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Monday, May 30, 2016

Military, Mission, and Serious Single Dating

Dear Bro Jo,

I’ve been reading through your blog, and I’ve found a lot of what seems like good advice, though I don’t think my specific situation is on your blog, and I think that perhaps the peculiarities of it might make things different, but if not, reassurance from someone who is not my Bishop that I’m not going to be someone’s absolute waste of time would be awesome and be enough to get me to try, or instruction from someone other than myself and a depressed friend of mine to not date, if that is better advice, would be exceedingly helpful and help me focus on my job and studies.

All this said, I understand if you’re busy and can’t respond or are delayed, and I thank you very much for the help you’ve already given me and others like me. So before I start down the rabbit hole, my actual question is this:

Being a Marine for the next five years, do I put off dating with a purpose until I can leave on my mission and start dating at 26-27?  Wait for the girl I don’t think I should go out with that everyone else does?  Or settle for serving a mission in the military and later in life and date with a purpose now?

I’m known for going really deep into detail and being very thorough in my explanations, and I apologize for the length.

My parents are awkward and got divorced and married other awkward people.

Eventually, my family got sort of fixed, but I’m still weird.

I moved 24 times before high school and have moved another three times since, my family is not military. I am the only member so far for the past four generations, and though I’ve met distant cousins, I’ve never seen them in person.

I was born to a catholic mother and a man searching for Christ’s people by the spirit.

He raised me to think critically about everything and that reason was king, save a prayers’ answer contradicted it. He and my mother divorced seven years after I was born, having only stayed together and made it work to keep me from having a broken home. I had moved a half dozen or more times by then and would move a dozen or so more, sometimes back and forth, before my father would remarry who is now as much my mother as the one who gave birth to me.

My mother remarried as well and I now have 1.5 sisters (3 half-sisters) all young enough to be my own children in the world outside the Church. I joined the Church senior year in high school which was a year and a half ago, and gained a best friend out of it. She and her parents helped me turn my life around and repent for a lot of things that I’m not proud of. I thought I was going to serve a mission. I joined the Church when I was 18 after meeting someone (calling her Renee) who I resented at first and then, after following promptings to ask two questions, found hope in which brought me more promptings which led to baptism six months later and being ordained to the Aaronic priesthood under her fathers hand a while after that.

All this changed my life entirely, me having been secretly suicidal, sadistic and publicly hateful to a world in a condition that didn’t make sense before the Church. She is my best friend, a sister to me now in every meaning of the word. Six months after being baptized, Renee and I had a conversation, and she was under the impression I wanted to go out with her.

This was and is not the case.

She was worried I’d joined a Church for her and again this was and is not the case.

She asked if I had asked anyone about a mission. Renee said that she really wasn’t dating anybody seriously until she came home from hers, and regardless of if it was a line or not, I know her well enough to know that she’s focused on preparing for that mission. I worried about money, having not even a college fund, car, or even a bike that was reliable enough to keep me from having to walk to work every so often, and then talked to the Bishop who said to pray about it and when I received an answer a way would be provided for me to Go and Do, and I did.

After praying and not (yet) receiving an answer, I took Bishop's word as an answer and asked what he meant. He said he had, as did many other members, prepared an account for the expenses of one or two who would go serve the Lord if only they had the money to fund their service. He was excited thinking that I’d received an answer and told me about mission prep classes at the YSA and told me to talk to a few of the brethren who wanted to support me if I chose to go.

I told Renee about all of this and started to think it was the right choice, though I had a bad feeling about it. She misunderstood my brotherly love for her and admiration for her as romantic love and worried that it would interfere with our missions.

We agreed to not go out until after we left and came home, though I only superficially considered that we could, being extremely confused.

As the months went on, our conversations (she was my ride to seminary every morning) grew deeper and deeper, and she expressed that she feelings for me and that they worried her and I told her that I loved her, though I didn’t want to go out, at least not until both of us returned from our missions, and then only if it felt right, which reinforced the idea in both of our minds. I received promptings to join the military before, or possibly instead of going on a mission.

This hurt her feelings and that hurt me. She told me she loved me, but we got into an argument because of the miscommunication with her thinking that I wanted to go out with her or do some long distance relationship. This ended in a quiet game that itself ended last night. I tried explaining to her that I love her like a sister and don’t want to go out with her, but she didn’t understand.

