Monthly Archives: August 2014

Ask A Friend: How Can I Keep My Testimony In The Furnace of Affliction?

Dear Paul,

What advice do you have for someone who has struggled in her marriage for many years and was pushed into leaving her husband due to drugs? A woman who had just lost her mom, who was her best friend, from a sudden heart attack? A woman who has four young kids and whose soon to be ex lives at home while she rents a house for her and the kid? A return missionary whose testimony is on the brink and who feels angry at God for taking her mom when she was so young at only 67? A woman who was told for years through the spirit to stay in a marriage which was manipulative and abusive and drug addled? What would you say to that girl?

Dear Reader,

I appreciate you reaching out to me and allowing me the opportunity to hear of your tremendous burdens. Even though you only sent me an email, I can sense through your writing the extreme pain, frustration and sorrow you are experiencing. The trials you have been called to endure seem unbearable and daunting to me as a reader and the only thing of which I am certain in this regard is that I do not know or comprehend the half of what you feel, the extent of your pain, and the depth of your sorrow. I will not pretend that I comprehend it with some cliche, terse statement like, “I know how you feel.” The reality is I don’t know how you feel, and neither does anyone else. This trial is your own and your feelings are your own.

What I would say to such a woman who has been called to endure such tremendous fire and pain in the furnace of affliction is this: Do not lose your testimony! Hold the ground you have already won! Somewhere in the midst of your pain is an ember of testimony that still burns with the fire of the Holy Ghost and has not yet been defeated. If you had lost all hope, you would not have reached out to me. You are reaching out, and I am here to grab your hand and hold on with all my strength to keep you from slipping into the abyss of bitterness.

Continue reading

The adversary has desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat and drag you down into his endless pit of misery, woe and bitterness. He looks at your pain and laughs with pure contempt! He delights in the suffering and anguish of those who he would seek to control. He binds them with his chains of regret and pulls them steadily to the gates of hell. He will mock your plight and belittle your soul. Do not give him heed!

This earth was created for the glorious purpose of exalting the children of God. It is a laboratory of exaltation, a proving ground of growth, and a hands on education to obtain the highest! You have been chosen by the Lord to obtain your exaltation through the pain and suffering of the mortal experience. This is the same mission that our Savior was called to bear, to come to earth and to suffer. Even Jesus Christ, the greatest of all asked the same question you have asked me, “Father, why hast thou forsaken me?” You have been chosen to enter into an elite group of individuals known as Disciples of Jesus Christ. Do not allow the adversary to deceive you out of the group!

Because I believe in action, I am going to lay out an action plan for you and I want you to report back to me with your thoughts and feelings as we work through this trial together, and as you attempt to fulfill these different action items.

1. Pray, immediately to God and give him thanks for anything that you can muster the courage to be grateful for in your life. Express that gratitude to Heavenly Father. It could you be your children, your job, your health etc. Even if it is small and seemingly insignificant, think of anything and everything you are grateful for, and thank your Heavenly Father for those things. Once you have done that write down those things, and email them to me.

Even in the darkest tragedy there are blessings, and losing sight of these blessings and forsaking God will only perpetuate the bitterness and pain.

2. Forgive. I suspect this will be most challenging. Seek with all your heart to forgive the terrible offenses that the people in your life have committed against you. It will take tremendous courage and faith, but remember that all people on this earth, even the most vile and sinful are sons and daughters of God. Holding on to the bitterness and pain they have caused you by the misuse of their agency will only allow their sins to continue their damage. The only way to true peace and healing is to forgive them and to free yourself from the shackles of the pain. Remember Jesus Christ on the cross, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

If it is appropriate to express your forgiveness in person, or through text/email, then let those individuals who have wronged you know that they are forgiven. If it is not appropriate to express your forgiveness, then allow yourself to forgive them in your heart and in your mind and feel the freedom of releasing their hold on your heart and your soul. Email me the individuals who you expressed forgiveness to, what manner you forgave them, and if they responded. Keep in mind, not everyone will accept your expression of forgiveness, but that is their agency to remain in bitterness and it is your agency to be free.

3. Serve. Finally, find someone to serve. Reach out. You have been given a perspective on life that will make you a saint and savior to others who find themselves likewise burdened with pain. As you allow your heart to be filled with compassion for others, magnified by your increased capacity to experience empathy for those who are in pain, you will find healing in your own heart. Email me the individuals who the Lord has brought and will bring into your life that you were able to serve and reach out to because of your understanding of their trials.

