Cast Not Away Therefore Your ConfidenceIt's important to me that I tell you straight up: half of the time, I'm not so sure I even want to go on a mission. I'm 21, which was fine until October, when they changed the age for sisters to 19, and now it feels like I'm already behind in the game.
You see, I graduate from college in three months. Three months exactly. And after that I'm officially a grown up. I have to start thinking about weird adult things like finding a job and going to grad school and maybe even getting married (...let's hold off on that one). I'm terrified of that.
But I'm more terrified of going on a mission, most of the time.
I'm afraid that I'll miss something during my one year and six months, something big, a job or school opportunity or the perfect man or maybe something less pleasant.
I'm afraid of being challenged. I'm not naturally the kind of person who can go up to strangers in the street and talk to them about anything. I'm especially not the kind of person who knocks on other peoples' doors to try and talk about the Church. My comfort zone ends basically where the responsibilities of a missionary begin, and that's hard to me, to willingly submit myself to something that will test every atom in my body, every single day.
I'm afraid of being a missionary. I know that I don't know all of the answers. I don't even know half of them. I'm afraid of all the times that I will let people down because I'm a missionary and I'm supposed to know that stuff, but I don't.
I'm afraid that I'll come home from my mission as someone I won't like.
I'm afraid of never falling in love. As illogical as that is, that I somehow won't find boys attractive after my mission and want to date and marry them, I'm still afraid of it.
That's why it has been so hard for these past few months, as I chip away at my mission papers and finish up my time at college. All of the other fears are completely valid, but so is that soft spot in my heart that adores Pride & Prejudice and watching chick flicks and wants nothing more than to fall in love with a boy and get married and live in a pretty little house with a white picket fence. And the thing is, I can. I let myself get so distracted with school and a mission for the past few years that I didn't realize that I could do that. I'm twenty-one. I have friends who are eighteen and married. Many of my friends now are getting engaged, getting married, having babies.
I'm old! And yet I'm so young, and the world is so wide open for me that I'm having a hard time convincing myself that going on a mission is not a waste of eighteen months in the prime of my life. It's so easy to get distracted by the idea of all that opportunity, waiting for me to take it.
The moral of this story is that I've had to take it day by day, week by week, for the past little while. Every week I go to church and ask Heavenly Father if going on a mission is still the right thing for me. Every week I pray that someone will say something that reminds me why I wanted to be a missionary in the first place. Every day I have to be alert and recognize the loops of flaxen cord waiting to ensnare me in selfish, angry, or self-righteous thoughts, because those thoughts separate me from the Holy Ghost. If I let that separation happen, then all of a sudden nothing is clear anymore and I find myself questioning everything, even God.
I love this quote by Jeffrey R. Holland, given in a devotional talk at BYU in 1999. The talk is titled "Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence," and it's something that my dad recommended I read when I told him that I was struggling with keeping a desire to go on a mission.
With any major decision there are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. Face your doubts. Master your fears. “Cast not away therefore your confidence.” Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.
Whenever I find myself really questioning whether or not I still want to go on a mission, I think about the feelings that I had when I first decided that it was what I wanted to do. Elder Holland is right: if it was right a few months ago, if it was right when you gave that talk about missionary work in your home ward over Christmas break, then it is right now. It is so easy to doubt, to forget how we felt before we let our guard down without realizing we had.
We all have doubts. So, fellow future missionaries, if you knew at one time that a mission was right, it can still be right now. Even if you're two years older than the age requirement and you're graduating from college and everyone around you is getting married, a mission will always be the best decision you can make. If you haven't received that revelation yet, pray about it. If you really want to know, the Lord will give you an answer.
Don't be like me and make it so easy for Satan to win. We're the front lines, now. We can't afford to falter or fall.