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Friday, April 15, 2016

What If He Doesn't Want to Serve a Mission? - Part 2 of 3

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey Bro Jo, Thanks for the reply.

I've thought about what you said, and I've tried to dig deep and come up with some real reasons.

I tried putting them in order, but I couldn't quite settle on a perfect ordering, so here we go.

1.  One of the reasons is that I'm shy and I don't like change. I'm not excited about the unknown. I was talking to my institute teacher, and he was thrilled about the idea of me serving and all the unknown associated with it.

I feel that I need a taste of the unknown to see if I like it--to see if I can get excited about it. I don't feel like I can look forward to serving a mission. I don't feel like moving out of my comfort zone into the mission world. I know it's something that will be good for me, but it's a hard thing for me to commit to do.

I think that's partly because I don't really see a mission as something that great. I know there are tons of positives that can come from serving. I just don't see those in the mission itself.

2.  I guess this leads to my next reason, and that's that I don't have that burning desire to serve. I know it's great and important, but I'm not excited about missionary work.

I'm not thrilled to go out and bring my dear brothers and sisters to repentance. I wish I were more like that.

It's a little depressing for me to admit that I don't care about people as much as I should.

Several times people in the scriptures sin, repent, and then have this amazing, burning desire to preach the gospel (I'm thinking of Alma), but I don't.

Did I not repent fully?

Did I mess up somewhere?

Is my testimony not strong enough?

I thought I would try to get a taste of missionary work to see if that would help give me a desire. I've never really done any.

Once I invited a friend to a Boy Scout activity, but that was about the best I ever did.

This year I finally invited a friend to Church, and I've gone out with the missionaries twice.

So it's been a pretty weak attempt, but I've been trying to be a friend to a few new members of the Church. I feel like that's a good thing for me to do that may help them establish strong testimonies and desires to stay active in the Church, but when I went out with the Elders, I didn't really feel anything special there.

I had prayed that I would have good experiences and that the Spirit would be with us, but I didn't feel the Spirit there.

How am I supposed to have a burning desire and a love for my brethren when I don't feel the Spirit?

3.  I don't feel like I have a desire to sacrifice enough to serve a mission. I don't know... maybe I do, but if so, it's buried deep down somewhere.

I already know that a mission will haunt me. It won't leave me alone!

I wish it would just go away until I really have a desire to serve (which probably wouldn't happen if it were to disappear). I am a little bitter towards missions. I think that's just because of the pressure.

I like hearing some of the talks in sacrament meeting after a missionary returns home.

Specifically, I like when they share their experiences.

Sometimes I think, "That was cool. I want that.", but when they say "If you're thinking about a mission, just do it" I get upset.

That turns me off. It seems so impersonal.

I also don't like when they start listing off reasons to serve.

I'm sure there are reasons that I haven't heard yet, but I know most of them. I believe them.

I could defend anyone's choice to go serve.

I just don't feel like I have that desire, and that needs to come from within me, like you said. I'm just not sure how.

I left out a few details in my first email.

I received my mission call, and I sent back my acceptance letter.

I feel like I did it because I knew it was the right thing to do.

I guess I was able to sacrifice back then . . .

I didn't really want to go, but I knew it was what I needed to do.

Eventually the time came for me to be set apart, and I left for the missionary training center.

I was there for six weeks (out of twelve).

During my second to last Sunday-night fireside, the speaker said he was going to speak on one topic, but felt prompted to say a few words about another because one of us must have needed to hear it.

That really stuck me, and he continued to tell us about how we need to talk to our branch presidents if we had any unresolved conduct.

So I did.

I liked the singing at the MTC.

I can't sing, but I really enjoyed sitting there hearing almost two thousand missionaries united singing praises to the Lord.

That was one of the few times when I really felt the Spirit.

I mention this because I didn't really like the MTC.

It felt like a prison, and I wasn't happy there.

I remember being in the gym and running on the track.

There is a window in one corner overlooking the street outside the MTC.

I would look outside as I passed it. I would see the green grass, the street, the houses on the other side, and eventually the mountains and the blue sky.

Then it was gone.

I turned the corner and I was back to the MTC.

I feel like I'm just complaining now, and I know that many of the things I didn't like are simply complaints.

I would hope the mission field would be better, but I don't know how I could go back to the MTC.

I can't imagine thinking anything other than "Why am I here again?" when I go back.

Thank you for reading my emails.

I know this one is a little longer and has a few rant-like parts.

I've realized what my question really is, but unfortunately, I'm asking the impossible.

I'm really looking for someone to give me an answer that somehow I'll think is valid and will make the mission pressure go away.

But I know that can't happen.

But I appreciate your help and thoughts.

Thanks again,

- NW

**** Six Months Later ****

Dear NW,

So . . . NW . . . here we are 6 month later . . . how do you feel?

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Well, I feel a few things. I've been on quite a crazy roller coaster these past few months.

