Trust The Lord. When it comes to relationships--especially ones we want to last for eternity--Heavenly Father wants to help us make the right choice!

What I've decided in my situation is that I don't know everything, but Heavenly Father does. I shouldn't be focused on what I want, but truly seeking to know what He wants for me. If they line up, GREAT! If they don't, GREAT! Because I'm promised that if I remain faithful, no blessing will be withheld from me, and if he does the same, we'll be happy either way!

Anonymous said...

I made this comment on the popular waiting for a missionary thread from this blog and I was told to wait until a certain day for Bro Jo's answer to it but I don't see a direct response so I'm going to bring this up again.

As I read the comments on this thread, I didn't see anything specific that touches the side of the return missionaries, that didn't have an MG, and who struggle with dating because girls will shun us off because they're waiting for their missionary. You made comments about "hidden motives" and so I'll specify that I do fall in this boat of RM's.

It's frustrating to like a girl and date her only for her to cut it short because she has a missionary. I read comments about girls saying that they'll date other guys because it'll make their love for their missionary stronger, but that's very inconsiderate to the RM. Sure, the girl admires the missionary for being one, great, but I was one too! I gave two years of my life to the Lord. Now that I'm back in the dating scene looking to date His daughters and find my eternal companion, it's very disappointing to have girls cut me short because they have missionaries. They'll give me a date or two, but no more than that. I feel that they really don't give me a chance; it's as if they see me as "the bad guy in the scene that is out to ruin her relationship with her 'one and only'."

I understand that, as a guy, I have it easier to initiate dates with a girl because I do the asking. I also understand that there are many girls out there who are available and are not waiting for a missionary. At the same time, I don't know ahead of time whether or not a girl has a missionary. I've been interested in several MG girls and it hurts. People will say "man up and find someone else." I try to move on, but I just wish that girls wouldn't wait for missionaries so that they could be available for the great guys around them. We RM's already served. Some guys are jerks but many more of us really want to do what's right and be a quality boyfriend and husband for our Heavenly Father's daughters....I wish they would give us real chances.

I agree that no mission president wants missionaries to have girls waiting for them. To go with that I feel that, if Heavenly Father unconditionally wanted a particular guy and girl to marry for a specific purpose, then He would have made it so that the girl met the guy as an RM. That way he would serve a faithful, non-distracted mission and she would grow and prepare better for marriage by dating in her prime years like she's suppose to.

Sorry for the long message. I look forward to hearing any input from you that addresses this issue from the RM guys perspective.

Dave Johnston said...

You're totally right.

I went back and looked. Your comment, almost identical to your comment here, was posted on September 17th, 2012, and I responded on September 24th that I was going to respond to it on Wednesday.

I had forgotten when I wrote that we were in the middle of a series, the second post of which was already scheduled for that Wednesday . . .

While your comment struck a familiar chord, I couldn't find my response to it published, either.

I'll respond this Wednesday, February 13, 2013.

Thank you for reminding me!

- Bro Jo