Latter-day Saint Life

Elder Holland and Other Church Leaders Answer Members' Deeply Personal Questions on Facebook


After Jeffrey R. Holland participated in thefirst-ever LDS Face to Face event with young single adults with Elder Donald L. Hallstrom and Sister Carole M. Stephens, the three Church leaders continued to answer the more than 3,000 questions they received from Church members around the world on Facebook.

Here are some of those very personal questions as well as the inspired and unscripted responses from these incredible Church leaders.

All questions and responses came from a post about the Face to Face event on Elder Holland's Facebook page.

You'll also like: Elder Holland Gives Apostolic Promise, Powerfully Moving Testimony

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Alison Wilson:

Elder Holland, my brother decided three years ago to come out as homosexual and left the church. Since then he has limited his contact to us and currently lives in Ohio. I try to let him know of the love I and the Savior has for him. However, any mention of religion or God immediately shuts him down or he becomes aggressive in his speech and attacks my faith and testimony. Soon I will be serving a mission and by that point it will have been four years since I last saw my brother. Even if unable to change his feelings, how can I soften his heart and bring him unto Christ as he once had been? Thank you for your love and prayers.

Jeffrey R Holland:

There are two things you must do. You must love him, regardless of what he does or what he believes. Love is not optional. The other thing that will win his heart is what he loves about you now, and that is your example. Continue to be a disciple of Christ and the spirit of your behavior and love will touch him, even if he does not admit it—and he might not admit it. You can and I feel will be the means of bringing him back into the circle of faith.

Sofia DeGruccio:

How do I ever see the light again when everything is so dark and how can I ever be happy when I am this miserable?

Jeffrey R Holland:

Sofia, someone said, "Difficulty is inevitable. But misery is optional." Christ is the light that will never be darkened. The light and the life of the world, including your world. You will be happy again.

For more personalized counsel from Elder Holland, check out To My Friends.

"If you need a burden lifted, I want you to imagine I am in a personal, private, closed-door chat with you. I want to help you if I can." With those words, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland invites every reader of his latest book to become a friend, to receive instruction and encouragement, counsel and comfort.

Лиза Серебрякова:

Dear elder Holland,
I'm from Ukraine, and I have 2 questions that are not connected, but understood so differently by members here.
1) I've been reading chapters in the book of Alma about those who wanted to have a king and how they were killed by captain Moroni's men. This is just one of many controversial passages in the scriptures, but here's my question: when is it the right time to introduse needed changes for good (and how to do it right when in the system that doesn't want to be changed) and when is it the right time to "obeying, honoring and sustaining the law" (the way it is given now). Scriptures teach as about "good laws" (DC 134:8). But what should we do with the bad ones?
2) Many of the members are looked down on for their decision to move to another country, especially to USA. Many members quote this talk given by Bruice R. McConkie to back up their feelings: "The gathering place for Peruvians is in the stakes of Zion in Peru, or in the places which soon will become stakes. The gathering place for Chileans is in Chile; for Bolivians it is in Bolivia; for Koreans it is in Korea; and so it goes through all the length and breadth of the earth. Scattered Israel in every nation is called to gather to the fold of Christ, to the stakes of Zion, as such are established in their nations". Does this quote really mean that members are to live where they were born for all their lives? What if they move in order to get married or for a better job opportunity to provide for their family? Even if there's no great reason - should they still be treated almost like if they were some kind of apostates? There are many conversations and judgement on that in this area of the world, and we hope to hear something about that.
Thank you, Lisa Serebryakova

Jeffrey R Holland:

Anciently, Zion was a place, a destination. In our day, Zion is a way of life, wherever we live. You've had many challenges in the Ukraine, while the whole world has been watching. I certainly believe that the members of the Church, few as they may relatively be, can be a guiding light to political and economic stability in that wonderful nation. Remember, you do have a temple. The ultimate sign of Zion.

Jacob Siler:

Elder Holland, how can I be a better, more motivated home teacher, and love it?

Jeffrey R Holland:

What I wish every home teacher could focus on would be the individual and not the assignment. If home teaching is a "duty," it probably will not be done very successfully. But if we see people's lives at stake—their spiritual lives—then I think all of us could be more like the home teacher God expects.

Hannah Gardiner:

How do I stop belittling myself? I am always comparing myself to others, especially on dating. What is it that I do not have that they do? I realize that they do have their hardships as well, but what is it that I don't have that they do? I am trying to have faith, but it is hard when I see all others in relationships. When I open up to someone, I shot down.

