Things to know

Regularly read by 50,000+ readers in over 140 countries around the world, "Dear Bro Jo" is published several times a month.

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, "Dear Bro Jo" is not an LDS Church website. (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, February 24, 2017

Isn't It Worth the Risk?

Dear Bro. Jo,

There's this guy that I really adore and keeps unwittingly doing things that make me like him all the more.

I want to act on this; talk to him more often and invite him over for dinner (because the way to a man's heart is through his stomach) but i don't want to seem like I'm pouncing at him. I'd also hate it if he turned me down.

I've never had a boyfriend or a relationship like that so I second guess every move I make, not knowing how I should act.

So the questions is if I do proceed should I do so with caution or throw caution to the wind? How do I proceed?

I know anything valuable is worth working for I just seem to pay one way or another for everything I have.

- Cautious College Chick

P.S. Whenever I see you name I always want to think JoBro because I'm a big Jonas brothers fan.

PPS: I debated on sending this for a while because I feel dumb asking this.

Dear CCC,

Don't feel dumb.  Romance is difficult, and we live in a world where there's a lot of bad information available.  Mix that with the lack of training in our culture, and it can be tough for anyone to know what to do.

The Jonas Brothers are great.  (Or so I'm told; not really what I'm in to, but hey!  More power to you.)  I was nicknamed “Bro Jo” (short for “Brother Johnston”) by one of my seminary students nearly 20 years ago.

My personal opinion is that you sound so desperate for this guy to like you that you're breaking to many rules.  Not honor code stuff, but the unwritten rules for how to woo and be wooed.

Yes, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but you don't invite a guy over to dinner until AFTER you're in a committed relationship.  Instead you make him treats, or even better:  encourage him to take you on a picnic date where you'll provide the meal.

See, that's the next step for you.  You need to get him to DATE you.

And that requires some communication on your part.

Don't freak out!

All you have to do is say what you mean.

"Hey.  We've been pals for a while and the thing is, I like you.  I've been waiting for you to ask me out, and I'm done waiting.  So?  Are you going to ask me out or not?"

You're going to have to put it on the line.

And I can hear you saying:  "What if I lose him forever?  What if he doesn't ask me out?"

Well, then, friend, the truth is he was never going to.  Better to know that now than to waste the next however long waiting for something that's never going to happen.

As I see it, this is a win-win for you.

Worst case scenario, he's not smart enough to know how awesome you are.

Best case scenario . . . well, one step at a time, shall we?

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Separating the Relationship from the Project

Dear Bro Jo,

Recently I have come across your blog and have been reading it like CRAZY!

Growing up in an LDS culture with the standards we have, dating can be a tricky thing to go through. I just want to start by saying thank you for doing what you are doing by helping thousands of people with their relationship problems. You are an amazing man!

So. There is this boy. (I know, by this point that must be your favorite phrase). And he's wonderful. (Also must be another one of your favorite phrases at this point).

I've known him since the seventh grade back when he was a very awkward, albeit very intriguing, boy.

Sophomore year in high school I started going through some rough patches and he began to morph from "acquaintance" into my closest confidant.

I know you're views on boys and girls being best friends, and I am with you all the way!

I knew when he started gravitating closer to me that he was crushing hard.

We went on a few Casual Dates and I grew to like him, too.

Fast forwarding to senior year in high school.

That year was rough on me, Bro Jo, I'm not gonna lie.

I started to develop serious health problems that left me in bed clutching a heating pad all day long.

After I went through surgery, this boy (We shall call him Tim), was so amazing!

We are talking Jamba-Juice-runs-holding-my-hair-when-I'm-throwing-up amazing.

I know, that's a bit gross, but he was willing to do all of it without me even asking.

We still dated other people (I dated a lot of people because apparently lots of boys like me :P), but always came back to each other every three or so dates.

Then that same year, my mom passed away.

She had had cancer for the last seven years and went downhill very quickly once chemo stopped being effective.

When I say that I wouldn't have made it without Tim, I'm being quite literal.

I started having very serious suicidal and self-harm thoughts. (I later learned through therapy that my problems go back before my mom died).

