This past general conference marked the four-year anniversary of the mission age change announced by President Thomas S. Monson in the October 2012 general conference. I remember the overwhelming excitement I felt as I listened to our beloved prophet say that in three short years, I could leave to serve the Lord and at that time I didn’t think anything would keep me from doing so.
On May 25, 2015, my paperwork was submitted to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
My availability date was set for early September.
But, I didn’t go.
While attending BYU-Idaho, I’ve noticed stigmas held against girls who do not serve missions. I have had close friends who have been questioned on their worthiness or testimony because they haven’t served. I have had boys hesitate to ask me on dates because they assumed I was not as righteous or spiritual as a girl who had served.
As someone who prepared for a year to enter the temple and make and receive more sacred covenants there, this was incredibly painful for me. I longed to serve a mission. For sisters of the Church, the decision to serve a mission is a personal choice between her and the Lord — a point that was reaffirmed during the age change announcement. Choosing to not go on a mission in no way says anything about who she is or where her goals lie.
It was during the first week of June, about five days prior to the day I was expecting my call in the mail, that I got a call from my bishop saying that a six-month hold had been placed on my mission paperwork because of my past with anxiety and depression. I would be going back to school for at least one more semester and would be able to resubmit at the end of December.
This news rocked my world.
That next fall semester, I prayed a lot about whether or not I was supposed to serve a mission come the end of my six months. Over the previous months, I had learned that preparing for a mission had changed me and shaped me into who I was. It was such a powerful and wonderful experience. The more I prayed and the more I attended the temple, the clearer the answer came: A mission was not His plan for me.
Why would I have gone through all the work to submit my mission paperwork only to get a delay and then, six months later, realize that I wasn’t supposed to serve a mission at all? It was, after all, a righteous desire.
Through this humbling time, I realized that preparing to serve a mission was exactly what I needed in my life, and for some reason that I still do not know, I am needed here at home.
I have a mission from the Lord regardless of whether or not it is through a mission call assigned by the First Presidency. I am not sure why the Lord had me stay here, but I have faith that his plan for me will bring me ultimate happiness, because I know his plan is the plan of happiness, and I know his mission for me is here.
I’m constantly reminded that the Lord has a plan for me and it is usually not nearly what I imagined for myself. That is because the Lord’s plan is so much better than our plan, and I work every day to align my will with his.