Jeffrey R Holland:

In the organization of heaven, every one of us has a direct relationship to God. On earth we have family trees. But in a celestial relationship, every one of us are one-on-one with our Heavenly Father. If you can understand that relationship, and His individual, specific, affection for you, you will be much less inclined to compare or covet. It is hard, regarding dating and social experiences, but even those will be put in better context if you see yourself as a special individual in the sight of God. Everybody's self image goes up then. So will yours. Compare yourself only to your potential—not to other people.

William Kennedy:

Elder holland, I would like to know how can receive clear direction in life for huge decisions, also I would like to know how can I invite the spirit into my life throughout the day. Elder holland I served faithful with all of my heart on a two-year mission and the love for the people still remains how can I turn my focus off my mission and on my everyday life?

Jeffrey R Holland:

William, if it is any help to you, please know that I and maybe most missionaries, go through this disengagement difficulty. The first while that I was home were among the most miserable weeks of my life. Nevertheless, things right themselves over time. Just stay faithful and do the things you did on your mission—pray, study, be clean, enjoy good people. Every chapter of your life is going to be a good one.

Ezra R. Juárez Rocha:

Dear Elder Holland thank you for this opportunity to read and answer the questions of our hearts. I would like to know what kind of problems or difficulties did you have when you had our age between 20's and 30's ? What helped you to overcome those trials? After your mission how did you find the balance between your responsibilities with our Heavenly Father, finding a wife, becoming a provident provider to your family, the responsibilities in your job and taking care of yourself?? Thank you.

Jeffrey R Holland:

One of the issues I wrestled with when I was single, and we wrestled with when we were married was finances. Neither of us came from wealthy families and yet we had dreams of higher education and having a family at the same time. We look back and realize the miracles that came at that time, even though it was not obvious in the middle of things that it would work out. Things always work out.

Ottavio Caruso: 

Eder Holland, I'm a convert, I'm 23 and I got back from my mission a year ago. The excitement of being a returned missionary wore off quite quickly on me, replaced by the burden of expectations which both culture and (to some degree) doctrine put on people my age. I try to study the scriptures every day, I pray multiple times throughout the day, I partake of the sacrament weekly, I strive to be obedient and to repent when I need to but, no matter how hard I try, I can't get that feeling back which I felt as a missionary. It's like the Church I once felt so involved with is now far away -- almost unreachable. I know there's no magic formula, but if you could give me (and others struggling like me) one piece of advice, what would it be? Thanks.

Jeffrey R Holland:

Ottavio, interestingly enough, I am going to try to talk about this in general conference. Listen and perhaps something I say there will be helpful. In the meantime, remember this counsel from Paul to the Hebrews: "Call to remembrance the former days in which, after you were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions." Virtually every great experience that I know of (like a mission) is followed by "a fight of affliction." Work hard, be faithful, and the light will return.

Ashley Sargeant:

Dear Elder Jeffrey R Holland,
I am overcome by emotion by your heartfelt video to all of us early returning missionaries. As one who returned home early from the Brazil, Brasilia mission 9 months early due to mental illness three years ago your words spoke a profound peace to my heart. I'm so grateful you addressed this issue of accepting our missions, no matter how long or short. It has been my personal mission over the past year to share hope and awareness with early returning missionaries and those fighting to overcome mental illness through a social media campaign called "Don't Stop Sargeant" and have cited quotes from you on many occasions. Thank you for your empathy and concern for those of us who have felt like broken vessels -- we love you! My questions come from the bottom of my broken 28-year-old single adult female heart. After the last eight dating relationships I have been involved in have ended because of serious pornography addictions and even abuse, I have been left feeling very discouraged that I will ever marry in this life -- let alone ever have a long-term boyfriend. After being repeatedly objectified and lied to, I feel I can't trust men in general and almost always find an excuse not to accept an invitation for a date. How can we better develop the gift of discernment to avoid abusive and codependent relationships? Will we need to lower our moral standards regarding pornography addictions in order to marry? How can those of us females who are "waxing older" in years maintain hope and confidence that the Lord will keep His promises of roles as wives and mothers when it is increasingly difficult to find someone who is worthy to marry in the Temple? Thank you for respectfully considering my questions as they have weighed on my heart and the hearts of many friends for years. God bless you for your service and goodness!

Jeffrey R Holland:

The gift of discernment is specifically a gift of the Spirit. The path that leads to discernment is therefore one and the same with the path that leads to spirituality generally. Trust that if you are trying to live worthily, the Spirit will be at work in your life, even if you don't always recognize it. Therefore, what you feel will be spiritual discernment.

