Friday, January 16, 2015

5 Things I Learned About Myself From Serving A Mission

1. I actually do have the ability to endure to the end and finish something.

Eighteen months in Ohio - check.

Serving a mission was, in fact, the hardest thing I've ever done. It had it's ups and downs, but I can honestly say, it was definitely a positive in my life. But there were days I wanted to quit, give up, and fly home. Fortunately, I held out strong and finished.

Knowing this, that I am a finisher of one of the hardest things to do, gives me the motivation and encouragement to be a finisher of other things. Worker harder at school, for one. I'm finding myself completing homework the day it is assigned rather than the night before it is due.

Writing, also. Looking at my 100+ half-finished writing projects gives me a headache, but now I can say, hey, writing a novel is easy. I've done it in just two weeks before. That's nothing compared to a mission. And so soon, I'll have some finished stories to show for all my effort.

2. I have some talents that I'm just barely starting to uncover. 

I had to do a lot of new things over the course of my eighteen months. I found that some of those things came easily to me, and others did not. Organization was one that did. Public speaking was one that did. Gardening was one that did. Crocheting was one that did. I would've never even considered some of these things could be talents had I not been forced to leave my comfort zone and try them out. It has made me wonder what else I might be good at.

3. I am very good at adapting to change.

I think I was just starting to see this when I left on my mission, what with my life being abruptly ripped apart as it was. As a missionary, however, change is a very constant thing. Every six weeks you have the risk of leaving your area or switching companions. You're constantly setting goals to change yourself. You are constantly changing up your methods of teaching and finding as new training comes from the leadership. You are constantly meeting new people and breaking off relationships with other people.

And you know, through it all, the change never really seemed all that hard. Yes, it brought some stress, but I had one of my companions tell me that I treated it all like an adventure, not reality. And maybe that's why I'm good at adapting to change. Everything's a new experience. I'm willing to try almost anything once, just for the experience.

So bring on the change. What doesn't kill me will make me stronger, right?

4. I can survive eighteen months without writing.

Okay, I'll admit it. I did have story ideas while I was out there. I don't think I would be a writer if I didn't, honestly. But I tried to keep it under control and simply wrote the idea down and tucked it away for later.

But before my mission, writing was my go-to medicine. If I was upset, I'd write. If I was stressed, I'd write. If I was bored, I'd write.

So on my mission, when I was upset, stressed, or bored, and I couldn't write, I was forced to find other ways to satisfy those needs and emotions. A lot of it came through learning how to really communicate with my companions.

And you know what? When I got home, I looked at my writing and shrugged and said that I'd pick it up again when I had the time. I feel like before, my writing almost controlled my life. Now, it can be a hobby again. And maybe that'll make all the difference.

5. I am a daughter of God.

I don't think I fully comprehended this before. I am of divine birth. I have a Father above who loves me, and I've come to love Him. It is through Christ that I have new found confidence and strength. When I am weak, it is to my God that I turn.

I am so grateful to know that with any righteous act I attempt, I'll have the strength of God behind me. I'll have a personal guide through hard times. I can do anything through Christ, my Savior and King.