Serving a mission has been on my mind since I was seventeen years old. Being a single, twenty-two year old student at BYU has not done much to dissipate these thoughts. Against my better judgment, I read every missionary-related blog post that shows up in my Facebook feed. Apparently, serving a mission is a very contentious topic.
While reading these blog posts, I’ve realized that the situation in which I’ve found myself hasn’t been adequately addressed. And I want to address it.
For women in the church, it seems like there’s only two acceptable options:
1. You desire to go on a mission, pray about it, and decide to serve.
2. You desire to go on a mission, pray about it, and receive “no” as your answer.
The problem is, I don’t fit into either of those categories because I never desired to serve a mission.
When President Monson made the announcement, I was getting ready to study abroad in Jerusalem. I was turning twenty-one in the next six months so putting in my papers had already crossed my mind. I told myself that I would consider whether or not a mission was right for me during my time in Jerusalem. I ultimately decided that while I wasn’t swearing off serving a mission forever, it just wasn’t the ‘right’ time.
I continued to pray about the decision, feeling increasingly frustrated at my Heavenly Father for not providing me with an answer. I knew deep down in my heart that I wasn’t receiving an answer because it was my decision to make. But I wasn’t ready to—nor did I want to—take responsibility for that decision.
So I kept putting it off. One semester went by, then another, and then I couldn’t make a decision until after my summer internship, and then I only had a semester of classes left, and before I knew it, I had accepted a full-time job.
I guess I’ll revisit the issue in 2018.
Except not really. Because somewhere in the midst of all of this, I realized that the reason I kept putting off the decision was because it was too hard to admit to myself that I didn’t want to serve.
Shouldn’t every righteous, gospel-loving member of the church want to serve a mission? Up to that point in my life, I always thought the answer to that question was yes. Choosing not to serve would imply that I was not as gospel-loving as I imagined myself to be.
I now realize that this is nonsense.
Do I think I would be a good missionary? Yes. Do I believe that it would bless and change my life? Yes. But I don’t believe that serving a mission is the only way to bless and change my life. It’s been over two years since I could have left on a mission, and to be honest, my life really hasn’t changed that much. Except now I’m not afraid of admitting that I didn’t want to serve a mission. And I think that’s just fine.