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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Friday, October 30, 2015

Getting Up the Courage to Confess Sexual Sin

Dear Bro Jo,

I have a long history of sexual transgression.

I would rather not go into all the gory details but I would really love your advice on a few things.

First of all, I haven't been able to admit my sins to the Bishop. I haven't participated in any kind of sexual sin in six months and I've been trying to be as worthy as a I can.

Honestly, I feel as if I am fully forgiven.

I don’t feel guilt or pain anymore.

But I've always heard that you must report any and all sexual sins to a priesthood holder to be truly forgiven. Is this true?

Why?

If so, how do I find the courage to talk to my Bishop?

How do I resist the urge to commit sin?

I always tell myself that I'll never do it again, and I haven't!

But I'm afraid that one day I will fail and then I'll be right back where I started.

Thank you for all you do.

- A Friend




Dear Friend,

First off, let me commend you on your efforts to put your life in harmony with Temple Worthiness. 

That's excellent!

Turning away from Sin is certainly one of the "steps of repentance", and it's very important.

(I've written about it, and you can find it in multiple locations, but for the sake of clarity, here's a link to the subject in the Gospel Principles book HERE) I don't know that I'm willing to say that "you must report any and all sexual sins to a priesthood holder to be truly forgiven", however . . . since your Bishop is the person whom you need to interview with to receive a Temple Recommend, and because "things that should have been resolved with priesthood authority" is one of the questions in the Recommend Interview, and since you should have gone to your Bishop for help when you first started having chastity issues . . . and didn't . . . then one must conclude that in order for you to go to the Temple you'll need to honestly answer "no, I have not resolved all of my issues with the proper authority", right?

Otherwise you'll be lying in your Temple Recommend Interview . . . and I don't recommend doing that.

See, a Bishop is a representative of the Savior, and as a Called Judge in Israel he has an eternal obligation to speak on your behalf when judgment comes.


I envision it going like this:

It's time for my Celestial Kingdom interview. On one table is a list of everything I did good (sadly, I fear, much shorter than it should be) and on another table a list of every sin; the stuff I did wrong and the stuff I didn't do that I should have.
As I look at the second table I'm worried that it's too big.
Then all of my Bishops will enter the room. One by one they'll go to the Sin list and erase the ones they know I've repented of.
The Savior will be there to confirm what the Bishops say is true, and I know he'll do some erasing of his own.
My hope is that when it's all over the Sin list is much smaller than the Did Good list. 

I'm not here to judge you. But your Bishop has been called to exactly that calling. You want him to be on your side, not looking at the list saying: "Wow, that's a big one, she never told me about that at all".

Consider your Bishop as a bridge that helps you overcome sin, to put it behind you and move on.

I submit to you that one of the reasons you've had repeat transgressions and still worry about committing the same sin in the future is that, while you have made excellent progress, you haven't fully repented.

I also want you to know that I think that often the reason people don't talk to their Bishop isn't fear . . . it's Pride, and that lack of humility keeps them from full repentance.

Your Bishop can help you be successful so that you won't be "back right where you started". He's the one called to help you mend things with the Savior; that's not a calling you can "take unto yourself". 

So . . . go call your Bishop.

Make an appointment to see him today.

It may be hard.

It will be humbling.

But I promise you'll feel TONS better after you meet with him.

Trust in the Lord,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you SO much for replying quickly. I really value and respect your opinion.

Thank you for your advice.

You are right.

I need to fully repent and simply stopping the behavior isn't enough. I have more questions though if you don't mind.

When I said before that I "haven't been able to tell my Bishop", I mean that literally.

I went to see him about a month ago and I told him that I had sexual sins to repent of.

However, when he asked for details, I froze.

The words would not come out of my mouth.

So he gave me a General Conference talk to read and sent me on my way.

I've rehearsed what I want to say to him over and over again but when the moment arrives, I just can't seem to do it.

Is Church Disciplinary action usually taken with this sort of thing?

I'm not worried about that part, just curious.

Thanks again,

- A Friend




Dear Friend,

You could try writing down what you want to say, in outline form or a letter . . . Or start by telling your Bishop why you're having a struggle telling him.

Pray for help before you go to talk to him.

And realize that when he asks for details, he's not asking for a play-by-play, but the basic what's and whens . . . and remember that a Disciplinary Council, if called (and they aren't always) will only be called because it will be part of the process in helping you to mend things with the Savior.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you, Bro Jo,

You have made me feel so much better about all of this.

I will let you know how it goes.

- A Friend


Dear Bro Jo,

I DID IT!!

I wrote my Bishop a letter that said everything that I needed to confess.

We both cried and shared the sadness of my sins as well as the joy of the full repentance to come.

Thank you so much for your incredible faith and advice.

I hope the best for you.

- A Friend,




Dear Friend,

Good for you!

Press ever forward, and may the Lord bless you always,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

When Friends Brag

Dear Bro Jo,

I have these two friends (best friends) that brag on themselves a lot.

Their busy schedules and their academics, (they "humble-brag" those) and also their spiritualness.

And everything else!

Sometimes they even subtly belittle me.

Here’s the thing – I’m equals to them in academics and in busy schedules, (and pretty much everything else) but it’s like they don’t recognize it.

When they put themselves above me, I get really bitter inside. Like, I can't me happy when I sense they're putting themselves above me.

I feel hatred and frustration when it happens.

What can I do?

I know I can't just drop them, because I love these girls!

They're great, except for these problems.

