Be Ye Therefore Converted

Desolee mes amis! I have every intention of blogging more often and telling you all about my mission, the new Phoenix temple, things I am baking, and many other things. Life just gets away from me. It is also hard being computerless. I have to share my family computer, which has many people that want to use it. The second I get on my nieces and nephews are right there, wanting to play their online learning games. 3 year olds don't really care about my need to apply for jobs.

Anyway, I have been thinking a lot lately about all the reasons I went on a mission. So many people ask me, "why did you go? What was it like? How does that work? What is the biggest thing you learned?" So, I want to write this blog post to respond to that.

This last Saturday I was teaching one of my piano students who was frustrated by a new song I had given her. This girl reminds me of me. How I was for most of my life, and how I still am, sort of. She is one of my better students. She works hard and practices. Yet, she is a perfectionist. I have been there. For most of my life I was battling me. I always needed to do everything I did perfectly, or I didn't want to do it at all. I don't like making mistakes. Whenever people ask for a "most embarrassing moment" I never know what to say because the only moments I can think of are, "I got a 96% on my French test," and the like.

I spent so many years being in competition with myself. I had to be first flute, because if I wasn't that meant someone else played better that me, which meant I messed up, which meant I was a horrible person. Waking up each morning I dreaded school. What if I had forgotten to do some homework and didn't realize it until the teacher called me out? What if they taught something that I didn't understand right away? What if I NEVER understood it? What if other students understood it better?

Then of course there was the fear of, I am not smart enough, good enough, pretty enough, fast enough... I am not enough. I felt like I heard that God loved me and I figured He must because each morning I would wake up imperfect and He didn't kill me. He let me go another day trying, although I always failed Him so each night He debated whether He was going to give me another chance. I would beg for it in my prayers. God was more of a frustrated impatient being. He tells me to do stuff and I don't do it, and He is mad at me because He sent His Son to suffer for me, and I sure made Him suffer, a LOT.  God should hate me. I hated me.

I don't know why my brain did things this way. I really don't know where it came from. I didn't grow up in a crappy home life with parents who never said they loved me. My parents always told me they loved me, always said they were proud of me.They taught me that God is loving. I just believed they saw me in the same way He did. I was an annoyance, but since they made me they had to be nice to me.

Sometime in college I realized that I was miserable and making myself crazy. I put myself through years of unnecessary stress and unhappiness. I suffered through an eating disorder and never really talked about it to anyone. I just convinced myself I was being healthy. So I started going to see a counselor. BYU has this great thing were students can see a licensed professional for free. It still took me time to get there because I felt guilty about it. Despite all the pressure I put on myself I had never done drugs, never drank alcohol, never looked at porn, never tried to kill myself. How dare I take time away from someone else with real serious problems just because I am a big cry baby that can't just get her life together?

Finally I went. It helped so much. It helped me change my perspective on many things and I started to see that God's love for me was not contingent on my being the best at everything.

It is something I still battle with. Much of this is what culminated in my deciding to serve a mission. By the time I decided to go things were much much better. However, I still had this idea in my head that I should go to make up for everything I had done to God in the first place. Like somehow He would love me more.

See, I told you I still battle this.

Going on a mission consists of filling out mission papers. You have to talk about your health history (physical and mental) and go see a doctor and a dentist. This is because missions are hard. They are physically and mentally exhausting. If you can't handle being on your feet all day, or talking to complete strangers, and having them be incredibly rude to you just because you believe in Jesus Christ, then they want to know these things.

Once you fill out all the paperwork you have an interview with your bishop. He is the leader of a Mormon congregation, called a ward. He has the stewardship to determine someone's worthiness to go on a mission. You have to be living certain standards. Then you have an interview with your Stake President. A Stake President is a leader of several wards in an area, that come together into what is called a stake. Then they also recommend you for mission service. All of that paperwork and recommendation is then mailed to the church offices.

Then church leaders take all that paperwork and look at it. Then they go into the temple (a very sacred holy building for us that you can read about by clicking on that link) and pray about where the person should be sent. Then God, our Heavenly Father tells them. Then they mail that information to the candidate. You get a big white envelope in the mail and you open it and it tells you where you are serving, what language you will be speaking, and when you report.

I did that, as you know, and was called to the France Lyon mission. I cannot tell you how much I am grateful for the experience of my mission. I loved it so much. I met amazing wonderful people. I taught the gospel, I gained a deeper understanding of basic gospel principles and strengthened my own personal testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I told so many people about a young man named Joseph Smith who had a question, and saw God and Jesus Christ and got his answer. I invited so many of them to read this wonderful book and ask God for themselves if it were true.

I prayed harder than I ever had and had incredible, indescribable spiritual experiences and was filled with so much love for people I hardly knew.

And you know what I realized? I never understood how MUCH my Heavenly Father loves me. He loves me so much. When I was torturing myself over my flaws and imperfections He was crying right there with me. He was encircling me in His arms and trying to tell me not to worry so much about it. He willingly sent His Son Jesus Christ to the earth to be my Savior. It was a choice Christ made and accepted because He loves me. It was in the plan all along for me to be imperfect.

I never understood then as I do now that our Heavenly Father's love is intensely real, and far deeper than we could ever realize. He wants us all to succeed in life, but He knows failure teaches us things. I wasn't letting it teach me in the right way before. His patience and love have lifted me up higher than I ever thought possible. His love is so real and it is always there, whether we accept it or not.

I am His daughter. He loves me. I can't say it enough, because I really did not know or understand it well beforehand. Heavenly Father loves me and wants to just give me things that will make me happy. He is guiding me and protecting me, and I am doing much better than I give myself credit for.

This makes me want to speak kinder, be kinder, and be more patient. I want to find the happiness and goodness, and not let the small things get me down. God LOVES me. I am so awesome.

For anyone who is a member and is debating about serving a mission, please go! Don't let anything hold you back! It will change you.

If you aren't a member and you aren't sure of God's love or His existence, He is REAL and so is His love! Never doubt that. Check this out to find out more.

If you already believe in God and feel pretty confident in His love for you, that is awesome! Please read this and consider it an invitation from me, your loving friend. Your relationship with your Heavenly Father can continue to grow!

My mission was the best. Every missionary says that, because it is true. You learn to rely on your Heavenly Father and strengthen your relationship with Him. There is no going back to who I once was. I am not perfect, and that is okay.


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