Things to know

Regularly read by 50,000+ readers in over 140 countries around the world, "Dear Bro Jo" is published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (with occasional additional posts, too).

This is column is just one guy's opinion, and while he does his best to keep what he thinks, says and writes in-line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Bro Jo is not a spokesman or authority for the LDS Church. (And Sister Jo thinks you should know that he's sometimes wrong, and often way too opinionated for his own good.)

Nothing here is meant to take the place of talking with parents, leaders, or Church authorities. Please, if you need serious help, talk to a trusted adult, leader, and / or professional counselor.

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Everything here is copyrighted. If you're going to quote any part of anything here, please get Bro Jo's written permission. You can reach him at dearbrojo@gmail.com.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Is a Kiss Just a Kiss?

Dear Bro Jo-

I frequently read your blog and Facebook page, followed your dating rules even before I read them, and have employed your "How A Girl Can Get A Guy To Ask Her Out" tips with extremely satisfying results. In fact, those very tips helped get me into my current predicament! I'm sure you don't really need the back story, but it'll make me feel better to tell you, so here you go.

I am seventeen years old, female, senior in high school and taking two classes at the local college. I have a nineteen year old 'friend' who has taken me on a few dates so far (three, to be exact). We met in high school -- I was a sophomore, he a senior. (age difference weird?)

We didn't date then because I was only fifteen, and he had a girlfriend for part of the year. We've had one 'hangout'- at his birthday party, where I mostly played with his little sisters, who absolutely adore me :)

Well, I turned sixteen, almost seventeen in fact :D

The first date was to the Trojan Women (a play) and we went afterwards for Frozen Yogurt. He didn't have my number, so he asked me over Facebook.

He religiously got doors, took the check, was in fact a perfect gentleman.

His older sister came with us. A month later, he asked me to build him an electronic gadget (easy peasy- we met in an electronics class), promising dinner as payment. The first option didn't work out, and I didn't hear from him again. A few months later, we ran into each other at the college campus and later I commented on Facebook how awkward it is to see someone who owes you dinner and has failed to pay up.

A few days later he called me and asked if I wanted to go see the Little Mermaid with him (as payment).

I said yes.

We went with his whole family.

He gave me his arm, got the door, etc. I enjoyed the entire outing, and I believe he did as well. His sister emailed me telling me she was glad her brother was dating someone 'awesome like you'.

Another month passes, and he calls and asks me to the college Homecoming dance.

He got his mission call a week and a half after this.

He called me again a few days before the dance to tell me that he couldn't find a group--was it okay, or since I was still in high school did I need a group?

I asserted that we needed a group (despite my parents and parent-aged friends saying it was fine).

Through some convoluted means, my cousin and his friend came with us. We all had a great time- we were only at the dance for a few minutes, we spent most of the time at a candle-light dinner at the park by the Tabernacle, with a conversation jar, and after the dance we just sat outside with the conversation jar, talking and telling stories.

He gave me his jacket, I walked on his arm, he got my door, etc.

After we dropped the other couple off at their cars, he drove me home. At my door (well-lit porch :D) He asked if he might have a kiss.

Know this, Bro Jo-- I really REALLY wanted to say yes.

I recognize infatuation (butterflies!) and it feels great!

I doubt anything inappropriate would happen- that's not where I felt qualms.

However, running through my mind was that he is leaving on a MISSION in just over four months from now and I am still in high school! I have never had a boyfriend, (don't plan to) and because of that I have saved my kisses; to me kisses mean a serious relationship.

I even thought that I'm technically in college, so it doesn't count but I caught that as the rationalization it really was.

All I could say was.... "Maybe".

Nothing else would come out of my lips!

He asked if he could have a yes or a no on that one, and all that came out was "next time(?)"

He accepted that gracefully, gave me a hug, and I went inside.

I just slumped against the door, living in my mind the kiss that COULD have happened...

Was I wrong to do what I did?

I really like him- he is a wonderful person, but I am not naive enough to think that we'll "kiss, date, wait and wed".

If I'm still single by the time he gets home, then ABSOLUTELY I would seriously date him!

But two years is a long time(especially at my age!), and you can meet a lot of people, possibly even an eternal companion.

On the next date, what do I say to him to explain what kisses mean to me, and how I feel such a commitment would be unfair to him, me, his companions, and the people he will be teaching?

What sort of reaction should I be prepared for?

OR, am I really taking it too seriously?

A kiss is just a kiss right?

You have an unlimited amount!

Am I wrong to place so much emphasis on this?

Am I reading too much into this?

Please Bro Jo- all the wisdom and advice you can give me would be very VERY much appreciated, because right now, I feel all twisted up and very confused. Please, tell me where I'm thinking upside-down and backwards.

Sincerely,

R

PS- this has been written in the heat of the moment, so if things don't make sense or if they need clarification, please let me know. I can't tell from my mindset right now- I'm not exactly objective.




Dear R,

It’s a great letter, and I appreciate the detail. To make things easier for both of us, I've isolated what I think are your major questions.

1. Because you're still in High School, sort of, do your dates still need to be Casual Group Dates instead of Serious Single ones?

A. Yes, they do. And as a soon-to-be missionary, his do also.


2. Were you wrong to tell him you weren't ready to be kissed?

A. Absolutely not. You should never do anything like that if you're not ready, no matter how great the date, how great the guy, how perfect the situation, or how beautiful the moon is.


3. Was it wrong of him to ask?

A. Nope. Very smooth! And appropriate. While he didn't get the answer he was hoping for, he also didn't wreck things with you by grabbing a kiss you weren't ready to give.


4. Would it have meant a major commitment on the part of either of you?

A. I don't see it that way, but I understand that many of you do, and that’s okay.


5. What should you do and say next time?

A. Well, that depends on how you feel. I don't see anything wrong with you explaining yourself, except that it might put undue pressure on him, you and the situation, so if you do bring it up, keep it short and simple.


A kiss is not just a kiss; a sigh is not just a sigh.

You're not putting too much emphasis on this, but you may be making this a much bigger deal than it is. I don't think two young people your ages sharing an innocent kiss goodnight at the end of a date, after having dated several times, is a problem . . . but you need to be true to you and not do anything you're not ready to do.

- Bro Jo

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Rewards of Branching Out and Seeking a Temple Marriage

Dear Bro Jo,

I wrote you a while back about hating the singles ward and being stuck there.

I listened to your advice and I branched out.

I joined LDS Singles in April and meet the man of my dreams.

We are now married and in love and will be sealed next year.

We moved up our date due to his military commitments, but the temple is our goal.

Thank you for your advice and I will continue reading your blog and hope that you will write more towards newlyweds :)

You’re an amazing person and you’re doing a great service :)!!

Thank you,

In Love




Dear In Love,

Thank you for that follow-up and the kind and encouraging words.

Sister Jo and I are very excited for you and your fiance.  Of course we would have preferred that you had gotten married in the Temple, we're glad that is your goal and we encourage both of you to stick to it - it's worth every effort!

Congratulations to you both.

I don't get many emails from newlyweds, but I'm happy to answer them.

