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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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Power of Flirting

Dear Bro Jo,

I have been reading your blog recently, and first wanted to say I think you are going a great thing for the Youth/SA community who read your blog. Thank you.

I'm writing to you because I feel like I'm in a kind of unique situation and want some outside advice.

First, some background. I'm in my second year at BYU. I'm currently on a study abroad in Jordan (the country in the Middle East) studying Arabic. I absolutely love it here.

Part of the BYU rules for study abroad is no dating other people on the program. And it makes sense; they don't want to deal with any drama that could come from it. And I totally agree. Especially here in the Middle East with such a conservative culture, that's especially important to not look like the stereotypical "easy" Americans, and to keep the reputation of our program held high for future groups. I've got no problems understanding or supporting or upholding that.

Around the first month or so, I started spending time a lot with these two guys. They're both super recent RMs, and served together for about 9 months and then were in the same area with different companions for another 9 months until the first one was released. So they know each other super well. I'm not the best at socializing sometimes, but I've found it's been really easy to spend time with these two. At first I think it was because they're just such good people there was no way they would ever not include anyone. But now we're actual friends,at least I think so, and have a lot of fun. Of course, because of the nature of the program, we are all friends and get along and all that nice stuff, but naturally there are some we talk to more and some less based on the size of the group (about 50 students), and these two are probably the ones I talk to the most.

Another thing about the rules here, in order to go anywhere but the small radius that my apartment and school are in, we are required to be in groups, at least two during the daytime, and at least three after dark, and after dark one of those people needs to be a guy. So I feel lucky to have a couple of friends I can ask for help if I ever need to go somewhere. Especially now that it's dark by 5 every night. And of course, the girls have to be walked all the way to their building doors, and our buildings are around the corner from each other. These guys, and all of the others too honestly, are so nice and so willing to help us girls with these rules and safety precautions, and I've never had to worry for my safety, for which I am truly grateful.

I digress. Here's the thing. One of these two is engaged. (Coming back, this is going to be easier with names, so, M is engaged, S is not.) So there have apparently been rumors, people are talking about S and I. I guess it makes sense for them to assume, really why would they assume any different given how much the three of us talk, and each of our relationship status, one guy engaged, one guy and one girl completely single. I hadn't actually heard anything about it until about a week ago M asked me about it privately (nothing inappropriate, there's a room a group of about 6-7 of us do homework in every day, and because some were out getting lunch and at appointments and things like that we were the only two in the room for about 10 minutes) I guess they've been asking S when he's going to ask me out and things like that. Nobody has said anything to me though, which is interesting. And I'm not actually opposed to the rumors. I do kind of like this guy. I mean, right now we're just friends, but I certainly wouldn't mind going on a date or two with him after the program ends and seeing where that goes. But when M told me this, and I asked what they thought about it/what the response to it had been, he said they both just laughed about it. Then he told me that S was writing a missionary, the little sister of his best friend back home, not seriously, but had written a few emails to her. I think he may have been trying to get a reaction from me. And then he said something about how S "wasn't set in stone about anything." M told me this all in the context of asking "my opinion" on it, obviously trying to play matchmaker a little. Which he admitted to. But I know I'm not going to try and say anything now, because of the appearances in the culture, and I'm sure neither would Seth, if there even was any feelings there on his part. I think there could be, or at least maybe I hope they do, but I don't really know for sure at all.

We only have two weeks left in this wonderful country, and then will spend two weeks touring the West Bank/Jerusalem/Holy Land before returning home right before Christmas. So after M told me about the rumors, nothing else has been said, and I don't want to say anything about it directly that might complicate anything, and nothing else has been said from him again either. And nobody has said anything to me. So things are still as they were a month ago. It's not awkward, and I'm happy about it.

But I guess my question is, how do I try subtly try to hint to S enough that he might ask me on a date when we return to BYU where dating culture is not only allowed but encouraged? I don't even know completely if he has any feelings for me. Other than normal talking, and of course being willing to be an after dark bodyguard, I don't have much of a chance to tell anything. And because of the nature of the program and how nice he is, I don't actually know if I'm being treated any differently. I've almost convinced myself that it's completely one sided, and if I didn't make an effort to talk to him, we wouldn't talk any more than he does with most of the other girls in the program.

I'm also not the best at the whole relationship/dating stuff. Since I've been at BYU I've gone on exactly one date, and to say the least, I did not enjoy the date or the guy, and though he tried I did not go on another with him. In high school I had a relationship (I've read your opinions on those, I know, but I don't regret anything, it's over, and he's a great missionary right now) but it happened so naturally from our friendship. And for the most part this is the same, but because of the situation, I know that if I actually want to see him after we leave the Middle East I'm going to make some sort of effort, and I don't know how. In a way I kind of feel like it's high school again, "you can date after this, but now you can't" and so there's not really a point in doing anything about any possible feelings that may or may not exist anyways.

