8 months later...

By | 9:12 AM
I've been thinking alot.
and I don't really want to get super personal here, but to the same effect I can't seem to stop thinking and maybe I need to start talking. (or blogging, as the case may be...)

I'm going to back track really fast and say that I served my LDS mission in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  I served for 11 months and then came home.  I feel like I have to say that because the assumption when I say I served a mission is that I lasted the whole 18 months and I'm getting tired of omitting the coming home early part of my story. 

My point is that the date has now past in which I was supposed to come home.  I got a Facebook friend request from a couple of my MTC buddies who didn't ditch out early and it got me thinking about the "what if" and "could have been"...

I've not really thought a whole lot about coming home early, I've just gone on with my life.  but when November came and went and I heard from those girls who I would have come home with, I started to feel confused.  confused as in I'm not sure what I feel, or, at least, I didn't know what I felt and that's why I didn't write or continue on with this blog.  

but now I know how I feel.  
and I feel just fine.
I actually feel happy.
I was worried I'd regret things or resent my past self or be angry or feel hurt or left out and alone and abandoned.  but I don't feel anything like that.  I've tiptoed around my emotions until this point because I wasn't sure when the crushing realization of the actuality of my decision would come crashing in around me.... but here I am and I think I can, with certainty, say that I am happy and okay. 

of course I still have my days... I'm still sick and sometimes I can't pull myself out of whatever blackness my illness brings, but whatever sadness or frustration I feel isn't about my mission. 

I had an awesome mission.  I experienced everything. My "awesome" mission was hard and exhausting, and it pushed me to my limit and then kept pushing me over the edge!  it hurt to wake up and I remember nights when I was too tired to even sleep! I would get so angry with my companions and I would be so frustrated with the binding constraint of the rules. it took me a long to time to learn to ignore the looks people gave.  and all these things were completely amazing!
(maybe you have to serve a mission to understand that...)

I've met other people who have returned home early from a mission, and they all seem to have a bad taste for missionary work.  they don't want to talk about it and they certainly don't want to participate in it.  and I understand that completely.  it was hard to come home and from the moment I came home I wanted to forget everything and push every reminder far, far away. it was like I didn't bake long enough in my missionary oven.  

but here is what I've learned that I really want to share:

we are all unique.
one size fits all does not exist in this gospel.

for a long time I felt I should be ashamed.
I didn't actually feel any shame, but I felt like I should.
I was worried because I didn't do what I was "supposed" to do, and I had failed and I was a terrible person.  no one wants to feel like that! so I put up my barriers of anger and I told myself missions were dumb.
I created this cycle because I felt like other people felt something about me.
does that make sense?
I know... I'm ridiculous, right?

it's taken me a little while, and in honest truth I think I will always struggle with this idea, but I'm at least beginning to understand now what I'm feeling.

lets wrap up.
I served a mission in Oklahoma and it was amazing.
I don't need to tell you it only lasted 11 months because that's really irrelevant.
I don't need to tell you my mission was hard and I actually hated it enough to make myself ill and finally come home, because really, that's not actually relevant.

I was in way over my head out there... but I lasted a whole 11 months!
It was hard, and I spent way to much time crying... but I learned so much and I've actually changed into a better person.

my favorite thing that my mission taught me is that I am an individual, and that's okay.  my story is mine and my mission was exactly what it needed to be!
I can see where I've been blessed by serving.
I wasn't abandoned by God for a moment!
He is not disappointed in me, He doesn't wish I had stayed.

I am a unique person.
the Gospel is not one size fits all.
My experiences are mine and they are custom fit for me.
I "cooked in my oven" exactly as long as I was supposed to.  My mission was amazing and perfect for me. I love that I was blessed with that experience.
I don't have to feel ashamed because there is nothing to be ashamed off!

I know that I am a child of God and that I am loved and known.  I know Gods children are all unique and individual and special and that we all have amazing things to offer the world. Everyone's story is unique, and to me that is a testament that we truly do have a unique and personalized relationship with our Heavenly Father.  I am so grateful for my own relationship with Heavenly Father and I am grateful for everything that he has taught me and has yet to teach me.

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