If I could give you one piece of unsolicited advice (other than having you both go through "Bro Jo's List of Stuff You Need to Know"), it’s this:
marriage is a constant state of selfless service and hard work. 

As Sister Jo says, it’s not easy but it’s worth it.

All the best,

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 27, 2013

One Boy Likes Her, Another Boy is Too Touchy, and She Thinks She's Too Shy

Dear Bro Jo,

I recently hung out with my younger step-brother and his friends, which included a boy who likes me.

My mum took it all as if it was a group date but I was only hanging out with some boys as friends.

The boys aren't LDS and are all 15 or 16 years old, I'm 16.

I was invited to go (as friends) by the boy who likes me (yes, I like him back), mostly everyone in my grade at school found out about it and those who I thought were my friends called it a date and teased me about it.

He's only just 15 and has a slight interest in my beliefs, he's asked me on numerous occasions about the Book of Mormon.

He's joked about asking me out and sometimes I don't think he was joking.

I continue to say no to him because I don't want to date yet.

How can I tell him this without making myself look like an idiot?

There's another boy who's in most of my classes at school (non-member).

This boy doesn't understand the words leave me alone.

He continuously plays with my hair, hugs me, touches me (not inappropriately) and he just won't leave me alone!

I've told the teachers about this they just think he likes me as does my mum. He has had so many girl-friends it's almost unbelievable!

Can you give me some ideas to make him stop?

I have just come back from a stake Pioneer Trek (it's school holidays over here) and made some really good friends.

I'm really shy but I'm trying my hardest to not be as shy around people at Church and at Church activities.

It still seems way too hard.

Have you got any ideas to help me get over my shyness?

- LAS (Little Aussie Sister)




Dear LAS,

Looks like we've got a couple different questions here, and I thought about taking them one at a time (telling the boy why you won't go on dates with him yet, getting the too-touchy boy to respect your personal space, and getting over your shyness to make new friends), and then I realized that they all stem from the same thing:  you need to learn to stand your ground and stand up for yourself.

No one has the right to touch you, play with your hair, hug you, or whatever, if you don't want them to.

If you were my daughter I'd want you to take the three step approach:

1. Tell him, very plainly, that you don't like those things, and he needs to stop. No jokes, no apologies. And don't do it alone. Be in a public place or have a sympathetic girlfriend with you.

2. If he dismisses or ignores what you say, if he continues to persist despite your protest, then you need to raise your voice, yell at him in front of other people ("I told you to stop touching me you creep!") and go tell an adult (teacher, parent, administrator, counselor, YW leader). Dig down deep, make it clear and loud enough for many to hear.

3. Forcibly stop the assault. And make no mistake, unwanted touching when you've been more than clear twice is an assault. Punch him, kick him in his shins, slap him, stomp on his toes, mace him . . . whatever it takes.

Part of telling an adult (or two or three) in step two is so that if you have to get to this step you'll have credible witnesses who can back you up.

Does that sound harsh?

It's not.

It's not harsh because what he's doing is a serious violation of your person.

I don't care how "popular" he is with other girls, or even if they like it, you deserve to be treated the way you want to be treated.

As for the other boy, he's not nearly as bad.

If you do want to date him when you're ready and old enough, then that's fine (so long as it's okay with your parents); just make sure you follow the Dating Rules.

If you don't want to date him, then continue to politely turn him down.

There's nothing wrong with a little shyness.

If it bothers you, then continue working on meeting new people and getting to know them better.

Set a simple goal, like saying "hello" to one new person a day and asking them something about themselves. 

Put on your interviewer's hat.

When you get used to it, you'll find that it's quite fun.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Respect, Love, and Being Too Physical Before Marriage

Dear Bro Jo,

I love reading your advice and totally agree with what you have to say. But now I guess it's my turn for some advice...

I am a twenty year old YSA and had no any personal experience in the relationship department during high school. I was never asked on one date and really I didn't care to date people from my area, most of them wanted something serious and I saw where that led.

Anyways, so this year I moved out, started attending school and dating a bit.

Well my problem started a few months ago. I met this guy at a dance and it was like insta-connection, he was so easy to talk to AND a recent return missionary, I had to go fairly quick after to get ready for a party so my roommate and I left the dance.

Turns out he was attending the same party we were so again we talked and flirted a little bit, but being the shy person I am I never gave him my number.

So I added him on Facebook the next day.

Fast forward to one week later where I give him my number not expecting a text or phone call when all of a sudden he texts me and we start texting back and forth non-stop, during that time he invites me to a dance class and I agree to go.

The next couple weeks are full of texting and our dance class, then soon we are hanging out between classes, going on frequent dates, and going to YSA dances together.

A week later we watch a movie at his house where we cuddle and he kisses me for the first time.

The next night we watch a movie at my house and again we cuddle and kiss and almost fall asleep together.

Monday he comes over again except this time we make out and end up feeling pretty rotten about it.

We agree that since we are not dating (he doesn't want a committed relationship yet) we should stop being "friends with benefits" and keep the physical aspect to a minimum.

Easier said than done.  We continued to hang out until four, sometimes five, in the morning, and our evenings always end with make outs.  By "make outs" I mean five minutes to an hour-ish and it always involves tongue, and other things that come with passionate kissing.

Yes I know that is not good, because standards slack early in the morning and I always end up regretting what we do.

I have already talked to my bishop once and thought I had fixed my mistake but when you do something with someone once it is so hard to not do it again.

Before you ask, no we did not have sex but it was definitely heading in that direction.

I haven't felt worthy in almost two months and every time I am almost there, almost turned the corner, it happens again.

Luckily the spirit says "this is awkward, I'm leaving" and I feel that and stop immediately, but not before we almost take it too far.

We never do but it feels as if I'm always the one to stop it.

Satan has been working so hard on me, even when I do feel the forgiveness of the Lord (like I said I was almost worthy to take the Sacrament again) I can't forgive myself.

I hold myself to such a high standard and I keep disappointing myself.

I should not do this until after marriage.

I know this and completely understand why standards are put into place.

So I don't really know what my specific question is . . . but I like him.

I liked him before the physical aspect and will like him after it ends.

Besides the making out we talk about everything, that's why we end up hanging out until four in the morning.

There may be periods of tiny make outs but 95% of the time we are talking and having a good time.

The problem is that 5%.

I value the priesthood and the temple so much, and not being worthy to go breaks my heart and even more is the fact that he has gone and made more covenants then I have.

We need to change something and at this point I'm not sure how.

How can I stop this cycle before it ruins everything?

And does this ruin my chances of ever finding a worthy priesthood holder who respects me enough to not let it get this far?

-Toxic Cycle




Dear TC,

I'm sorry I haven't gotten to your letter until just now.

My advice is that the two of you need to decide if you love each other enough to cut it out, get worthy, and get married in the Temple.

You need to stop the over night-ers, stop making out on the sofa, stop being alone in the dark . . . you know the drill.

If this boy truly loves you he'll respect you enough to help you keep your standards.

Let me know how it goes,

- Bro Jo


*** many months later ***



Dear Bro Jo,

I cut off connection with him completely after he almost raped me.  I hadn't told you before, but he had been sexually abusive the whole time.  I kept placing the blame on myself, because I was confused and I thought I loved him and he loved me.