Tim was there for me when I didn't want to be there for myself.

I stopped dating because I stopped trusting people.

I shrank back into my shell and dissolved into my pain.

But Tim was the one who kept me alive when all I wanted was to die.

He brought me back to my Heavenly Father by sharing scriptures and encouraged me to go to the temple as often as I could.

He was my rock.

I know I probably should have turned to my family, but all of them were all lost in their own pain to be of any help to me. I couldn't stand to be in my house where she died, so Tim took me to get ice cream and set up movie parties with our mutual friends.

I know that Tim needs to go on a mission, and I fully support that.

In fact, I'm the reason he is going on a mission.

Very recently he told me that he has been struggling with a masturbation and pornography addiction that began when he was only ten years old.

He told me that falling in love with me motivated him to go see his bishop about this problem and he has been working extremely hard to fix his problem ever since.

I set a standard for myself waaaay back when I was twelve that I would marry a returned missionary.

I understand that some people can't go for legitimate reasons and I could accept that. But I know that Tim can become worthy before the cutoff date.

I believe in him and I believe in a future with him. I don't think most couples go through such trials before they are even engaged, and I know that it's made us closer.

I have since moved three hours away to college and am learning to trust people again and begin dating.

I get to see Tim whenever I come back home for breaks and we email and talk on the phone occasionally.

My question I guess is:  what is your advice is for me to encourage Tim in his efforts to break his serious addiction?

He hasn't told his parents about it, and his Bishop believes that this is best for the situation.

That being said, I'm the only one helping him through this besides God and the Bishop.

Is there anything I can do to help him in this addiction?

How can I show him that I am not abandoning him because of his addiction when I date other guys?

If he can't go on a mission because of his addiction is it still okay to date him?

Should I date him exclusively after that time?

Any advice on learning how to trust people again and begin dating?

Thanks for all of your help!

- Supportive but Concerned

Dear Concerned,

I've been thinking about your email a lot ...

First off, I've never said that Guys and Girls can't or shouldn't be Best Friends.  Sister Jo is my Best Friend!

What I've said is that Guys and Girls can't stay Best Friends without it either ending up in romance or them seriously scaling back the friendship because they're in a relationship with someone else who, like Sister Jo is for me, will become that person's New Best Friend.

For you, I think the best way to learn to trust people again is to be around people you can trust.

Tim sounds like a great guy!  I appreciate all he's done for you!

But I stand by my previous and oft repeated advice:  don't marry, stay or even get in a serious relationship with a "not yet repentant and recovered addict".

Further, you shouldn't be Serious Single Dating someone that just isn't marriage material at this time.

I think it's great that you've inspired Tim to fight this, and I join you in praying for his success, but he is neither your child nor your project.

Tim will need to stand on his own feet as he seeks to make things right.

You can't run if you won't at some point set the crutch aside.

Be supportive with prayer and genuine concern. But stop dating him.

If the hope of missionary service or the realization that things are over with you until he gets his act together aren't enough to get him to finally change his habits, then he'll need to dig deeper and find something else, and that dear Sister, is the Love of the Savior.

Suggest to "Tim" that he begin attending the Church's Addiction Recovery Program in his Stake.  (Honestly, the program is so informative and insightful that I think All Of Us should go through it at some point.)

Continue to listen to him, to be his friend, and to let him know that you love an appreciate him.

But never base a relationship on someone's need for serious help or your need to "change their life".

- Bro Jo

Monday, February 20, 2017

The "Hey sup" Text

Dear Bro Jo,


So question for you. I'll keep it short.

Recently I have given my number to a couple of guys who have asked.

The first one has only texted me things like "Hey" or" what's up?", which I have so far ignored. I'm not going to be his texting buddy. And this weekend the second guy asked for my number he was very vague about when he would have time to do something together. Today he texted me "Hey sup"

So I guess my question is should I just continue to ignore the texts?

If they get around to actually get around to asking me out great. If not then oh well?

Also if they ask when I see them around why I haven't answered what should I say?


- M

Dear M,

As much as this old guy is not a fan of it, texting is how people communicate now.  