Both I know have already been talked to about doing this by our Bishop, because our leaders see it too.

These girls are nice to me, it’s just like everything is a competition & they want me to know that they think they're winning it, even if they know I don't care. And they let me know that with a fake kind of smiley affect.

Ahhh, Bro Jo, what do I do?

Hate to admit it, but because it’s my main issue I'm telling you about, I’m signing off as . . .

- Bitter Feelings




Dear Bitter,

I think your pseudonym says it all.

Look, I can understand how people going on about how great they are can be really annoying . . . few things are bigger turnoffs than incessant bragging.

Sure, there's a point where, as their friend, people should feel like they can tell you things about themselves, including things that make them happy or that they're proud of . . . but that line can be crossed. I don't see this as a "talk to your Bishop" issue.

Like all things, I can see it as a "talk to your Father in Heaven" issue . . . but you'll need to realize that this is as much your problem as it is yours.

I mean, the issue here might be that you need to be more understanding and tolerant. Right?

Because, let's face it, the Lord isn't interested in us telling him how we think other people need to improve (any more than those people themselves want to hear it), but he is interested in helping us improve.

Don't forget that.

Now, all of that said, I DO think you need to get a few more friends.

Don't drop these girls, but increase your circle to include some people who aren't so into themselves.

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 26, 2015

Three Big Questions: 1. Can She IM a Guy Who's on His Mission? 2. Should She Serve? 3. Should the Guy Be Warned that the Girl He's Spending All Night with is 16, not 18?

Dear Bro Jo,

I have a couple questions for you that range from dating, missionaries, and roommates.


1. I am a college student, and I have a friend who is on his mission. He is allowed to use Facebook as a tool for missionary work, and maybe this is a stupid question, but is he allowed to use the Facebook chat?

I am thinking like if I had a question about the gospel, or if I wanted to send him a little inspirational quote. I would just use it occasionally.


2. Second question: Recently I have been having a difficult time with school, I lost all motivation, and I have felt like I am not supposed to be here (at this school, in this town, where I have lived my whole life). So I started to decide if I wanted to serve a mission. It felt like the right thing to do, and I figured that it would be a great experience for me. But recently I am having doubts.

Suddenly it doesn't feel right to do anything, I am excited about starting my papers, but I am still doubting it. I don't know what to do, so I guess I am looking for some words of wisdom.


3.  Third: My roommate is only 16 years old. This isn't a huge problem, but she has a "boyfriend" who is 24. He thinks that she is 18, because that’s what she told him.

She stays in his room past 4 am most nights, she misses classes to hang out with him, and she tells me how they have steamy make out sessions, usually at night, in his room, with the light off. I know all this because she tells me, and one night I stopped by and all the lights were off and they were passionately kissing.

I know I am not her parent or anything, but I am worried about her, and when I talk to her about it she says things like "it’s not that bad!" "He’s not that much older than me" "You went on a date with a younger guy!" "It’s okay, it’s not a big deal".

I also noticed that she didn't take the sacrament this Sunday. I realize that it isn't my place to judge, but she has taken it every other week... so I am worried about her.

I also thought that he could get in trouble with the law because she is still a minor. I need advice on how to handle this.

Should I alert him to the fact she is only 16?

Should I just step back?

Thanks for all of your help!!!!!

- (Name Withheld)




Dear NW,

1. It can vary by mission, but in nearly every instance, No, he should not be chatting with you on Facebook while he's on his mission.

There are tons of other people you can ask your Gospel questions; set your crush aside and let himm focus on the people he's called to serve.


2. A mission us not for running away; it's for serving God and His children. While service helps us feel better, simply leaving doesn't mean that our problems don't follow.

Go because you want to serve, not because “life is hard”. Trust me: a mission is way harder than school.


3. In many states this man may be about to commit a crime, if he hasn't already. (My money says he has.) Typically I'd say that unless you're at a Church school where the honor code is being broken, or their activities are interrupting your life (say, if they're in your room or apartment) then you should mind your own business.

Yes, they're making HUGE mistakes, and yes it is a big deal, and yes neither of them really loves the other (no respect = no love), but that's their deal.  (I don't like it any more than you do.  Probably even less.)

However, if he was about to rob a bank and didn't know he could go to prison the decent thing would be to tell him.

She hasn't come to you asking for advice, and she's going to hate you, but you need to tell him.

Give her the opportunity first, saying something like "he needs to know; you're putting him in serious legal jeopardy; invite him over and I'll be here with you while you tell him; and if you don't, I'm telling him in an hour".

This is one of those situations where people need saving, whether they want it or not.

But whatever you say, make sure to say it with love.

Good luck.

Let me know how it goes.

- Bro Jo

Friday, October 23, 2015

Coming Back to the Church

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi, Bro Jo.

I was reading some of your posts on your website and was wondering if you could help me.

I grew up in the LDS Church and some time ago I fell away from the gospel.

I met a guy, we weren't in a serious relationship, but we were sexually active.

I fell pregnant with his child.

Before my daughter was born her father moved to another country and started a serious relationship with another woman.

Growing up in the Church I have learned first and foremost that I shouldn't have been having a sexual relationship outside of marriage in the first place, that a person should date before choosing the right person to marry, and that a married husband and a wife should replenish the earth, I also know that a child's mother and father should be the ones who are responsible for this child's upbringing, and in an ideal world they should be together.

In my case, I guess what I am asking is, how does the lord see his daughter who has fallen in such a way that I have?