I did not deserve the way he treated me.

And I am grateful for the Savior and the Atonement.  I have a testimony of the power it can have in our lives.



I met a wonderful young man who could take me into the Temple a couple months after this whole ordeal ended and got sealed for all time and eternity on (date withheld).

:)

He treats me like a queen and I know I always come first.

When I was dating my husband we never did anything that put us in a bad spot and we had the love a respect not to do so.

We are now expecting our first child.

Thanks you,

- TC




Dear TC,

I'm sorry that you had to go through what you did, but I'm so happy that you've found a man who will Love, Honor, Cherish and Respect you!

Congratulations to you both.

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 23, 2013

Getting Rid of the Third Wheel

Dear Bro Jo,

Can you tell me how to deal with a third wheel?

My boyfriend lives with his younger sister, so if we want to have a movie date or anything at his house (because mine is teeming with siblings & he has the better tv) then his sister has to be there too because we shouldn't be at his apartment alone.

That isn't really the problem.

The problem is that she tries to get involved with everything we do.

Like, always sitting with us at Church & Church activities, coming along on our dates just because she's already in the car from something else...

She can't drive, and doesn't do anything with her friends or make an effort to meet new friends, and is very old fashioned (she has told us clearly before she thinks we shouldn't kiss 'til after we're married or me leaning on his shoulder during a movie).

It's getting very annoying, and I've mentioned to my boyfriend before that she should be more independent for her sake (because one day he'll be married & she'll have to move in with roommates) but nothing much has changed.

I understand she lives at his house too, and we can't always have the privacy we want outside either, but it's feels like sometimes I'm dating both of them...

- Annoyed




Dear Annoyed,

Help me out a little, please.

How long have you two been dating and how old is each person in your story?

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

We've been dating 7 months.  I'm 21 and he's 28, post mission.

I think his sister is 23 or 24ish.

Oh, and I still live with my parents.

I'm also the one that wrote that comment on your long courtships/short engagements post about my boyfriend being afraid of the unknown; I just saw that you replied to it.

Our conversations have been serious enough that we've made plans about it.

If we're getting married, it'll be next summer after I graduate from college (he'll still be in school after that) and we're gonna have a ring ceremony for his nonmember family because they can't attend a temple sealing.

He's told me "let's just plan on getting married" over a month ago so I guess I shouldn't expect a proposal until a few months before next May?

We have gone over your list of questions actually, and we can answer almost all of them.

His answer about being afraid didn't feel like a lie... I've asked him before why he's scared, and he always said he doesn't know, and then a couple days ago he told me he was praying a lot about it & he got the impression that Heavenly Father was chastising him because He'd given him such a good girl but he didn't have the faith to know that she's the right choice, or something to that effect.

- Annoyed




Dear Annoyed,

Well I'm glad he's being chastised!

And I think you need a little chastisement, too. (Said with love, of course.)


First of all, it's not a "date" if you're at his house. You're not officially engaged, so it's more of a "hang out", which you absolutely should not be doing.

Let's be honest, why should a guy marry a girl that is willing to hang around his house without a commitment? (That goes for "hanging out" at your house, as well, regardless of who has the better TV).

Oh, sure, you can socialize with his family and go over and watch the occasional video with THEM, but let's not pretend that's a date.

And neither of you should be at the other person's home if someone else isn't in the room at all times.

That's just dumb.


Secondly, you need to learn that you don't just marry a person, you become a part of their family.

Sitting with a sibling at Church and Church activities is expected. I'd expect you to sit with her even if he wasn't there.


Third, your boy needs to become a man. (Which is what I think the Lord is trying to tell him.) And you need to help him. That means ACTUALLY SAYING WHAT YOU MEAN, and not just hinting around.   Twenty-eight and post mission . . . I think he's lived more than enough of life as a child.

He needs to know that when you two actually DO go on dates that's you-and-he time.



In a nice way, now (not waiting until your next date), tell him that Serious Single Dating is just that, S-I-N-G-L-E.

Tell him you like his sister, but you don't want her on your dates with him and that, as her brother, he needs to deal with that.

If he won't, and I mean this, if he puts her feelings and needs ahead of yours, then I'm sorry but you'll need to move on.

When you two do get married, if you do, he'll need to cling unto you, not his sister.  And you don't want to become a substitute for her . . . or his mother.


If he can't leave her at home and spend some time with you now, you can't expect that to change when you're married.

Oh, and just so we're all clear, while TALKING about getting married and saying "let's plan on getting married" are good and positive, they're not the same as Actually Planning a Sealing.  That is a discussion that requires details . . . and a proposal.  More than one Sister has been strung along by a man-child who, despite advancing years, is just too much of a baby to get married anytime soon.
FYI - Sister Jo and I had many wedding discussions, like dates and times of year and cakes and plans and reception ideas several weeks before I proposed. Not everyone does that, but as I said in the comments on that one post, something about this guy seems like a red flag. 

Now, it DOES seem like he's growing out of it . . . and that's a good thing.  Just don't wait around for him forever.

Be Honest with yourself about your situation.  Seven months is long enough that you two absolutely need to know if this is going somewhere . . . SOON . . . or if you're both just clinging to Something That's Nothing because it's Comfortable.


 - Bro Jo



[Readers,

You can link to the post about Long Courtships and Short Engagements HERE.

Best,


- Bro Jo]

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Some Input, Please

Readers,

Looking for some input, please.

This week "Dear Bro Jo" will post it's 900th post!

So I'd like to hear from you about how it's going. We've been posting M/W/F (and some Saturdays) for a while . . .

Too many posts?

Not enough?

Do you enjoy some posts more than others?

Are the posts that you'd like to see more of?

Less of?

Do you enjoy the individual letters or the "series" more?

How often do you read the column?

Do you ever use the Google Search feature or click on the Tags?

Do you think the posts are tagged appropriately?

Do you ever discuss "Dear Bro Jo" with friends and Family?

And as far as the Facebook page goes . . . what would you like to see more of there?

Less of?

Thanks for your help!


Best to all,


- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What Does a 20-year Old Non-member Need to Know about Serious Single Dating a Mormon Young Woman?

Dear Bro Jo,

I found your site while researching dating in the LDS community.

I am not a member of the Church (My father was Jewish and my mother is Baptist), but for a while now I've been in a relationship with a Mormon girl.

I happen to be 20 years old, and she is 18.

My questions for you are:

First, what is your view on her dating outside the Church?

Second, is there any specific advice you can give me on how to make sure I don't accidentally do something that could compromise her beliefs due to my ignorance?  (That's why I've been trying to do some research actually. And don't get me wrong, morally I feel like we're on the same page. I'm saving myself for marriage, I always respect her and we have boundaries, so I'm not worried about breaking the law of chastity or anything like that, I was just hoping for maybe some tips or advice)

Thank you for taking the time to read this email, I think the blog you do and the questions you answer, and work you do is wonderful for not only teens but all young adults.

So thank you for spending your time sharing wisdom and helping better prepare the future generations.

