Welp. I’m at it again.
Like I said last time – this post isn’t about me ranting my anger or frustration. It stems from dozens of conversations with people who are in the same boat as me, who are not choosing to be offended, but instead are choosing to move forward despite things being said to them that could hurt. It stems from conversations with those who have no idea that they’re saying things that are hurtful, and want to recognize and be better.
I got lots of response from my last posts about missions – and I feel like they did some good. But I’m still hearing people who are getting hurt over some things – and I want to stand up for those people, including myself.
Getting offended is a choice – I’ve heard it time and time again. But if you were the one causing offense, wouldn’t you want to know? I really don’t think people knowingly want to hurt me, or anybody else. But sometimes things that people say can hurt.
So please don’t take this as a hate of all things missionary, as a rant of angry feelings, as a post springing from my own insecurity. Take it as I mean it – a kind look into what many of us are feeling, and how you can help.
1. “You’re so spiritual, I totally thought you were an RM.” We know you mean this as a compliment. But unfortunately, it’s not. Returned missionaries don’t have the monopoly on spirituality, hospitality, charity, etc. Those of us who didn’t serve a mission can still have a strong testimony, teach well, and be missionaries wherever we live. The fact that you’re so surprised that we didn’t serve and still manage to be a strong member of the church, can be hurtful.
2. “Wait, why didn’t you serve?” This question again has kind intentions, but it’s a fairly personal one. Maybe we didn’t want to, prayed and felt we shouldn’t, weren’t able to, or a million other things. No matter why we didn’t serve, it’s a personal decision between us and the Lord. If we’re open about it, ask away. If not, maybe it’s not the best question to ask.
3. “You would’ve been such a good missionary.” Again, this has the kindest of intentions. But again, it can be so hurtful. We were good missionaries while you were on your mission, and we are still good missionaries every day through our example, by sharing the gospel with others, and more.
4. “I feel insecure about teaching this lesson, because there are so many RM’s in this room.” This is for my gals and guys who didn’t serve! Don’t sell yourself short! I heard these words from a wonderful Bishopric member’s wife, who had so much to teach us. Don’t think for one second that your Gospel experiences aren’t enough, or make you less than anyone else. This goes for all kinds of situations, not just in regards to missionary service.
5. “He didn’t really serve, he came home early.” I have several really good friends who came home early from missions for one reason or another. This does not, in any way invalidate the time they spent serving, or the time they will continue to spend serving from wherever they are. Early returned missionaries are not a disappointment. They are a strong example. Whether they come home to work on things, because they are sick, or any other reason, they deserve our love and support, as well as our recognition of a job well done.
6. “Girls, if you’re thinking about going on a mission, stop thinking and just go.” I was thinking about going on a mission. The more I prayed about it, the more I got confirmation that it wasn’t the right thing for me. So it’s a good thing that I didn’t just drop everything and go because I wanted to. Maybe a better thing would be to say, “if you’re thinking about going on a mission, spend lots of time studying, praying, and working to find your answer.”
7. “A mission is the best option for you at this time in your life.” For a lot of people, this is true. On my last post there was lots of discussion about boys serving missions. Some boys don’t serve, and that’s just fine. Prophets have said that worthy, healthy, spiritually ready boys should serve. I stand by the position of our prophets, and I also know that each person has a story. There are reasons it didn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t work out for so many young men. I understand that some of my close friends were in situations that prevented them from serving, serving a full two years, etc. I applaud them for working with Bishops, priesthood leaders, and their Heavenly Father to make that decision. The whole purpose of my posting is to help us realize how we could be judging others (myself included! I am NOT perfect either my friends). Please be careful about how you view others who didn’t serve; everyone has a story and their story deserves your consideration and kindness. The boys and girls who do serve, and the boys and girls who don’t serve both need our love and support. NOW, for my girls. For some of you, a mission WILL be the best option. For others of you, it will not. Again, let’s not judge. My story didn’t include serving a mission at this time in my life. I respect and am so grateful for both those who had a mission in their story, and those who didn’t.
8. “I will only date/marry an RM.” We discussed this in my last post, and I want to touch on this again. Girls and boys BOTH say this too often. What matters is the testimony, conversion, and lifestyle of the person today. Say instead, “I want to marry someone who will go with me to the temple,” or “I want to marry a worthy priesthood holder,” or “I want to marry someone who will help me teach the gospel to our children.”
Again, not a rant, not anger, none of the above. Just a girl who isn’t perfect, and who is trying to help the culture of this beautiful religion be a little less judgmental, a little kinder, and a little more open for every person and their story.