Back in October of 2012, our prophet President Monson made an announcement regarding the age change for missionaries. All throughout the church, young people celebrated and began preparations to enter the mission field.
I, along with many other young women, began considering serving a mission. It was an exciting thought, and originally I was very gung-ho about it all.
But then I realized something- I wasn't sure why I wanted to serve a mission. Was it because I honestly wanted to, or because I felt like I had to because of the age change?
I've mulled this over countless times, and I have come to the conclusion that most of the reason I was planning on serving a mission was because I didn't want others to think less of me.
Can you think of a more poisonous thought?
I soon came to realize this, and stopped to evaluate myself.
After some soul-searching, I made the decision not to go on a mission.
What I think people fail to realize is that serving a mission is a very personal decision, especially for young women. It has been taught, time and time again that serving a mission is not required of women, and yet, I have felt so much judgement from almost every person I've told about my decision to stay. I have felt like in their head they're saying, "oh, you're one of those Mormon girls. You're too 'good' for a mission. You're probably not worthy, or maybe your testimony just isn't strong enough."
I could go on, but I think I've made my point.
After they try to hide the disappointment in their eyes, they will invariably say something along the lines of, "oh, but you're young. You can still change your mind!"
While that is true, what if I don't change my mind? I am not going to be any less of a person just because I decide not to go on a mission. God will not stop loving me. I will have opportunities to share the gospel EVERY DAY for the rest of my life. I am not going to be condemned.
In the end, though, God's opinion is the only one that counts. And you know what? God loves and will love me the same whether I go into the field or not. God's love is unconditional, and He has a plan for me. Maybe a mission is not in my agenda right now, and that is okay. I still have a strong testimony of His gospel, and I am worthy to serve a mission, should I ever choose to. And I will remain worthy, because that's all I want- to be worthy to enter His house, and be worthy to receive the blessings He has in store for me.
So while it may sting a little to feel other's disapproval of my choice, the thing is- it's MY CHOICE! What a wonderful thought! I'm not forced to go, (nobody is, really) and my life can still be every bit as fulfilling as someone else's.
I've felt that what I am supposed to do with my life after high school is to further my education, and prepare to be a wife and, someday, a mother. Isn't that a mission in and of itself? Being a wife and mother are two of the most important callings I as a woman will ever have.
I am loved regardless of whether I go or not, and you are, too.
If you are a woman choosing to serve, I am so proud of you. You will be an amazing light and example to countless people in this world, and your light is needed in this world. Let's work together to help the world heal, okay?