Sincerely,

T




Dear T,

Thank you for reading "Dear Bro Jo"; I appreciate the kind words.

I tell my own children that there's nothing wrong with dating people of all faiths when they're young (Casual Group Dating), but once they're at the point that they're considering marriage I advise them (as I do all young adults of all faiths) to give strong and serious consideration to marrying within their own faith.

Inter-faith marriages can work (i.e.: your parents), but there can also be lots of challenges and difficulties. 

Marriage is a lot of work to begin with; if two people are coming in with different religious and cultural expectations . . . . well, that can make it so much more difficult.

For example, your girlfriend may have very serious (even if as of yet unmentioned) expectations to being "Sealed for Time and All Eternity" in an LDS Temple; that can only happen if both she and her groom are worthy Later-day Saints.

Depending on how she's been raised, this could be a very big issue for her, one that she's unwilling to forgo.

Regardless of their faiths, I think it's very wise for a couple to save intimate and sacred things for marriage.

I applaud the two of you for your commitments to doing things in the order that God has prescribed.

When you do marry, whether it's to each other or someone else, having maintained those boundaries can make for a much stronger marriage.

As for tips, I think communication is the key.

I'm not certain how far along you are in your relationship (you may want to check out Bro Jo’s LEVELS of a RELATIONSHIP) , but at some point the two of you will need to have some very adult conversations before going forward.

I call that conversation (or series of conversations) Bro Jo’s "LIST of STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW TO BEFORE YOU GET ENGAGED"  Until you're at that juncture (and somehow I suspect that the timing of your research and email means that you may be thinking you're there now - although I think you're both still a tad young - perhaps in a year or two . . . ) then I'd say just keep dating, having fun, and growing to know each other better.

You're a Good Guy, T. The world needs more guys like you.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you sir I appreciate that.

- T




Dear T,

Any time.

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 16, 2013

Overcoming a Fear of Repentance

Dear Bro Jo,

I've read your blog a couple of times before, and I trust you to give me the advice I need.

Probably not the advice I WANT, but what I need.

Which, as you know all too well, is hardly ever the same thing.

I've done something really, really stupid.

Really stupid.

Extraordinarily stupid.

Like, it would be stupid even if I wasn't an active, supposed-to-be-a-good-example, lifelong Church member.

It involves a boy.

Yeeeepppppp.

You probably guessed it.

I'll start from the beginning.

I'm 17, just graduated high school, and my 18th birthday is in a month.

I met this boy when I was 13.

We were friends (not really close, but we talked and went to movies with a group once in a while) all through high school, and I liked him on and off the whole time.

Around January of this year, I started getting the vibe that he liked me too.

We started hanging out more and talking a LOT more, and at some point he admitted he liked me.

At the time I was casually dating his best friend, but in all honesty the best friend was not the one I liked.

Things worked out, and soon afterwards, we were a couple.

Yes, skipped the casual group dating, etc. Mistake #1.

This boy isn't a member. I live in a small town, and the selection of member boys is small, and I don't get along with the vast majority of them.

At the time we started dating he was a Christian, active in his church. He still is active in his church, but it's different now. I don't want you to think he's not a good person. He is, he's one of the sweetest, most caring people I know. He's been hurt a lot in his life, his parents are divorced and both of them abandoned him, he had a close friend die recently, and he hasn't been diagnosed, but I think he's been battling depression for a while now.

He isn't blessed like I am, and I think it's harder for him to feel God's love.

I don't know.

He is a good person.

A great person, even.

 I've been struggling with my own faith for a long time now. Most of this year I wasn't sure that the Church was what I wanted, or if I even believed in God at all. I'm still not sure about most things, but recently I decided that the Church is what I want, and I've been taking steps to turn my life around.

Small ones, but steps.

However, a couple of months ago I started talking to the boy about being confused about my faith and not knowing what I believed at the time. He told me he was pretty confused as well, and brought up the question, "What if we come to different conclusions?"

I told him that we would respect each other's beliefs and not worry too much about it.

Wellll.... we've come to our separate conclusions.

We haven't talked too much about it, because in all honesty, I don't want his opinion on this, so I don't know EXACTLY what he decided, but I get the impression he doesn't exactly believe in God any more.

I was OK with him being of a different faith, but I'm not sure I'm OK with him not having a faith.

I'm trying to do what's right, and it is a truly difficult struggle for me right now to be going to Church and doing what I'm supposed to. It's not as easy as it used to be, but I want an eternal family, and I want my children to be raised in the Church.

I have other, more selfish desires that are making it difficult for me to be obedient to the commandments, but I'm trying.

So.... since we've been together, I've been really happy. I fell in love with him, and we've grown really close. I can, and do, talk to him about just about everything. I feel comfortable around him and his family, and vice versa.

Oh, another thing. A few weeks, maybe a month or so ago, he told me (or rather, I've pried the information out of him) that his family has fought about us. Or rather, me.

Being Mormon.

Only the funny thing is, it's not that they don't like me because I'm LDS. They're afraid that the boy and I will never be happy together, and that "the life of a Mormon woman isn't one to be spent with a non Mormon man." (pretty much direct quote.).

I agree, but I didn't think it was something we needed to worry about until we were ready to get married, which I figure is something far in the future.


So, now to the stupid part.

He's been house sitting for his uncle the past couple of weeks (yes, alone. I KNOW. Stupidity.).

A week and a half ago, I went to see him (several times over the course of several days), and we got waaayyyyy too passionate.

OK, I know, I should have been clear about my standards from the start, and set boundaries, etc. He would have respected them, but I never set them.

Honestly, at the time I was considering leaving the Church, and I wanted to see what it was like being "normal." If you're wondering what "way too passionate" means, take For the Strength of Youth, read it, and chuck it out the window.

We were... yeah. Basically, hands were where they shouldn't have been, important articles of clothing were being bypassed... I don't know how to put this delicately. I also don't want you to think he was pushing me to do things or anything. I definitely was NOT sending "I'm uncomfortable, please stop"-type signals. I was into it.

But, I don't know. . .

After a couple of days of frolicking ridiculously (we never actually did The Deed, as it were, but there was inappropriate touching.), something happened, and I was done.

This is how it went: Me: ah... stop, stopstopstop.

Him: No?

Me: No.

Him: Well, that's the end of that.

And then... I sat there for I don't even know how long.

He went and sat elsewhere, and I couldn't even look at him for a long time.

Finally, something weird happened. I say weird, because I hadn't had a personal prayer in a while. But. I started praying. I just told the Lord how I was feeling, that I wasn't sure about anything and I needed his help. I just talked to him about what was going on, and all in all, I felt a lot better.

Well, as much better as I could feel under the circumstances.

Anyway, the boy came over to me and said that we had learned two important lessons from that. First, talk about things before they happen, and second, respect.

He said he's not going to force me to be someone I'm not.

See what I mean?

HE WOULD HAVE RESPECTED ME IF I HAD SET BOUNDARIES!

And now it's too late.

I feel like such an idiot.

A really prime example of idiothood.

So, I did some soul searching, and I realized I don't really want to give up the Church.

I've had times before where I've done serious worldly sins, and gone through the repentance process for them, so I KNOW sin doesn't make me happy.

