Monday, October 8, 2012

Called to Serve

Yikes, I have really been MIA. This week has been a good one, but a busy one at that. I feel like I haven't had a lot of time to myself, and when I do, I try to fill it with stuff like ice cream.... and cake.
(It's a sad day when an woman is wiling to admit that she'd rather fill her voids with junk food than with love, money, or cats... okay maybe not the cats...)

This weekend was exactly what I needed to get my head back in the game. I was able to spend 8 out of 48 listening to inspired men and women speak on various aspects of the gospel. This time of year is always my favorite. I feel like it's when people are the kindest, and most thoughtful. Of course, that doesn't have everything to do with General Conference (because not everyone listens to it), but I like that the important meeting falls right during this time period.

This Conference was definitely one to remember. Our beloved President and Prophet on the earth today, Thomas S. Monson, announced that the age requirements to serve a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints would undergo a change for both men and women. After testing out the age change from young men among a small group of young men and gleaning back more than positive results, the Prophet announced that there was now the option (please note that 'option' is in bold lettering) to serve at the age of 18. THAT BEING SAID, if the young man does not feel as if he is ready to serve at that age (or even serve at all), he may still serve at 19, or 20, or whenever it is that he feels ready.

I feel that a common misconception about our church is that we force our young men to serve missions. While I am not trying to downplay the sacredness or seriousness of this calling, I am trying to point out that, while strongly encouraged, missions are not mandatory. While I am a strong believer that missions are important and bring great blessings to those serving them and those associated with people serving, I am also a strong believer that a man (or woman for that matter) should not serve if they do not desire to do so. I know missions can change people for the better, and I know that they are great (a big quality I look for in my future spouse is that he did serve a worthy, full-time mission, and I will encourage my sons to do the same), but I have also seen men who come back early or unchanged because their heart wasn't in it, or they didn't go out for the right reasons.

I feel the same, if not more strongly, about this in the case of sister missionaries. It was announced shortly after that the age requirements for women would drop from 21 to 19. That's an incredible gap of time they removed, and I can't help but feel a little bit envious of the 18 year old girls who have this option to serve at 19 (notice that word 'option').

I was discussing this revelation with my sweet roommate who is experiencing a similar reaction to the news as myself. Minutes after the announcement I received whoknowshowmany texts, Facebook posts, chats, messages, etc. about when my mission papers would be turned in. While encouragement is fabulous and, well, encouraged, I feel that sometimes we get wrapped up in the magnificence that is a mission, and forget how deeply personal of a decision it is to serve one. From my own personal experience, I have come to realize that this pressure is sometimes detrimental to the decision.

If you place all of these expectations to serve on someone they begin to feel that is the only thing that would acceptable for them to do. They begin to lose their identity and lose what is they want to do. Fear prevents them from receiving a clear answer as to what it is they should do, and sometimes they feel as if they are forced into a situation. This can lead to resentment towards their mission, and sometimes even resentment towards family and church members.

I'm not asking or imploring everyone to stop encouraging those you love to serve missions. As I stated earlier, I think serving a mission is a wonderful thing, and even I am taking the option in to serious and prayerful consideration (CONSIDERATION). I am just suggesting that we watch how we word our encouragement, and make sure that the person knows that their decision will not lead to a decrease in love for him or her.

In other news, the rest of Conference went swimmingly. I was able to attend the Sunday afternoon session with my friend Trey, my roommate Marie, and Trey's friend Stephen (WHO SOUNDS LIKE THOR).

Cute kids, huh? It was really hard to hear in the conference building for some reason (and Stephen and I kept counting how many times the couple four rows in front of us kissed every 10 minutes. Six, was the answer), but I really liked the overall message of coming to Christ and serving him. I felt that the main focus this October was missionary work and inviting our friends and family to come unto him and find not just joy, but a fullness of joy. (here's the part where I bare my testimony to y'all)

I would like to invite you to learn about what makes me happy. I love this gospel and the peace it brings to me. I feel complete and free from worry when I find that I am centering my life on the teachings of Christ. I really have found a firm foundation upon which to build my future family and career. I love this gospel and the goodness it bring into peoples' lives. Please, if you have any questions or interest, feel free to ask me. I promise not the throw my religion on you, because I know it's not what makes everyone happy, but I would love to answer any questions or concerns to the best of my ability.

You can also check out this site or contact the missionaries near you. They'll most likely be able to answer any questions you have more fully. If you'd like to hear it straight from me, contact me via e-mail, or Facebook, or read what I have to say about the Mormon church here.

I love this church and I love all of my friends and family. Thank you for everything you do for me.


