Monday, January 13, 2014

How I Decided to Serve a Mission

Deciding to go on a mission was a very long, and difficult decision. I feel for my fellow young adults. We are in the era of our life where our decisions will determine the course of the rest of our lives. What school to attend, what field to study, who to date and of course missions. 

There are so many possibilities, so how do you know what to choose? Which road in life is best for you and how are we suppose to know? These are just some of the questions that I was wrestling with when I started to consider the possibility of a mission.

In the 2012 October General Conference, the age for missionaries change. Men were now able to serve at the age of 18, and women at the age of 19. I was just about to turn 19 at the time and didn't really know how to process the news. I remember watching the conference with my roommates in Provo, UT and as soon as the announcement was made, one of my roommates burst into tears, declared she was going on a mission, and ran outside to call her family. 

I looked around at my other roommates, wondering if I was missing something, because I wasn't really feeling anything. In fact I was almost resentful because my excuse for not serving a mission had suddenly vanished. Previously women weren't allowed to serve until they were 21 years-old. I wouldn't have been 21 until the second half of my senior year. I had always assumed I would graduate from college, and then start thinking if I was going to go on a mission. 

Well, time passed and I went on my merry way. When people would ask if I was going on a mission I would emphatically declare 'no' and launch into my spiel defending my decision. This continued into the summer of 2013 when I started to rethink my previous decision. I wanted to know, for once and for all, if my decision was indeed what my Heavenly Father wanted of me, or if it was for my own selfish reasons/ fear that I wasn't going on a mission. 

So I decided to study. I wrote missionaries asking how they knew that they should go on a mission and wanted to hear the story of the process they went through to get their answer. I also studied the scriptures and read any Ensign talk I could on how to receive answers from God. What I learned was that often we have to take a couple of steps into the darkness before we know where it is we are suppose to go. Revelation comes to those on the move. 

What finally pushed me to action was one of my friends experiences in the MTC. They watched a devotional by Elder Bednar which talked about feeling the spirit. In their blog they said:
"He taught that when we're concerned whether the spirit is prompting or its just us we're already in the wrong. If we're thinking, we aren't acting. If we live right and try our hardest to be good every thought and action of ours will be directed by the spirit."
So I decided to finally act and open my papers. I told my mother not to tell anyone because I still wasn't sure what I was going to do. Finally, as I continued to slowly work on my papers and tried to get an answer as to what I was suppose to do, I decided to just go ahead with a mission and have the Lord stop me if it wasn't right. It felt like I had a blind fold on and was trusting in the Lord to stop me if I was about to stumble off a cliff or something similar.

I tried attending the temple as much as I could while trying to find my answer, and honestly could really peg anything down. One moment I would be so stoked about the idea of a mission, but then all these doubts would come flooding in. I just got promoted at work, how was I going to tell them I was leaving? How in the world was I suppose to sell my apartment contract? I just got accepted into the public relations program at BYU, how would a mission affect me academically? What if I missed Mr. Right?

With these doubts I sought counsel. One wise sister told me that often the Lord's impression is the first one we get, and then doubts and Satan would follow up and try to distract us with. That emboldened me and made me once again put forth my faith towards serving a mission.

Some days I would be so gung-ho about the idea of serving a mission and then others I would wonder what in the world I had gotten myself into. I was questioning my resolve and was disgusted with myself because it was so weak. That is when I realized that my faith was truly like a little seed-- and I couldn't expect it to sprout up and become a solid oak tree instantly. I had to have faith that my faith would grow. And it is that faith that will continue to grow if nurtured and will guide us in this life here on earth.

Our Heavenly Father loves us, and won't lead us astray. Put your faith in him and let him guide you to become the person he knows you can be. 

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