I know I want the gospel in my life.

I know I should go to the bishop and get this taken care of, pronto, but... it's a lot easier said than done.

I told the boy I wasn't giving up on religion, and he respects that. We've been spending less time alone, and trying to make sure we actually have plans instead of just hanging around in his uncle's house alone. We haven't done anything of the indecent variety since.

But... yeah.

He really just doesn't understand the Church, and why this is all so incredibly hard for me.

Last night, we were hanging out (yes, alone... I know...) and I just sort of shut down. I basically had a panic attack about the stupid things we did, and spent a good chunk of time sitting on the couch trying to breathe and praying a bit more.

I really freaked him out, I don't tend to show negative emotion around people. I tried to talk to him about it, but I'm not that good at sharing what's on my mind and there's so much that he doesn't understand.

He's trying to be there for me while I figure this out, I mean, he's supportive of my decision to stay with the Church, and he was interested in what I did at Youth Conference this past weekend... but I don't think he can, you know?

He doesn't understand how the Church works, or what it means for me that I did those things with him (can't go to the temple, can't hold a calling, etc, etc.). And... I don't really know what will happen if I go to the Bishop.

This isn't my first major transgression, but it is the first one that involved another person. Could I be excommunicated?

That scares me a LOT.

What will I tell my parents?

Will he tell me I shouldn't be with this boy anymore?

Will YOU tell me that?

(I bet you will.)

I know this is really long. I'm sorry. But... I needed to talk to someone.

So... any advice you can give me, please fire away.

I know this was stupid, PLEASE don't tell me that.

I really, really do know.

But I need help, and I think there are others at least in a semi-similar situation that could benefit from your answer.

And yeah, if there's anything you need me to clarify, just ask.

Sincerely,

- Scared




Dear Scared,

Yup, I guessed!


Sister Jo:  Do you ever feel like "Dear Bro Jo, there's this guy" is redundant?

Bro Jo: Yes. Yes I do.

Sister Jo: And?

Bro Jo: Makes me smile.


Well . . . since you don't want me to say that this was stupid, but you trust me to give you the advice you need even if it's not what you want . . .

Look, it sounds like you're finally being honest with yourself, and that's very good.

So we're clear: Mistake #1 happened a lot earlier than "skipped Casual Group Dating".

I'll let you figure that out, but here's a hint: you weren't "casually dating" his friend, either.

What you need to do, Little Sister, is trust the Spirit, and trust what you know to be true.

You have a Testimony.

Sure it got lost for a moment, and you had some doubts.

I have news.

It happens to all of us from time to time.

Even Sister Jo and I.

But as you're learning, even if we doubt the truth, that doesn't make it not true.

I don't think your transgression qualifies as excommunicate-able, but that's between you, your Bishop, and the Lord.

I will tell you this: it is WAY HARDER to NOT speak to your Bishop than it is to have the conversation. 

The more we delay confession, the more the Spirit withdraws, and you, my friend, know that you absolutely need the Spirit in your life right now.

Don't focus on avoiding punishment, focus on repentance and making things right with the Lord.

I testify to you that once you do, you'll feel SO much better!

This might actually turn out to be a great missionary opportunity for you.

As you strengthen your faith and testimony, share what you're feeling with this boy. (Only in non-horizontal and appropriate situations, please, lest the two of you get confused or transgress again.)

As he asks questions, answer them to the best of your ability. Invite him to Church and Church activities. 

Ask your parents if he can come to diner at your home, where he can get to know your family better and witness firsthand the workings of an LDS family.

As for what to tell your parents . . . that's a discussion you need to have with your Bishop.

Call and make the appointment today, please. You'll feel better when you do.

Oh, and while it goes without saying, no more "alone time" with this boy.

Not in a house,
not in a car,
not here nor there,
not anywhere.

I'm worried about you.

Not because you're not a good kid, but because I can see that Satan has been working on you pretty hard. 

Please let me know how things are going, and send me an email later today to let me know that you've at least set the appointment with your Bishop.

 - Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I really wasn't expecting you to reply that fast, but I'm glad you did.

And thank Sister Jo for me?

She makes me smile. :)

My bishop is currently on vacation, I don't know where he is or when he'll get back, but when he does I'll make the appointment.

In the meantime, I've made an appointment with the boy to talk about all the jazz (in the middle of the day at a park. I'm hoping that's appropriate enough?) and I've already told him it's not going to be a butterflies and rainbows-type conversation.

I'm trying really hard to not think about wimping out.

See, I've always been kind of a do-it-halfway type member.

I don't want to do that anymore.

I want to be 100% committed and do it all right (well, as right as I can being human) and see what happens.

Anyway, I'm trying to be strong.

I hope I can do this.

Thanks again for your advice!

Sincerely,

- Beating Fear With A Stick.




Dear Scared,

I know you can be strong!

You'll be great!

Having the conversation in the park is an excellent idea.

If your Bishop is still not back from vacation, consider talking to his First Counselor (that's his job while the Bishop is away) or a member of the Stake Presidency.

Repentance is too expedient to be put off for convenience.

Good luck and God Speed,

 - Bro Jo

Friday, September 13, 2013

Breast Augmentation Surgery . . . for Young Women?

Dear Bro Jo,

Do you agree with me that breast enhancement surgery is completely ridiculous and insane?

For women who have no medical reason to?

I have a good friend who wants to have her breasts enlarged when she turns 18.

Which is soon.

I'm fighting a losing battle trying desperately trying to talk her out of it... But she is dead set on it and has the full support and encouragement of both parents.

I just don't see how she can view it as a rational decision.

A full blown invasive medical procedure that will be permanent, purely for cosmetic reasons and because her self-esteem is based on how others perceive her and not on how Heavenly Father does...

As if the divinely beautiful body Heavenly Father intended her to have is not enough.

Sorry, you get the full benefit of my emphatic argument, as it falls on deaf ears whenever I try to talk to her about it. I did persuade her to agree to pray about it, fortunately, which I regard as a success because I really don't think she'll feel any divine confirmation of her plan for as soon as she's 18.

I can’t believe how tragically common “breast enhancement” surgery is in Utah.

In a society dominated by a Church with such a central focus on inner beauty, the-Lord-looketh-not-on-the-outward-appearance, women-are-inherently-divine gospel, it frustrates me that such an attitude of superficiality permeates the atmosphere, and Church is suddenly a fashion show and cosmetic surgery is suddenly commonplace.

Because she knows so many people who have had it done, she has a completely skewed perspective on how acceptable it is.

She doesn't believe me that no normal rational woman or girl I have ever heard of or talked to has ever considered breast enhancement surgery or had it performed.

I tell her it's ridiculous and silly, she responds that she's sure there are plenty of women where I', from who have had it done, but I just don't know it.

There most certainly aren't!

Anyway... I'm at my wit's end and frustrated and upset because I'm fighting a battle I don't think I can win.

She is absolutely determined.

And I don't understand!

She's a very beautiful girl, in very good shape, friendly, outgoing, and certainly has no trouble getting dates and attention.

Can you think of any other argument I could possibly use to persuade her?

