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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.


- NW

Dear NW,

That's excellent!

And me too, NW.

Me, too.

- Bro Jo

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