Thursday, 8 January 2015

My Mission Call Arrived and I'm Not Going

Over a year ago I felt very strong desire and spiritual guidance to volunteer for eighteen months as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I felt beyond doubt the Holy Spirit confirm to me that it was something I should do in my life. I know this through the feelings in my heart, the peace I felt, much prayer and pondering. I also knew that I should wait until I finished university.

So many experiences in my life accumulated to that moment. So many people, so much religious study and my personal relationship with God. It was a huge choice but it felt so easy to make and so perfectly clear. In the church young men are often expected to volunteer as missionaries if their health and circumstances allow, but for young women it is ever so different. Their sacrifice is a welcome service, but not expected. 

Much has changed since I made that decision. But my relationship with the Lord has always been a priority in my life. Something I will always cherish beyond all worldly endeavours. We as individuals change. That has always been the plan. We are here on Earth to grow and love and change. To move forward. 

This past year I finished university with a bachelor of arts degree, my romantic relationship developed ever deeper and more wonderful, I became more of an 'adult' (dare I say it) and I still cling to my romanticised ideology of life being full of rainbows and unicorns. Life has always aspired towards love, truth and being with those special to us. That is very much the essence of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

My family have moved to the English Peak District in pursuit of further education and adventure. Something I have grown up with was constant moving and change. New people and new environments. My mother discussed with me very recently the importance of 'risk taking', allowing yourself to take chances in life. Not to settle with a boring, stagnant existence. When we follow the commandments of God, no matter the risk we take, even if it wasn't the best choice, He will always help us and it'll work out somehow.  

Lately I have found much solace in the words of men called of God, namely his apostles and prophets. In 1975 a talk was published in the church magazine the New Era entitled Agency or Inspiration? by Bruce R McConkie. It is the absolute best! We are always taught to follow the Lord and make the 'right' decision. But what about when there is more than one 'right' choice given to us. What then?! What is truly 'right'? I have struggled with this paradox of choice, and this talk has helped me tremendously. 

In the church I have always been taught to set goals in life. To better myself. My two main consistent goals may seem quite vague and lacking direction however. They are:

To be happy.
To feel fulfilled.

On the surface, seemingly naive desires. But what they mean to me is so much more. Following the gospel is the route to true and everlasting joy e.g. 'to be happy'. 'Fulfilment' comes in many forms. For me, this has always pertained to family relationships. To love. Love of others and love of self. To serve others and to allow myself room to grow. To always do activities and pursuits that make me feel content with life. Whether that be something as simple as running this little blog, enjoying my favourite chocolate, watching the English countryside out of the train window or pursuing an education, exploring the world and sharing my adventures with others.  

As receiving my mission call came ever closer a strange thing happened. I was terribly unhappy. Not an 'opposition' kind of sadness but a heart wrenching sorrow. Mission calls or the big ominous letter on average take two weeks to arrive after your final interview. Mine took ten weeks. The interview taking place on my twenty first birthday, after which I felt utter joy. Practically bouncing off the walls I knew the Lord was once again confirming the 'Mission Decision' too me. Then why, before my call had even arrived did I feel so different?! 

Different options began opening up to me which I fasted, prayed, pleaded, cried and deeply pondered on. My answers from the Lord were changing. And man was it terrifying. I became so afraid of making the 'wrong' choice or the less 'right' choice if you will. Constantly seeking advice from my family, friends, my boyfriend and many church Priesthood leaders. Reading so many talks from apostles and prophets, reading my scriptures, my Patriarchal blessing. Fasted numerous times. Thinking, thinking and thinking some more. Countless tears. I was constantly going back and forth on my decision. 

I started to dread my mission call arriving in the post. Not how someone should or normally feels. I expected to be excited, thrilled, stalking the postman. Nope. I was terrified. I work in the mornings and so tend to be the first person to check the post on arrival home. However, Mister Postman keeps arriving later and later. It's flipping afternoon sometimes! My mum found the letter. I didn't know how to feel upon seeing it. I had to get her to take it away from me. I prayed and prayed. Panicked. Prayed. Stressed. Prayed. Got excited. Prayed. 

Opened it around 8pm that night. Reading the letter I was so overcome with emotion. It was an intensely spiritual experience. One of my sisters was confused as to why I was crying, I explained simply "This is a letter from God that will help me with my decision. It is special." I felt to consider my mission again. And thus the cycle continued. 

This has been the most stressful, painful and desperate month of my life. An insane notion, but true none the less. Who would of thought trying to figure out the right thing would be so difficult?! I have come to learn that life isn't as simple as we first think. That God has endowed us with agency or the ability to choose and expects us to be cheeky with our choices. Not in the way of being inappropriate or breaking the commandments, but in being bold. The gospel is a way of happiness and choice, not a black and white knowledge of what to always do in life. Sometimes we are deluded into thinking that following the commandments grants instantaneous clarity. It doesn't. But clarity does come. Even if that leap of faith must come first. 

We must be confident in ourselves. In our choices.

"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after, ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise." Hebrews 10:35-36

And so. I have decided. Not to go on a mission. I have decided to trust in myself and make a different choice. One that whenever I think of it it brings a massive smile to my face and fills my heart and soul with exceptional joy. 

The adventure of life continues and I love God more than ever. 

Talks That Helped Me
Agency or Inspiration? by Bruce R. McConkie 
The Lord Has a Plan for Us! by Carlos Godoy 
Continuing Revelation by Henry B Eyring 

*This post was written on Tuesday 28th October 2014

2 comments so far

  1. Great post! I know a lot of people that jumped into the decision without thinking it through completely. It is really cool that you did that and that you came to complete assurity of your decision. If you don't mind saying, if you had chosen to go, where would you have gone?

  2. Thank you :D. It is such a tough decision and sometimes it may seem that people make it quickly, but maybe they're just acting on faith? But then, there are those who do make the choice with negative connotations attached unfortunately. Thank you for your kind words! I've actually decided not to share where my call was to :) simply to help me focus on the future. x


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