To me, getting this permanent surgery is equivalent to permanently altering one's body with disfiguring tattoos, but she won't make that connection either.

Is the issue relevant enough to the blog to run a survey on it asking people's opinions in the subject?

Surely there are some other rational people out there who can help me know what to say to her?

- Worried Friend




Dear Friend,

Yes, I agree with you.  And so does Sister Jo.

And it saddens us how common elective plastic surgery is in Utah.

Especially Utah County.

At least it sure seems to be.

The Jo Kids (girls and boys both) comment on the abundance of billboards that start cropping up in Ogden and dominate the landscape all the way to Provo every time we drive down.

What is it with the people there???
Is there a law that says that after her morning run in a sports bra and spanks that 30-something moms need to mow the lawn so their teen sons can stay inside and get more video game time? I mean, I'm all for staying in shape - I could certainly stand to be in better shape - but it's like some kind of a . . . show . . . 
"Since I'm working out I can take off my garments and run through the neighborhood with my lipo-stomach showing and fake boobs poking out to prove that after 14 kids I'm still thin and sexy!" 
As if that matters to any decent guy - which I know darn well is not who they're showing off for - I know you women do that stuff as part of your competition with each other.
Seriously . . . It's like "The Stepford Wives" down there! 
Very sad. 

While I strongly hope that none of my children ever marry anyone with tattoos (tons of reasons, not the least of which is that it's like broadcasting that you're remarkably shortsighted), I don't feel quite as strong about cosmetic surgery.


My own sister has not had anything done, but I would support her getting a reduction.

She's large enough that it hurts her and is messing up her spine and posture.

But she's 40, not in her 20’s . . . or teens!

And, sadly, babies are not on the horizon for her . . .


I may feel different about breast enlargement surgery for someone much older . . . (Although, have you noticed what women in their 60's look like when everything is sagging but the implants?  Ridiculous!)  but it still saddens me that we live in a world where a woman feels that plastic surgery is required for her to been seen as beautiful, or that she thinks she needs to compete with the artificial-ness of Hollywood.  She most certainly does not!

No woman does.

And, as you alluded to, if there are medical reasons (i.e. post-mastectomy) I can understand that.


But that's not what we're talking about here.


The thing is, there are lots of reasons NOT to have the enlargement surgery . . . like potential cancer issues, that it messes with breast feeding, and the big one for lots of guys . . . seriously . . . they'll look fake.


I think it's the female equivalent of getting hair plugs.  Dude.  You're bald.  I get that you're unhappy about it, but it's who you are so you're better off accepting it.  The comb-over and toupee look bad and always will, and the plugs will always be fake.  Even the best looking ones are still obvious as to what they are.

Immature guys don't care if girls have artificially inflated boobs, but mature guys are unimpressed. It's like when women are obviously airbrushed and on magazine covers proclaiming how "in shape" they are . . . especially the “hot and over 40” ones . . . I just think that's ridiculous.

And . . . well, dishonest.


I doubt your friend will ever ask my opinion on this issue.  Many people who will read this may think that my opinion is invalid because I'm old and a guy . . . whatever.  (It's not a logical response, but that's what some will say.)

But, heck, it's not like she's asking yours, either . . . 


But if she did ask me, what I'd tell her is:

1. I don't see the point. It's not like she's having trouble getting dates now, so she has no excuse like she will feel more attractive. She's not yet had children and she's still very young, so it's not like they're falling or sagging or there's a problem.

2. Surgery or not, her breasts are going to change. When a woman is pregnant her chest size changes . . . a lot. To be candid, Sister Jo was an A+ to B- when we got married. (Didn't bother me, by the way!) Throughout 7 pregnancies she's been everything between that and well over a D. Now she's, I don't know, somewhere closer to when we got married . . . and not likely to change . . . but lots of women start out one size and end up a much larger size when they're older. At the very least your friend should wait until she's 30 and her body has matured . . . wait to see what her body is going to do. Take it from my Sister, no woman wants to be a DDD . . . and surgery now and babies later could have her looking ridiculously out of proportion . . . and in pain.

3. Breastfeeding. If she can, she should. Better bond between mom and children, that's what they're for anyway, and now stats are out saying that breast feed children are smarter.

4. Believe it or not, lots of guys don’t like it. They look fake, feel fake (so I’ve been told), and as I said, it’s dishonest. Many Good Guys are more turned on by “real” women, regardless their breast size . . . even those of us that are . . . very turned on by that part of a woman’s anatomy. Even guys who may admire fake boobs on someone else may not want the girl they’ve married to look that way.

5. There’s the psychological issue, in that it seems that women who get it done are, well . . . frankly, less modest. They want to show off what they’ve bought. In our culture, that’s lack of modesty isn’t exactly what many guys want to see in their spouse. (I think guys who “get off” on other guys being sexually attracted to their wives are . . . twisted.)

6. Future problems. You may want to share this article with her from Dr. Nalini Chilkov:  25 Reasons Not to Get Breast Implants 

or the link to this book:  Naked:  The Truth About Breast Implants.

I've also posted a like to a very informative site on the Dear Bro Jo Facebook Page that you may want to share with your friend.  It's for a media page called "Teen Breast Implant Awareness".

I don't mean to be alarmist here, and I don't think you want to come across that way to your friend, either.

But I believe information is powerful stuff.

No one should ever do anything that drastic simply because it's popular.



There is no acceptable reason for a perfectly healthy young woman to get a boob job.  It's shortsighted, and introduces a long list of potential health and lifestyle risks.  When all "reasons" are boiled down to the truth, the only things that remain are Immodesty and Vanity.  Shame on our society and culture for making a woman, a Young Woman, feel as though her value, her worth, her attractiveness, require elective surgery.  

I heard someone argue once that it's no different than getting braces.  For me that argument is washed away unless the girl intends to show off her chest as much as she should her smile.  

Consider:  when someone gets their braces off we all checkout, admire and compliment their smile; so what is breast augmentation hoping that we'll check out, admire and compliment?

And when the braces are removed we're left with our Real, Healthy Teeth . . . and I think that's an important difference.

I want young people to attract others because of their wit, charm, kindness, intelligence, attitude and testimony . . . not their shape.  It's one thing to take good care of the body which we've been given; it's another to artificially enhance it.

And my last two cents:  any Good Man who loves a woman, regardless of her age, will do so regardless of her shape.  I do not want any woman to be in a relationship where her physical attractiveness comes first in importance to the man she's with; our priorities say a lot about who we are.

Now . . . medical reasons?  Fine.  I think cancer survivors are in a whole different situation.

An older woman who has passed child bearing years?  I'd rather she didn't, but I leave that to her choice (again, so long as the new boobs don't become objects of immodesty and vanity . . . and, let's face it . . . that's often exactly what they become . . . seems like every time someone I know gets it done her wardrobe changes so she can "show them off".  Heck, I've heard tons of stories about women who use the enlargement as justification for flashing people.  Siblings . . . friends . . . all kinds of guys . . . seems like a "lack of modesty" issue to me.)

