Thursday, August 6, 2015

When Faith Endures

This past weekend, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the 40 year reunion of the Arkansas Little Rock Mission. There are so many different emotions and thoughts that I had to face over the course of the reunion, and not all were pleasant.

First off, I just wanna say that it's a good thing that I'm writing this after the fact instead of during, otherwise there would be no "light at the end of the tunnel" attitude.

I had an incredible time in Arkansas, I really did. However, there were moments when it was incredibly awful, as well. It just felt so right being back there and I missed being a missionary so, so, so much. I just wanted to go back. I wanted to do more and I wanted to serve more.
"If ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work." D&C 4:3
I had that desire, and I still do. So why am I unable to be "called to serve" on a full time mission? I felt as though I was being punished because I didn't serve fully enough. I felt that I was unworthy of that blessing because I was a disappointment. I felt discouraged and I felt worthless. At the time, I knew these feelings came from the adversary, but I couldn't shake the thought that they were true, so whether it was the devil or not, it didn't matter. I still felt inside that I was the problem.

I kept telling myself that if I had "sucked it up more" then I would still be serving (in spite of everything that the Savior went through, He never gave up, so why wasn't I able to endure through mere back pain when He suffered through so much more?). If I was "stronger" then I could still be on the mission. If I had prayed more, then I would be able to face my tribulation and not have it consume me. After all, the Lord doesn't give us anything that we can't handle. Therefore, I felt weak. I felt as though I disappointed my Lord when I didn't conquer that trial. I continued to think, "This was my trial for my back. All I had to do was overcome that. All I had to do was work past the pain of my back and serve. This was the one thing that the Lord asked me to fight through to serve and I failed."

It just felt so right serving and I loved doing it. All I wanted was to go back to Arkansas upon graduation and return to being a servant as a full time missionary. And if I have to suffer through severe back pain everyday to do it, I would. All I would have to do is tell my doctor that I can, that I'm able to endure through the pain, and I could go back. It would be that easy. I could simply say that I'm fine and could return. I felt confused, depressed, anxious, and frustrated. I felt abandoned. I felt like my desires didn't matter, even though they were good ones. I felt as though God didn't care. I felt weak, alone, and afraid. And I started doubting God's plan for me. And I HATED feeling that way, and that's an understatement. I despised those thoughts. And in turn, I hated myself for doubting God.

Being there was hard because I should've BEEN there. Not visiting at that time, but still there on my mission. I should've been serving. I should've been in the mission choir with my MTC district. I could've been training just as all my district was. I should've been wearing my name tag and declaring the truth of the gospel with my companion everyday.

Now, here is the bright side of all of this. I was reminded by a dear friend, as well as by my Mission President, and a member in the ward that I served in that I am still a missionary. I served fully. I gave it my all. I served faithfully and I served willingly. And though I don't know what the Lord has planned for me, I do know that He does have something planned, because He loves me and He is greater than I am.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9  
"I know that He loveth His children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." 1 Nephi 11:17
I do not know many things, but I do know that I am loved. I know that He has a plan for me. He knows my desires and He knows my heart. The Lord grants unto us our desires, but always in accordance with His will. He already grants unto me the ability to preach His gospel, so why desire more than He already gives? All I have to do is access what He already grants me and then I can be a true instrument in His hands.

He has prepared something far better for me than I can create for myself. All I have to do is let Him. All I have to do is surrender my will to Him and trust in Him. Once I do that, I allow my pain to be taken up. Once I do that, I allow Him to change me. Once I do that, I am giving Him the power to bring me full happiness and complete joy.
"Trust in Him. Trust Him who knows all things. Trust Him who has all power. Trust Him whose love for you is perfect. Trust Him, who alone suffered, paid, and atoned for your sins, and for your weaknesses as well. Trust Him that He will make of you, immeasurably more, than what you will ever, ever, in all eternity, make of yourself. He will create of you a masterpiece. You will create of you only a smudge. You will create an ordinary [woman]. He will create a God." The Fourth Missionary
A little over nine months ago, I was released as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even though the name badge on my lapel may be removed, it has not been removed from my heart; it will forever be embedded in me to be a representative of Jesus Christ at all times, in all things, and in all places.