Well . . . here is is: the 1000th post.
To be honest, I haven't been quite sure what to say at this milestone.
I started writing this column over fiver years ago, and have been overwhelmed by love and encouragement shown by our readers . . . all of you, from around the world. I've been honored to meet some of you in person, saddened at missed opportunities to meet some of the rest of you, and grateful that you've allowed me to be a small part of your lives.
In the winter of 2008-2009 the idea of an on-line column specifically answering the dating and relationship questions of LDS Teens and Young Single Adults grew out of my experiences talking to young people, a love for writing, and having recently seen "Dan in Real Life" (and relating perhaps Way Too Much to the main character and his family).
Back then Sister Jo and I regularly hosted Family Home Evenings for students in our local University Ward. Sister Jo remarked more than once about how often, after FHE had concluded, that our guests would linger and we talked about their dating lives . . .or lack thereof.
Our oldest boy had recently turned 16 and I was worried about the lack of dating knowledge that LDS Teens and YSAs seem to have as they enter that phase of their life. I asked one of my former Seminary Students about that and he said "the thing is, Bro Jo" (a nickname his younger sister had given me just a few years before) "that all of you" (we adults in the Church) "pound the fear of immorality into us so often that we're afraid to even talk to each other".
He said that he understood that parents and leaders did that out of fear, or rather a hope that they would "stay on the straight and narrow", but rightly (I thought) pointed out that what we were ending up with was kids on the "straight, narrow, and alone" path.
Surely there had to be middle ground; a way for kids to get those social experiences . . . experiences that help them not just find Good Eternal Companions, but also be better Missionaries of the Gospel.
So Sister Jo and I came up with the Dating Rules for Teens.
And not just for our four older boys, but with the idea that if we could shift LDS culture to an understanding that Casual Group Dating is a good thing, that when our oldest daughter (now 15) is old enough she'd be more likely to get asked out on Good Dates by Good Guys.
And maybe, just maybe, it would be a little easier for our children to find Good Eternal Companions.
And if we were going to go to all of that effort to help our own children, well perhaps we could help some others as well.
Out of that has grown things like:
- Casual Group Dating
- Serious Single Dating
- Getting a Date
- How to Break Up
- Things You Need to Know Before You Get Engaged
- Why Not to Marry That Person
and all kinds of notes you can find on the Facebook page.
Since then I've received well over 1000 emails; many more than I could ever publish here.
Some funny. Some frustrating. Some heartbreaking. Some inspiring.
All have been a blessing in my life.
Even the ones that make me cry.
There's no way anyone reads this column and agrees with everything in it.
You're too smart and individualistic for that.
But everything in it is my honest opinion, given in love, hopefully in tune with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with the hope that I can in some small way help you (and not always just with Dating and Relationships it seems . . .), the readers; young people and their parents, whom I've grown to love and be thankful for.
May the Lord bless you in all that you do.
Remember, nothing is more valuable or more worth the effort (and it takes A LOT of effort) than creating your own Eternal Family.
Thank you for allowing me to do what I do.
Now . . .
Get out there and get dating!
- Bro Jo