Sister Carole M. Stephens

Angela Michelle Bailey:

What advice and counsel do you have for YSA’s who are transitioning to family wards? I have had many friends struggle with this change. There is a stigma associated with “aging out” and often feelings of failure, disappointment, displacement, and hopelessness. I will be turning 31 later this year and want to know what I can do to feel less anxious and more prepared for this next stage. What suggestions do you have for helping us acclimate and find our place and purpose in the family ward?

Carole M. Stephens:

Look outside yourself and observe, and then serve others. Just engage with the people in your ward, get to know people. You never know what you can learn from other members. I'd like to see all of the walls come down, no more stigmas. We're all daughters of God. We all have a work and a purpose in the Church. We are all needed. Don't overlook the positive ways you can be an instrument in building the kingdom.

Jessica Parcell:

Here is my question: The Church is so heavily focused, as it should be, on the family and creating families. I've prayed so hard and God knows I earn and thirst with the desire to marry in the temple, but it's just not happening for me. With my twin already married and happy, I struggle each day to not feel like my life is being compared to hers and that i'm simply a failure. What else with my regular study, church and temple attendance can I do to be content with where I seem to be stuck?

Carole M. Stephens:

Great work, and thank you for all you are doing to serve others. God loves you and knows what you are going through. Pray to your Father and focus on your heart. He will help you to feel loved, and to understand that He has a plan for you. Open your heart to feel His love for you. Rely on your knowledge of His plan to comfort you through hard days. It will all work out.

Julia McLaws:

I loved this. I came home from my mission after only 3 weeks due to mental health issues. I never even got to my mission, just the MTC. Often times it's very hard for me to think that I made any impact at all since I wasn't yet in the "mission field". As a missionary I LOVED all the time we spent studying the scriptures, but at home the motivation isn't there at all. How can I be motivated to delve more deeply in the scriptures, and learn from them what Heavenly Father wants me to learn?

Carole M. Stephens:

We don't become a missionary when we put on our badge, and we don't end our mission when we take it off. That means that we need to be spiritually prepared at all times to share the gospel. Scripture study will increase your ability to be able to receive personal revelation to help you through the discouragement you may be feeling at this time. Just open the Book of Mormon and start feasting!

Amy Jo Gull:

How can I prepare to serve my mission if I have so many distractions at home?

Carole M. Stephens:

You have to find a place that you can feel the Spirit. Anywhere can be a "holy place", if you make it so. The best way to prepare to be a missionary is to be a missionary NOW.

Lindsey Glauser:

How do I spiritually progress when not marrying? I'm an older single and have not had the opportunity to marry yet. I've felt often that I was in a rut and couldn't get out. I want to build up the kingdom but find it difficult when I feel marriage is the next step for that.

Carole M. Stephens:

Lindsey, thank you for your sincere question. I want you to know that you are not defined by your marital status. You are a beloved daughter of God, and He loves you and knows you. Continue in faith. Hope on. His promises are sure. Your gifts and talents are unique to you, and He will help you find ways to use those gifts to help build the kingdom.

Elder Donald L. Hallstrom

Alvin Christensen:

I've been struggling with issues from my past for almost over a year now. I've been through the temple and received my endowments and I do my best to be a worthy priesthood holder every day. My question is can I feel forgiven and yet guilty at the same time? I feel the Spirit tell me that I've been forgiven many times, and when I get those feelings I also feel that I still haven't done enough to be forgiven. It makes it hard for me to see into the future. I struggle with trying to find a worthy young woman that I may one day have a temple marriage with because I don't feel like I've done enough to be worthy to do that. I've felt both voices in my heart tonight and I'm not sure which one is the right one. #LDSface2face

Donald L. Hallstrom:

Alvin, if you have truly repented, and have not forgiven yourself, you are denying the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Allow the Atonement to bless your life fully and forgive yourself.

Kaylie Robinson:

I am a young woman who is very passionate about her education and pursuing a career. While I do want to be a mother, and understand the sacred and divine nature of motherhood, I often receive discouragement when I tell other church members of my career plans. How can I be at peace with my desire for both work and home?

Donald L. Hallstrom:

Kaylie, we believe in and teach the importance of education for men and for women. Continue to pursue that without limiting your opportunities to marry and have children. As you stay grounded on what is most important, you will be spiritually directed.

Bethany Lambson:

I would love your insights you've gained throughout life on submitting your will to Heavenly Father, especially when the desires of your heart were righteous and good but not happening?

Donald L. Hallstrom:

Thanks for the wonderful question Bethany. The focus of your question is exactly right. When we make a determination to submit our will to the Father, we are laying the correct foundation. Consider what you heard and what you felt tonight in our meeting and you will be on safe ground.

Lead image a screenshot from the LDS Face to Face.

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