I cannot remove your trials, I cannot bring back your mother, I cannot change your ex-husband or force him to use agency properly, but I can reach out and do all I can to share and lighten your burdens. You have my love, my empathy, my support and my prayers. Feel free to contact me with your victories and failures, your highs and your lows. I’ll be here to listen and to encourage.

Through faith all things are possible unto God, and I testify this is true.

Your Brother in the Gospel,

Paul Green

 

Paul Green

Paul Green

Paul Green, is a real estate broker and professional improvisational comedian, actor and trainer. He has trained thousands of professionals and teenagers on principles of leadership, communication, team building and creative thinking and has provided heart-filled advice and encouragement to all who he has had an opportunity to interact. His greatest passion is helping individuals find creative and uplifting solutions to the many challenges of life by applying the principles and doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He looks forward to hearing and understanding the challenges of his readers and helping them to overcome these challenges.  For his full bio, click here

To submit an anonymous question to Paul:

1. Send a message to the LDS Single Friends Facebook Page or send an email to paulgreencanhelp@gmail.com

2. Please “like” LDS Single Friends on Facebook and invite your fellow LDS singles to join our online community! 

3. If your question is chosen, look for Paul’s response on this blog and on LDS Single Friends. To make sure that you never miss an advice column from Paul, you can subscribe to this blog through the form below. 

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

Ask A Friend: How Can A Convert Adapt To Mormon Dating?

Dear Paul,  

I am struggling and I need some advice or encouragement or wisdom, I recently got back in the dating scene. I’ve been single forever and my last serious relationship was before I got baptized in 2010. I don’t have very much experience with Mormon dating and I struggle to keep my thoughts clean. I don’t want to fall back into past behaviors and I feel like I’m having a hard time staying true to myself.

Dating guys, and being attracted to guys, reminds me of the past in relationships where I was used for sex and not valued. I’m having a hard time believing someone could fall in love with me as an EC [eternal companion]. Do those relationships progress just like non-member relationships? I just want to be myself but I’ve never had a serious romantic relationship as a member of the church…

Dear writer,

Thank you so much for your question. Your concerns and reservations are felt by many, both in and outside of the church. We all have desires for intimacy but also want to make sure that we are striving for relationships of meaning and value. As Latter-day Saints, we definitely choose to follow a strict standard of chastity, which the Lord has commanded. However, just because you are new to the church, your struggles are no different than those of lifelong church members. All of us strive to exercise faith and diligence in obeying the commandments and all of us are just as prone to the natural man as any other.

Regarding the progression of LDS relationships compared to non-member relationships, it is difficult to say because relationships are so drastically varied. The rate at which two individuals meet, court, and enter into different levels of commitment changes from couple to couple. However, there are guidelines that will make the process of Mormon dating easier, so I would encourage you to do the following:

Continue reading

  1. Take an inventory of your expectations before entering certain levels of affection and commitment. In other words, set your own standards, because no one else will set them for you. If you want a guy to call you and ask you out on an official date, instead of texting you to “hang out,” then don’t date guys who do not meet that standard. If a guy texts you to hang out, communicate that you are looking for a man who appreciates traditional dating, not just hanging out.


    Dating is challenging for men as well as women, and a lot of guys have been burned, rejected, ignored, stood up and disrespected as well. Consequently, they often have no idea how to approach a woman in any particular situation. However if you make your standards clear, a guy who is really interested will respect your standards. If he’s really interested, he will call and ask you out on a date! Setting a pattern of clearly stating expectations and communicating them will provide a strong foundation for any relationship, whether brand new or seasoned. 

