Saturday, April 4, 2015

If ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work

In this sense of the phrase "serve God," I never had desires to do so - I don't remember any time growing up that I had an actual desire to serve a mission. 

Here were some of my thoughts about it:
- I'm not 100% sure this is all true, and now I'm going to tell others to believe it - wouldn't that be hypocritical of me?
- Women pretty much only choose to go on missions if they haven't found a husband yet.
- I can't serve a mission with my personality type - I could never be pushy!
- I'm just not selfless enough - 18 months is a lot of time to give up.
- If I decided to go and then got called somewhere lame, I'd be furious. (And in my mind, lame meant anywhere in the US.)

In fact, when the mission age was changed so that girls could serve starting at age 19 instead of 21, I had some mixed feelings about it. First, I was glad that girls could serve at a less awkward time - I knew this opened up the door for so many people who wanted to serve. Second, I was scared. Scared that I'd be expected to go on a mission now - scared that I was supposed to. I didn't want the pressure. 

I needed some humbling. 

Over the span of about a year, God was working on me - shaping me, humbling me - to be willing to place my will and my life in his capable hands. 

In my home ward, we've had some amazing sister missionaries who have been great examples to me. Here's a journal entry from May 25, 2014 - during the end of my senior year of high school.

"Today the sister missionaries, Sister Powell and Yu, answered our questions in Laurels. What really struck me was when Sister Powell talked about how she went on a mission because she wanted to learn how to love. Something clicked when she said that. I want to learn how to love. I want to serve people. I want to look back at my life and know I did something good, something hard, something selfless. I want to love others, myself, and Christ. I want to know Him. KNOW Him. For one of the first times ever, I feel like a mission might be part of my story. I'm not saying this because I feel like I'm expected to. I'm saying this, because as much as I thought it would never happen, I kind of want to go. I never wanted to give up a year and a half of my life. But I think God has more in store for me than I ever did for myself. I don't know what the future has in store for me, but I know that if I keep Him close, God will help me figure it out as I go. If the spirit tells me that I need to go, I'm prepared to obey. God knows me, and I trust Him to guide me in the direction that I need. Right now I have an overwhelming feeling of the Spirit. I feel it like a blanket over my whole body and soul. The veil feels thin. As I write, I feel an undeniable power. A year and a half is a long time, but if God asked me to do it, I wouldn't hesitate. More than ever, I feel like He's asking me. Right now I make a commitment to obey. I will prepare and live worthy to serve. When the time comes, I will be ready to answer if God calls me. I've opened up my heart to serve. I'm more scared than ever, but I am more ready than ever. Even if I don't end up serving, I needed today. The spirit is undeniable and my testimony is stronger than ever before. I love this gospel with everything in me."

So I guess that's where it began. 

I started to seriously consider the possibility that I was meant to serve a mission. I didn't tell anyone - I wanted to make sure there were no outside influences impacting my decision. Then, on September 21, 2014 during my first semester at BYU, I wrote:

"Today, instead of church, we went to a broadcast at the Marriott center of the Ogden Temple rededication. The spirit was so strong, but I barely remember what was said. The spirit was all that really mattered to me. I felt like, during that ceremony, that my prayers were answered and going on a mission felt so right. It was so overwhelming. I'm so grateful that I've been blessed with some of these moments of clarity when I feel the spirit. I'm trying to live my life now in preparation for the temple and a mission. I want to stop being afraid, stop putting my faith in my plan for myself, and start letting God direct my life."

Even with these two experiences, I still had some doubts. I needed lots of assurance before I made my final decision. On December 7, 2014 I went to the Lord again, fasting and praying all day for an answer. I even had some friends fast with me. I read over my patriarchal blessing. God has been very patient with me. I needed him to answer my prayers not once - not twice - but three separate times - and he did, because I needed it. And I am so grateful for that. I knew. There was no doubt in my mind. My Heavenly Father spoke to my soul in a way that was indescribable but undeniable. The decision was finally made! I was going - no matter what. This time, I would take the leap of faith and not look back.

Like I said, I definitely needed some humbling. And the journey to making this decision was one of the most humbling experiences I've had thus far. I truly felt myself submit to the will of the Lord - and I was excited about it! It wasn't about lost time or serving somewhere exciting anymore - it was about serving the Lord. I trusted that wherever he sent me, it was where I needed to be, and I wouldn't question it. I would love the people I served no matter where they were. I dropped my ego. I am not entitled to an "interesting" mission somewhere exotic. I am not doing this for me. I am doing it for the Lord. This is not my time. It is his. 

For anyone who might be considering a mission, these scriptures had a huge impact on my decision process: 

Helaman 10:4-5 How amazing would it be to have the Lord say this to you? This was powerful motivation for me!

D&C 4 If you want to serve God, you are called to the work!

D&C 9:8 You will feel if it is right. A mission isn't in the Lord's plan for everyone. For others, it is. But you need to pray about it. And it may take a while to get an answer - be ready for that.

D&C 58:26-27 I think that sometimes it's harder for women to decide whether they should serve a mission or not because we don't have the priesthood responsibility to do so like men do. That made a mission feel like more of a sacrifice to me. This scripture helped me see that just because I'm not compelled by duty to serve a mission, doesn't mean I shouldn't do it. It gave me courage to take that leap of faith and do something above and beyond. 

1 comment:

  1. You're an inspiration. (And I mean this in the least sarcastic way possible).