I’d like to share my experience trying to serve a mission and what it has taught me about true discipleship.
My story starts with this…
(ooh, it still gives me the chills!)
I already had the sister missionary fever when the announcement was made. That Monday I made a doctor’s appointment and called up my bishop. I thought I would have my call by the end of the month.
But then I couldn’t clear my physical examination. My doctor couldn’t explain what was wrong so I was sent to do more medical tests (I can't tell you how many times I had to pee in a cup). Throughout the next two months, I still had no doubt that I would go on a mission because I had received a confirmation from the spirit that it was what I needed to do.
At the end of fall semester, I was finally in to see a kidney specialist. The doctor came in and said “Well I can tell you you’re not going on a mission!” Haha, right. But he meant it. He explained that my medical tests pointed to an autoimmune problem that had to be suppressed before it would damage my kidneys more.
I was devastated and confused. I had received spiritual confirmations that a mission was right for me. I was grateful we caught this medical condition before I even had symptoms, but did I receive confirmations to serve only to uncover this problem? How could the Lord plant in my heart a righteous desire for something I would ultimately be denied? I was angry with the Lord for not letting me serve. I was jealous of the girls younger than me who were leaving on missions. I was bitter I had to stay where I felt little hope for my future.
Many good women have found themselves in similar situations...
-How is it that I am still single when I am worthy of and desire a temple marriage?
-Why can’t I have children when my only desire is to be a righteous mother?
-Why do I have depression when I only want to be happy and help others be happy too?
I had to learn the meaning of true discipleship, so I prayed for a change of heart and the Lord led me to D&C 4:3
“Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;”
I desired to serve God and so He called me to His work, but His plan for me was to stay. I felt like Naaman, who would rather have done some “great thing” instead of washing in the lowly Jordan River seven times. I would rather have served a mission instead of staying another year in lowly Provo, Utah.
I then had to turn to Christ for the strength to stay, to endure medical treatments and find the work he has for me to do here. He gave me the faith to quietly be a disciple and lift where I stand. Elder Neal A Maxwell said…
“It takes faith to persist in doing good, particularly quiet good, for which there is no recognition. Otherwise, why bother? Therefore, faith in Heavenly Father's plan of salvation is needed not just for life's turbulent, traumatic moments but also for daily life's seemingly small but nevertheless defining moments.”
I have learned that the Lord does have a plan for me. As I have tried to serve faithfully here, I have found new levels of growth through experiences and people that only the Lord could have foreseen. And what is more, I have had my eyes opened to see all the blessings I couldn't see while being too consumed by my unmet expectations.
Discipleship is standing as a “[witness] of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in” whether that be on a mission or by spending another year in Provo, by being single or by being married, by being a mother or by being a loving influence for the children of others. It is serving diligently despite the challenges and circumstances we’ve been given, whatever they may be. The Lord truly knows how to make us become what He would have us become. It is only when we submit our hearts to the Lord that we can make needed changes in our perspective. It is only then that we learn to sing
“So trusting my all to thy tender care,
And knowing thou lovest me,
I'll do thy will with a heart sincere:
I'll be what you want me to be.”