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Friday, April 8, 2016

What If He Doesn't Want to Serve a Mission? - Part 1 of 3

Dear Bro Jo,

I have been reading several of the letters on your blog, and I decided that it might be worthwhile to ask for your advice on a few things.

To start, I am 20 years old and I have been dating my girlfriend, who is the same age, for just over a year now.

We met at institute our first year at the university (in California, no BYU here).

At first she was seeing someone else, but their relationship began to fade away and we became better friends. A few months after it ended we started dating.

Of course, that was also around the time of my wonderful 19th birthday.

I had always imagined that I would serve a mission, but I never really wanted to.

As it got closer and closer I realized I really didn't want to go, but I thought it was the right thing. I believed it would make me a better person, a better father, a better husband, a better priesthood holder.

I believed it would be a great experience that would shape me forever.

So I started getting ready to serve.

I submitted my mission application last January.

A few months later the dating started, and a few months later some lines were crossed.

We started touching each other in ways that we shouldn't have.

Eventually I confessed it to the Bishop and started working on repentance.

She spoke to her Branch President as well.

We've made excellent progress, and I am now two weeks away from being restored to full fellowship in the Church.

But that brings back the mission problem. I don't want to go.

I have all the reasons to go, and I believe them.

But I don't have the desire.

I've told my Bishop that, but he hasn't given me anything to help give me that desire.

I don't know what to do.

I can't get it out of my head, but I don't want to go.

My girlfriend was supportive of me serving at first. She was going to wait for me.

Then she became the voice that said "Yes, he's going back" every time I was asked if I was going to serve.

But now she doesn't do that anymore.

She has another idea: marriage.

We've talked about getting married. It's something that we've told each other we both want.

We've both prayed and feel that we're right for each other.

So am I still supposed to serve a mission?

I think the obvious answer is yes, but I'm not really sure.

I don't feel like I get an answer when I pray about serving a mission.

Maybe this is a decision I have to make on my own?

So I guess I just don't know how to act and which course of action to pursue.

Thanks for your help,

- Name Withheld

Dear NW,

I think you're struggling because you're looking for answers in the wrong places.

Look, I've got one son on a mission now and another leaving in the next few months, and I'm going to be honest: I'd hate for either of them to have a companion who didn't want to be there.

For me, serving a mission is a little like going to college: if you don't want to go, then don't go; it's a waste of time and money and you'd be a drain on everyone around you.

I'm a college professor and I occasionally tell people "hey, if you don't want it, if you don't see the value, don't want to make the sacrifice or put in the effort, then college isn't for you".

A mission is no different.

That said, I think failing to go may be one of the biggest mistakes you may ever make. 

This is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity that will never come again.

Sure, I know you love this girl, and if you have any touch with reality you'll admit that it's statistically very unlikely that she'll be single when you come home (regardless of what she says), but the truth is, NW, there are lot's of great girls out there that could be a fabulous spouse for you.

You'll have many more opportunities to get married than you will to serve a mission.

Now, all of that said, between you and me Little Brother, I think the "I don't want to go" line is a . . . big crock of . . . poo.

Oh, sure, I believe you when you say that you don't want to go.

And that's fine.

But I think you're lying to me, and to yourself, when you say there's "no reason".

And whether you go or not, you better darn well figure out what that reason is, because mission or no, until you admit it and deal with it, it's going to haunt the rest of your life.

Frankly, I wonder if on some level you didn't do things with your girlfriend because . . . on some level . . . you were hoping it would disqualify you from service . . .

But then you felt (rightfully) so guilty that you put things back on track.

And that IS a very positive thing.

Look, I can tell you all of the reasons to go (my favorite is my sincere belief that someone out there, and we may not know whom anytime soon, needs to hear about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Joy it brings, from you; not anyone else; you).

So can your Bishop.

So can about five million other people.

But the Desire to go is going to have to come from within you, brother.

Christ, through the Spirit, can testify to you of the value of your service, and that may be motivating. 

But the work is too darned hard for you to be successful if you can't dig down deep inside and motivate yourself.

If you truly want to have desire, you will.

It's okay to be scared.

It's okay to have doubts.

And worries.

And concerns.

That's all very real.

But those things need not stop you nor rule your life.

I hope you can find it within yourself, the desire to go and give back to Him who has given you so much.

But that's up to you.

If you want to talk about your honest reasons for "not wanting to go", I'm here any time.

But you'll have to help me help you by being honest and direct with us both.

Dig deep and spill it.

If you want.

God bless you.

And good luck,

- Bro Jo

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