Lately I’ve been hearing this phrase from LDS boys— “I’ll only marry a return missionary.”
After the missionary age change this seemed like a reasonable enough mandate. Young Men and Young Women could serve at virtually the same time, and at a young enough age that it doesn’t interfere with a college education too much; virtually everyone could plan to go. Plus, if girls could say they wanted an “RM” couldn’t boys too?
I had no problem with this stipulation when I planned to serve a mission.
For three years I’ve been actively preparing for my mission. And I’ve told anyone who was interested that I’m going, I’m planning on it, and I’m as capable as any boy. I figured two things: first, if I wanted to go on a mission it would be right for me, right? “Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work.” D&C 4:2 And second, if boys could plan on it, why couldn’t I? That’s my feminist streak.
I guess, looking back, I was a little too confident about going on a mission. I approached it pridefully instead of prayerfully.
Regardless of my pride, I’ve been preparing through scripture study, classes, and reading talks.
Jump forward to last October. I applied for a service internship to get a little more experience being away from home before my mission. I applied to serve in a youth center in Colombia for a semester. I was accepted quickly, my majors fit around it, I could get credit, and even though the University thought they couldn’t hold my scholarship, they did.
After I got accepted to the internship I started to figure out the logistics for my mission. I stayed in my home ward, instead of going to the singles ward, to do my mission papers there. I planned to leave as close to my 19th birthday as I could, and I planned to receive my call during my internship. But, things didn’t come together; I found roadblocks at every corner.
At this point I started to earnestly pray. I thought about it, talked to my mom, and I was confused. I turned to General Conference hoping for missionary talks, for encouragement to go. The answers were about marriage and family…not about missionary work. There came a point where I couldn’t even picture myself on a mission anymore; it was the most frustrating thing. The only way I can properly communicate what I felt was a “stupor of thought.” And when I finally considered that a mission might not be right for me… I felt relieved. And felt guilty for feeling relieved! This isn’t how the story is supposed to go! How could something so obviously good not be right for me?
My story doesn’t have a full resolution. I’m young enough that my answer could still change, but all I can do is take the steps that I know are right- I went on my internship, I study the scriptures, I take the sacrament, and I pray.
Missions are such a beautiful thing; I’ve seen countless friends and peers go and come back so mature and ready for life. But as far as LDS boys wanting to marry an RM goes…there’s a difference between wanting to marry someone that values and understands spirituality, and marrying someone that went on a mission. The two things aren’t mutually inclusive. There’s a difference between a girl going on a mission because she wants to, and a girl that goes because the Lord wants her to.
A discrepancy sometimes is the feeling that LDS girls are “supposed” to go. I think the age change indirectly affected this. It’s a priesthood responsibility, so yes, every able young man should and is obligated to go, but it isn’t automatically right on the front of young women.
But yes, I was called to the work! And so are you! If you have the desire to serve, you are called, and you are called as an individual. I was called to Colombia in as real of a way as receiving a letter in the mail, and I don’t know exactly where the Lord will lead me next.
Serving the Lord without a black name tag doesn’t mean a sister has any less of a testimony or even has less experience sharing the gospel. It takes courage to pray and sincerely ask about a mission, and I have a lot of respect for girls that don’t go because the answer was no.
It would be unproductive for me to go against what the Lord wants to make of my life, and the work he’s called me to do. I know I’m where the Lord called, and I’m not on a mission not for a lack of faith, but for an abundance. I have faith that I’m where I’m supposed to be, and I have faith that the Lord will keep directing my life.