  1. Next, set standards for the levels of affection you are comfortable. No man has any right to your affections no matter how much money he spent on a date, no matter how much time he has spent with you, or how many dates he has taken you on. Your affection is priceless and is only to be expressed when you are good and ready, not when the man expects it or seeks for it. 
  1. The first few dates should be spent having a good time, enjoying a wholesome activity, establishing emotional and spiritual connections, and building physical chemistry and anticipation through dancing, hiking, baking cookies, rock climbing, laser tag, bowling, finger painting, and other involved, yet light-heart activities.  
  1. Regarding personal displays of affection, hugs are sufficient for the first few dates. If a man seems a little aggressive or anxious to progress to kissing and cuddling, especially while lying down, or seems to always suggest activities at night, or one on one at his house or yours, I would be cautious about his true intentions. If a man does seem to be pushing for dates that may not be wholesome in their intent, I would again recommend clearly communicating your expectations and standards. For example, saying something like, “I appreciate the invitation to come over to your house tonight, but I like to have several opportunities to spend time with a man in a more public setting before spending time one on one at their property. Let me know if you have another activity in mind that would be fun.”After three or four dates it may be appropriate, if you feel comfortable, to hold hands, and perhaps even a peck or two. These are my own recommendations for time frames that are appropriate to express affection, but of course, you may adapt them to your comfort level. I would strongly caution against any kissing in overtly intimate settings, such as lying down on a couch watching a movie, swimming alone, in the car etc. And I would definitely caution against any excessive kissing, making out, tongue kissing, necking, etc. Think of it like this: Is the kiss romantic, sweet, fun and building your connection to each other emotionally, physically and spiritually, or is it more passionate, intense and sexual in nature? The latter is best experienced a lot further down the road, and if avoided early on, would help prevent the relationship from leading to regretful behaviors that would result in guilt and shame.
  1. Regarding frequency of dates, starting out, I would recommend no more than one date a week, if not every other week. We seem to be so anxious to get into a relationship that as soon as we meet someone we like, we want to spend every waking moment with them. Although there are plenty of success stories of such romantic whimsy, I would say jumping head first into a relationship will make physical intimacy progress rather quickly, making it difficult to keep standards and commandments. If this type of intimacy occurs too quickly, when you are uncertain if you want to be exclusive with this individual, it can create confusion, shame and even guilt if the affection progresses to a point that has compromised chastity.Dating is a process, and if you respect the process and allow the relationship to grow and progress steadily, you will find yourself on far more solid ground then by going full steam out of the gate. After three or four dates, it may be appropriate to begin seeing each other once or twice a week and involving each other in activities such as family dinners, work parties or social events. This is one step away from exclusivity and as the relationship progresses, becoming exclusive would be the final step in courtship before engagement and marriage.
  1. One final word of caution, and this may seem extreme, but I would avoid any excessive making out until you are at least engaged, if not already married. Also avoid being alone in compromising situations such as a bedroom, a dark living room, etc. Remember that as much as the Lord wants us to be happy and find fulfilling eternal relationships, the adversary wants us to slip up by making bad decisions and compromising our eternal destiny.Our society seems to place sexual interaction as the most crucial and fundamental focal point of all relationships. Although it is definitely an important component, there are other aspects that are far more crucial and necessary in an eternal relationship, such as compatibility, spiritual sensitivity, a desire to live the gospel, open and respectful communication, sacrifice, patience, forgiveness, etc.  A relationship based on these attributes will have a greater capacity to last into eternity than a relationship based on making out for a couple hours after knowing each other for a week.

I appreciate your openness and your concerns. Have faith that God will bless you if you are obedient and set up boundaries to help protect your virtue, the law of chastity and the sanctity of the priesthood that the men you will be dating hold. When a man recognizes your standards and you carry yourself with respect and dignity, he WILL respect your standards and will never do anything to compromise his chances with you. If he is truly interested in you as a person and as a prospective eternal companion, if he makes a mistake, he will recognize his error and will seek your forgiveness.

You made such a courageous decision to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ, great blessings await you as you continue to be faithful. You need not fear Mormon dating, God is aware of your concerns and He will bless you and guide you as you seek to find a man worthy of enjoying the blessings of eternity by your side.

###

Paul Green

Paul Green

Paul Green, is a real estate broker and professional improvisational comedian, actor and trainer. He has trained thousands of professionals and teenagers on principles of leadership, communication, team building and creative thinking and has provided heart-filled advice and encouragement to all who he has had an opportunity to interact. His greatest passion is helping individuals find creative and uplifting solutions to the many challenges of life by applying the principles and doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He looks forward to hearing and understanding the challenges of his readers and helping them to overcome these challenges.  For his full bio, click here

To submit an anonymous question to Paul:

1. Send a message to the LDS Single Friends Facebook Page or send an email to paulgreencanhelp@gmail.com

 

2. Please “like” LDS Single Friends on Facebook and invite your fellow LDS singles to join our online community! 

3. If your question is chosen, look for Paul’s response on this blog and on LDS Single Friends. To make sure that you never miss an advice column from Paul, you can subscribe to this blog through the form below. 

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.