Finally, the day has come. That large white envelope was in your mailbox, and now you are here, with family and friends, or perhaps just alone in your room. Waiting. Staring at the envelop, dying to open it, with a tiny ounce of fear that you aren’t going to like what you see. The excitement overcomes you, and you tear it open, quickly read, and come to three words you had not wanted to see.
Dear Sister Denison:
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Ohio Columbus Mission…
Now, to any who may live in Columbus Ohio, this is not meant to be any personal offense. I will admit, however, that I was disappointed to see those words.
After spending last year studying abroad and traveling in Europe, I have been hoping ever since to be allowed to return there for my mission. Actually, I had been more than hoping for it. I had been praying and pleading and even counting on it. My friends and family were all sure I would be sent abroad. I have a knack for languages and have taken multiple courses on cross-cultural training, culture shock, and adaptation in foreign countries. I knew I could have done well in a foreign speaking mission. And yet, here I was. After all of that. Being sent to Ohio.
Some people may truly be ambivalent and have no preference about where they are called to serve. But many have some sort of inclination as to where they would like to go. For me, it was abroad; for my brother, it was Japan. I was going to Ohio, and my brother is currently serving in Japan. When we get our call to serve, we may be assigned to the mission of our dreams. Or we may be called to someplace far more ordinary than we had envisioned. Wherever we are called, it is important to remember to accept our missionary call with grace and humility.
For those who get assigned to the mission of your dreams: congratulations! This will be a tremendous opportunity for you to learn and grow. As you prepare for your mission, remain humble and grateful for the opportunity you will have to serve in the church as a representative of Jesus Christ. God has already blessed you immensely in sending you where you wanted to go, and He expects a lot from you.
For the rest of us, who find ourselves a little downcast at the prospects of the next eighteen months of our lives: congratulations! Serving as a missionary will still be a tremendous opportunity to learn and grow. As you prepare for your mission, remain humble and grateful for the opportunity you will have to serve in the church as a representative of Jesus Christ. God has already blessed you immensely in giving you this gospel and allowing you the chance to dedicate eighteen months of your life in full-time service to him. He expects a lot of you. Notice any similarities between these calls and the dream ones?
When things don’t go the way we planned, it’s easy to become upset. I did. I became very angry, knowing that I had given up so much to serve and that God would not even honor my one wish to go anywhere but the States. Then, after the anger wore off, I was just sad and a little ashamed. I received my call on Thursday, but I’ve only just begun telling people about it now. It may take a little time for you to come to terms with your call, but when you do, it will be worth it.
Our Heavenly Father loves all of his children. Including the ones in Ohio. And including you. As a loving god, he wants you to be happy and to achieve your fullest potential in the long run, and he will place opportunities before you to do just that. While it’s easy to think that we know what we want, what we will be best at, or what is best for us, at the end of the day, we have to remember that the Lord’s perspective is far greater than any we can have as a 19, 21, or 81 year old woman.
When in doubt, recall the words of Isaiah 55:8-9
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
I know that God knows and loves each and every one of us and has prepared a way for us to learn and grow closer to him and to serve His other children so that they can do the same. We may not understand it now, but if we faithfully accept the call to serve, then we will come to understand in time why our mission was exactly where we needed to be.
Happy waiting, happy serving, and happy Sabbath.