See . . . I believe that once all medical arguments are removed (let's agree to disagree if we need to for those that what to downplay the risks), then what we're left with is the Bottom Line Truth:  the only reason left to get Augmentation Mamoplasty is . . . Vanity.

And Vanity is never a good reason to do anything.


That's my take.



And , as I said, I don't expect many people to give validity to the opinion of an old married guy when it comes to this topic.

Like many things, our friends aren't typically very warm to unsolicited advice.

Pray that she'll ask or that the opportunity will come up.

Hopefully, at the very least, she'll wait. Preferably until after she's been married and had all of her children.

So many decisions we make . . . especially those that we'll have to live with for a very long time . . . could benefit from waiting just a little longer . . .



If she does get it done, she still deserves love and support and acceptance, of course.


I know you know that.



Beyond that, the best thing you can do is help your children to make better decisions than your friend.  Teach them that they're beautiful whatever their body is shaped like.

That's God's Honest Truth.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Attraction at First Sight

Dear Bro Jo:

So a couple months ago I met this girl at a theory exam for piano and, well it was "attraction at first sight" as I believe you called it.

We didn't really say anything to each other since it was an exam but recently I saw her at a stake dance and she recognized me!

This was three months later!

So we talked for a bit there and when I got home I added her on Facebook.

When I was online a couple days after she messaged me and we chatted for a bit (which I know you probably don't like).

So what I was wondering is if you think the fact that she actually recognized me and initiated (Facebook) conversation with me is at least worth something?

We're both turning 16 in a few months and I'd like to take her on a date then but I'm afraid that we will lose contact and she'll forget me by then.

I know I could probably find some way to keep in contact, but I'm a really self-conscious person and I'm afraid that if I am constantly trying to contact her she will find me "creepy".

So what should I do? 

Oh and you should probably know that she lives 45 minutes away in a different stake.

Thanks,

- Self-conscious




Dear Conscious,

1. Freak out less about her "forgetting you". I don't think it's going to happen.  R-E-L-A-X.  Simply initiate contact once a week or so. I prefer that you CALL or write an actual letter BY HAND; but if you must, a Facebook post or message is okay.

2. When you're both 16 take her on a Casual Group Date. If you don't know what that is, read the book or at least the rules. You can work around the "45 minutes away" by planning a date for a Saturday afternoon or getting a good dating buddy who will travel with you and perhaps take out one of her friends.

3. Don't just date her, date LOTS of GIRLS. Casual Group Dates only, though.

Have fun!

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 9, 2013

Dating While Only 17 at the Y

Dear Bro Jo,

It's me again!

So I'm 16 right now, and I love reading your blog. I just started my senior year and it's way fun so far.

But recently I've been reading your age difference column, and I can't help but think about the future!

I plan on applying to BYU-Provo in October, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to get it.

The thing is that I'm going to be just over 17 or 17 and a half when I start college, depending on which track I decide to go for, and I'm confused.

When I get to college am I supposed to hide from the world and not date for a few years?

Should I tape a sign on my back saying "I'm only 17!!" and shun all males that try to talk to me??

Because right now, I have no problem dating some of the people who are just sophomores in high school because some of them are the same age as me...and wouldn't it be inappropriate if I was in college going on dates with people still in high school??

Sincerely,

The Young One




Dear Young One,

No, I wouldn't say you should hide from the world . . . but I do think that 17 is too young for Serious Single Dating.

Until you're ready, I don't see a problem with you continuing to go on Casual Group Dates, even with guys still in High School.

Perhaps after a year of college, once you turn 18 or so . . . then you'll be ready.

Have fun at school!

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 6, 2013

When Your Friend Pushes You to Kiss Your Date

Dear Bro Jo,

I recently stumbled upon your blog because of an ad that came up on my Facebook page. I clicked on it and have ended up spending hours reading your posts which have thus made me want to write a letter of my own to you.

So here’s the scenario. We had our Youth Leadership Conference at Martin’s Cove this year. There was a boy who ended up being in my family and who I thought was pretty cute.

During the three day trek, we became good friends and when I got home, on Facebook, I had a friend request from him.

We emailed back and forth occasionally and I even went to a tri-stake dance that he went to.

We danced, joked around, and even flirted a little.

Then there was a several month hiatus where we didn’t really talk just because I guess we got busy and didn’t talk.

Then his school ended up at a track meet that my school also went too. I thought it was pretty lucky because it was a track meet my school didn’t normally go to.

I hung out with him and a couple of his friends all day.

A few days later, I asked him to go to prom with me and luck was with me, his parents said yes.

He came and it was really fun.

He had to leave early though so that he could get home by his curfew. ( He lives about an hour away.)

So I hugged him and said good bye but one of my guy friends said a hug wasn’t good enough.

My guy friend picked me up and told me to kiss my date.

I hugged him again and my guy friend said that wasn’t good enough.

So I kissed him on the check and my guy friend said c’mon a real kiss!

So I kissed him on the lips but it was a only a 1 second kiss.

Now my date won’t bring it up or say anything about it.

We still talk about day to day things and even some pretty serious issues, but I don’t know if were still just really good friends or if we are more now and I don’t know how to bring it up.

Should I just assume that we're still friends since it was my friend that pretty much made me kiss him or should I ask him if that kiss changed anything?

Help!

Sincerely,

Confused Beyond All Measures




Dear Measures,

That "Guy Friend" isn't much of a friend in my opinion . . .

I suspect there's some jealousy involved, but whatever the reason . . . . well, he's just not a good guy.

What he did to you and your date was out of line and inappropriate; he needs to 1) not be man-handling you, and 2) apologize to each of you.

It's likely that he helped push your date away, although I doubt a 1 second kiss forced on the two of you by some blowhard who was pushing you on him did anything more than help him realize that he doesn't want a girlfriend.

Which, to be honest, is in my opinion for the best.

Right now you two should be friendly, and occasional Casual Group Dates are a good idea, but now is not the time for something more. 

It sounds like he's letting it go, or trying to, and I think you should do the same.

There's nothing wrong with simple kisses at your age, given that they're appropriate and the timing is right . . .

But it still sounds to me like your "pal" may have made a nice evening end very awkwardly.

What a jerk!

As if kissing wasn’t personal and awkward to begin with . . . Argh!

I have so much to say about this guy!

Let me just end with . . . your “pal” certainly is not your friend.

As for your date; don't worry . . . this too shall pass.

With enough time you’ll both be able to look back and smile . . . not laugh, necessarily, but you’ll get over it. 

Somehow I bet your date is even less of a fan of your “pal” than I am.

- Bro Jo

PS:  You know, I think you need to stand up for yourself more.  You let this guy bully you into doing something that you didn't want to do . . . and even though he wasn't the guy who got kissed . . . well . . . it's just not good.  Stand up for yourself!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cheesy Wednesdays: Writing Missionaries (and Bro Jo Talks about Missions, Marriage and Being Prepared)

Dear Bro Jo,

I have a bit of a dilemma. I have been corresponding with a missionary from time to time . . .

Don't worry, it's all supportive, friendly, uplifting stuff. :)

I recently received a quite lengthy (10 pages!), and still totally appropriate, letter from him, which was nice, and after a few weeks had passed sent a reply. (My reply was mailed yesterday.)

