Friday, May 17, 2013

The Decision to Serve

Should I serve a mission? The question so many sisters struggle with. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not put every worthy and able young woman under the same mandate as every worthy and able young man to serve a full-time mission. Therein lies the struggle. Sometimes a sister just knows she has to go, but that is not always the case. I know how difficult the decision-making process can be so I thought I'd share how I made my decision:

October 6, 2012. The day that the course of the lives of many of the young women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints changed.

That beautiful Saturday morning I sat down to watch the semi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I had written down a few questions hoping to hear an answer in one of the sessions. Among these questions was should I serve a mission? It was written as an after thought. I mean, I couldn't even go until I was 21 and that was 3 years away! Then this happened.

I was so excited that I was laughing and crying at the same time and my roommates surely thought I had lost it. For some, this announcement alone was their answer. I'm a little more stubborn. I knew that I wanted to go, but I needed to know that I was supposed to. I mean this was a huge decision and I needed to know that it was absolutely the right path for me.  

And so it began. I fasted and prayed, I studied the scriptures, I started going to the temple more often. I read every talk about missionary work known to man, and watched every mission-related video on the internet (and developed a slightly unhealthy addiction to mission call videos). I even signed up for mission prep! But no matter how hard I tried, I just didn't feel like I was getting an answer.

After 3 months I decided to talk to my bishop. He gave me a copy of Preach My Gospel and a Missionary Handbook and advised me to continue doing all of the things I was already doing. He told me that I was choosing between 2 good things: education and a mission. Heavenly Father wasn't going to tell me what to do. I had to make a decision and ask Him if it was right. Maybe both of them were right and it was going to be up to me. I can't say I loved that idea at the time. I wanted an answer! Heavenly Father knows everything, not me! Why would He let me make the decision? I was also given a priesthood blessing in which I was promised that if I studied it out and made a decision and then fasted about it, I would receive a sure answer, and here's the life-changing advice, I was told that once I had made the decision and received an answer, I should stick to it and not look back, just keep going.

I left that meeting confident that I would receive my answer and that it would be something that I could not deny. I think I was expecting something like a vision or a pillar of fire or maybe a nice email from God himself telling me whether I should or should not serve a mission. Unfortunately, none of those things happened. Rather the answer came piece by piece, through some advice from a friend, inspired words in sacrament meeting, a perfect scripture every now and then, the death of a loved one who never had the gospel, and feeling the love of God in any number of instances in my life. Heavenly Father didn't tell me that I needed to serve a mission, but He showed me just how important the gospel is in my life and He helped me to realize that I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to have what I have. Everyone deserves to have the peace and joy the gospel brings into my life! So I said to Heavenly Father, "I'm going on a mission. If that isn't what you want me to do, stop me."

I still wasn't completely sure it was right when I finally started my papers almost 2 months after talking to my bishop, but as I've been preparing to serve I have truly come to know that this is what I am supposed to do. I don't think that Heavenly Father would have minded if I stayed at the University, but He definitely doesn't mind if I go out and teach the gospel to some of his children either. I want everyone to feel the joy and the peace that I feel. I want them to know that they have a loving Father in Heaven and a Savior who atoned for their sins and who knows exactly what they're going through. I want them to know what I know. I have had my doubts, believe me. But every time I think that I might be going down the wrong path I hear the words of my bishop, "Stick to it and don't look back. Just keep going." And so I do.

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