While I still maintain that personal communication (like date requests and breakups) doesn't belong in a text, an initial "what's up" shouldn't just be ignored.

I think a more appropriate and effective response would be to say "nothing much here; why don't you give me a call".

And, yes, if a guy doesn't actually ask you out, especially if you've told him that he should, then "oh well" - his loss!

Which gets to your last question.  When someone complains of your lack of response to their Very Lame" attempt at communication, see it as a teaching opportunity.  Don't condescend or lecture, simply say "I think I'm worth the effort of a phone call or to be asked out in person; don't you agree?"

Then, if you really want results, touch him on the arm and tell him that you're hoping he'll take the hint and give you a call.

After all, you can't expect people to live up to your expectations and standards if they have no idea what those expectations and standards are.

- Bro Jo

Friday, February 17, 2017

Should He Start Dating?

Dear Bro Jo,

I recently found this blog (looking for LDS dating advice) and I think I can step outside of my comfort zone now.

I am 17 years old and I have always been quiet and reserved, just by nature, so it's hard for me to get out there. I've never been out on a date and don't have many friends outside of my ward because of it. I have been trying harder recently though by going to the dances more frequently but, I feel like girls just aren't eager to get to know me because of my introversion. I don't think it's because of my physical appearance either because I know girls aren't as vain as us guys. (Not bragging, but I have been told I have some positive qualities both physical and spiritual).

I feel like I'm missing something important, like confidence. Should I even try to go for it?

I know you probably get this a lot but, what can a quiet guy like me do to get a nice, decent girl to go on a date with him? Any other tips or advice?

Love the blog BTW.


The Quiet One

Dear Quiet,

Of course I think you should "go for it".

It's pretty normal and natural to apprehensive about dating.

That's why I recommend that people your age go on Casual Group Dates.

Where you're at in life, I think dating should be a no-pressure, very simple, get to know people better activity.  Kind of like a Priest-Laurel activity . . . without leaders.

Start by getting a good Dating Buddy; someone who shares your standards (even if he's not LDS) and won't push you or your date to be or do anything unbecoming a future missionary.

Lastly, the trick to getting to know people better is to learn to become a good listener.  Don't grill them like you're a detective in a cop show, just ask sincere questions about the things they like and do; listen to what they say, and ask relative follow-up questions when appropriate.

Relax and have fun.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

When You're Not Feeling the Spirit

Bro Jo

Hello again, for some reason you end up being a good person to turn to when I need advice that is unbiased.

I am just struggling a lot right now and I am not sure where to turn. I keep trying to turn to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ but I am just not feeling the comfort and help from them.

Last time I emailed you it was about a boy that I was seriously dating. He and I ended up I guess I would say 'pre-engaged' rings were chosen, dates were picked, and plans were starting to be made. However that fell apart which definitely turned out to be for the best. He was selfish and it would not have been as good a marriage as I know I will have someday.

That is not what I am struggling with. I am having such a hard time because I feel like I have spend as much of my 27 years of life doing as much as I can to be the best I can be and I don't see why the eternal blessings of happiness and family are not available to me.

There seem to be no options for dating in my life at all and my friends keep getting married and never have time to even talk to me after that let alone spend time with me.

I just don't know how much longer I can keep being faithful, I am losing faith that what I am doing to be the best I can is worth it. All I have ever wanted in my life is to be the best wife and mother I can be, it was what I was created to do, I know that with my whole heart. But I don't get to do that and I don't understand why.

I am also really struggling with wanting the physical aspects of a relationship. Frankly I am sick of being denied that because the guys I know are being so dumb and are addicted to porn so they don't have the desire to get married.

I just have such a hard time watching people I know leave the church and find love and have beautiful families and as a strong faithful member I am denied that.

I have struggled a little with some sins that have been worked out with my bishop, and right now the temptation to return to them is very very strong. I'm trying my best to be strong.

I will admit that I haven't been doing as much as I could be lately to stay close to The Lord I haven't attended the temple in a couple of months (something that I need to change quickly) and even though I study my scriptures and pray daily I haven't put as much heart into it as I probably should. So I know that I have distanced myself somewhat from the spirit. And I plan in changing that.