What would he have me do now?

Should I try to date a man in the Church who has done the same as me?

Would he want me to try and get back together with my daughter's father?

If you think my email would be helpful to other members in a similar situation, feel free to post it on your website (please with hold my name).

If not, a simple reply is all I ask.

Thank you.

- Anonymous




Dear Anonymous,

The Lord love's all of His children unconditionally.

That's part of what makes the Gospel so great!

I have no doubt that He wants to welcome you back on to the path that leads you to spending all of Eternity with our Heavenly Father.

To that end, I think what he wants you to do now is:

           1. Pray and read your scriptures every day (even if just a little bit), and teach your daughter to do the same

          2. Start attending all of your Church meetings, especially Sacrament, right away . . . and teach your daughter to do the same.

          3. Go talk to your Bishop. Express to him your desire to return to full-fellowship with the Lord. Listen to your Bishop's counsel, and do what you need to do so that you can eventually hold a Temple Recommend.



I think you need to find a man who (just as I teach my daughters):

         A. Is a worthy and active priesthood holder

        B. Knows how to work and works hard.

        C. Will love and cherish you always.


Those things, in my opinion, are the ones that matter, not a man's past.

Let that good man, when you find him, be your daughter's father.


To be honest, at this point it doesn't seem likely to me that the guy who's in a serious relationship in another country is likely to be the guy.

He certainly doesn't meet any of the criteria!

At least not at this point.

Move forward with faith!

And may the Lord bless you as you do,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you sooooo much Bro Jo!

Your advice really made my day.  I really do appreciate your help.

You are doing an awesome thing for our young people.

Please keep up the good work.

Maybe one day my younger brothers will need your advice.

Thank you again Bro Jo!

- Anonymous




Dear Anonymous,

I'm not sure I deserve all of those kind words . . . but thank you.

God bless,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Crush on the Missionary that Baptized Her

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm 17 and I have a crush on my missionary, he's the guy that got me ready for my baptism.

He's not really my type, but his personality and way of thinking are attractive.

I don't know if I’m crushing because he's someone I can look up to and someone I can strive to be like or what, but the fact still remains that he's 20.

He just turned 20 and I turned 17 just six months ago.

We haven’t really talked about relationships seeing as he is on a mission but he did ask me when I was turning 18 which is when his mission is over, discovering this he casually suggested that I look him up on Facebook during this time seeing as his mission would be over.

Is this creepy too?

(I read about the "crush on future missionary" post you had.)

Also I know there’s a chance of him being assigned to a different ward is it wrong that I’m kind of scared of that happening, or is it just normal thinking?

- (Name Withheld)




Dear Normal,

What you're feeling IS normal . . . . but don't confuse gratitude and spiritual joy with love.

First of all, while you may be attracted to him (and he may be attracted to you), it may also be that the good feelings you have about your new commitment to the Gospel are getting mixed in with your other feelings, and perhaps be projecting something that isn't really there.

You also need to know that the man you meet while he's serving a mission is only part of who he is; for obvious reasons you don't get to see the whole picture, and that can be misleading.

Not to imply that away from the suit and name tag he's a bad guy . . . but you only get to see the "holy" stuff, so the picture you have is incomplete.

I hope he does get transferred, for his sake and for yours. 

If he does, wish him well and let him go.

After his mission, if he tries to contact you (don't be disappointed if he doesn't, and don't wait around for it to happen) and IF, after you get to know him as a non-missionary, and AFTER you turn 19 (18 and 21 is just a little too far apart in my book) then date him IF he asks.

But don't put your life on hold for him.

And, I'll reiterate here something I've said many many times:  though I know it's worked out from time to time, missionaries going back to areas where they served to date (and possibly marry) girls they met while on the mission . . . weirds me out.   So often it seems a sign that he was not as focused on the work as he should have been.

A 20 year old guy hitting on a 17-year old new convert?

Yeah, I'm just super uncomfortable with that.

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 19, 2015

When You Really Need Help . . .

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm just going to jump straight to the point. Alright, I really need some advice. I have some really troublesome problems in a whole bunch of different areas.


First, I am having a really hard time believing. I've tried everything, done everything we're asked in the Church to do, and I just.. my mind won't make sense of it. I don't know what to think..

I want to believe, I really do. And it kills me that I won't. There are a lot of reasons that I hate myself, and this is probably the biggest one.

But it's not that I feel this way all the time. There will be days where I think, "Golly, there is no question in my mind that this is the true Church."

And then the next day I'll be thinking, "Where is my faith? Where did it go?" It's all so confusing and stressful. And, well.. *sigh*


When I was very little, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She suffered for a long time, and a month and a half after my sixth birthday, she died. I didn't really understand this at the time, because I was so young. But like.. nobody told me she was dying. I didn't get to say goodbye.. And my family never did anything like hug, or say "I love you" or anything like that. I feel like she died thinking I hated her..

Anywho, within a couple weeks, my dad already had a new girlfriend.

He married my step mom 6 months after my mom passed away. I didn't mind it then, but now that I'm older, it does not seem right to me, at all.

My dad was abusive. Sexually, mentally, physically. I've been molested, called names, been beaten. It's all made me so insecure.


About three years ago, in eighth grade, I started cutting myself, thinking suicidal thoughts, way too much. I became anorexic, I was lucky if I ate once a day.

I've had alcohol. It was a tiny sip, but I still feel so guilty...