Then I finally received the answer to the prayer I offered around christmas time, and I fought it with everything I could. I continued acting and thinking as if I hadn’t received the prompting, but they were strong and unavoidable and undeniably from God, and I eventually obeyed and joined the Marine Corp in a job that has given me skills I am certain would transfer well into missionary work and the civilian world. I had never had the desire to join the military, and while I was thankful for their service, I never saw myself in those uniforms doing those things. Least of all did I see myself as a Marine, and capable of the things I’d, only through the Aid of the Spirit and the Priesthood of God, accomplished in boot camp and combat training and beyond, which is a longer story. When I told Renee that I had joined, I think she felt betrayed and I felt like I was betraying her though no promises were made. When I returned three months after going to boot camp, she told me she loved me and we went to institute together and had hours of conversation, just us, after dinner with friends and Renee said she was proud of me and scared for me, and a little bit of me, but that she missed me and didn’t want me to go again. We didn’t really talk until after combat training and then we got into an argument that had us not talking for months. We we did talk, we both came back saying the silence hurt worse than the argument. All of this, though, we’ve done as friends, her being my best friend and like a sister to me. Renee hasn’t left for her mission yet due to complications with school and money, but I know nothing will stop her. I know my own feeling, and I know I don’t want to go out with her. I want to go on a mission, but haven’t received an answer about it, though it is possible. The problem with that is that it puts me at 27 trying to learn how to date. There is a girl now that I like, but I don’t know if it’s wise to date anyone before my mission, or if I’ll even leave for my two year.

As for me, I’m lost. I don’t want to go out with Renee, not from California (she’s in Texas) and not in lieu of her going on her mission.

I want to go on a 2 year mission, and I could.

By God's hand I got a contract that allows me to do this job which requires an extended 6 to seven year commitment (being nineteen) with a reduced length of five years, which gets me out at 24 and back home from the Mission field at 26 or 27.

This, however, feels rather late to start dating.

I’ve not dated anyone since joining the Church, and I’ve not really dated with intentions beyond carnal relationships in my life, and I feel very shy about the culture, though I’ve looked for it all my life since I was six church hunting with my dad.

There are girls in the local YSA that I like, one in particular (calling her Alexis) who’ve I’ve asked to study with without really planning anything, but getting a number out of asking it has been a while, and I have a test on Tuesday, and was planning to ask if she wanted to help me prepare on Tuesday.

I am concerned that any girl I go out with might be intimidated by my friendship with Renee. She is my Best Friend, and I’m pretty unwilling to give her up as that. I don’t know what I should do to be honest. I’m calling Alexis and probably going to study with her for real, but I don’t know if I’m going to make a date out of anything.

So My question is this: Being a Marine for the next five years, do I put off dating with a purpose until I can leave on my mission?  Wait for the girl I don’t think I should go out with that everyone else does?  Or settle for serving a mission in the military and later in life and date with a purpose now?

- Private First Class Confused

PS:  My Bishop has mentioned that it wouldn’t be inappropriate for me to go to the Temple for my endowment even though I haven’t and won’t soon serve a Mission, being in the Military. He’s even encouraged me to do so, though I need to get a temple recommend in January or so since my temporary one expired. I don’t know if that will help or is really relevant.

Dear PFCC,

I can't tell you what to do, but I have a testimony that the Spirit can help you.

And, frankly, it sounds to me like he has.

Go to the Temple.

Take out your endowments.

As you make and keep eternal covenants and as you serve others in the Temple you'll receive revelation, better understand what the Lord's will is for you, and be more at peace during those times when you're still uncertain.

I also think that you should not date the woman you have no interest in. I see no point in that.

She sounds wonderful, but clearly she should be dating someone who loves her in a way that you do not.

Because you've chosen military service (which I respect, admire and am grateful for, thank you) and committed to a contract that postpones full-time missionary service for as long as it does, I think now is the time for you to be Serious Single Dating.

Should you find and fall in love with a woman for whom you will be a great Eternal Companion and who will be great for you, I think you should postpone full-time missionary service until you and she can serve together as a married couple.

It's too bad you don't have romantic feelings for the woman you're calling your best friend, but that's the way it is.

The woman you choose to marry will and should be your best friend.

Since this woman won't be the wife, your friendship for her will and must eventually fade.

Failure to let that happen will be a disservice to all parties.

Good Luck and God Bless,

- Bro Jo

1 comment:

Jacinda Thomsen said...

Being a young adult is a great season in life. You have gained a testimony and now you can practice what you know. Attend your single ward go to FHE and institute. Get to know lots of different people. If you find someone you want to date go out and plan fun activities together. Because you are young in the gospel take time to study and put all the pieces together. As your testimony grows your desire to serve God will grow. Listen to and learn how the spirit speaks to you
Do you hear a voice, do you have a warm feeling, do you feel the answer in your heart and your mind? Do you find answers in the scriptures or in the words of a hymn? Practice following those prompting-act on them. Serving a mission is a great goal to have. If you have received your patriarchal blessing pray to understand its application. Follow your heart and the inspiration that comes your way.