It makes sense to start with an experience I had back in July.

I had learned that the Church has been putting more of the General Conferences online, and I was interested in watching some of the older conferences.

I started watching some of the talks from 1985.

I skimmed through the transcripts to see what they were mostly about, and I saw that service and missionary work were common themes.

I also watched Elder Maxwell's talk about submitting to the Father.

The highlight of my experience was that I truly felt the Spirit, and I truly felt a desire to serve a mission.

I felt like the Lord wants me to serve.

I don't think I've had that personally confirmed to me before.

This experience was one of the most powerful and joyful ones that I've had, and it lasted for about twenty minutes.

I think it was also interesting that it occurred on the twentieth of July, which was exactly a year after I first reported to the MTC.

So I met with my Bishop as soon as I could, and I told him that I wanted to serve.

Immediately after I felt good about it, but I also had a little bit of a "what did I just do" type of feeling.

I tried to focus on the fact that I knew it was the right thing, and that sustained me for the rest of the day.

I told multiple people that week about my experience and decision, and I was actually excited about serving a mission!

But the excitement began to fade away, and I found myself in a situation quite similar to where I was before.

This time it was different, because I had this new experience.

I couldn't deny that I felt that I really needed to do this.

So I decided that I needed to keep pushing myself towards serving a mission, because I knew that I could be excited and enthusiastic about it.

I also realized that I hadn't quite finished resolving all the worthiness issues that I thought I had, and thus told my bishop about that.

We met regularly for about two months, and then I started meeting with the Stake President.

We decided to wait until the middle of December to submit anything to Salt Lake, partially because I won't be out of school until then.

We've been meeting every two to three weeks, and he has been counseling me about deepening my conversion and desire to serve.

I don't think it has really been working though...

The last time we met was a week ago.

I told him that I didn't think I was making any progress, but I then remembered that I've had a few spiritual experiences since the last time we met.

He thought that was a good sign of progress, but I told that my desire hadn't deepened and that I didn't feel prepared to serve.

I was also troubled at the time, because my time to enroll in classes for winter was the next day. I had prayed about whether or not I should enroll, and I felt like the answer was to enroll.

It didn't really make sense to me, as I thought that the answer would simply be to serve a mission as soon as I could. I discussed that with my stake president, and he told me to enroll.

He had previously shown me the Patterns of Light series of Mormon Messages by Elder Bednar, and he said, in reference to it, that I need to follow the light that I receive in order to receive more light to find my way through the fog.

So I'm working on that. It's challenging though.

This weekend we had stake conference, and my stake president had invited the members of the stake to come prepared with a question. I don't think I've quite gotten an answer to my question, which was about personal revelation, but I took notes throughout the meetings and felt impressed that the answer will come through studying and pondering those notes.

I looked over my notes last night, and one thing that stuck out to me was direction to inventory our lives. I realized that that is probably the most important thing I need to be working on at the moment, but I find myself naturally trying to resist it.

I think it's easy for e to say what I know is right and true, but it's much harder making myself consistently do those things. I'm not sure why that is.

Perhaps distractions from the world or temptations from the devil are the cause, but sometimes I feel like I'm bringing some of it on myself. I need to inventory my life, and I need to truly be committed to serving a mission because I don't think I am.

I feel like I'm telling myself I'm going to serve, but I keep switching from preparing and moving backwards. So that's my long, possibly slightly off-topic, answer to how I feel.

Thanks for checking in on me.

I appreciate that, and if you have any comments or insights I would be happy to hear them.

- NW

Dear NW,

Candidly, I think you have expectations that are out of step with reality.

Bosoms don't burn every time we hear or feel the Spirit; every day is not Dancing Trees and Singing Flowers; life isn't one big Celestial Musical.

Having a testimony doesn't mean that you're "on fire" to share the Gospel every moment of every day. I think you're on the right path; continue to heed the counsel of your Good Bishop.

Note the Good Spiritual Feelings and Moments, but just because they don't happen all the time or last forever, that doesn't mean that they weren't real or important.

Keep me posted!

- Bro Jo


Laura said...

I have heard from quite a few people that the MTC can be extremely difficult. But I have also heard that the mission field is so much better. You get to be outside. You interact with more people than just those in the MTC. You get to be a bit more in control of your daily schedule. You get enough variation day to day to keep you sane! There is much more on-the-job training and less intense prep. It is worth it to make it through the MTC.

Anonymous said...

I loved the MTC (all 3 weeks I was there) but I know of other Missionaries who absolutely HATED everything about it - no matter if they were there for 3 weeks or 3 months. Luckily, the Mission Field is NOT the MTC; It's like comparing High School to College - in High School you have to be at this class, at this time, learning this thing, or else you are in trouble and they will call your parents. But in College you schedule your days to be how you want or need them to be. You are still accountable, but you have so much more freedom.