In my past LENT posts, I have mentioned a lot about God, how I feel about Him and how I feel in general. I don’t feel as though my emotions and the experience that is attached to those emotions have been conveyed well. (I have been trying to convey without explanation, which I was unsuccessful at) So, it might be time for me to express My Story:
A few years back, while attending BYU-I, I was unattached and wanting to do what all the boys got to do at 19- serve a mission. I had been dying to go for those LONG 2 years and now my age had finally caught up with my desire. So, I filled out the papers and awaited my call.
I was called to serve English speaking in the Virginia Richmond Mission. I was excited and nervous (like all are). I got everything ready to go and went. I spent 3 weeks in the Missionary Training Center (MTC). Unlike most missionaries I have spoken to, I loved the MTC. Those were long days, but I really enjoyed it. Then, the day finally came. The day every missionary waits for. . . departure. Like most departures from the MTC ours was at some horrific hour of the morning that no one really knows exists except Farmers. I get all my things packed and loaded onto the bus for the SLC airport and climb on. The ride was not long, but I quickly fell asleep. When I woke, we were there. I got off the bus, unloaded my things, walked into the airport and. . .
Okay, so I’m a very green missionary. 3 weeks remember. I am 21 years old. Little experience, but there is still some undeniable notion in my head that I am not to go. So, what do I do? I convince myself that I am just nervous and afraid of what might be out there. I am going to do a job that I have never had experience doing before and am just a little scared. (although I have never been scared before, this has to be it AND we are told multiple times before leaving the MTC that Satan will try anything to stop you from going/staying on your mission. So it must be Satan right?)
I go anyway. I get to Virginia. We are put through a long day of orientation at the mission home and then assigned to our trainers/1st companions. We also had a one-on-one interview with our Mission President. I met with him and still feeling that I was just nervous and should not worry but “lose myself in the work,” didn’t say anything to him about how I felt.
I got to my area with my new companion and began the work of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. My companion and I didn’t get along. (surprise, surprise. Every missionary has a companionship with this problem at some point on their mission) After a few weeks of doing my best to work I am still not able to shake the heavy feeling that I am not supposed to be there. And now, on top of this feeling is another nagging feeling that someone in my family at home is going to pass away. I finally go to my Mission President. (my presiding leader; the person that I am supposed to trust and listen to.) He tells me that I just need to not worry and work harder; the mission life will get easier. And he reads me the scripture about how your family will be protected and safe while you are out serving the Lord. (I don’t remember and can’t find who the revelation was given to or it’s reference. Sorry. I will find it.)
Now I am sure that there are a lot of great things in the Doctine and Covenants for me to learn, but revelations given to specific people are just that. Revelations given to them. Not to me. I can learn from their experience, but it doesn’t necessarily apply to me word for word.
Needless to say, my cousin died two weeks later. I got the phone call from the mission office secretary early in the morning and before we even answered it, I knew it was for me and it wasn’t good news. (by this time, I had two new companions and we got along great and they knew all about my feelings) My senior companion was furious that my Mission President hadn’t made the call himself, especially since I had just talked to him about this.
But we kept on working. And I kept on feeling worse. I called President again. He said he would have his wife call me. She called. She wanted to know why I wanted to go, (I didn’t want to go) what else I had to do at home (HELLO, I’m a girl and don’t have to be on a mission. I can do anything), and then wanted me to work harder. A few weeks later, I got sent to an LDS Services Shrink. He told me that I needed to have more faith, keep a grateful journal, and study and work harder. All while not really listening to what I had to say.
After another week of uneasiness which rendered me unable to physically go out and work. I went to the mission home and met with the President. (I thought that this would be a good meeting; finally he would listen right? WRONG.) After less than 4 minutes, he sent me into another room and had me call my Stake President at home, and then call my Dad. I talked to them both. My conversation with my dad was supportive, but still included the goal of staying on the mission. I came out. Told my Mission President about the conversations and he just looked at me and said that he wanted to know by the end of tomorrow what my decision was about staying here or going home.
Frustrated, I said Okay and left.(I know that I should have stood up for myself, but the emotional unrest was getting to me)
The minute my companion and I got outside and into our car, she told me that the President had told her that he didn’t think I was going to make it. (Good. Glad he could have a positive outlook about me and what I felt. Oh wait. He didn’t know what I felt. He wouldn’t listen)
On the hour long drive home, my companion and I decided that we were going to hash this out ourselves and make a decision based on our feelings. We did. The decision was to go home. We both felt like a two-ton weight had been lifted the minute we decided. It was good. Until. . .
I actually got home. No one knows why I’m coming home. My parents were told that it was a “medical” problem by my mission president. My stake president that I talked to had been released 4 days earlier and I was now being released by a man who didn’t know anything about the situation. No one knows and I’m not sure what to tell them because I have spent the last 3 months with people telling me I’m wrong, and crazy, and shouldn’t feel this way. AND everyone at home is afraid to ask. (stupid culture)
Since then, I have battled Priesthood leaders that refuse to listen, are so attached to “tradition” that they forget the real purpose of the gospel and church functions, and address me as one beneath them and their station. I have just a few years under my belt since the “mish” to dwell, ponder, and understand different aspects of this situation that happened and continues to happen. I know that we are subject to our own mistakes and misunderstanding. We all have faults. I don’t blame my Mission President anymore. I don’t despise the branch president that spoke to me as “just the wife.” I don’t get along with my Bishop now. But I don’t hate him either. He’s a traditionalist and I’m more liberal than he would ever think a Mormon woman should be. But I don’t feel as though blaming these men would be the right thing for me to do.
However, not blaming them leaves me with more questions, no answers, and feelings for God that are uncomfortable.
Why would God not let my Mission President know that I wasn’t supposed to be there?
Why would God keep me from finding someone in a Leadership position that would understand my feelings?
Why was I not looked after when I got home?
Why are there so many people who come home from missions and are not looked after?
Why am I cursed with Bishops that refuse to listen?
Why, when I can’t find anything too sinful on my record, do I not get answers to questions and prayers?
These and many other questions fill my mind every day. I have a million answers for most of them. Yet, nothing that seems to settle my emotions. They will settle someday. I’m sure a few more years will give me more time to understand.
I hope that my experiences were conveyed well and that you might understand me better. It helps for me to understand myself if nothing else.