I have a lot on my mind. I think and talk about drugs a lot. I hang around people that do drugs like marijuana. I want to try it SO bad, but I know it will ruin me.

Why do I want it so bad..?


My language is vulgar and crude. I hate it, so much.


My high school offers Seminary as a class because we live in a predominately LDS community. I ditch that class sometimes.


I go to Church afraid to take the sacrament, because I honestly don't know if I'm actually worthy or not.


I'm getting my patriarchal blessing in a few weeks. Do you think that will help me at all..?


I hope it does.


My boyfriend is LDS, and he believes firmly that this is the true Church. But he doesn't want to go on a mission, he wants to get married soon after we graduate.

He's willing to obey some of the rules, and others he just doesn't care about. I don't know what to think anymore..


Sometimes when I'm distressed I read D&C 122: 7-9.

"And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or in the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; and if thou shouldst be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of Hell shall gape up the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and they shall be for thy good. The son of man hath descended below them all, art thou greater than he? Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain within thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever."

It's my favourite scripture.. It makes me cry. I wish I could have that much faith..

I'm honestly not sure if this is to ask for help, or just to vent.

Either way, I would love it, if you were to answer my email.


I'm really sorry for telling you all of this. I know you probably have better things to do.

Either way, thank you, so much.

It means so much more than you know.

Sincerely,

- Scared Yet Hopeful.




Dear Hopeful,

I've been reading and re-reading your email during this General Conference . . . I'm always amazed at how Conference seems to be "just for me", as if everyone speaking knew exactly what I needed to hear.

This time around I can't help but feel that so much of what is being said is for you, too, and I hope that as you've enjoyed the messages that you've felt the same.

I certainly don't have anything "better" to do than to read your email, and I'm glad that you wrote.

I'm sorry and saddened that you've had such a difficult life so far.

No one deserves the pain you've felt, or to have to endure the things you've had to endure so far, but (for reasons I don't always understand) sometimes life happens that way.

You have some mountains to climb, and clearly that's made more difficult by some of the people in your life; I appreciate the scripture you shared and your testimony (although you may not have meant it as such) of the positive power that the Gospel has in our lives.

Your email reminds me that when times seem darkest, if we do those things that help us to feel the Savior's love (attending seminary and sacrament meeting, singing hymns of the Gospel, pondering the Word of God) that life becomes easier to endure.

I most definitely think that a Patriarchal Blessing will help. But I also think that you need to begin to heal.

I will always be here for you, and hope that you'll write me often to let me know how you're doing, vent as needed, or just to chat, but your local Church leaders (like your Bishop, Relief Society and Young Women's presidents) need to hear from you.


I'd like you to set an appointment with your Bishop today.


Tell him that you just need to chat about some things . . . you can even tell him that a friend (me) encouraged you to talk to him.

Pray first, and then tell him what you've told me.

Because he holds priesthood keys, and because he lives in your area, he'll have tools to help you that I don't.

Don't get discouraged about the size of the mountain you may have to climb.

Know that we're all climbing, and that our journey can sometimes be much easier if, rather than worry how far we have to go, we simply take one step at a time.

You're not alone.

Know that nothing external (pot, alcohol, self-harm, sexual stuff) will truly heal you; people turn to those things to escape their problems, but all they do is make things worse.

When we're distracted by "self-medicating" we cease to move closer to God, and the demons in our lives close the gaps that we've put between us and them.

If you think of it in terms of running a race, it's like stopping in the middle to take a break; instead of getting closer to the finish line, we lose focus on the goal.

The key is to get running again.

Even if that's just one step at a time.


Make your next step calling the Bishop.


Then, after you meet with him, you'll know the next step to take.

Trust in the Lord, and don't stop doing the things you're doing right: keep reading your Scriptures, pray every day, and do your best to get to your Church classes and meetings.


May you feel the love of the Savior every day,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you, a lot.

My bishop is also actually my neighbor. So it's easy yet scary all at the same time.

He's gotten a call before from one of my friends because he thought I was going to kill myself, though I really had no intentions of doing so..

So I told Bishop he had nothing to worry about.

So it's a bit intimidating. I honestly can't promise you that I will talk to him about it, but I can promise that I will think about it.

I actually haven't watched any conference sessions because I was cleaning, but I think we have them recorded, so I'll go do that.

But really, thanks again.

And I'll make sure to do those things.

- Hopeful




Dear Hopeful,

I'll take what I can get, but I can also promise you, having corresponded with several people in very similar situations to your own, that talking to your Bishop, while it seems understandably difficult, will go a long, long way towards helping you.

I promise.

- Bro Jo

Friday, October 16, 2015

Does He Want to Be Her Friend or Something More?

Dear Bro Jo,

I don’t know how relatable this letter will be to your normal audience, but I need some advice on the predicament I am currently in.

In sophomore year, my interest was sparked by a boy who was quite different to the others at my school, he was kind, courteous and had respect for people, like I had never seen.

We became close friends, and ended up being partners for a math assignment, after extended periods of time working on the assignment together, he invited me to a Church dance.

I was overwhelmed when there, but wanted to find out more (he was the only member at my school). I ended up going to church with him, and he dumped his current LDS ‘girlfriend’ in preparation for asking me out.

I met his family and they took me in instantly (I have become like an older sister to his nieces whom he lives with). I continually went to Church, and church activities and started meeting with the missionaries.

Much to their dismay, being a 15 year old, I wasn't looking to commit to a religion, however through learning the truthfulness of the gospel, my heart softened.