Thanks,

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

This really isn't as complicated as you're worrying it is.

Sometime between now and the time you go home tell M that you've been thinking about what he said, and when all of you get home if S asked you out you'd say yes.

And then let it go.

That's it.

I promise you M will tell S.

If he wants to, and has the courage, he'll ask you out.  And telling M, his good friend, will help with that because he'll encourage S to make a move.

If you are all on the flight home and S still doesn't have, nor has asked, for your phone number, write it on a piece of paper and go up and give it to him.  Say something simple like "I hope you feel like you need this", touch him on the arm, and walk away.

No one, little sister, is too inexperienced to try a little flirting.

Have fun!

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 24, 2017

The "Out of the Blue" Breakup - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much for your words of wisdom; it seriously made me feel so much better about this situation!

I have a couple of things to ask about though (sorry) but when the guy mentioned me coming on really strong I thought long and hard about what that might mean..

I'm not the type to come on strong..ever..I really should work on coming on stronger actually, or else most guys think I'm indifferent to them.

The only thing I could think of was that other people were kind of pressuring him in a way. One of our mutual friends told the guy that I was really awesome and that he should put a ring on it (I know this sounds presumptuous) but several other people (his baseball coach, some people in the ward, one of my friends) said the same thing while I was with him (and I'm not sure who said what while I wasn't with him) I didn't ask them to say this either!

The bottom line is that how is it my fault that he was being pressured by others and not by me..? Is it wrong to be like-able? (k I'm really not a brat I promise.) but for real. How does a girl fix that?

I know this is a little desperate but I really like this guy. A whole lot. And I'm not asking him to fall in love with me..(I can't predict the future! Who knows maybe its not meant to be..) I'm just asking for a chance.

Is there anything else I can do in this situation?? (I mean besides show up to all the FHE activities and Sacrament meetings looking ravishing;)) ha.

Help..?

- Confused




Dear Confused,

We can't "fix" people; we can help them, but even then only if they want our help.

And let's be honest with ourselves:  you absolutely want him to fall in love with you; if you didn't there would be no reason to write me about him.

You could try talking to him and asking him what happened; I think that's a fair thing to do, but I don't know that you should waste your time.

Sister Jo is a HUGE advocate of showing up, looking ravishing, and making him regret he ever blew it with you.  But she's also right when she says that even if you didn't come on too strong (and I believe that's the case), the response to someone who has freaked out about feeling pressured is never positive if you pressure them more.

You had a chance, and so did he.  As great as he may be, he wasn't smart enough to realize it at the time, so you need to move on and make him regret it.

Then and only then will there be a chance he'll come around.

And if he does, you frankly may not care.

And THAT'S the position you want to be in.

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 21, 2017

The "Out of the Blue" Breakup - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello again!

So, I have a bit of a situation. There’s this guy (oh how cliché)..he's wonderful, interesting, and smart.

We have been in the same ward for quite some time but haven't really been able to talk much (I've been spending time out of the country) but he's the same age as my older sister and so I kinda know him, but had never really talked to him.

But now we are both back, and single. So we started talking and eventually went out on a few dates, just to clarify I'm 19 and he's 22 (R.M.) so they were fun, one on one dates. (He invited me to his basketball game, then we got hot chocolate and talked at the temple for a few hours, he came over to my house and played games/watched a movie, and we went to a hot air balloon festival) plus we had been texting/calling quite a bit..this all happened in the space of about a week and a half.

I liked him immediately and surprisingly very intensely, (I haven't felt that way for a guy so fast in a long time..)I have a missionary whom I really like, (but we both decided that it would be good to date other people) so I've been on quite a few dates since he's been gone--and have liked a few guys, but some of them were preparing for their own missions, or I'm not really into it or vice versa or whatever (something always happened)--and frankly I haven't really been heartbroken about it.

Anyways, back to this guy. We went on those few dates and afterwards he came back to my house to watch a movie and we started talking, he said that he had just gotten out of a long term serious relationship (he had been with his ex for a year). So, I asked if he still liked her (not wanting to get into anything if he still had feelings for her) and he said that breaking up was mutual and they both saw it coming, he only sees her as a friend, he wants what’s best for her and all but doesn't see anything romantic. Earlier in the week (right after our 2nd date) his ex texted him and he said he was confused about it.--I have no idea what he or she said. But, I mean, if you date someone for a year and you aren't sure if you should be together then you probably shouldn't be together, am I right...?