However in many of my prayers I beg Heavenly Father for comfort and peace and just to feel his love for me. And I don't feel it. I want to so badly but I just don't feel it. I feel very abandoned right now and I don't know what to do about it.

Sorry I just needed to vent to someone and get some things off of my chest. I am just so so tired of being lonely constantly, it is the worst feeling in the world. Any advice you might be able to give would be good. Thanks.


Dear Lonely,

I appreciate the kind words . . . but ALL of my opinions are biased, and I can never offer the comfort and help that comes from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

You're always welcome to vent to me if you need.

And you know I'll always give you my unfiltered opinion . . . because that's how I show that I care.

I can understand that being unmarried at 27 can be frustrating . . . especially in the Church . . .

But life is a marathon, dear sister, not a sprint, and while 27 years seems like a long time, in the grand scheme of our time here and the eternities . . . well, it's not.

Your friends who are leaving and marrying outside the Church SEEM happy . . . but I promise you that all is not dancing trees and singing flowers.  I'm happy for them, and you should be, too, but their happiness, like their marriage and their families, are temporary.  And look at what they've given up!

No blessings of the Temple.

No promise that the Spirit can be with them all of the time.

No priesthood in their home.

Where is their prophetic guidance?

What about Family Home Evening?

Are their lives blessed by Family Prayer?  Do they have the calming influence of Family Scripture Study and personal revelation?

And I bet, that when you really think about it, you'll be able to add quite a bit to this list.

One last thing that we must all remember regarding feelings of comfort and love from Heavenly Father and Christ:  those feelings are always expressed by them; whether or not we allow ourselves to know of Their love is up to us.  We can't be doing things in our lives that drive the Spirit away and then complain that we can't feel it, right?

Look, you're a good person who's dealing with some very real trials; you're not alone.

I share your frustration with the quantity of men who have allowed pornography, addiction, and other issues, to keep them from the same blessings you seek.  (It's not just a "guy problem", by the way.)

No one should expect you to be positive all of the time, but if you can lose yourself in service to others it will help you feel what you need to feel and deal with life's most difficult challenges.

I promise.

God bless you.

- Bro Jo

Monday, February 13, 2017

New-member Dating Questions

Dear Bro Jo,

I'd like to first start off by saying I really enjoy reading your blog. I'm 17 and I have just recently come upon The Church (I'm getting baptized this weekend). So being at this age and this stage in joining the church, and without much guidance on the topic of relationships from the church's view (not only relationships but the social dynamics in the church as well), your blog really helps to give insight and help me understand these things and these views, as I don't have any family or close friends that are members to really observe or learn from, so thank you for that!

After reading your blog for a while I had a few questions.

On the right hand side of the website in the "dating rules for teens" section it says "date in groups of 2 or more couples" and "no dating the same person twice in a row." These two statements stood out to me and were confusing and odd to me.

So my first question was: I could understand for a young teen to need to date in a group, but as teens get older and more mature it seems like they would be okay with dating on their own (However this may just be me being used to the normal dating and relationship ways of most teenagers today), so what age (if any) would you say was acceptable for a 1-on-1 date?

Secondly, how would you pursue a relationship with a person if you were simply dating different people every time and were unable to continually date someone? I guess my only guess of the answer to these questions are maybe how you define "dating" and "in a relationship."

And my last question is that in a recent post you responded to a girl who was waiting for a missionary, and you stated that she should continue dating other people while he was gone and then maybe try to purse something once he returned. You also said that someone should not wait for a missionary unless some serious guarantee is in place. What would you constitute as a reasonable situation to wait for a missionary?

Thank you very much for your time and response!

- Name Withheld

Dear NW,

Congratulations on your baptism!

The purpose of Serious Single Dating is to find a spouse.  Until we're at the age where we should be doing that, we should Casual Group Date.

Getting in "relationships" while we're in our teens invites drama, temptation, heart ache and limits our fun and opportunities.

One-on-one dates,  IMO, are something a young man should save for after his mission, and a young woman should save at least until she's graduated high school (or the local cultural equivalent).

