My Decision to Serve
Disclaimer: This is my story as I perceived it during a certain time in my life. The way I may have interpreted others actions could be different than they were intended to be. I share this in hopes that it may help others in their decision to serve as well as show people that sister missionaries don't just go on missions. Our decisions are made prayerfully, and our answers to serve or not serve are inspired.
My decision to serve an 18-month mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seemed like a no-brainer. At the end of my senior year of high school, I was set on serving a mission. My plan was to attend DSU for a year, go on a mission, come home and transfer to UVU. However, my enthusiasm to serve a mission died out and I became confused as the time to start my papers drew closer. It was about October/November when I realized my idea to serve a mission could soon become a reality. I had been praying for what seemed like forever if a mission was the best thing for me to do at this time in my life. I thought I would serve a mission for the longest time, but without a sure answer I began to question if a mission was right for me. I was busy with college, working three jobs and a member of a dance company. All these things seemed to offer a distraction from the question constantly lingering in the back of my mind, "should I serve a mission or not?"
At church, many of my friends began their mission papers and I felt this constant pressure to begin mine. In my head there was suddenly pressure from my parents, friends, and church leaders. The question of the year seemed to be, "Are you going to serve a mission?” With this question constantly being asked and my frustration grew, I began to view a mission in a negative light. You served a mission and you are a good person, or you don't serve a mission and you suddenly aren't as good of a person. I understand my thinking was incorrect and not true, but at the time that seemed to be the stigma of missions.
Fall semester of college was over and without homework, work, or dance I didn't seem to have as many distractions. I found myself praying, fasting and reading my scriptures--everything that I have grown up being told to do, in hopes of receiving an answer. In the beginning of January my parents brought up the mission...again. I needed the "M" word to not be mentioned for a week!
The first Sunday in January I fasted, prayed and studied my little heart out. After feeling more pressure (that probably wasn't really there), I texted my bishop and told him I wanted to meet with him so I could begin my mission papers. I felt sick to my stomach shortly after sending that text and sent a second text that said, "Actually can I just come in and talk to you about a mission?" The appointment was set up for that evening.
My bishop greeted me with his warm smile and a handshake. We visited, and I expressed my frustration. My loving bishop just sat there in silence and allowed me to think. Then he did what I least expected him to do. He pulled out his scriptures and he read D&C 122 to me. For those of you unfamiliar with this chapter, this is the section in the Doctrine and Covenants where Joseph Smith is in Liberty jail...not exactly the most comforting scripture. We visited a bit more then my bishop told me to go home, study and ponder D&C 122, and then if I decided I wanted to start my papers to just shoot him a text.
Before I left, he told me that a mission would be the hardest thing I would ever do besides be a mother. He repeated how hard it would be several times. This was not the help I was looking for. I wanted to go into the bishop's office, have him receive some miraculous revelation for me and tell me whether I would serve a mission or not. Ha. Quite the contrary happened.
I knew a mission would be hard, but according to D&C 122 it would be quite terrible. I was so tired of hearing a mission was hard! All my friends on missions were constantly saying how hard a mission was in their weekly e-mails, and every RM said it was the hardest two years. Why in the world are there 85,000 full-time missionaries worldwide if it was terrible and hard?
It was then I had a "spiritual brick" dropped on my head. I realized that life is hard! College is hard, marriage is hard, divorce is hard, addiction is hard, jobs are hard! And I realized that no matter what I decide it is going to be hard. I couldn't let the fear of a mission being hard keep me from serving.
I left the church feeling frustrated and even more confused. I went home, told my parents I didn't start my papers and, in a way, banished anyone from using the "M" word for a while. Around the same time, I went and visited UVU. The school I wanted to attend since my junior year of high school, and the school I had lined up all my current college classes with so they would transfer. I went up there to see how their dance program was and left feeling uneasy. I didn't feel that would be the right school for me to transfer to. It seemed like my brilliant five-year plan was a bust. No mission. No UVU.
I remember coming home from my trip to UVU and wondering what in the world I was going to do with my life. MY plan wasn't working out the way it was supposed to. It was then that I remembered one of my favorite scriptures. Matthew 10:39.
He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
For some reason this scripture struck a new chord with me and I realized that I have been trying to do what I think is right. I mean, I had been being prayerful, and felt good about the decisions I had made up to this point in my life, but right then I was doing my will and not even asking the Lord's.
I felt extremely humbled and in prayer told my Heavenly Father that I had no clue what I was doing with my life or what I should do, but I knew that He had a perfect plan for me. I was ready to find out what that plan was. I was ready to completely and totally put my life in His hands because I had the faith He would lead to me to where I needed to be and what I needed to do to become the person He wants me to be.
I quickly began researching all the other schools in Utah I had once crossed off my list. About a week after spring semester of college had started, and after a lot of researching and praying, I realized SUU was the school I would transfer to for my degree. It was a nightmare, but I dropped classes that would transfer to UVU, enrolled a week late into classes that would transfer to SUU, and somehow it all fell into place better than it should have. Proof in my life that the Lord has a plan. It may not be easy or convenient, but it always works out. My schedule was better than before, and I ended up really enjoying my classes.
I continued with my busy life, setting the mission on the back burner for a little bit. My best friend received her mission call at the end of January and I was excited for her, but I still needed some time to not think about the decision I had to make. I even began planning to go on a humanitarian trip with one of my best friends that summer. On a Sunday night, I discussed it with my parents and they thought it was me trying to avoid a mission. Let's just say that the conversation did not go over well for anyone... I could tell I was being stubborn and prideful, and my parents were only trying to give me a push in the right direction.
I prayed that night that I would be humbled and my heart might be softened. Over the last few weeks I had a few experiences where I felt I received my answer that a mission would be the best thing for me to do with my life at this time. The best kind of hard for me.
On the morning of Monday, February 16 I texted my bishop and told him I was ready to start my mission papers. He asked me why I was ready now. I replied, I was ready because now this was my decision. I wasn't going on a mission to get my parents off my back or to please anyone. I was doing this because it's what the Lord wants me to do. I remember being so excited to get home that evening and start filling my papers out.
I didn't tell anyone but my friend who had already received her call...I needed some help filling out the papers. I made doctors and dentist appointments and went by myself. I am terrified of needles, but man I was never so excited to have my blood drawn and receive immunizations!
I told my parents on February 28th that I was turning my mission papers in on Sunday. I mostly just had to tell them before the bills from the dentist and doctor arrived and they were mad. My mom claims she knew I started my papers because there was something different in my countenance. And I believe that. There was this new spirit in my life.
On March 1st my stake president submitted my mission papers a few long weeks later I received my call to the Florida Tallahassee Mission and now looking back, I can honestly say that my mission was the best kind of hard for me. I have been home well over a year, I am a full-time college student, I work as much as I can, and I am very happily married—and now, all of this is the best kind of hard.