Anyways, after him telling me all this about his ex and everything he said he wanted to "take things slow" and "be fair to me" and he "didn't want to hurt me". I of course not wanting to lie to him told him about my missionary and that I'm not waiting for him, but I also like him too but I wanted to give the current guy a chance and "not hurt him" either.

So..naturally I thought taking things slow meant being casual and dating others, but he surprised me with a kiss. (we ended up making out on a couple occasions) which was awesome/confusing.

So I was trying to be cool and casual about it but he sure didn't kiss me very casually. I ended up going on a couple of dates with other guys during that time to try to protect my heart buy I felt nothing for them and could only think about this current guy. I also didn't want to play games so I told him that I had gone out with those other guys and if he was ok with it and he said that yeah he was cool with it and that we should keep on trying to be casual. I really started to develop feelings for this guy though, but I kinda felt him start to back off a bit. I was super confused about where his head was so I decided to be brave and tell him my feelings.

So I said:

 "Hey so I just wanted to clear this up and be real with you..and let you know that even though I've been on a few dates with other guys I can't stop thinking about you! Gosh what is it about you (name withheld)!? But I wanted to let you know that I really feel like there could be something pretty great between us. I don't want to make you uncomfortable, but I would really like to see where we could go. I would rather let you know how I feel and possibly be hurt -- than to never take a chance.."

To which he replied:

"Yeah I've been wanting to talk to you. (name withheld) you're a really great girl and its been so much fun hanging out with you! I think we are just in different places in our lives. I've had fun with you but you've just come on really strong. And with where I'm at in my life I don't want that. Things just got moving really fast and it freaked me out. And I needed time to think and pray about things. I want to still be friends but I think I just need my space for now. Are you okay with that? I really don't want to hurt you and just want you to be happy and I don't think I could give you what you deserve."

So, I was pretty sad and a little humiliated. I just said okay with a smile and that was it.

Ok, I know it seems like I'm a crazy girl who just wants to get married, but that really isn't me. I just wanted to date him and see how things went! (I still don't feel ready for marriage just yet)

I really don't feel like I did anything wrong. But I'm not sure how to handle this now.

I saw him in church today and it was hard for me to even look at him, let alone talk to him..so I didn't. I would still be ok with being friends with him but I don't want to come off as intense or anything.

What should I do?

And uh, why did he kiss me?! Again. He kissed me. Not the other way around. Sure if he was like most guys I'd say that's just how they are..but this guy is different, he's honest and spiritual, he's a really great person.

Any advice?

Thanks.

- Confused




Dear Confused,

I'm guessing that he kissed you because
A) Kissing is fun
B) He finds you attractive
C) The timing seemed appropriate (and I'd argue that it was), and 
D) He wanted to kiss you (and you let him).

All of which are good things.


I don't think you came on to strong, I don't think you were out of line to think this was going somewhere (and I agree that it probably should have), and I think he may have made a big mistake.

But the bottom line is that he broke up with you; and as I've said often, while you two can be friendly, you can never really be close friends.  You either end up together or apart; he either becomes your best friend, or someone else will.


So I think it's best to move on.

I know that may be difficult.


But consider this:  him breaking up with you doesn't mean that you're not great; it means that for a period of time he was smart enough to realize how great you are . . . and then he wasn't.  Some other guy will figure it out, and that guy won't be dumb enough to change his mind.  So keep dating!


And, who knows?  Perhaps if you continue to be nice to this guy he'll figure it out.

And, if so, maybe . . . Just MAYBE . . . you'll let him crawl back and beg you for another chance . . .

But that will be your decision to make.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Will Breaking the Law of Chastity Prevent Her from Serving a Mission?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi Bro Jo!

Let me begin saying I've been a reader for years and I really Like reading your blog.

I want to tell/ask you something very personal...

The thing is that I have the desire to serve a mission, but time ago I broke the law of chastity, I feel sorrow in my soul and in my heart and I'm about to confess it to my ward president.

What I would Like to know is if it prevents me from serving a mission

Looking forward for your answer,

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

That is a question you should ask your Bishop / Branch President when you meet with him.  I encourage you to have that conversation right away.

Regardless the answer, I promise you that if you follow counsel given towards mending your relationship with the Savior and continuing to do what you know to be right, you will be blessed.

I am proud of you for your faith in the atonement and your willingness to repent.

God bless,

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 17, 2017

How Do You Know If You're In Love?

Dear Bro Jo,

How do you know you're in love?

- S




Dear S.,

When the other person's needs and happiness are more important than your own.

And in a healthy relationship, especially a marriage, that needs to go both ways.

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 14, 2017

Does He Regret Breaking Up?