However, the missionaries’ jobs did not become easier, I was determined to know of the truthfulness for myself, and did not want to be known as the girl who converted because of her boyfriend, considering my family were not interested in the gospel.

As I learned of the Church I realized that my relationship was contrary to the teachings of the prophets and as my testimony was strengthened concerning the need to follow their council

I broke it off with my friend, using the excuse that school was too much (we were seniors at the time).

So after nearly two years of attending Church and being taught by missionaries, I was baptized and was fortunate enough to be baptized by my friend.

Our friendship was as strong as ever, most people didn't even realize our status had changed.

We even referred to each other as "bestest friends" (this I am extremely confused about after reading your article Men and Women Can’t be Friends).

He continued to date other people, and outwardly I said that I didn't mind and was in fact happy for him, however I did wish we could rekindle what we had previously had, only after he had returned from an honourable mission.

While preparing to serve a mission, my friend became serious with one girl. His family was (and still is) angry about the situation, and up until now they had not been openly adverse to his relationships until this particular this girl.

However they have stayed a couple and she is waiting for him.

Meanwhile, we still call each other best friends, and at first I didn't realize that was code word for “we’re not dating but I’m waiting for him” until his girlfriend pulled me up while saying it.

I was there at his call opening, farewell, setting apart and at the airport, when his girlfriend wasn’t.

He includes me in his family emails as well as sending me a personalized email each week.

I have tried to say to him save the time to email more important people, but I continue to get the personalized emails.

He is now 10 months through his mission. I don’t know what his intentions are…

Does he have a sense of obligation because he was the one that introduced me to the Church?

Have I become like a family member to him?

Does he want something more?

Or am I the fall back option if everything doesn’t go to plan?

I never thought I would be the person to email into an advice blog, but your truthful, sincere advice is definitely what I need right now.

Whatever your take on the situation, any advice on my future actions would be appreciated.

Sincerely,

- Confused




Dear Confused, 

I'm with you! 

I have no idea what he wants. 

Are you a backup? 

A safety net? 

Is he just being nice? 

Does he feel guilty? 

Is he "in love"? 

Is he afraid that you don't feel the same way? 

Here's the thing: since we don't know, and it shouldn't be asked, brought up or considered until he comes home . . . we have to focus on you. 

And now is a great time for you to grow personally. 

Perhaps that means school. 

Certainly you'll want to continue your path as a disciple of Christ. 

And I think you need to be going on dates with other guys. 

You've got 14 months. 

That's a long time. 

Be Free! 

If, when he comes back, you're single and you're both still interested, then you can ask for answers to all of those questions. 

Until then, I say write about it in your journal, and let it go. 

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

When You Think You're About to Get Married . . . and It Get's Called Off

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi.

I met this guy at a YSA conference about 7 months ago. Instantly we had a connection,

I guess you could say love at first sight for both of us.

Since then we have been inseparable. I fell in love and so did he.

He shifted to the town I live and even shifted in to my house that I live at with my parents (not in the same room obviously) we lived together for 6 months....he then proposed to me.

Of course I said yes!

We had both had confirmation that this was the right thing to do numerous times!

We had a few trials after our engagement (as I expected as I was preparing to enter the Temple).

However through much trial and tribulation I entered the Temple...it was the most beautiful humbling experience of my life and especially with my fiancé at my side!

However after we got back from the Temple, my fiancé told me he needed to go back to his family (3hours away) for a couple of days to "clear his head" about what we had been through the last few weeks.

He told me he wasn't sure about marrying me anymore.

He left for 3 weeks!

He then came back and told me he still isn't sure and wanted to just call off the engagement.

I thought it was better for us to call it off all together if this was how he was feeling.

He agreed.

Now...I am left absolutely heartbroken...I don't know what to do with myself.

I’m 24, he’s 26...return missionary.

I thought I had finally found my one, I realized why no other relationships worked out when I met him because I was meant for him.

I feel like the Lord had confirmed this to me so many times.

I don't know how I will trust myself again when it comes to dating again?

I don't even know how to get back in to the dating scene.

How do you recover from something like this?

How do I trust myself again?

How do I ever trust another man?

Things were bliss for the first 6 months...I NEVER saw this coming

- Not Getting Married




Dear Friend,

Recoveries from Big Things take time.

The pain may never fully go away, but it will get better.

Take it from someone who's had his heart broken, too.


(Have you ever read about the girl who I was sure was "the girl" who dumped me twice in 12 hours? 

Or the girl that no-showed to our date and refused to ever see me again with no warning or explanation? 

All I'm saying is: you're not alone.)


The thing is, this whole thing could have ended up much worse than it did: you could have married him!

Imagine how tough this would be if you had children?

If you were 44 instead of 24 and your whole life changed?

Happens all the time.

Even in the Church.

I know right now that may seem like a small consolation, but again . . . with time . . . And you know, the thing isn't that everything got difficult . . . that happens.

In every relationship.

The thing is that this guy, for reasons I suspect but we may never truly know, wasn't willing to stick it out, or humble enough to turn to you for help.

And those qualities (or lack thereof), dear sister, make for a very difficult marriage.

I'm sorry that this happened.

Give yourself time.

I promise it will get better.

Trust in the Lord.

He'll never leave you.

- Bro Jo


Dear Friend,

You may find it interesting that at the same time I was writing you I got another email from a young man who has just discovered that his girlfriend "doesn't love" him.

He's totally distraught.