I think you've identified the issue well.

People often say they are "dating" but they never actually go out on dates.

A date needs a Plan, the guys to Pick Up their dates (that's what a proper escort does), and to Pay for anything that you've invited your date to do.  (That does not mean that a Date needs to be expensive.  Some of the best dates the Jo Boys have gone on involved a hike and a picnic. )

As for missionaries ... in my opinion there are no circumstances where a young woman (or young man, even with all of the sisters out there) should "wait" for a missionary.

- Bro Jo

Friday, February 10, 2017

Stepping Into Love - Part 3 of 3

Dear Bro Jo,

Well that one didn't work out. So I moved on. Thanks for saying "if he's not smart enough to be interested." I think that gave me the self-esteem to let it go because I'm worth finding another guy.

Anyway, I have a thing for cowboys... ;)

And there's a guy who might be one in my science class. I told him I liked his shirt this morning after class and he kinda blushed and gave me a fist bump before he left.

My question is: I'm a very honest person, and since I'm curious to know if he's a legit cowboy, that's the question that I would ask him next, something like, "Where are you from?"

If he says "Wyoming", for example, I'd ask if he grew up on a ranch.

I have a history of asking straightforward questions and it seems to scare people away. Is there some question that would be more in-tune with feminine wiles that I should ask?

Sorry if this question seems obscure, let me know if I should clarify.

And I'm so grateful your good advice is only an email away.


Dear Cowgirl,

Nope; that question is perfect.

But, you know, I think limiting your dating to only "guys who grew up on a ranch" is a bit too narrow.

Have fun!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Stepping Into Love - Part 2 of 3

Dear Bro Jo,

Since I last wrote you I've been ballroom dancing and country dancing with this guy.
He is a great dancer and very patient with yours truly, who is learning. He has asked me, I have not asked him as of yet,  but we just met there, so it wasn't strictly a date.

Also, he has a good female friend who he spends quite a bit of time with and they have fun and he dances with her a lot. I asked her tonight while he was gone whether they're in any kind of a non-serious to serious relationship. She said emphatically no. I dug a little deeper and asked whether she would if he wanted her to.

She said if he considered it she'd consider it, but when I asked if he was considering it, she said definitely not, again. I thought I got across the message that it was a private conversation and left, feeling pretty much over the moon that I'm in the clear as far as that's concerned. But they left early, together, and now I'm wondering if she might not just happen to mention something about the conversation or me liking him on their friendly walk home in the moonlight.

I realize that she probably didn't say anything, but there's always the possibility... and just today I was reading one of your columns where you said not to let the guy know you like him until after he's asked you out at least once.

So if Female Friend let the cat out of the bag, and My Guy feels awkward around me the next time we meet, what do I do?

I can't deny that I like him, but can I kind of neutralize the situation so that he feels that he's in control?

I really, really don't want to let this guy go out of any carelessness on mine or anyone else's part, but I'm worried. I really would like this relationship to work out if at all possible.

We are a lot alike and I'm in love.

~Working It Out

Dear Working,

Let me clarify:  you shouldn't go up to a guy who's never asked you out and say "hey, we hardly know each other, but I really like you"; but there's nothing wrong with a mutual friend going up to a guy and saying "hey, my friend really likes you; you should ask her out".

Nor is there anything wrong with going up to a guy you know and saying "hey, you should ask me on a date".

The difference is subtle.

I think you made a mistake by "hanging out" (showing up where he happened to be with another girl, even though you were invited).  It may help a bit that his "girl-buddy" made the same mistake (I think he's in love with her, or could be, by the way).

I think the next time he invites you somewhere you need to say "are you asking me out on a date?".  If he says "yes", make sure he Plans, Picks up and Pays.  If he says "no", then you should politely decline the invitation.

And move on.

If he doesn't extend any kind of invitation in the next week, I'd hit him with "so . . . are you ever going to ask me on a date?"

In-love or not, if he's not smart enough to be interested (and there-by take you on dates), then you're wasting your time.

Good luck!

(And let me know how it goes!)