Dear Bro Jo,

I will be honest I have ready many of your blogs and letters to other young adults and have disagreed with so many, but I do believe this comes from a cultural thing rather than a difference of opinion,

So I am living in the United Kingdom.  About a year ago I dated a girl from the same stake as myself although she did live around an hour away.  We dated and we were happy.

Sadly after the "honeymoon period" I realized that despite the fact that I cared for her (and I still do) I didn't want her to become my eternal companion, so I did what I believed was the decent thing and broke it off.

We discussed it for a long time and we agreed to part ways and still remain friends.

Well since then I have had a few girlfriends and I have still remained friends with this first girl, we will call her "Jenny".

Jenny remained a constant part of my life even while I was dating these other girls. we would text and remained pretty close friends. She would talk to me about the guys she would date and I would talk to her about the girls I would date.

We were pretty close. I always knew this was unhealthy but I still chose to participate.

Well I got a girlfriend who did not like the situation I had with jenny, and after discussing it I agreed to limit mines and jenny's friendship. Jenny and I talked it over and she left the conversation pretty mad, and I really was trying to be decent. I believe she is mad because she was still holding on to the idea of me and this was me picking another girl over her. I felt awful. I really did.

So for a while she wouldn't come to any stake activities and events because she didn't want to be in the same room as me, she removed me off Facebook and other social media and just cut me out of her life. she constantly and publicly moans about how horrible I was to her on twitter and Instagram and we broke up a year ago. It got to the point where she had to rearrange her whole stake conference attendance just so we were never in the same room..... our stake does it complicated.

The worst part is I have now been called into stake YSA, which means I have to organize events and institute for the Stake, and I can see that many on her side of the Stake have become distant from my YSA.....  It really is split in two sides.

It’s awful.

I believe she is a massive source of negativity and is draining many of the YSA, I see the advice she gives to people and it’s just so awful. It makes me cringe.

I believe that if she and I established a friendship again (albeit a limited one) that really could help improve the relationship of the YSA as a whole.

I never say anything negative about Jenny, or at least I try not to.

The whole situation makes me feel sick, I never meant to hurt anyone, and I constantly re-evaluate my past decisions to see if I made the right one, I still believe I have.

Drama and problems come with being a YSA, I get that, but as a leader in it I really don't want to be the source of it.

I really don't like that you are only hearing one side of the story from me as I can honestly say I have not been the best of people in this situation.

What should I do?

- Confused Leader




Dear Confused,

Somethings are universal, despite differences in culture.

We often think that avoiding pain now will lessen or even eliminate the possibility of pain later . . . but life rarely works that way.  Getting a vaccination to stave off disease or infection is not too much different than breaking up and pretending we can still hang out and be friends.

As long as you were hanging on to "Jenny" she thought there was a possibility you might come to your senses (her opinion, not mine) and get back together (or at least want to, thus making her feel desired and not rejected)  . . . and, let's face it . . . that's one of the reasons you held onto her friendship.  You weren't ready to let her go until you found another woman to replace her.

Jenny got mad because it was in THAT conversation that you began the end of the break up process.

Relationships can be complicated, especially if we make them so.  Has nothing to do with which Stake we're in.

Saying you "try to" never say anything negative about Jenny means that, well, you do.  And saying that you still believe you've made the right decision breaking her heart but that you keep re-evaluating that decision means . . . well, you're afraid you didn't.

That's why you have hung onto her as a "friend".

Keep her or let her go.

Make a decision and stick to it.

That's called leadership.

Whatever you decide, continue to be kind towards her.  That's called being A Good Christian Man.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

When Friends Wander

Dear Bro Jo,

So before going off to college I met a friend at youth conference and EFY.

We were just acquaintances, then I moved into her ward for college. We got really close, and I consider her to be like my sister.

She is 19, just finished her first year of college. She was active at Church. Her dad is in the bishopric. She was supposed to go away for college, but due to family circumstances ended up staying home for school.

Her mom and her brother have been living a state away over the past year as they are setting up a business. Her dad will be joining them in the next couple of months.

Last September, she started dating a boy of another faith. He was still in high school. I didn't think too much of it, but eventually she stopped coming to Church. She said she had always questioned the Church, but when I asked her what she believed she could never really give me a solid answer.

One particular night she said she wanted to talk about beliefs but it ended up her boyfriend just responding on her Facebook account a ton of scriptures attacking our beliefs.

Did not go well.

I just bore my testimony and let it stop.

I've seen her a couple times since then and she knows that I will be her friend no matter what.

Well...apparently she just got engaged yesterday. And I think she's making an incredibly bad decision.

Her boyfriend just turned 18, she has only finished a year of college. And I just feel like if she goes down this path she will really regret it later.