He's about your age and thinks he'll never find love again.

See?

I told you that you're not alone!

He's a good guy who is trying to prove he loves her, but just can't seem to live up to her (unrealistic) expectations.

Nothing he does to try and sweep her off her feet seems to be enough.

Good guys are out there, I promise!

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for your reply.

It is kind of comforting I guess to know I'm not the only one.

Poor guy, can imagine just how he is feeling!

- Your Friend




Dear Friend,

Anytime!

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 12, 2015

When He Keeps Putting Off the Proposal

Dear Bro Jo,

I have been dating my boyfriend for nearly two years.

I will be 20 in a month and he will soon be 24.

He is awesome, we are both active in the Church, he is an RM and we both have a strong desire to do what's right. We are very much in love and have a great relationship.

There is a problem though.

Last year he told me he wanted to get married that summer, which was great.

We were planning on August.

He never proposed and said he felt better about October which then soon turned into December and then March and now May.  Still with no proposal.

I love him and I would love to be with him forever but I don't know what to do right now.

He says he feels good about us and has gone to the Temple and felt good but sometimes he gets scared or feels off and it's enough to cause him not to act.

Any advice for either of us?

Thank you,

- This is Exhausting




Dear Exhausted,

I believe ultimatums can be motivational, but I don't often recommend them in relationships; it's a bad sign when we need to pressure our loved ones into doing the right thing.

So...my advice?

I think you need to break up with him.

I'm serious.

Look, marriage, Eternal Marriage, is about more than "being in love" and him being a great guy.

 It's about two people, a man and a woman, covenanting to be together forever ... to raising a Celestial Family together (even if they're unable - not "unwilling" - to have Children while in this existence. 

Sure, it's scary, but it's also wonderful and exciting!

As I see it you have two serious problems in your relationship.

One is that I don't think he's being completely honest with you.

 The other is that he's not motivated, not driven, to be your Eternal Companion.

You want, you deserve, a man who can't stand to be away from you, not a guy who keeps putting you off.

I think he has an issue he has neither brought himself to resolve nor to share with you, and I think it's deeper than nervousness.

And I don't think being married to you is motivation enough to get it taken care of.

That's too bad.

And very dumb on his part.

But he figures he can just keep putting you off indefinitely ... and that is not good for you.

Or him.

So...hard as this is, and I know it's horrible, you need to move on.

Perhaps the realization that he's lost you will inspire him to change.

For his sake I hope so.

I hope he fixes what's wrong and begs you to take him back.

But you can't count on that, and you can't wait around for it to happen.

There are too many other great potential eternal companions out there for you to hang around being the eternal safety net. I'm sorry if this seems harsh, but I'll bet I'm not telling you things you don't already know in your heart.

Let's pray he gets it figured out,

- Bro Jo

Friday, October 9, 2015

Does "Being Too Picky" Keep You From Finding Love?

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for being a blessing and serving others with your straightforward and sound advice. I wish I’d found your resources in my teenage years. I have recommended your website and book to many teenagers and adults I know though, so hopefully they can also benefit.

Anyway, the question I have for you may sound kind of crazy, but it’s something I’ve been wondering for a long while. I have followed the church’s council and actively single and group dated in the three years I’ve been out of high school.

A LOT.

And truly, all of these experiences have been for my benefit and education (according to my Optimistic side).

At my YSA Stake Conference a few months ago, the stake president gave an emotional (on his part) talk about how concerned he is of the YSA being single and the low rates of marriage worldwide.

Obviously I can’t recite the entire talk to you, but he literally said “Please Brothers and Sisters, stop being so picky. Open your eyes to the possibilities and realize that marriage is the best thing in the entire world.”

I don’t doubt what he said, and trust me, I’d love to fall in love, but he made it sound like any two strangers could fall in love.

Do you believe this is true?

I’ve heard other conflicting advice about this, and I've beaten myself up emotionally about it many times. I've had opportunities to get married, but never felt my feelings or devotion went deep enough to see those relationships going the distance.

In fact, because I knew my last boyfriend loved me so much, I drug the relationship out way too long while I tried to force myself to fall equally in love with him.

You can imagine how that ended. In your book you talk about how older people find it much easier to enjoy the companionship of another and get married without much pickiness in their second marriages; but on the other hand you said if a person has to ask whether they're in love, they're probably not.

I've heard instances of arranged marriages working out well and I go back to Nephi and his brothers taking Ishmael's daughters to wife.

They certainly didn't have the option to be picky.

I don't mean to discredit personal revelation by any means, and I do feel all these relationships ended because I was listening to the spirit and my heart. I also understand that marriage is much more about me becoming the right person than finding "the one".

Sometimes I get sick over it though, because if anyone's been trying, I've been trying.

So why, in so many instances, am I finding myself disappointed and being the one who has to say goodbye?

People who truly are in love truly are in love, there is no denying it.

I believe in it, I just don't understand it. So where do you find it?

Sincerely,

- Break-up Pro




Dear Friend,

No. I don't believe any two strangers could meet and fall in love.

That's ridiculous.

But I suspect that's not what he was saying.

It IS true though that any man and woman that are selfless and love God and willing to serve each other can make great Eternal Companions.

The reason, dear sister, is because marriage is not about love.

It's about Trust and Sacrifice and Communication.

Perhaps you're still single because you haven't dated a good guy yet.

Or is it possible that you just haven't reached a point in your life where you've met someone whose happiness you’re willing to put ahead of your own...

