I was 19 when the age changed happened and women could leave on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at that age. Let me tell you, I had no clue what to think when I heard that! It was an exciting time and everyone around me was putting in their mission papers, including lots of my closest friends.
At that time in my life I was enrolled at Utah Valley University and worked part time at Dixon Middle School and Cold Stone while living with my best friends near the campus. It was a fun and busy time in my life and I was unsure of whether or not I wanted to give it all up to go on a mission.
I spent a lot of time praying and fasting about whether or not to go. After a while, I finally got the answer to put my life on hold and to go on a mission. So, I took a leave of absence from school and got a full time job at Dixon Middle School until school was out to save money for my mission while I excitedly got started on my mission papers.
Once I got my papers all completed I was just ecstatic about everything to do with a mission. Then something happened that changed everything, I got a strong impression to not turn in my papers. What?! I had just put my whole life on hold to go on a mission to be told to put that on hold as well?! I was angry and upset.
That time in my life was an emotional roller coaster for me because I felt that I was doing nothing with my life. I remember that at one point, one friend got engaged and another got her mission call all in the same week while I kept getting asked, “What are your plans?” I did not know. I prayed daily to know if I could turn my papers in yet and the answer was always no. So, then I prayed that if it’s a no then at least can I find a guy to date? The answer was also no.
After months of depression and feeling frustrated I realized something. I did not know what the next month was going to bring but that did not have to stop me from preparing for a mission. Even if a mission was not in my cards, life is a mission in itself that I have been called to serve on. I spent that time focusing on my scripture study and building a closer relationship with my Savior.
Then a couple months later, I got called to serve as the 1st counselor in my single’s ward Relief Society Presidency. While I was being set apart I was told that this calling is my mission and to focus on it. So, I put more effort into that calling than I ever had with any other calling. That taught me what it truly meant to give my best to a calling.
So, the answer is no, I never served an official mission. Looking back three years, do I feel like there are things I missed out on by not serving? Yes, to be perfectly honest. There is something special about watching someone anxiously get their call and being excited about where they are going. Then, they leave and get to experience a different culture. They get to meet people they would never had originally met and have incredible experiences. They grow spiritually and can always have that to use for the rest of their life. So, yes, there are experiences that I never got to have and never will.
Do I regret that I did not serve a mission? No. I learned what I needed to learn and I grew spiritually in my own way. I now know that I can always put my faith in Christ because he has my best interest at heart. It took pulling out the rug from under me and letting me fall for me to learn that he will always catch me if I let him.
Choosing to serve a mission is a hard decision. If you are going through that my prayers are with you! I want you to know that if you do what the Lord knows is best for you then it is never the wrong answer. Also, a mission does not start at the Missionary Training Center and does not end when one is released. Everyday I am a missionary and represent the church through the way I live and I am always looking for ways to share the gospel with those around me.
(Photo courtesy of Valerie Walker Photography)