The Fourth Missionary (download)
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First off, to all of your prospective sisters out there who are on Facebook, there's a great Facebook group called "Many are called... But Few are Sisters" that you should check out. It's a private group, so you'll have to search for it, but I promise it's worth the effort. It's thousands of women strong and there are lots of links to cool blogs that you can check out.
The reason I bring that up is because the downloadable for today is something that someone posted in the group. It has affected me personally, so if you want to read about my feelings on it, then I'll keep talking after the link.
This PDF is pretty long (20+ pages) but it's full of poignant ideas and ways to self-assess yourself, both before and during a mission, to see if you're on the right path. Brother Corbridge shares one quote by C.S. Lewis that struck me to the bone and reminded me that I have so much work to do if I want to be the best kind of missionary, or the fourth missionary of Brother Corbridge's talk.
"Paraphrasing C.S. Lewis the Lord says to us: 'Give me all. I don't want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work: I want You. All of you. I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man. but to kill it. No half-measures will do. I don't want to only prune a branch here and another there; rather, I want the whole tree out. Hand it all over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them all over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart.' (Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, p. 167)"
I, like a lot of you sisters, I think, haven't always been, and in fact am usually not, sure about serving a mission. It's a different beast for us compared to the priesthood duty that it is for men. I feel like for every good experience I have confirming that I should go on a mission, I get two comments from old ladies saying "Going on a mission? Don't do that. You need to get married! Don't worry about a mission." That just starts my doubt spiral all over again.
I've had to keep pushing back the deadline in my mind because of new problems (mostly with my teeth) and it can be very discouraging. I had hoped that I would have my papers in by now, but at this point I'm just hoping I can get them in before the end of March.
I've also been struggling with a desire to serve, which is something I think that a lot of us are going through. We've been taught to value temple marriage and an eternal family above nearly everything else since we were kids. Most old ladies don't understand why we would want to go on a mission when we could get married.
I can't answer that. It's different for every woman, I think. I struggle because there's a large part of me, an almost overwhelming part of me, that wants nothing more than to go and get married now. I'll be graduating from college in April, and after that it feels like my real adult life should begin, and along with that finding some boy that loves me a lot and wants to be with me for eternity. I'm a hopeless romantic at heart. I watched chick flicks all weekend. I want that, more than nearly anything in the world.
After reading this talk, I realized a few things. It made me think back on "Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence," a talk by Jeffrey R. Holland that I already wrote about on this blog. It made me think about the things that I've always wanted out of life, like an eternal family and a loving husband. I've been viewing a mission as a detour from that, one year and six months of not being able to think about things like being in love and getting married. Eighteen months of not being able to watch chick flicks and listen to silly love songs and dream of walking into the temple with my sweetheart.
It's true, a mission is eighteen months of going off the map and putting yourself through the shredder every day, working hard, but that's what it takes in order to kill the natural man. The Lord already has all of us except for our free agency. When we give that to Him, when we give Him all of the things we want, secretly and not so secretly, each plan that we've made and dream that we have for our future, when we say "Lord, I am yours. I am choosing to give you everything. I am willing to give you every wish I've ever had, and I will try to be like you."
Only then can we start to recognize our true potential as celestial beings. I'm not saying that this process can only happen during a mission, but I am saying that, for me, this is what I've chosen to do. I don't know how I'll do it, exactly, but I know that I have been called to serve a mission and that, if I am willing, the Lord will show me a way.
Matthew 10:39, right? "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."
There's a quote from Brother Corbridge's talk that I really love, and I'll leave you with that.
Just give it up. Surrender your will to Him. Unconditionally. Withhold nothing. Turn it all over to Him; all of your desires, wishes, dreams and hopes. Be true and faithful in your head and in your heart, not just in your behavior. Trust in Him. Trust Him who knows all things. Trust Him who has all power. Trust Him whose love for you is perfect. Trust Him, who alone suffered, paid and atoned for your sins, and for your weaknesses as well. Trust Him that He will make of you, immeasurably more, than what you will ever, ever, in all eternity, make of yourself. He will create of you a masterpiece. You will create of you only a smudge. You will create an ordinary man. He will create a God.