This weeks email isn’t really going to be about my week here. That’s your warning. Sorry, not sorry.
Instead, it’s going to be about the past 7 months & the past two years. Being on a mission, one of the very first “get to know you questions” is “Why did you decide to serve a mission?” When I first got here, my answer was long winded and full of plot twists. I’ve condensed it down to, “Because God wanted me to.” So, you’re welcome future companions & ward members. Regardless, I’ve been able to think a lot about that question & the events that transpired to me getting where I am today in sweaty, hot, beautiful, humid, sweaty, sweaty, sweaty, swe-oh, sorry. It’s just….really sweaty. Like, the air is sweaty. It feels like you’re always at a concert in the pit at a venue with no air conditioning, but worse because you can’t even jump up to get a little fresh air every once in awhile.
Now that I’ve gotten totally off topic, I’ll try starting again. One of my dearest & best friends sent me an email this week reminiscing about what we were doing with our lives two years ago, this week. It was this week, 2 years ago, that drastically changed both of our lives forever & I can definitely say I would not be here on a mission if things didn’t happen exactly the way that they happened. The things I went through were really hard & really different from what I was used to. Things that from the outside look like boring young adult problems, but when you yourself are in the thick of it, it’s so real & it’s all you have. Those young adult problems are your reality. My reality 2 years ago was pretty crappy & I can fully credit myself for that. Although I wouldn’t wish upon anyone the things she & I both experienced at this time, my dear friend wrote the most beautiful thing about it.
She said, “There is no doubt that He was preparing us so that we would be able to understand the Atonement and therefore share His glad message. He needed us to be stronger women. He needed us to learn to rely wholly on Him. I feel so grateful for the course my life has taken and I just love Heavenly Father for loving me enough to guide and direct my life as He sees fit.”
A truer statement has never been said. How lucky I am to have so many inspired, Godly women in my life.
However, this message she shared with me meant a lot to me for more than our two year anniversary of Life Changing Decisions Week reason.
The last 4-5 weeks that I was in my beloved JAX Beach, I had a series of panic attacks and depressive episodes. For those of you who know me well, this stuff is old hat so y’all can probably skip the next couple paragraphs. I thought about writing about it while it was happening, but I figured it would probably mean a lot more when I was on the other side of it. I’m glad I waited.
I’ll spare you most of the gory details, but there was a lot of crying & a lot of me not understanding why my brain was telling me certain things & a lot of patience & love from Sister Jensen. She’s going straight to the celestial kingdom. I thought I wasn’t going to make it out alive most days & I was really really really mad at my inability to function at a normal level. I’m a fairly independent person, so it took me about 2 weeks of feeling like this until I approached Sister Winter, our mission nurse, & asked for help. I can honestly say that I could not see the end of how I was feeling anywhere in sight, but I trusted in a loving Heavenly Father that sent me here & did NOT send me here to fail or become worse than I was. If 9 weeks ago you told me I would be grateful for that experience someday, I probably would have punched you in the face. Well. Here I am being grateful for it. I learned more in that 4-5 week period of time about repentance & the atonement & changing my nature than I ever have in my entire life. The lessons I learned are & will continue to be of eternal importance to me. So when I got the email from my friend with her prophetic paragraph in it, it meant so much to me on so many levels.
Because of my hardships before & during this mission, “…there is no doubt that He was preparing [me] so that [I] would be able to understand the Atonement and therefore share His glad message. He needed [me] to be a stronger [woman]. He needed [me] to learn to rely wholly on Him. I feel so grateful for the course my life has taken and I just love Heavenly Father for loving me enough to guide and direct my life as He sees fit.”
I add my testimony to hers, for I know that not only does He live, but He is such an integral part of every time we want to change something about ourselves. I’ve tried to change on my own without His help & it takes so much more effort with such a smaller result than with. I know my Savior loves me because He is helping me become someone I could before only ever dream about. Through feeling my Savior’s love & by using His atoning sacrifice, I have been able to understand my divine rights & worth as a daughter of God. THIS is why I am serving a mission. Because every person on this beautiful green earth needs to know that their loving older brother Jesus Christ suffered for them, so that they don’t have to.
Not to worry, I am doing fine & working everyday to develop better emotional & mental habits & I have the best dream team support group ever. I’m lucky that I didn’t come into the mission field imagining it to be easy. I knew it would be hard eventually, but I never would have guessed it would be for the reasons it was. That shows me that God knows us better than we can begin to comprehend.
Moral of the story: God is good. Missions are hard. Missions are worth it. Let Christ heal & help you.
I have a lot of love for you right now. Whoever you are reading this.
Every time you think your life is hard, just imagine me crying in my bed on my favorite holiday because I can’t watch fireworks & eat lemonade pie with my family.