Two letters this week, both about love and missionaries. What a topic. It’s true–I once promised myself to a soon-to-be missionary after a tram ride to the top of Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon. (All Mormon girls do at one time or another.) And it’s true, I failed miserably, miserably, to wait for that missionary. You can read the whole saga in The Book of Mormon Girl. Every painful detail.
This week’s two questions come to us from young women who are also thinking about “their” missionaries. And, yes, well, there are some painful details here too.
Letter the first:
I’m not a Mormon, and I’ve met a Mormon guy on mission that I’m interested in. From what little I’ve read it seems Mormons on mission aren’t allowed to have any kind of dating interaction with females. So I get that, but are they allowed to be friends? If so, how do I go about letting him know I’d like to be friends without seeming like I’m coming on to him? I don’t want to be inappropriate or offend him or get him into trouble.
And here’s the super-easy answer. No, I’m really sorry, but you can’t be friends with the missionary. Make him a lasagna, drop it off at a neutral third party location, and then say sayonara. Really. It’s the most merciful thing you can do. He’s supposed to be 100% focused on finding people to teach and serving the community. He’s supposed to be 100% celibate. Like a eunuch. He can’t do that with you as his friend. Because you’re cute. You smell like Bath and Body Works. When you laugh, the way your head tilts–it’s irresistible. And he’s 20. Big boundaries. No “friendship.” End of story. Sorry.
Letter the second:
For the past 7 years, I have been best friends with an amazing guy. We were both LDS. He’s always had a huge crush on me and I’ve known that, and he continues to feel that way while on his mission currently. The problem is that since he has left, I am a completely different person. No longer go to church, have a boyfriend that I live with, etc.
The man I am with is amazing. I do love him and enjoy everything about him. The problem is that my friend is coming home in August and suddenly I am having these thoughts for him and the church and I’m freaking out because for so long I thought that I didn’t believe in the church, but I miss it and I miss the people and now I am torn between two worlds.
I’m afraid…afraid of changing my mind about what I’m doing. The man I’m with does in no way believe in any religion. I don’t know how to go forward or how to make a decision. I love him. And thinking about leaving him for (pretty much) another guy/lifestyle feels like I’m betraying him and that hurts.
If you were me, what would you do?
You know what worries me about this letter, love? You tell me all about these two “amazing” guys in your life. You ponder the possible betrayal of their feelings. But I hear nothing about you. As if you are a pile of iron filings that can be magnetically drawn this way and that by the influence of the men who love you. But what about you? If both your missionary and your lover (*poof*) magically disappeared from the face of the earth tomorrow, what kind of a conversation would you have with God? If all men–every last sweet handsome one of them–(*POOF*) magically disappeared from the face of the earth tomorrow–all the grandfathers, fathers, priesthood leaders, bishops, brothers, husbands, boyfriends, used-to-be-boyfriends, friends–what would you do with yourself? Or, in the words of the great poet Mary Oliver:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Notice that she does not ask what you think someone else would like you to do with your one wild and precious life. It’s yours, honey–all yours. It’s sacred. And it’s scary. And in that power to choose, that is where you meet God.
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