Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Catch the Wave

The missionary age change made some eight months ago, has caused a lot of excitement in the church and HUGE growth in missionary-work. 18 is the new 19 in the church and 19 is the new 21 for sisters. Serving a mission has become more popular than perhaps ever before. To serve or not to serve is the question? I would like to share my personal experience of going on a mission. But, mainly of how I got there. To hopefully reach out to those on missions, going on missions or most importantly for those who feel they don't want to go, or are confused if they should or not. That's how I was.

As a eight year old kid in primary you sing the famous song: "I hope they call me on a mission". But, for me I never thought I would ever serve a mission. I didn't have any role models of missionaries. No one in my families history ever served a mission. Both my parents are converts and got baptized in 1986 in North Carolina. I didn't truly know what a mission was. I thought all missionaries did was knock on doors all day. I don't remember ever saying growing up "I'm going on a mission." Just wasn't something I wanted to do. I had other dreams and desires that really blinded my thought of ever going on a mission.

My goal from when I was a little boy, was sports! I literally thought I was going to be the next Michael Jordan. Well to my surprise, it didn't happen. I had other things placed before my faith and Heavenly Father, worldly things. To simply put it, my life wasn't where it needed to be. At times I was in situations that could have been avoided and mistakes were made. I would always say, and I think a lot of us always say this when we mess up. "well, i messed up. I wont do that again." then you do it again. "I cant believe I did that, I will never do it again." boom, it happens again. Then you say: "I can't do this. This is so dumb." Then it happens again. The guilt and pain is hard to face, so a lot of times you just feel like giving up. "No hope for me, I've made these mistakes over and over again. Why should I even try? the expectations of living is just too high. I'm done". I thought those things all the time.

The thought of seeing a Bishop is scary. We tend to just avoid it. "I cant see my Bishop. He knows me too well. I will lose his trust. He will look down on me and tell everyone. I cant tell him. I'll just stop and change it on my own." I really tried to turn my life around by myself and each time I did, my hole kept getting deeper and deeper until it was dark and there was no light. We can't do it by ourselves. It can come to a point where our holes are so deep that we become lost in the dark, its lonely and cold. But one comes beckoning to us: "Come unto me. Come home." That's Jesus Christ. He is the light. The only one that can pull us out of our dark holes and pierce the darkness in our lives. My opinion is that God cares more about the future of your life, than he does about your past. He wants to forgive you and for you to forgive yourself.

When Christ came into my life, I was in that dark hole, lonely, depressed, felt like giving up, all my dreams and desires I had growing up didn't happen. Even my track and field scholarship fell through. But he led me to the Book of Mormon. Where for the first time I read its pages cover to cover. Reading 1Nephi 10:18-22 changed my life. I will never forget that feeling. I wanted to read more, but I couldn't read anymore. Because, those verses gave me the answer that it was True and that I needed to change. Which change led me to meet with my Bishop. It can be a daunting task to talk to a Bishop and/or a Stake President. But, Bishops are set apart for that reason of helping you and I find and receive forgiveness. They won't look down upon you, or tell you "well, its over for you. You messed up this time." instead, they will prescribe you a plan, for you to become better.

I came to find out and it wasn't til I was on my mission that God loves us so much. God loves us enough to hurt us, to put us on the right path. He did that for me. No wonder all my dreams and goals never happened. No wonder I wasn't the next Michael Jordan. It wasn't what God wanted me to be. Wasn't what he wanted for me. Don't give up, don't lose hope. If you fall down, even if its over and over and over again. Just get up, dust yourself off and keep pressing on. Don't let a past mistake keep you from happiness. Don't let your past keep you from your future. It can be bright and full of light. Leave the past behind you.

To all those young men who feel like, "I cant serve a mission. I've made some big mistakes. I'm to unworthy to go." I was there. Don't lose hope. There is absolutely nothing that you could have done that is outside the healing powers of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. You can be forgiven. To those who feel like they don't want to go. I've been there too. Their is nothing in this life that can be greater for you than to serve a mission. I wouldn't trade anything for my mission. Even if the NBA came knocking at my door, I would serve a mission before choosing that. For those who are unsure about a mission or not. I would say Pray and ask God if you should and trust his answer, don't be afraid if its yes, just Trust God. A member in my ward always told us young men, that their are three things that keep a young man from going on a mission.
They are:
  1. Girls
  2. Girls 
  3. Girls 
But hey, all the girls are going on missions now anyways. So they are not going anywhere! There are people around the world waiting for your heart, for your testimony that only you can bring them on your mission. People God has prepared for you to touch and bless on your mission. They're waiting for you. Go for it. Catch the wave!
Pic from my mission. Baptizing in the historic Susquehanna River

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