Then I was happily surprised to get a care package containing another letter from him & his companion today.

I want to write him a thank-you note, but sending two letters in two days seems...obnoxious.

I don't want to be one of those horrible "distraction girls."

I know everything's on the up & up with these particular elders.

They're definitely not romantically interested or anything like that. They're totally focused on the work, as they should be.

So this is awkward!

Do I go ahead and send a thank-you note even though I just wrote a letter yesterday?

Or does that make me seem creepy and stalkerish?

If I should wait some "respectable" length of time, how long should that be?

Love,

- Cheese




Dear Cheese,

A thank you note is appropriate, and if it's really short it would be okay to send it soon.

Sister Jo and I agree that waiting a week or so to send it would be okay as well.

The key, as you've alluded to, is to not be a distraction.  That means, as you're doing, to avoid any romantic talk, even if this is a missionary that you dated at one time.

Letters to missionaries should also avoid talk of them coming home, too much boasting about "all of the fun we're all having", and expressions of missing the missionary . . . even if all of those things are true or seem relevant.

Sister Jo and I just got a letter from the oldest Jo Boy's Mission President.  He is due home in just a few weeks.  The letter reminded us not to talk about how short a time he has left, overly discuss his travel home plans, or inquire about what his plans are when he comes home.  Now, more than ever, we need to be inquiring about the work, encouraging him to work hard, and saving "this is what so-and-so" is up to talk until after he comes home.

It's stunning, and sad, to me how many missionaries are coming home early of late.  Frankly, it seems like it used to be that the only reason a missionary was ever sent home was for worthiness issues (and even then I thought that several were allowed to stay way too long . . . being given a shot to get their act together long after, IMHO, they should have been dismissed).

Now we're seeing missionaries (mostly Elders) come home because:

- they're don't know how to work hard
- they're lack interpersonal communication skills
- they have addictions to technology (scary how common this is becoming)
- they lack goal setting skills
- they lack the ability to live independent of their parents
- they're homesick
- they're love sick
- they're just not committed to the work (a mission is not something you do so that you can avoid Work, School, Big Decisions, Your Parents, or Living Life; one should not think of a mission as "a chance to get out of the house and live somewhere new and have few, if any, responsibilities)
- they never bothered to gain their own testimony or actually study the Gospel
- they give up too easily 

In general, it's as if we as parents (and leaders) have failed to teach these young people about hard work, sacrifice, obedience, and responsibility for one's actions.  We've coddled them, done things for them, and let them coast through their teen years with a cell phone in one hand and a game controller in the other as they've coasted through life on our sofas.

What we needed to be doing was helping them to feel the Spirit, empowering them with the ability to work and work hard for long hours, and helping them to grow their own testimonies instead of going through the motions, doing all things LDS simply because "that's what we do", and not helping them to have a connection to Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Spirit that is both real and trusted.

(Too much soapbox?)


Sure, some have legitimate health problems or other reasons . . . but that's, frankly, quite rare.

I don't want my children who are missionaries to come home for any reason . . . not even the death of myself or another close family member.  Those sad events are temporal.  The blessings of missionary service are Eternal.


A mission, like Temple Marriage, is not just another box in the "List of Stuff Every Latter-day Saint is Supposed to Do" simply to check off.  We need to remember that "if ye have DESIRE, ye are called to the work".  That level of drive, of Really Wanting to Go and Do and Be of Service is, again IMHO, required to be successful.

Now, young people also need to know that one need not Be Perfect before missionary service OR to get married.  You're called to be the Best Missionary you can be; not to be a carbon copy of someone else, or a facsimile of what you think a missionary is supposed to be.

Marriage is like that, too.

When we start telling ourselves that marriage needs to wait because we need to be X successful, accomplish Y advanced degree, or get Z job or material possession . . . then we're likely to miss outstanding marriage opportunities . . .

Just like we do if we insist that our Future Eternal Companion have X, Y, or Z physical or worldly qualities.

Last night, on the way home from a Church Leadership meeting, I was thinking about how lucky I am that I married someone who supports me in my callings, who encourages me to spend the time I need to for service . . . I wasn't smart enough to be thinking about those things when I was dating . . . or even to realize their importance when I proposed . . . I just got lucky.

Not everyone has a spouse who will support them in doing what the Lord asks them to do . . . but I can tell you that life is much easier, the blessings fuller and more frequent, if that's the type of person we choose to marry.

You don't need to be perfect to be a Great Missionary.  You don't need to be perfect to be a Good Spouse, and you don't need to find someone Perfect to Marry.

Okay.  Enough lecture for today.

Thank you for being good and being a great support to the Lord's missionaries!

Best,

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 2, 2013

The "Be Attitudes" and Dating

Hello Bro Jo!

I love reading your blog.

I wrote you a couple years ago and things have been going a lot better for me, I got my Medallion, Graduated from Seminary and I'm going to institute now.

Even though I'm still working on passing a Math Exit exam to graduate HS, My attitude about life has changed a lot, Because I know that I'm a daughter of God and I'm loved.

Two years ago I promised myself I wouldn’t date again until I was 18.

Now I'm in Relief Society, been in it for a few months, have had some Health Challenges but overcoming everything, and turning to Christ.

Serving my Brothers and sisters more than anything, enjoying being a Member Missionary in life.

I'm not one to complain ever, so I wanted to see what you could help me with.

I know a few Returned Missionary's, they just got home and I'm not sure when would be a good time to start talking with them. I'm willing to try any ideas you have to just get asked out.

Even though I put my Life completely in Christ’s hands, I know that It is up to me to work at it, He can help but he won’t do the things that I can do is my belief.

Also, I'm 18, almost 19 years of age, and have only ever been out with one guy.

Do you think it would be a problem for me trying to date, because the guys available now are RM's who are looking for serious relationships?

When do you think it would be a good time to talk about my Health problems with a guy?

Sincerely,

Faithful Daughter of God




Dear Faithful,

What a wonderful testimony of the Savior!

Thank you for sharing it.

The more experience one has dating, the easier it can be, but not having had much experience need not be a serious hurdle. 

I think what might work for you when it comes to getting asked out on dates is to Be Nice.

Get out there and talk to these RMs. Be Sincere. 

Without coming on too strong, ask them about them.

Smile.  Be Pleasant. Show genuine interest in them, their experiences, and their goals and interests. 

Conversations with new friends need not last several hours; a few minutes is fine. Just long enough to plant some seeds and get to know them well enough that you could describe or introduce them to someone.

If, after talking to a guy several times, you have more than just a friendly interest in him and he still hasn't asked you out on a date, encourage him to do so by saying "hey, I think you should ask me out on a date". 

People are attracted to those that are upbeat, fun, and honest.

Be those things.

And as for your health problems, I'd say that's a "Level 8" conversation.  (See:  Bro Jo’s LEVELS of a RELATIONSHIP )

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for the Advice, Bro Jo, It is greatly appreciated :)

I will let you know how it goes :)

So you think that having the Be Attitudes will help me get a date?

- Faithful Daughter of God




Dear Faithful,

Yes, actually, I do.

- Bro Jo