Saturday, December 7, 2013

Until You Loose It

When people find out that I broke my thumb and had to be released, there is always this look in their eyes. They tilt their heads for a moment and their eyes seem to search my face, trying to decide if I am okay with it. They want to know if I spend every day eating ice cream in my bedroom, looking at my old mission photos or if I've moved on. 
When I first came home, I struggled so much. I didn't eat ice cream or spend all day dwelling on the idea of it. For the most part, I was happy and confident that Heavenly Father had a plan for me. But there was always something that I couldn't let go. It was the idea that everyone was ahead. Not only was my district ahead of me now, but so were all of my friends. When I put in my papers, I was among all the thousands of eager nineteen and eighteen year olds, readily accepting the call to hasten the work. 
When President Monson announced the age change, I didn't need a moment to think about it. The spirit immediately told me what I needed to do. The call to hasten the work filled the missing puzzle piece I had growing inside. 
So coming home? I felt like the puzzle piece had been thrown across the room. I couldn't get over it. Sure, I was positive and happy on the outside, but on the inside I felt like I'd just pulled a "move back three spaces" card from the game of life. Of all the misunderstandings I had from coming home, the thought that I took one giant step backward was by far the biggest.
There are NO "move backward" cards in Heavenly Father's plan. Every single step we take is a step forward, though we may not see it at the time. 
By coming home, I have had incredible experiences I couldn't have otherwise. Every single day since being home, I've woke up wishing I was in the Philippines. By the end of every day, I lay back and think, "I'm so grateful I was here for this." 
I've often compared myself to the currant bush from Hugh G. Brown's message. For a long time I was distraught. I kept thinking, "Why would this happen to me? I was becoming such a great missionary! Now everyone will look at me differently." Heavenly Father would always answer, "I am the gardener here. I didn't intend you to be on a mission right now. You have amazing experiences waiting for you at home. Someday, you will look back on this experience and say, "Thank you, Heavenly Father, for loving me enough to send me home." And I already have. I have come to realize what I would have truly missed if I hadn't come home. 
I wouldn't have the trust in my Heavenly Father that I do now. I wouldn't have the understanding of His time and His plan for each one of us. I wouldn't have the rock-solid testimony I have gained through so much prayer and fasting to understand the meaning in all of this. I wouldn't have been able to serve in the ways that I have, or know the people I have come to know and cherish.
Most of all though, I wouldn't have the deep appreciation and unbending desire for a mission that I do now. Perhaps the most famous of any phrase is "You don't know what you have until you loose it."
Loosing my status as a missionary has given me the opportunity to be outside, looking in. 
I took so much for granted as a missionary. The irreplaceable time we have to study the scriptures as a missionary for example. NEVER can you study the scriptures the way you do on a mission. Or most importantly, I took for granted the constant, strong companionship and guidance of the Holy Ghost. As baptized members, we have the gift of the Holy Ghost. As a missionary, the Holy Ghost becomes your best friend. I loved so much deeper than I ever knew was possible as a missionary. I worked harder than I ever did in my life and each morning I woke up anxious to prove myself further. 
When I become a missionary again, I will never take for granted what I did the first time. I will never want to waste a single second of my mission because I will always think of being home and how desperately I wanted to be out there. 
I was once told by a mentor of mine that every trial we have is a gift. When you are in the midst of a trial, remember to stop and think, "What is this trial giving me?" 
Heavenly Father always gives so much more than he ever expects.Though it is hard to see at first, our trials are gifts from Him. As someone once said to me, "He really is too good to us."

The Currant Bush message by Hugh G. Brown can be viewed in this Mormon Message.

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