I have lots of different readers who enjoy my posts for different reasons. I love every last one of you! This is a religious post probably best suited for my Mormon readers but hopefully encouraging to anyone of faith. If religion isn’t your thing don’t worry will be posting about your favorite topic soon. It’s a huge part of my life so it will come up on the blog from time to time. Love you!
Lately I’ve found myself thinking a lot about my mission. This year marks 10 years since I came home which has given me pause to think about the decade which has come and gone. Plus, I recently played host to my favorite companion Julia Graves and spent time with a sister who also served around my time Lisa Luddington. We’ve shared stories and looked back on all we learned during those very intense 20 months (I extended).
Today I went to a homecoming for a friend and it touched my heart to see how strong she has become. I hope she can keep that strength and faith for a decade as I have striven to do however imperfectly.
As I’ve been thinking about my mission I realized something special it taught me I hadn’t put my finger on before. It taught me how to deal with the loneliness of faith.
Let me explain. There was a time on the mission I was given a companion who was bi-polar and thought that a mission would cure her mental illness. When it obviously didn’t she took her anger out on me and was emotionally and verbally abusive. I was berated as the worst missionary, ugly, stupid, inept, you name it. Then she would go days with the silent treatment which was better but hard when you have to spend 24 hours a day with a person.
It was an especially hard time because I was trying so hard to be a good trainer and obedient. We were opening a new area to sisters so I didn’t know anybody and we were far away from the mission home. On LDS missions you are not allowed to call home, just weekly letters (although my parents did send me flowers. Love them!).
I’m not saying I was perfect because I wasn’t but I was trying to be obedient and I seemed to be punished for that where other people had great training experiences. Plus, how many times can you be told your a terrible missionary before you begin to believe it.
It was one of the loneliest time of my life. That may be surprising because I was with someone all the time but it just goes to show a person can be lonely who is surrounded by people.
Anyway, I thought about coming home but I didn’t want to let my family down especially my younger siblings who needed an example missionary in their lives. I had to call the mission president every night and he helped me to get through every day. I had a sister swap with my MTC comp Sister Noyes and that also helped.
But in the end I had to turn to my Heavenly Father in a way I hadn’t done to that point. He was all I had to really lean on. I read my scriptures and I prayed so hard my knees hurt. And you know what? He filled me up. He let me know I wasn’t a bad missionary. He helped me to forgive her, which was incredibly hard to do. He loved me and I was not the same after that. I was in 100% to the mission and while again I was far from perfect I know I was the missionary He needed me to be.
As hard as that experience was, and it was brutal, it gave me a gift. In the 10 years since I came home there have been lonely times. I don’t need to go into all of them but just trust me there have been lonely times. I’ve felt attacked, disappointed in the choices of others, angry, frustrated, confused and alone, as all humans do from time to time.
But I’ve always had that time on the mission in my pocket to carry me through.
I had discovered God’s ability to strengthen me during the lonely times and have never forgotten it and never will.
If you are feeling lonely or life is giving you a shellacking (we’ve all been there!) maybe it’s a moment God is trying to turn you into something better, like He made me the best missionary I could be? Maybe he is trying to make you strong?
I absolutely believe moments of loneliness are essential to understanding the atonement of Jesus Christ and really applying it to your heart. We need it so bad in those moments and only then are we teachable and humble enough to make the tough choices and rely on His mercy completely.
Never forget the scripture says
“I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”