Serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a big decision and one that most young adults struggle making...at least I did. It's no surprise, by now, you know my struggles with drugs and alcohol as a young adult. I did not serve a mission for the church at the age of 19. I came really close to serving a mission. However, going to the bishop and discussing my worthiness, having my parents find out my dirty laundry, and having to tell my closest friends I can't go drinking with them anymore...was harder than making the decision to serve. Deep down I wanted to serve, but I was too afraid to face my fears. For these reasons, I now have to live the rest of my life wondering whom's lives I might have impacted and saved had I served. That's a question I won't know until the hereafter.
Now as an adult about to turn 40 years of age, I have come to learn that I was wrong about my fears. If I had only talked with my bishop he would have hugged me and told me he loved me. If I confessed to my parents, they would have hugged me and told me they loved me. If I had shared my thoughts with my friends, I'm pretty confident they would have hugged me and told me they loved me. I know this because they all still love me today, and I don't drink anymore. This made me think, "what are the youth thinking about that might help them make the decision to serve a mission?" The following questions and answers have been found from LDS resources, friends and my own personal opinion. I hope they help you or someone you know.
What if I don’t know enough about the scriptures or the gospel?
Mission preparation should definitely include learning about the gospel, but you don’t have to know everything before you go. For example, as a young man, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was worried he wasn’t prepared to serve a mission. He said, “I remember praying, ‘Heavenly Father, how can I serve a mission when I know so little?’ I believed in the Church, but I felt my spiritual knowledge was very limited. As I prayed, the feeling came: ‘You don’t know everything, but you know enough!"
Knowledge of the gospel will come as you faithfully work to learn gospel principles and study the scriptures, and you won’t be alone. The Holy Ghost will guide you, and you’ll have companions, missionary leaders, and your mission president to help you in your efforts.
What if I don’t feel worthy?
If there is something wrong in your life, you can take care of it. Your bishop, your parents and your friends will help you know what you need to do to become clean through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said, “I urge you not to pray to know whether you should go on a mission; rather, ask the Lord to guide you in whatever may be necessary to become a worthy, empowered full-time missionary." I definitely was not worthy at the time I was thinking of serving a mission. But remember we are all imperfect. Some sins might be greater than others, but I can testify that Heavenly Father knows your heart and can help you work through these feelings.
How can I leave my family and friends?
It’s hard to leave loved ones, especially knowing things will be different when you get back—for your friends, for your family, and especially for you. You might worry about all the things you are going to miss while being away. School, parties, dating, working and making money are all things that crossed my mind at that time. I can tell you that in the 2 years of not serving, I wasted two years drunk, hungover, in trouble with the law and was not progressing with life. Not all people that don't serve a mission will end up like me. However, those that do serve have a much greater chance of returning home with skills and will carry them throughout the rest of their lives. Believe that Heavenly Father wants what is best for you and remember, “Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us.” The Lord has amazing blessings waiting for you as you find the faith to go forward.
What are some resources I could help make my decision easier?
In business, there is a quote I love that says. "there is no equity like sweat equity". It would be wrong to say there isn't work to be done to prepare for a mission, but it doesn't need to be hard or complicating. Reach out to others that have served a mission. Start reading the scriptures, but if you are like me and find scriptures hard to read, start with the ensign or the friend. Pray! Pray often! Wear something that reminds you of what your purpose is and why Heavenly Father has made you the person you are born to be. This is a huge reason why we created Be You Bands. Our CTR silicone rings are meant to be daily reminders of our God given talents. Being proud of who you are and who you can become.
There are many more questions that you might be asking yourself when it comes to serving a mission. If there is one word of advise I may leave you with is that our Heavenly Father is a very loving and forgiving father. There is no sin that your bishop, your parents or your friends haven't heard about or even experienced. You might be surprised how much they will understand and help you through these big decisions. You are meant for greatness and you must believe in yourself.
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