Call this a disclaimer if you will- I have the highest respect for returned missionaries. I myself served a full time mission. I was 19. I loved it. It became one of the most defining periods of my life. My mission meant everything to me. It shook me awake and stripped me of selfishness and naivete (Well somewhat. I still have those things) I could write volumes on how much I loved my mission but you get the idea I hope.
My husband and I met at a church dance. I know, it’s pretty cliche. We were married exactly 90 days after we met. I know, even more cliche. I never expected that to happen, I’m a slow mover and somewhat of a skeptic, but I got ‘swept off my feet’ (I’ll try and cool it with the cliches here.) I knew I had met the man I was going to marry, but I had one itching concern. He wasn’t a returned missionary.
On our first date I asked him if he served. He said no, and explained himself in a short story that I knew he must have recited many times in response to that frequently asked question. He had all the qualities I could have hoped for but no missionary plaque to show for it. He did not serve a mission due to personal circumstances. The decision was made with much prayer between him, his bishop, and the Lord. I don’t feel it’s necessary to go into the details here, but I support the choice he made and I’m proud of his character.
When we got engaged I became flustered with the questions and concerns of friends, family and peers regarding his lack of missionary service. In all honesty I shared the same concerns. So I sat down with my bishop and his insights gave me a much needed humbling. My bishop responded beautifully “Does he respect you?”
I said “More than I’ve felt respected in a relationship before.”
“Does he honor his Priesthood?”
“Yes. I know he does.”
“Then” he explained, “That is what is most important.”
We of course know the Lord has encouraged repeatedly through His prophets and apostles that “every worthy young man should fill a mission.” (President Spencer W. Kimball, 1981) This article is in no way intended to tear down the goal of every young man fulfilling that duty. However, full-time proselyting missions may not be a one-size-fits-all to some unique and challenging circumstances. It makes me so happy to see that we can be understanding and Christ-like towards those who opt out of traditional 2 service and choose other forms of missionary service fitted to their needs. We never know the depth or nature behind their choice. And especially, the pain of not having met the sometimes overwhelming expectation of going on a mission.
A favorite mission leader of mine told me “I didn’t go on a mission just to ‘go on a mission.’ I went on a mission to become a missionary.” How profound. I like to think that’s of key importance. Being a missionary and internalizing missionary service. One might say doing so means internalizing Christ.
My husband is serving a mission. I know there is a badge on his heart. He shares the gospel humbly and fearlessly. He has touched the lives of many and even baptized his best friend. He serves me and is a missionary to me when I need it. I feel so blessed to be married to such a wonderful man.
So to rephrase the title, these are a few insights on why and “How I married a forever missionary.”