I was just married in the temple 6 months ago. I know just how important a Temple Marriage is.

She has been taught just as I have, and I can't understand why she thinks a marriage outside of the temple would ever make her truly happy.

Here's my question: I know she has her agency, and it's not my decision but do I say anything or just butt out?

Do I say congratulations I'm so happy for you when I don't see this being a smart decision at all?

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

If she doesn't ask you for your opinion, don't give it; she's not your child, nor is she someone you have stewardship over.

Do you say congratulations when you don't mean it?

No.  I don't think you lie just to make her feel better.

But maybe you can find a way to mean it.

She can be truly happy.  Not eternally.  Not yet, anyway.  But happy.

Can you congratulate her on that?

Remember, being LDS, being sealed for Time and All Eternity, does not mean you'll never make decisions you'll regret; so try not to judge too harshly or let your disappointment show.

If you drive a wedge between you now, she'll never turn to you when she wants to come back, or they're ready to be sealed, or when this relationship dies and she needs a good friend.

Everyone questions their faith; what we can't do is allow those questions to fester or talk us out of what we know is true.

You're right not to engage in Scripture Wars with the boyfriend; or anyone, really.  Never goes well.  Not because Latter-day Saints don't have solid scriptural ground to stand on (quite the contrary), but because contention drives out the Spirit.

Lastly, I have my own suspicions as to why a 19-year old inactive girl is marrying her 18-year old just out of High School boyfriend . . . rather than writing here what I'm sure you'll figure out, let's just say that your friend may have even more reason for her need of your love and support right now.

Likewise, we could come to some conclusions regarding why she feels the need to distance herself from her faith, but confronting her with those will not help.  Her, or you.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I've simply told her that I love her,

I hope she is happy, and that her wedding is everything she ever wished for!

And I do want those things for her.

It just breaks my heart knowing how much more she could have.

But you did remind me that this doesn't mean she will never get sealed.

The Church is true and the gospel is all about second chances. I just have to remember that.

Thanks,

- NW




Dear NW,

That's excellent!

And me too, NW.

Me, too.

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 10, 2017

Should She Get Additional Piercings?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello!

So, recently I've been thinking . . . I've always wanted to get a second piercing. I think fashion and accessories are such wonderful ways to express yourself, and I think a small stud wouldn't do much harm at all. I dress modestly, live the word of wisdom, and I do everything to try and better myself every day. So how could a little stud change that?

I do know that prophets have recommended no more than one piercing, however.

I've read about it and prayed though, and I just can't seem to find the answer to if it's ok to get one or not. I know the temple would still accept me if I had an extra piercing, and as far as I know I don't think it would keep me from entering the Celestial Kingdom or anything...

So my question is, what is your stance on piercings like this? Would it be stupid for me to get one?

I'm sorry if it's a stupid question or anything, I just feel a bit confused.

Thanks!

-Considering Piercings




Dear Considering,

Does additional piercings keep one from the Celestial Kingdom?

No.

But attitude might.

You know that it is recommended that women only have one piercing per ear.  And yet you're looking for an excuse to do it anyway.

That's the problem.

There are several things that people are doing with their faces and hair and bodies right now that are trendy that, while there's no "law or commandment or handbook rule" against them, they are against the Spirit of what we're taught.

The Lord is very clear that for us to be commanded in all things is not His way.  If you think about it ... not only should we not have to be commanded in everything, it's actually very impractical.

Remember these three things:
1.  Our bodies are our Temples.  Like the House of the Lord and our homes, we should keep them clean and in the best condition we can.  They don't need a lot of extra embellishments; doing that would make them Less Beautiful.
2.  Rather than follow the trends of the world, we have been admonished to "be a peculiar people", meaning that those that have not yet joined the Church should be able to look at us and by our demeanor AND our appearance  (which of course includes modesty) know that we are members of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints.
3.  One way in which we need not be commanded but can still no the direction to follow is to look at Church leaders and those whom He has chosen to represent Himself as examples.  General Conference is coming up soon.  Look closely at those chosen as general officers of the Church and note how they are dressed, note what they wear as far as jewelry.  And then consider how missionaries are told to dress and what jewelry they wear as they encircle the world representing the Savior.
While some trends are more disfiguring and permanent that additional ear holes, the Spirit of why we choose them is the same.

Whatever you choose, I will not love you less.

And, no, I don't think Heavenly Father or Jesus will love you less, but I do think it will be tougher for others to see you as a Disciple of Christ.

Including, and I know young people have a tough time seeing and thinking this far ahead, your children.

So just trust me on this one:  it's much harder to hold your children to the rod when they know that you've let go from time to time and wandered a bit.

(That, by the way, is why it's a mistake for parents and other adults to brag to and share with their children about their past sins.)

