- The Lord Knows Your Heart
The Lord was there for you through it all. In the excitement of receiving your mission call; He was there. In your darkest hours; He was there. He walked with you as you ministered and did His work. And I strongly believe, that He walked with you when you returned home from your mission, sorrowing and sharing your tears. You may have the urge to squirm when people casually ask about your mission, but you can feel confident knowing that the Lord knows your heart and that He was there. He will always be there.
2. You Can Do Hard Things
I have insomnia, which caused me to become sleep deprived and to develop other related illnesses while serving a mission. I fought to stay on my mission, but my health continued to decline as the sleep deprivation became too difficult to bear, and so I came home. For a time I entertained the idea that if my faith were stronger I may have healed and moved forward in the field. I had thoughts like “I could have done more to stay out,” or “I could have pushed through.” I even had some well-intentioned people tell me that “not everyone can handle a mission.” I felt like I had failed God and that I could not do hard things.
Those thoughts were not only wrong, but discouraging, damaging, and most of all- depressing. Negative thinking caused my health to decline even more as I felt myself churning in circles of sadness and doubt. I tried so hard to stay positive. I projected a happy attitude, and reflected with others about how this had happened for a reason, and I was grateful for all that I had learned throughout my unique mission experience. I was cheerful, and spoke of my mission with all the love and excitement any missionary would. But inside, my heart hurt and the feeling I had given up cast a shadow on my mind that I didn’t know how to remove. It took some counseling, medical care, and holding onto the very principles I had taught others as a missionary, to move forward.
I can now say with confidence to anyone who returned home (early or not) from a mission: making the sacrifice to serve a mission is a hard thing, and coming home is a hard thing. You have done hard things. You are doing hard things. And through it all we can smile and say “I can do ALL things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
- There’s More For Us Than “Going” On A Mission
In Elder Bednar’s talk “Becoming a Missionary,” he discusses the important principle of becoming:
“In our customary Church vocabulary, we often speak of going to church, going to the temple, and going on a mission. Let me be so bold as to suggest that our routine emphasis on going misses the mark.
The issue is not going to church; rather, the issue is worshipping and renewing covenants as we attend church. The issue is not going to or through the temple; rather, the issue is having in our hearts the spirit, the covenants, and the ordinances of the Lord’s house. The issue is not going on a mission; rather, the issue is becoming a missionary and serving throughout our entire life with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength. It is possible for a young man to go on a mission and not become a missionary, and this is not what the Lord requires or what the Church needs.”
- The Service Never Stops
We often hear that coming home may mean that the Lord is calling you to serve a mission at home,
where you may be needed. Well it’s true. Our mission continues through every stage of life. Elder Bednar touches on this as well:
“…All of us now are serving and will continue to serve as lifelong missionaries. We are missionaries every day in our families, in our schools, in our places of employment, and in our communities. Regardless of our age, experience, or station in life, we are all missionaries
Proclaiming the gospel is not an activity in which we periodically and temporarily engage. And our labors as missionaries certainly are not confined to the short period of time devoted to full-time missionary service in our youth or in our mature years.”
- Keep Moving Forward
When I came home, though heartbroken from having left my mission that I loved, I felt a moment of relief and peace. It was hard for me to allow myself to continue to feel that peace and not push it away by dwelling in self-doubt. Even though I had worked so hard with the Lord to overcome that doubt, sometimes those feelings return. I dismiss them and think of this scripture instead: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled,” The Gospel of Jesus Christ offers a peace of mind and a sound heart that no other source can. Accept that gift of peace The Lord wants you to have, and move forward into your bright and beautiful future.