03306_000_008The following situations and responses from New Era readers are to provide perspective and insight. These suggestions are from youth and should not be considered counsel from the General Authorities or pronouncements of the Church.
I’ve been dating a guy for two years now. He is very sweet, kind, and good and is an active Latter-day Saint. We are very close to one another and have talked about marriage quite often. The problem is this: I feel he wants to go on a mission and I’d like to see him go. But he says he doesn’t want to go for fear I won’t wait for two years. I’m confused as to what to do. I’ve been told to “let him decide himself,” and “don’t push him into it or he will hate it even if he does go.” Should I keep quiet and let him decide or encourage him and bring the subject up regularly? Please help.
“Like you I was going out with a boy, and we were quite serious. We also talked about marriage and made plans. The only difference was that all our plans included his mission. At times it was hard thinking of waiting for him. He wanted me to keep going on with my life but never to forget him. He always told me that Heavenly Father would help us if we went to him in prayer. Sometimes I would try to encourage him; sometimes it was hard to keep from asking him not to go. The thing that helped me realize the importance for boys to serve missions was remembering that I’m a convert, and I owe much of my joy to the two elders who taught me.
“My boyfriend is now serving his mission in California and has been gone seven months. We have both had a chance to grow, and the time has gone fast.
“I would encourage any girl who has a boyfriend to encourage him to serve a mission. He might be the only one who can reach someone special and help him to return to his Father in heaven.”
Karlene Fountain Las Vegas, Nevada
“I’m only 11, but I believe that it is important to serve our Heavenly Father. If you really love this prospective elder, two years won’t be long to wait. If you bring this up regularly it might be called nagging, but if you don’t, in later years your friend might feel badly that he did not go on a mission. He should go to his bishop and talk this over with him. If you really love him, you’ll want him to go.”
Greg English Idaho Falls, Idaho
“How paradoxical, and yet how frequent, is this situation—he wants to marry her, and yet he isn’t sure she loves him enough to wait two years! It looks like they have their priorities mixed up. Encouragement from his girl friend to go on a mission is great, as long as she encourages him to go for the right reason. The Lord says that those in his service ought to do all things “with an eye single to the glory of God.” (D&C 4:5.) If a girl really has the best interests of her boyfriend in mind, she will encourage him first of all to be true to the Lord and to his testimony of the gospel. In my opinion, she would be unwise to deliver any ultimatums or to promise to marry him if he fills a mission. If he does go on a mission, it should be to serve the Lord and not to fulfill the requirements his girl friend has set down for marriage. He should be doing the right thing for the right reason.
Gordon Johnston Calgary, Alberta, Canada
“During the spring of 1972 I found myself in the dilemma of deciding to get married or to serve a two-year mission, After much consideration, prayer, visits to the bishop, and discussions with the girl I had chosen, I decided to serve my God. We concluded that if our union was meant to be, she would be there after my mission.
“Mission life seems to quicken the process of maturity. The young man grows into manhood, acquiring such qualities as self-discipline and the ability to work hard and enjoy his work. He learns how to budget finances effectively, how to really communicate with others, being mindful of their feelings, and how to reposition himself in others’ shoes and learn to love them despite their faults. He learns how to build confidence, character, and control, and most important in the case of marriage, he learns how to get along with a companion 24 hours a day. Aren’t these qualities that any good LDS girl would want in a husband? My mission has opened my eyes to many things I never before realized in regard to preparing for marriage.
Elder Jerry Hatton California Sacramento Mission
“I feel you should strongly encourage your friend to go on a mission. Do it with love and out of concern for him and for the building up of the kingdom of God.
“Every young man should prepare to go on a mission. Every young man should pray and ask the Lord whether or not he should go on a mission.
“It has taken me a while to know these things (I am 21 and just starting a mission), and one of the biggest helps to me was the encouragement I received from my girl friend. The people I teach, and I, will be eternally grateful to her for that.”
Elder M. Thomas Creighton Germany Frankfurt Mission
“In my opinion this is one of the most common thoughts among LDS youth in considering a mission. I find myself wondering at times also: Should I go? Will she wait? I feel that if two people truly love each other, a mission would be the real test of their relationship. Take, for instance, Jacob’s love for Rachel as recorded in Genesis. He labored for many years before he took Rachel as his wife and the years ‘seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.’ (Gen. 29:20.)
Peter Squires Santa Rosa, California
“Going on a mission is not requisite for entrance to the celestial kingdom. Happy marriages aren’t just created where there’s a returned missionary involved. But you had better be really sure that the Lord would rather have your boyfriend married than on a mission for those two years. I think you should encourage him to get his answer from the Lord and let him know he’s got your full support if the Lord tells him to go.
Ken Black Livermore, California
“If you are both faithful, prayerful, and patient, things will work out in the best way possible. If it doesn’t work out, there will be better things to come for both of you.
“Even though it didn’t work out for me and the missionary I wrote to, it was a very good experience. I learned so much, and my testimony grew immensely. I know his did too. It was worth it!”
Dona Thompson Salt Lake City, Utah