That, dear sister, is true love.

And often you don't find it; it finds you.

So don't stress out.

Relax.

Keep dating.

And if you feel the need to focus on something, focus on being the type of person who someone would be lucky to marry.

And, of course, as Sister Jo says: let yourself be often found in the service of others.

Remember: if none of the guys around you are smart enough to recognize what a great catch you are, that's not your fault.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Not Sure If She Should Serve a Mission or Not

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a 18 year old girl with a dilemma. I can't make a decision on whether or not to serve a mission.

When the announcement was first made I thought I was for sure going to go, but as these few months have gone by I've found myself going back and forth more and more. I've prayed about it and studied my scriptures, I know that I wouldn't regret going on a mission,

I just don't know if its right for me..and I want to be SURE it's right!

(It's a life altering decision as well!)

I've talked with my family (we are strong in the Church) and they honestly don't really want me to leave - they say they would miss me to much.

I know my mom would be a wreck ... (we are a very tight knit family) but they also say its ultimately my decision.

I just don't know if I can leave them either!

I've been living out in a third world foreign country for about 6 months with my family (for my dad's job) as well, it has been a very trying, humbling and wonderful experience all at the same time!

I'm very thankful for the many things I have learned out here, I am so much more grateful for the blessings I have. I feel that I have grown up out here and i know what matters most now.

But frankly, I just want to be home for awhile!!

Honestly I'd like to be able to go out to movies and parties and restaurants and dates and dances, and have some freedom!!

(And maybe take a little break from being with my family 24/ . . .  I love them so much. But its really hard sometimes!)

Things of that nature that I haven't had the opportunity to do for a while and wouldn't have that opportunity on a mission, (I mean, can't a girl have a little fun?! Haha:))

I also think that going to school would be good for me too (I've been to one semester and took a semester off to leave the country and be with my family).

I want to help others come to Christ and to be truly happy. I want make Heavenly Father proud, and live up to my divine potential.

(I understand that I can do that without going on a mission...I'm just feeling very torn on saying I will for sure go or I will for sure not go..)

There are some things in my patriarchal blessing that I feel lead up to going on a mission..I am just confused on what I should do, I don't want to have any regrets...I know that it's up to the Lords will and that things will work out, but I thought that any advice you have wouldn't hurt! 

Thanks so much,

-  Debating




Dear Debating,

Sounds to me like you have your answer.

- Bro Jo

PS:  Readers, if you are similarly struggling with this issue, I invite you to read this talk:

For Young Women: Making the Mission Decision

Monday, October 5, 2015

What Does a Girl Do When All the Guys She Meets are Eager to Get Married?

Dear Bro Jo,

First of all your blog is probably the coolest thing ever. I spent way to long reading it. (I just discovered it.)

Second, I'm a first semester freshman at BYU-I.

I grew up in Rexburg so coming to school here I had an idea as to what it would be like.

But, I've been extremely surprised.

People told me that everyone is marriage hungry. However, I underestimated how much. It seems like all the 'older' (old by LDS standards) guys aren't following the spirit when trying to find a companion.

Instead, they pick a girl they like and make her a project. A project to get married.

There's been numerous times this has happened to me and my roommates. I've been in school almost 2 months.

In early October I met a guy and we became friends and hung out a 2 days in a row. After those 2 days, not dates, he asked me to be his girlfriend.

What?

I don't understand it.

I graduated from high school in June, like 4-ish months ago.

In high school you aren't supposed to date to get married right???

More to get to know what you like and don't like.

But, now that I'm in college it seems to magically make me older.

I know I'm not ready to get married. I'm 18!

The school stresses marriage so much, it comes up all the time. And it drives me nuts because I feel like a bad person not wanting to get married right now.

I know I'm not mature enough, I'm still in the stage of figuring it out.

How do I (and my roommates) handle the guys that are hunting for marriage?

And how do I not fall under the pressure to get married?

Thanks so much,

- New Girl

PS: My Bishop said the reluctant ones get married first. Is it really so?

PSS:  Sorry for being so long winded!




Dear NG,

If I ever publish your letter, I promise to keep you anonymous. 

Working backwards . . . Your email wasn't that long winded. (Wait 'til you see the response!) 

Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  There is some truth to the notion that being reluctant draws attention and makes you a challenge . . . but I wouldn't worry about it.

I'm sure your Bishop was, on some level, teasing you.

I think the best thing you and your roommates can do is to not do anything special.

Typically the guys at BYU-I are pretty good guys. You need to remember that they're under as much pressure as you feel . . . if not more.

See, when a guy has his last meeting with his Mission President the MP will encourage him to go home and find a great girl to marry for Time and All Eternity.

Then, when he has his release meeting with the Stake President he's told the same thing.

Plus he's got the added pressure of being the one who's supposed to do the finding (as opposed to being the one who's hoping to be found).

Take all of that and put him at a school with great girls, many of whom want to get married just as much as he does . . . and Viola!

You get what you got.

Even I don't think (generally speaking) that 18-year old girls should get married. (Though I have no problem - breathe - with 19 . . . assuming of course everyone is being smart and making good decisions.)

So there's no need for you to be "ready to be married"; not now; not yet.

So you don't have to do anything different.

If a dopey guy wants to turn you into something you're not or push you to do something you're not ready to do or starts with the "it has been revealed to me that we are meant to be together forever" bull . . . just let it go.

Or stand up for yourself.

Tell him you're not his project!