- Bro Jo

Monday, February 6, 2017

Stepping Into Love - Part 1 of 3

Dear Bro Jo,

I am a college freshman, ready and able to fall in love and become the help-meet of a truly wonderful young man.

I think I've found one. He makes me happy and I love spending time around him. He took time out of his busy schedule to stop in the hallway and call my name until I saw him, then exchange a few words with me. There was a happy glow surrounding the rest of my day because I saw him and heard his voice.

Bro Jo, I think I'm falling in love. I haven't known him for very long, and we don't see each other as often as I would like, but I don't want to give up on the feeling like I would have in high school, because it was "just a crush." He is an RM, worthy and in control of his life. I've read your blog and your book on YSA relationships, but I want some personal advice on what I can do. I'm excited about learning to love him more than I love myself. I'm thrilled to learn all about him and find ways to serve him. I don't want to lose my head,  and do things that aren't wise or good for both of us. I do want to show him that I am the kind of girl that he wants to know more about ;) I'm shaking in my shoes because I'm now at the age where serious relationships are encouraged.

Please give me some of your words of wisdom as I embark into the scary world of "grown-up relationships". And do you think that my feelings could be the sign of something more mature than a high school crush?

Thank you so much,

~Taking it Slow

Dear Taking it Slow,

As grandma said, when you know, you'll know.

For now you're on the right track.

You'll need to put some things in motion, but you're right not to rush just yet.
A great way to let him know you're interested and that he should make seeing you more of a priority is . . . well, food.

There was this girl I liked once.  She and I worked at the same place.  We flirted from time to time, but nothing ever came of it.  I thought she wasn't really interested (I didn't realize at the time she was just shy.)

One day she brought me brownies that she had made.  I figured that was a clear "go ahead and ask me out" signal, and was planning to do just that.

 A couple days later I was going to call her and I got a care package in the mail from a girl I was REALLY interested in but thought I didn't have a chance. The care package had the best brownies I'd ever tasted.

I asked that girl out instead.

We now call her Sister Jo.

The point isn't so much the food, but the sign that there is interest and concern.

Call it old fashioned, but there's still some truth to "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach".

- Bro Jo

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Depression - Part 2 of 2

Dear Bro Jo-

Thanks for the reply.  Service really does seem to help, I just have to make a conscious decision to act and not just be so passive.  As far as the self-harming goes, I did not mention it to my Bishop.  But, I have not cut in a very long time.  It was definitely an addiction in the past, but I have tried really hard to overcome it.  But like any addiction, I still have those moments when it's all I think about and I'm really tempted to cut.  I wish there was more of a support for this, in a helpful way and not just a my life sucks so I'm going to cut way.  But I now know and understand that it's not going to help me at all in the long run, and I try to focus on other coping strategies instead.  And I am getting professional help for the depression, and know myself well enough to know when I need to be around others or get out of the house and away from the temptation. 

As far as what's troubling me, I'm not even sure what to say.  Bro Jo, my life is super complicated, and a lot of the time I don't even know how to make sense of it.  I know the gospel and the Atonement are crucial to finding peace in my life, but sometimes it just seems so impossible.  Sometimes just taking that first step is so overwhelming that I give up before I have a chance to fail.  I have a testimony, it's just not as strong as it could or should be.  And then there is a little piece of me that is afraid to try, because if this doesn't work then nothing will, and then where does that leave me?  Or if it doesn't work for me, that means I am the problem and I'm not good enough.  Honestly, I think a lot of it comes from a difficult childhood, always trying to earn my parents' love and never feeling like I was good enough, and then blaming myself when their relationship struggled.  I guess I have a huge fear of failure, mixed with a fear of never being good enough.  And then that paralyzes me, and I give up before I have a chance to really fail and confirm that fear.

But I also feel like I am in a completely different place than I was when I wrote that last email.  Not better or worse exactly, just different.  (And the rest of the email I'm not sure about you sharing publicly....)  The last two weeks have been some of the hardest, most heart wrenching weeks of my life, but they've also helped me realize that the Lord never abandoned me and that I friends that care deeply about me.  