My opinion?

No, little sister, don't get the extra piercings.

With love,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you very much!

The reason I was wondering if its ok is since my 16th birthday is coming up, my mom was thinking she could take me to the mall and maybe get an extra piercing or something. (She isn't in the Church anymore, but I think that kind of goes with what you were saying)

I know I want to be a good example to my future children though, and I realize now that I probably should've stopped wondering about if I should or shouldn't when the prophet said not too. (Which I feel silly typing, because that should've been obvious.)

Deep down I don't think I was ever actually going to go through with it, but I think I was trying to rationalize that it was ok because it was something my mom would be fine with, and I always liked fashion statements anyway.

Thank you for being there, and thank you for giving me a bit more perspective!

- Considering




Dear Considering,

I'm here anytime you need.

Sometimes we miss the obvious.  That can happen to anybody.

I think that's why it's so important to keep seeking spiritual things.  The more we put the Spirit in our lives the easier it is to hear and feel the Spirit.

Don't be too hard on your mom.  Show her the love and respect she deserves, but never drop your standards or stray from what you know is right.

Happy Birthday!

God bless,

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 7, 2017

Making Friends

Dear Bro Jo,

 I have two friends in the church. We talk, maybe hang out. We don't do much more. I thought that that was fine. I thought that it was okay to wave at all of the girls at the stake dances and firesides and have them ignore me. I thought that it was normal for all of the other girls to have scripture reading parties, and not invite me. I thought it was normal for the leaders to invite all of the laurels except for a few to get ready for Mormon prom. I tried to be accepted, but I wasn't upset because I thought that friends are just for some people, and I don't need any.

But then I joined a swim team. They didn't make me feel less because I did experiments and enjoyed them. They didn't make me feel less feminine for liking superheroes. They didn't make me feel weird for graduating early, because they were too. They didn't ostracize me for quoting Shakespeare because guess what we do during land workout? We go through the death scenes of LOTR, HP, and Shakespeare's Tragedies.

I realized that I not only benefited from having having friends, I needed them. I looked and I saw that I didn't have what the leaders to tell you to have in church- friends. Over the past six years, that I have been where I am, I have tried to organize activities at church, join things in the stake, talk to people about their interests, open up about myself, and everything that the church says to do to make and strengthen friendships. It hasn't worked. I just don't connect. Is there some extra advice that you can give me about making friends? So far I attend mutual regularly, I go to youth activities, I go to the dances, I go to seminary, I participate in class. Is there anything else that I can do without changing myself? or should I accept the fact that these girls will never be my friends, and move on?

- Tonks




Dear Tonks,

(Interesting name, btw.)

Everyone needs friends.  President Hinckley said that.

Every group has clicks; small groups who are more likely to associate because of the things they have in common.

Where I live it's the girls at Church you would fit in with and the swim team that would make fun of you for loving the things you do.

The best way to make a friend, of course, is to be a friend.  Unless someone's behavior is bad one should not change who they are.  And even them it's best to make that change for yourself, not for others.

Will you ever be part of this particular click at Church?

Probably not.

But as people get older their interests change and along with that their group of friends can change, too.  You may find one day that you and some of these girls have much more in common than you once did.

At that moment the best thing for you to do will be to be forgiving and open to new friendships.
Right now I think you should ask these leaders why you didn't get invited to Group Scripture Study and to get ready for the Prom.  I think the answer could be quite educational for both them and you.

In fact, I hope you'll let me know how that conversation goes.

There's power in moving on, but there's even more power in information ... and even more power in inviting your new friends to Church.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I have decided to stop worrying about having friends in my word for a few reasons. I'm going to college next year, these girls aren't going to be there, and even if they are, it's highly unlikely that I will see them if I don't really want to at BYU. Contrary to what my Young Women's leaders say, Friends aren't necessary for a strong testimony. If I focus on Christ, and less on how other people treat me, I'll still look forward to church. I just have to try harder.

Lastly, I talked to two other girls who attend BYU and BYU Hawaii. They had the same problem as I'm having now. One girl even left our ward 2 years early to go to the YAG. It's unlikely that I will find a solution where they didn't, and the search for one will only frustrate me and stand in my way of growing closer to Christ.

I talked to my leaders about inclusion, and how there were so many cliques. I don't think that they realized what they were doing. They probably thought that all of the girls were really close because the clique encompassed so many people. They have decided to look at their rosters and invite everyone if they're having a YW sleepover, or makeover night, or something like that.

