Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
I was 19 when President Monson announced the age change for Sister Missionaries. I was ecstatic. I thought I would make an excellent missionary and I wanted to serve. However, unlike many young women who instantly called their bishops, I decided I needed to take some time to make that decision because I wanted to be making the decision for the right reason. Consequently, after many prayers and pondering, I got the distinct impression that I should not serve. My answer was no. And it was hard. It was sort of devastating. I wanted to serve, badly, and I was pretty sure that I could go out into the mission field and change the world! I could not understand why I would get a no answer for such a righteous desire. I also couldn’t understand why it felt like so many girls who I was sure wouldn’t be as good of missionaries as myself were receiving calls (I was a little bitter).
It was hard to make that decision and stick by it. Literally every time I talked to an adult, they would ask if I was going to serve a mission. When I answered in the negative, they said, “Oh! So are you dating someone seriously?!” As if a mission or fiancé were the only two options for a good 19 year-old mormon girl. It made me mad and annoyed. It’s not like I was sitting on my behind doing nothing. I was in school and working. I was active in my department’s club on campus. I was busy! I was happy! I wanted to serve a mission, but God had told me no! Nothing made my blood boil more than people assuming that the girls who were out on missions were more righteous or dedicated to the gospel than myself. I distinctly remember sitting in a joint FHE where a member of the stake presidency said that marriages where only one person has served a mission had the same divorce rate as the world, but marriages where both people served missions, the divorce rate was negligible. I don’t think I’ve ever been more infuriated by something one of my leaders told me.
Looking back, it’s clear that I wasn’t supposed to serve a mission. Had I served a mission, I more than likely would not be married to my husband (he has told me that he wouldn’t have wait for me to come home so… take that as you will!), I wouldn’t have been able to work at the Church History Library, and I would’t have gone on my study abroad (where I feel like I really finally figured out who I am). Getting the answer of no, especially to a righteous desire, is hard. It’s incredibly frustrating. In my experience, it’s also a sign that God has some greater plan in store for you.