There’s a long answer and a short answer as there is to many things in life. I would like to give both here.
I have thought about serving a mission for quite some time now. It first came to my attention in a serious way a few years ago when I was living in a tiny dump of an apartment during my Junior year at college. A guy I had been seeing asked me if I had ever thought of going on a mission, and if I had, what would prevent me from serving a full time mission. I told him that the only thing that would prevent me from serving was if I was married or in a serious relationship. I answered simply that there could be nothing better to do with my time than to serve. Well, time passed, I stopped dating him, started dating someone else, and kept going on with my life. I did find worthwhile uses for my time, and occasionally would more seriously consider serving a mission. At one time last year, I even began to tell people that I was going, as I had had a deeply personal experience that prompted me to go.
But there was always something holding me back. Some pride mixed with inadequacy. I was worried I wouldn’t be good enough. Then I felt upset that I would be asked to do something so hard. I felt unsure, but still felt I should work on my papers. About a year ago, I finished my mission papers almost completely. I had one more little thing to do, but then things just kept getting in the way. I kept thinking of things I wanted to do before I went, and I realized that at the core of it all, my commitment was not just lacking towards the mission, it was lacking towards the Church.
I began to feel very doubtful, I questioned a lot of my deeply held convictions and priorities. My faith felt shaken. I still went to Church, but I struggled to feel that the things I had long accepted as true, really and truly were. I made a few bad decisions and overall began to feel more distance from God. It was during this time that I really questioned what was important to me and where I wanted to be as a person. I had a few key conversations with close friends who helped me realize what was of the most importance. They reminded me of the testimony that they knew I had, and with that, I began to repent and to understand more completely the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As I accepted the full reality of the Atonement, I again experienced great joy as I could feel close to my Father in Heaven. I felt my Heavenly Father tell me that what mattered to him was not whether or not I served a mission, but that my commitment to Him was full. I understood that the greatest blessings and promises were still completely available to me whatever I chose, as long as I was faithful. I withdrew my papers as I focused on other aspects of my life. Though I no longer had the goal to serve, I worked to understand better the Gospel principles I was being taught. I found joy and confidence as I understood myself better as a true daughter of God.
Sometime in July, thoughts of a mission began creeping back in. I would write my best friend Jodi and hear her mission stories and think to myself: Is this something that I want too? As those thoughts came with increasing persistence, and as I had been focusing on opening my heart in prayer, I opened my heart to Heavenly Father and told him that I would choose to serve if one last opportunity would fall through. I could already feel the doors of that last opportunity closing, and this time, my promise was different, as I could feel the increasing sureness that this was my next step. Only a few days later, and I was completely sure. I knew in my heart that this was the time for me to serve a mission. It wasn’t the time a year ago, it wasn’t the time next year, it was here and now.
After that decision, everything else fell into place very quickly. I had my housing contract for Fall/Winter sold within a day, and all of my health appointments done within the week. The next week, I attended my friend Katherine’s homecoming talk. Hearing how she had changed and seeing the deep commitment to exact obedience fueled my strength. I put my papers in the week following, and moved back home to spend time with my family shortly after that.
Now, here we are. My mission call has been assigned and is on it’s way in the mail. All I await is the time and place I am to report. Why though? Why really?
You have heard the long answer version. The shorter version offers power in brevity.
I love my Father in Heaven. I feel blessed to be called his daughter and to take upon his name as a member of His Church. Nothing has brought me more happiness than my relationship with my Heavenly Father and the deep love I know he has for me. I have felt no better peace than knowing I have a Saviour, and knowing that every emotion I have felt, He has felt too. When I read the Book of Mormon, I learn of Christ and how to be more Christlike. I feel the strength and truth of the principles found in the scriptures. The truth of His love for me is clear because of the beautiful truths of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I feel privileged to be able to share these truths as I go on a mission and am able to speak with more of His children. I know that we are all children of God and that anyone who diligently seeks to know Him will find that He is already seeking to find us. I know this because I have experienced it for myself. No matter how many times I forget, no matter how often I am fallible and human, I know that Christ sees me for my infinite and divine potential. I truly feel blessed as I am ready to accept a call from the Lord to serve him for 18 months and to wear His name as I share the message of the Gospel.