As to inviting my friends to church, all of my friends are my friends because of what kind of people they are. They all act like Mormons, even if they aren't. They're even more rigid on dress codes, keeping the Sabbath day holy, and their intake of media than most Mormon families are. Because they are so active in their churches, they decline going to our church. Some of them have been interested, but their families have said no, so it isn't the right time in their lives to accept the gospel. I can only hope that when they're older, and they question their religion, they will remember me and our church.

Even though I have given up on befriending the girls in my stake, I know not everyone is like that. However, a lot of people are. These people will be with me throughout my life: the kind that are so insecure that they manipulate their world to make people like, or act like, they like them. How do I handle and deal with these people effectively. I will likely have these people as roommates in college, as visiting teaching companions, as coworkers, as mission companions. How do I handle them so that it's a pleasant experience for everyone.

Thanks,

- Tonks




Dear Tonks,

I believe in killing with kindness. You'll never regret it and will always have a reason to feel good about yourself.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks, I've actually been made secretary of the class. That has helped a lot because I'm able to talk to the leaders more, and I actually know how to serve and what needs to be done.

- Tonks




Dear Tonks,

Wonderful!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

When Your Boyfriend Wants to Serve a Mission

Dear Bro Jo,

I recently discovered your blog and not only did I find it refreshing, but encouraging, especially in a world that is often confusing for young people.

I am 19 and about to start my sophomore year at BYU-Idaho.

My "boyfriend" and I recently broke up prior to his serving a mission.

I say "boyfriend" in quotations because we weren't exactly together, nor were we apart. His roommates called it "unofficially official."

We met at a youth retreat when we were 12. His family had just moved into my area and he was new - naturally, I wanted him to feel welcome.

I actually became better friends with his sister first, who is older than us. We were nothing more than good friends until I left for a summer job working at a wilderness outfitter in the middle of the woods, almost devoid of good cell reception. I gave him my address, because the internet there goes in and out and so I was left to writing letters to those I wanted to stay in contact with.

We wrote letters all summer long and then we school came, we decided to continue writing because we enjoyed it so much. He headed off to BYU Provo,

I went to Rexburg, and we went on our merry ways. We saw each other a few times during the semester when I would come down to visit family, and it was usually with his sister. As time went by, we started to spend more time specifically just the two of us. Eventually, it became apparent that something was happening between us.

We talked it over and decided that our situation was just too difficult to make a relationship work between us - we were going to different schools, he was headed on a mission soon, and we both are very dedicated to our schooling.

He took 17 credits last semester and worked two jobs, and I also had a taxing schedule as I prepared to take the prereqs for my degree program.

We decided that we didn't want to abandon the good friendship we had, so we chose to "take it as it came". We spent the semester calling each other, and occasionally hanging out when I visited on long weekends.

We hung out a bit before he entered the MTC, casually playing one-on-one basketball on BYU campus and Skyping when I left to go home for the summer.

Before he left, we determined we still had feelings for each other, despite the fact that acting on those feelings would be unwise. He said that he felt that he wasn't "mature" enough for me.

Now, this isn't the first time I've gotten that. I've always had older friends and boyfriends because they seemed to understand me better.

But he is different - finally, someone my own age I can talk to! I felt that because of my maturity, it was good for me - we balance each other out nicely. I help him to mature, he helps me to relax.

I told him that, but he didn't seemed satisfied.

Personally, I think it was mission nerves and a fear of being "dear John-ed". He did say he didn't want to limit me by asking me to wait for him, and I agree. After all, we are both going to change a lot in 2 years.

We agreed to keep writing, though. Now he's in the MTC, preparing to enter the field soon.

I'm working hard at my summer job, preparing to return to school soon.

But I can't let him go.

I just don't want to put myself out there and I'm afraid of what's going to happen socially when I return to school. I know he wants me to date around and I know it's probably best for me, but I just don't want to.

We weren't in a very steady relationship - we didn't even hold hands yet. Yet, I can't seem to pull myself away from him. I certainly don't want to distract him, heaven forbid. But then I'm stuck with myself at the end of the day, still wanting to be with him, yet not wanting to limit myself.

Should I let him go?

Many thanks,

- Mystified in Minnesota




Dear MM,

Yes.

- Bro Jo



Okay.  Since you're still reading I'll give you a little more.

Let him go.

Date when asked.

Realize that you have no boyfriend, and you need to be looking for a Good Eternal Companion.

No, don't throw away this experience; and no, don't treat first dates as marriage proposals.

When he writes write him back, but not more than once a month.  Keep your letters missionary appropriate.

If you're still single and he's still interested when he comes home,  by all means date him.

But realize that statistically you two won't end up together.

And that's okay.

There's no such thing as only one person out there for you.  Or for him.

So be happy with what you've had and enjoyed,  and move on.

For his sake.  And for yours.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for being a much-needed voice of reason.