*Photographs of this weekend courtesy of Trey Mortensen Photography. Check him out here

Me and Stephen. I'm pretty sure he's the Norse God of Thunder. You'd think upon meeting Thor, I'd make a more attractive face. You thought wrong. 
(Also, sometimes he likes to talk like this guy, which makes me lol.)


  1. I think serving a mission is very important. And I agree with you that young men and young women should not go on missions until they are ready to serve for the right reasons. However if all the righteous young women in the church have on their list of requirements "RM" then aren't we creating a culture where we are forcing these same young men to serve because they are afraid of not getting married if they don't serve.

    Wouldn't a much better requirement be righteous Priesthood holder? And having served a mission can indicate that a young man is a righteous Priesthood holder. But it is not a guarantee. And not having served does not necessarily indicate that a person is not a righteous Priesthood holder.

    I was a Sister Missionary. And most of the Elders with which I served where good Elders. But I can also think of a few who were horrible missionaries. Let me just give you one example. My companion and I were tracting and we met a woman who was so interested in the Gospel. But we were Spanish speaking missionaries so this woman was not in our area. (We had Spanish speaking wards and branches in my mission.) When I found out which Elders we would have to turn the name over to, I begged the Zone Leader to keep the name, but that didn't work out. The Elders couldn't be bothered to leave their apartment to go meet with her. We were following up with her, hoping to maintain her interest until the Elders visited. They never came. Finally, the Zone Leader let us take back the name but by then time had passed and she was no longer interested. Definitely not my idea of a righteous Priesthood holder.

    On the opposite side I have two examples. But I could come up with dozens of realistic scenarios were righteous Priesthood holder would not have served missions. (ex: Men serving in the Military who joined the church while serving and whose commitment to the military would prevent them from serving.) When I was in college, I knew a great guy who was a convert to the church who did not have the opportunity to serve. He was so worried he would not find anyone willing to marry him for that vary reason.

    My other example is very near and dear to me. I am not married to a returned missionary. I met David shortly after he joined the church. He was way beyond the age of being able to serve a mission. If I had held on to the requirement I once had for my husband to be an RM I would have never married David and that would have been a huge mistake. He is a righteous Priesthood holder and the perfect husband for me.

    I totally understand the admonition to marry a returned missionary. The church wants every young woman to marry a righteous Priesthood holder. I agree 100%. But not every returned missionary meets that qualification. And not every righteous Priesthood holder is a returned missionary.

    1. I guess 'requirement' was a poor word choice on my part. I definitely agree with you that being a worth priesthood holder is much more important than a full service mission, and that was more along the line of what I meant.
      I think the two qualities should be sought out as a pair. I think that if a worthy priesthood holder chooses not to go on a mission for reasons other than military or medical it is a bit of a red flag. Even money issues can be solved, and you and I have seen that happen in our home ward.
      Serving a mission when, of course, given the opportunity shows a strong commitment to the Lord and a willingness to give back to him after being given so much. Josh is right, it is a commandment, and I am looking for a man who is willing to give his life to his Savior, and to me, a full time WORTHILY SERVED mission is proof of that.
      Again, I think the misunderstanding is just poor word choice on my behalf. I do not think anything less of men who did not have the opportunity to serve full time missions... really I don't think less of men who didn't serve either... but usually (in my experience) there's something potentially dangerous behind one's reason not to serve.

    2. STILL, I don't think we should FORCE anyone or PRESSURE anyone to serve.

  2. I just want to emphasize President Monson's comment that the admonition to spread the gospel is a priesthood responsibility, and thus every worthy and able-bodied young man should prepare to engage in full-time missionary service. I understand completely that there are perfectly worthy men that joined the Church past that time or were otherwise denied that opportunity; however, it does continue to be a commandment.

    I really liked President Monson's statement that not every young man is required to serve at age 18. I stated that it was an option. And while many young men will leave to serve as missionaries at age 18, President Monson emphasized that young men should leave only when they are mature, worthy, and ready to serve the Lord as missionaries.

    I think the reason why young women are encouraged to marry returned missionaries is because RM's have already been through the temple, and so hopefully are keeping the covenants that they made therein. What is really important is marrying someone is that you'll be able to marry that person in the temple so that those vows can last for time and all eternity, be that man a returned missionary or not.

  3. This is old news by now I guess, but I just came across this post and I love it! Totally agree. Yeah I'm going on a mission, but it still bugged me when people would come up to me and ask me - and they hardly even knew me! - because it took me a while to decide, and if I had decided not to or I hadn't made the decision yet, I would feel VERY uncomfortable with everyone asking. Anyways, I have a lot of respect for girls who stand by their personal decisions to NOT go if that is the right thing for them at the time!