When you’re little, people ask you “what do you want to be when you grow up?” My answers were always so ambitious: doctor, lawyer, President of the United States. As I got older, my answers were still pretty ambitious, but increasingly became more practical, less creative. Doctor changed to Nurse Practitioner, and then I took classes that were medical in nature and realized that science doesn’t make sense in my brain. Law school was still an option, until I realized that you have to be ok with seeing the injustice of the world, and all of the unethical practices that occur in the court and out. President of the United States quickly left the list as I learned of the corruption of our government. I didn’t want my professional life to make me cynical. I didn’t want to be tainted by the world. Eventually I settled on Accountant, but that too was scratched off as I took an accounting class and realized that it may not be for me. Now I am uncertain of what I want to be, but I am finally ok with that.
At the beginning of this journey of self-discovery, I realized that my answers were so absolute because I feared uncertainty. I feared the idea of just living, without knowing what I was living for. I wanted to know NOW what I would be, how my life would play out. Obviously, this is as realistic an expectation as finding a unicorn in Narnia on my way to Hogwarts. I have now embraced uncertainty. The only constant in life is change, so why not just roll with it?
I also realized that a career, or even a degree, was something pretty worldly to live for. There’s so much more to life than your profession. I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints my entire life. I knew the gospel was true. I had a testimony (faith in Christ and the teachings of the church). I had had trials of my faith, and it is a huge part of who I am, but other than planning on going to BYU, I hadn’t made the Lord part of my decisions. He was part of my present and past, but I had been failing to make Him part of my future. I hadn’t thought of His plan for me, and how His will was a thousand times better than mine. He has the certainty of my future that I had been searching for. As I lean on His understanding, and trust to make my decisions with Him, my life will turn out exactly as it is supposed to be in order to make me exactly the person I am supposed to be.
This realization helped lead to my decision to serve a mission. I began praying to know my Heavenly Father’s will for me. I had the slightest impression to consider a mission. I brushed off the thought, thinking more about my career and educational experience. I talked to a friend of mine who is currently serving, and I told him my concerns about all of the temporal things. He told me “I don’t think you have the right mindset. You are worrying about the wrong things. If you decide to serve a mission, you need to think about WHY you are serving. The blessings of a mission are great, but I am serving because I see the people around me and I want to help them.” After reading this, I read Sister Patricia Holland’s talk, “Filling the Measure of Your Creation,” (which you can read here: http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=378 I strongly recommend it) along with my Patriarchal Blessing, and felt again that I needed to “fill the measure of my creation,” or at least prepare to do so in the best way possible. What better way than to serve a mission?
At this point I was fairly certain I had to serve or else I would regret ignoring the promptings of the Spirit. I wasn’t certain when I would go, so I didn’t tell anyone about my decision. I tried to deny it. The mix of emotions, combined with the temptation of not yet being accountable to anyone made it hard to stand firm in my decision. I prayed to be certain that this was really what I was supposed to do. I found a confirmation in the temple. I opened my scriptures with this question in mind. I searched missionary work and turned to Luke 5:10-11, where Jesus Christ is calling his disciples, when he calls them to be “fishers of men.” I had never before associated this phrase with missionary work. What stood out to me even more than this, though, was in verse 11. In the Luke version of the story, it says “they forsook all, and followed him.” In this moment in the temple, this was a personal call for me to forsake ALL (all school, family, career, weaknesses, pride, and fear), and follow the Savior; to become a fisher of men, to become a missionary.
Before I gave myself a chance to doubt my decision yet again, I set an appointment with my Bishop and began the process of applying to serve a mission. Now, that entire process is complete and I am simply waiting to find out where the Lord will send me. I am so excited to serve, and know that I will be sent where the Lord needs me most.