- MM




Dear MM,

That's kinder than I deserve, but thank you.

Cheers,

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 3, 2017

Reachers and Settlers - Revisited

Dear Bro Jo,

I recently got married (considering the whole Dear John experience I had in the process of that, I’m sure I’ll send you something about that later for current and potential missionary girlfriends to read, but that’s a story for another day). The title of your post "Do Relationships Boil Down to "Reachers" and "Settlers" made me think of something my husband and I discussed the other day (I tried commenting on the post, but it was too long): When it comes to true and ideal love, I think both spouses are Reachers AND Settlers.

I love my husband dearly, there are so many things about him that amaze me and that I hope to someday emulate. He has told me the same applies to him. In that sense, we are both reachers.

However, there are definite things about each other that differ from what we had had in mind or hoped for during our single days, things that we had to "sacrifice" when we married each other. Sometimes those traits (or the lack thereof) drive us crazy at times, but we each decided that though they would have been nice perks, they were not absolutely necessary. I'll give some examples.

1. I feel a tad guilty about this, but I am not a fantastic cook. I am capable of following a recipe, but I have no way of knowing if it's a good recipe until I make it, and I have zero instincts about how to improvise in the kitchen or how to improve/fix a recipe. A wife that can't cook well?? Sometimes, he gets home from work/school, he has to rescue my failed cooking attempts. Could have been a deal breaker for him, but it wasn't, and I'm so glad. Because it's something I know he secretly hopes for, I'm always working to improve on it though.

2. My husband (bless his heart) is super-duper messy. I am a very type A, organized person. It doesn't have to be pristinely tidy, but I need to be able to know where stuff is and not dig through random piles of stuff. So when he's gone, I often end up sorting all of his/our stuff that has been left around the house. But you know what? It's okay.

3. I adore music and singing. In middle and high school, it was honestly my life. My previous boyfriend of four years (my husband and I have only been together for eight months) was a fantastic singer. He would serenade me by singing and playing his guitar or the piano, we did duets sometimes, and singing along in the car was a really positive experience. It was romantic! My husband, however, is mildly tone deaf. Sometimes listening to him sing in the car is actually downright painful. I'll be honest, this was almost a deal breaker for me. But he tries so hard, and he loves me more than anything. He even asked me to teach him how to sing better (including how to do the different parts for church hymns). And we both want our children to be taught music and for our home to be filled with it.

4. My husband is a very active person. He loves hiking the mountains we have in the area, and doing similarly rigorous things. Not only does he like hiking, but he loves doing the toughest hikes he can find, always challenging himself. He'd always envisioned someone who would "climb every mountain" with him, and go on these strenuous adventures. In fact, he'd dumped girls in the past because they weren't outdoorsy/adventurous/fit enough. So when I learned this early in our relationship, I got really scared because I have an autoimmune disorder that gives me such joint pain and fatigue that such hikes are nearly impossible for me (or at least very painful when I go, and then rendering me incapable of walking for up to 1-2 days afterwards). Finally, I told him. It was very disheartening news for him, and I'm sure he wishes I were capable, but he decided that this was not something of eternal significance (as he should). I love the outdoors though, and we go on excursions more on my level when my health permits it, and when he gets a hankering to do something more difficult, I encourage him to go with his friends, and take all the time he wants.

Though there are many things we are amazed by about each other, there were several things towards the top of our "My spouse must be" lists that the other simply does not have. I "settled" for a man who is messy and can't carry a tune to save his life. He "settled" for a woman who can't hike mountains or even cook well. One way we knew it was true love was our own tendencies to look past things like these, and judge based on what the other person's heart was like instead. As we did so, we discovered that we were actually Reaching. I reached for a man who serves me CONSTANTLY, often paying attention to my needs more than I do. I reached for a man who somehow came out amazingly responsible, spiritual, healthy, and level-headed, despite a somewhat bumpy upbringing. I reached for a man who is more loving and affectionate than I ever had dreamed of. Things he has mentioned he "reached" for with me are my love of (and talent with) children, my ambition, how physically hardworking/self-sacrificing I am despite my health challenges, and my devotion to the Gospel.

True and eternal love isn't finding the "perfect spouse" who fits every box you had on your checklist in Young Women's or Young Men's. Odds are that you won't find that person. Newsflash, your spouse won't be perfect, objectively OR subjectively. Even if they checked every box, they will still have other flaws. True and eternal love is about finding someone who you end up rewriting your checklist for because you realize what's most important to you.


Love,

- Melody





Dear Melody,

So very happy for you!

A good marriage is a lot of work and sacrifice ... and worth all of the effort we can give.

Thank you for the email and sharing what you've learned.

All the best,

- Bro Jo