If you are anything like me, you love LDS missionaries. They are diligent, fun, insightful, and they carry with them a powerful spirit. They are essentially just angels in our midst (in my mind, at least).
In the fall of 2011, I found myself sitting on the lawn of the Provo temple one Saturday afternoon, thinking about how great it would be to serve a mission. Being only 19 at the time, in an era where sisters weren’t eligible until 21, I knew it would be a long while before that was a possibility for me. Yet I remember laying on the grass with my scriptures, just thinking how I would love to spend all my time studying scriptures and having Gospel discussions and serving the Lord and others. It sounded fantastic!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I knew that being a missionary wouldn’t be easy. Even as I did eventually submit my own application and awaited my MTC report date, I was braced for the most challenging experience of my life. And yes, being a missionary was a struggle at times. And yes, it was also completely wonderful. And yes, of course I miss it! But I had a realization today that opened my eyes to a blessing I’d not yet acknowledged.
In my pre-mission years, I craved the spirituality I recognized in the missionaries serving in my wards. I loved my scripture/religion classes at BYU and yearned for more time to dedicate to gospel study. Being a full-time missionary, with all its rules and “restrictions” was actually one of the most freeing experiences in that sense. It gave me the chance to focus all my efforts and thoughts on the needs of others, and allowed me to develop my personal testimony, knowledge, and capacity for love. It was glorious.
Last night, a good friend sent me a text to share some worries and struggles and ask for help/comfort. It was too late for me to go over and visit (mostly because of my old-woman habits and not wanting to leave the house after 10pm), but we were able to have a semi-deep text conversation, which he later said helped him see things in a different way and be able to cope a little more effectively with the challenges he is facing right now.
As I sat in our lesson with the sister missionaries today, I realized what a blessed position I am in. Aside from having a great job that I love, I also now have free time to use in the ways I choose. This means I can dedicate time to studying the gospel, as I so longed to do more when I was in college. It also means that I can be up till midnight talking with a loved one about how eternal perspectives bring us hope, and how heartbreak and despair can bring us closer to Christ through our humility. That is not a conversation/experience I would have been able to have as a full-time missionary, no matter how much I adored that calling. Truthfully, I have just as much opportunity (if not more) to serve my brothers and sisters without the name tag as I did when it was permanently and affectionally bonded to my lapel every day. I can give rides, I can make meals, but most importantly, I can be a friend. I can be there to just listen, to chat, to go on evening drives. I am available in emergencies, or in general just a 24/7 resource for encouragement and support. I guess that’s what fellowship is all about.
And to be honest, it’s actually kind of the best. 🙂