Reminiscing’s of a Returned Missionary
First off, I’d like to thank everyone who took their time to read the words of my journey each week. Your support is indescribable. I’ve now been released for two and a half weeks. It gets easier each day. Hopefully this post will help bring to light some of the feelings of those who freshly return from their missions.
Being released as a missionary was the hardest mountain I have ever had to climb. When my Stake President thanked me for my service and told me I could take my nametag off, it was all I could do to fall to my knees and thank my Saviour for every minute of my missionary service. When my nametag came off and I was just Charlotte again, hearing my name felt like an insult. It has been a journey to discover who Charlotte is again.
To say I miss my mission doesn’t even begin to cover my feelings. My mission did for more me in 18 months than the past 19 years of my life. There’s an underlying sadness to all that I do; a sadness that feels like there has been a death. In a way, there has been a death to a chapter of my life that will never return. It’s hard when your whole life you dream of being a missionary, and then in a blink of an eye you did it and it’s over and you’re expected to move on. Since I’ve been home it is much harder to do the things that are considered “normal”, ie facebook, wearing normal clothes, dating etc. It feels like I’m polluting my soul that used to be filled with holiness, but these are just normal parts of every day living.
Serving in my mission surrounded me with not just one bubble, but about four. The mission bubble, the Utah mission bubble, the Utah visitors centre mission bubble, and the small town St George Utah visitors centre mission bubble. I’ve travelled into London three times this week and have felt sickened by things that previously never bothered me.
These are some things I’ve felt as I’ve been breaking out of the bubble:
The first thing I’ve noticed is how much I cry. Before my mission I never cried. I was the cold-hearted one of the family who never shed a tear. Well, my mission broke my reputation and has caused me to cry at every opportunity. For the last six weeks of my mission, I’d go to dinner appointments and they would ask how long I had been out for, and the inevitable tear would spring to my eye. But since returning home it’s been a whole other ball game. I’ve cried in the gym, the theatre, various restaurants, church and during the night. These tears come as I feel that there is somewhere else I need to be, doing something of a much higher plane. They come when I feel like I am in an unholy place, or when I feel like a missing part in this grand scheme of life. It’s easy to feel like a lost piece of the puzzle.
It’s hard to face your old life, knowing that you are not the same you anymore. It’s hard to feel satisfied doing anything that isn’t saving souls. When it’s been your every thought for 18 months, it’s hard to think things that aren’t about missionary work and not feel bad.
It’s hard to go back to being dependent again. It’s hard to get into the routine of just talking to my family and calling my extended family, when I’m used to just getting on every day talking to just the Lord and my companion.
It’s hard to be surrounded by people who have no idea what you just did for 18 months, and how it changed you and how you can never be the same again because of what you saw and what you learned. It’s hard to know that everyone around you has never met these people you now call family and the place you now call home. It’s hard to tell your stories when you know that no one fully understands how you felt each day for those 18 months. It’s hard to be expected to just fit right in and know who you are again. It’s hard to have to be happy or else you know you’ll disappoint other people.
This post was not to point out all the negative things of being released.
This post was to show that “the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom He hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance” [1 Nephi 1:20]
He truly has sent me many tender mercies. Every time I’ve needed to cry He has had His arms around me. He hasn’t forgotten me just because I’m Charlotte and not Sister Nicholls. He still has a plan for me, He still shows me His hand and His miracles every day. I still feel His closeness when I pray or when I read the scriptures. My life isn’t over – it is just beginning. But now I have so many more people to love and such a greater appreciation for the Gospel and what it really means to rely on the Saviour and be healed by Him. I have no doubt that everything is going to be okay and one day the pain will stop. I know that this adjustment is all part of the learning process. I have felt His love just as strongly and His presence just as close.
I’m not Sister Nicholls, and that’s okay. I’m not who I used to be either.
I’m a daughter of God who He is keenly aware of, and whose life He is very involved in. I am a daughter of God who can do hard things, and if my mission taught me anything at all, it taught me that
EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS OKAY IN THE END .
I love my family for helping me and understanding me through this process.
I love my Saviour for His mercy, and His constantly outstretched arms.
I love that He loves me enough to push me out of my comfort zone so I can grow, which is what this life is all about.
I may be the other side of the world from my mission, but the things I learned and the people I love and the testimony I gained are still very close to me.
As much as I want to hold on to what used to be my entire existence for 18 months, I know that there is a life of greater abundance ahead.
John 10:10 I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly
Christ is all about blessing each of us. That isn’t conditional upon wearing a nametag.
My favourite passage of scripture dictates perfectly how the Saviour continues to guide our lives, based upon our faithfulness, not upon our calling. It begins by talking about the Liahona
40 And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day.
41 Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;
42 Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions.
Then he goes on to explain the spiritual context of this lesson:
43 And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a shadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual.
44 For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.
45 And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.
46 O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.
From this we can see that the Lord guides our lives according to our faith and our diligence, not according to our status as missionary, returned missionary or whatever you might be. If we feel that our life is not filled with direction or comfort, then we must increase our faith and our diligence in those small and simple things. There is beauty to be found in every chapter of life:
“Shall we not go on in so great a cause?” Joseph Smith Jr.