You, your roommates, and most of the other girls out there are going to have to Train some of these guys how to woo women. 

And one of the biggest things y'all need to do is STOP HANGING OUT!

You need to stop treating every date, or request for a date, like it means anything more than "hey, you seem interesting, I'd like to get to know you a little better" because That's All It's Supposed to Be! 

Trust me, despite the pressure, and regardless of their age, many of them aren't any more ready to get married than you are.

You should be flattered that guys have shown an interest in you.

You won't believe how many emails I get from girls at Church schools, who are just a couple years older than you, complaining that they "never get asked out".

That's a much harder problem to fix.

So I say "RELAX".

Enjoy the attention. 

Let these guys who are interested in you take you out to dinners, movies, fro-yo, walks in the park, bowling, sporting events, concerts, hikes, picnics . . . whatever!

(And tell your roommates, please, that this is my advice to them, too.)

If a guy wants commitment before you're ready, simply tell him that. "I'm not ready to be exclusive with you."

You want to be sure to add the "with you" because, who knows, you might be ready when the next guy comes along.

And remember this: simply becoming someone's "girlfriend" does not mean that you're obligated for life. Nor does it mean that marriage is going to happen in the next year.

At your age, even if you really like someone, it could easily take a year before you know them well enough for a proposal and an acceptance to be smart on either person's part.

Yes, sometimes it can happen sooner.

But not always.

In fact, not often.

Once an intelligent proposal is offered and accepted, then yes, I think a wedding (Sealing, of course, is preferred) should happen in under 6 months (I think three or less is best, but I can't seem to get too many people to agree with me on that).

But you're not even close to that right now.

So, again, Relax and Enjoy.

Thank you for the kind words!

Best,

- Bro Jo



[Dear Readers,

Since answering this email, two years ago I think, Sister Jo and I have observed what we feel is a disturbing shift in LDS culture:  many of our Sisters seem to be afraid of, and unprepared for, marriage.  Not just the 18-year olds, but even those in their young to mid 20's.

We don't know if this is a lack of training, worldliness, parents who aren't ready to deal with what it means to have adult children, a belief that pornography exposed Young Men will have frightening expectations of their wives . . . or something else we still haven't discerned.

For so many years we've focused on our Young Single Adult Men not being prepared.  That lack of readiness now seems to have shifted to the Sisters.

Some Young Women are indeed Called to Serve, and they come home from their Missions prepared for Temple Marriage.  We have no idea why so many of the Single Men of the Church seem to be so unaware of these Wonderful Sisters.

Some Sisters are using a Mission to dodge adulthood, go on an adventure, and avoid Temple Marriage.  Not all.  But too many.

I absolutely believe that no one should get married if they are not ready.

And I believe with all of my heart that anyone who works with all of their heart, might, mind and strength will reap wonderful spiritual blessings from missionary service and bless the lives of those whom they serve and serve with.  Men and Women.


My concern is that our young people are not at all ready for Eternal Marriage when they should be.

Wedding bells need not sound in that first year (after high school for girls; after a mission for guys) but both should be reaching that point in their lives . . . PREPARED . . .  should the opportunity arise.

And I am deeply concerned that so many of you are not prepared, even when you come home from your mission.

What do you think can be done?  What should be done?  Am I totally off base?

I invite your comments and questions.

God bless you all,


- Bro Jo]


Friday, October 2, 2015

Dating for the Future Missionary Girl

Dear Bro Jo,

I love reading your dating advice and am looking for a little advice myself.

A little about me: I'm 18 years old (soon to be 19) and I'm attending school and have my mission call!
So I'm not very focused on boys or dating, but I still want the "practice" of dating.

I frequently went on dates with different guys in high school, which was so fun! I like to date!

I'm also sort of a natural flirt.

My problem is finding guys to date.

Lately I seems that EVERY guy I talk to has a girlfriend!

For example, in my institute class there is an RM who met a girl, went one date.. and BAM suddenly she was his girlfriend.

And the week before that the guy had asked me on a date... Another RM in my class- met his girlfriend at EFY and she lives in a different state.

I could go on with similar stories like these!

I'm very frustrated and embarrassed when I have to learn the hard way that a guy has a girlfriend!

(And sorry, I think it's stupid- can't we not settle on someone and date around before deciding?)

My question: Am I wrong for flirting with guys who have a girlfriend I don't know about?

Am I the only single person out here?

Thanks!

- Soon to Be a Sister Missionary




Dear Sister,

To be very candid with you, if I was a recent RM and Serious Single Dating I wouldn't even think about going on a date with a girl who already has her mission call.

Heck, I wouldn't even go out with a girl who is working on her paperwork.

No offense, but for guys who should be looking for an Eternal Companion, dating you right now is a waste of time and money, neither of which they have in abundance.

Those guys you're complaining about are doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing.

I'm sorry they picked someone other than you, but it's not like you're girlfriend material right now.

If they've found someone that they want to be exclusive with and that wants to be exclusive with them, GREAT!

That's what's SUPPOSED to happen.

It's no different for the boys who are also "this close" to a mission, by the way.

You're certainly not the only single around.

I hear from guys all the time that feel exactly like you do hitting on someone only to find out that their exclusive . . . or married.

Are you wrong for flirting?

No. Of course not.

Heck, unless there's a Ring and a Date, I say "Flirt Away!"

But I think you do need to understand that, as a missionary, dating is off the table (flirting, too) for the next 18+ months.

- Bro Jo