My father attempted suicide last weekend.  It was such a shock to get the phone call from my mom (my parents live in another state) and at the same time I wasn't all that surprised.  Depression runs in my family and my dad has it bad.  But it made for a long and difficult week.  I have gone through a roller coaster of emotions in the last few days, but the one that I can't seem to shake is anger.  I am so angry at him and his choice.  Yet that quickly turns to guilt because I know I need to be supportive.  I work in the psych field; I know what the literature says about this.  And a suicide survivor doesn't need people angry at him.  He needs support and love and help.  But how do I balance that with my own emotions?  Especially when he didn't want to talk to any of us for several days?  I have such a hard time reconciling those conflicting feelings.

Yet at the same time, this terrible thing has helped me realized how much the Lord is in control and that people do care about me and that I do have friends here that love me.  I spent the weekend before helping my siblings and visiting my grandpa.  I went to stake conference with my sister and her family where the message seemed to be about steadfastness, and remaining faithful in our "but if not" moments.  Then when I got the phone call before class last Monday, I had friends step in and take care of me, give me a priesthood blessing, tell the teacher why I couldn't stay in class, and find another professor to talk to me for the next two hours and process what was happening.  These friends stood by me all week and were supportive and let me know that whatever I was feeling was okay.  They've helped me realize that I'm not a burden.  They've told me countless times that I've been through a traumatic event and not only did I need to take care of myself, but I deserved it.  I deserved to be taken care of.  That was huge for me.

I've always had a complicated relationship with my dad.  Honestly, I think that's why I have a hard time accepting the Lord's love.  It's hard for me to understand how a father (who I can't even see) can love me so perfectly and unconditionally when my own family life is such a mess.  Like I said, I felt like I had to earn my parents' love, especially love from my dad.  He and my mom split up for several years and he was inactive for even longer, and I blamed myself for that.  I felt like if I was better, that wouldn't have happened.  Now, lots of therapy has helped that, but those thought patterns still pop up.  And it makes it so hard to trust that other people love me even when I'm not perfect.

I don't really know what to do.  I finally talked to my dad yesterday, one week after the attempt, but I'm not ready to have a relationship again.  I am so angry and hurt, yet I want to be supportive.  But I'm also realizing that I'm not a five year old anymore, and that this time I have a choice of how much I'm going to let this affect my life.  And through it all, I know the Lord was with me.  I felt so calm Monday night after my friend gave me the blessing, and I know it was because of the Lord.  I just have a hard time holding onto that faith and that conviction.  I tend to bury myself in my homework instead of dealing with the anger and emotions.  But that also pulls me away from the Spirit because I can't as easily cross those spiritual things off my "to do" list.

I'm not really sure why I've written all this.  I'm not sure if it answers your question of what's really going on.  Clearly the depression was severe before this, but in a way this hard thing helped me realize again that the Lord is in control.  I don't know what will happen.  I don't know what I want to happen with my dad.  But I think the gospel can provide the peace in the meantime.  And until I figure it out, I guess I just have to keep getting out of bed each morning and putting one foot ahead of the other and know that someday something will happen and it will be okay.

Thanks for caring and listening!  This ended up being a super long email.

- Feeling

Dear Feeling,

Sometimes it's therapeutic just to write stuff down . . . I know that helps me from time to time.

While you're right that now may not be the time to tell your father how angry he has made you, I also think you're entitled to feel angry, hurt, frustrated, or anything else.  Those are very real, very human, responses.

It doesn't mean you love him any less.  On the contrary.  You feel the way you do BECAUSE you love him.

So Be Angry! 

Get it all out in emails to me or your journal or conversations with your therapist.  Whatever it takes.

Put on a happy face for your father, but allow yourself to deal with what you need to deal with.

Life hurts.  And it can be messy.

And, this is the thing, little sister, that's okay.

Because you're right:  you're NOT a burden, and your Heavenly Father DOES always love you.

You don't have to do anything to deserve that love; and there's nothing you can do that will ever send that love away.

It's unconditional.

And that's awesome.

Relationships can wait.

And I agree with you:  the Gospel can provide peace . . . especially when we need it most.

Always here for you,

- Bro Jo