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Ask Angela: The missionary age changed, but I'm not sure that I want to go

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  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    Oct. 19, 2013 6:37 a.m.

    I agree with Angela - trust your feelings and make it a matter of prayer and you will find what is right for you. It's difficult to make an independent decision when surrounded by lots of people who are excited about the same things (e.g. missions). I have daughters and a wife who did not serve a mission and they have shared that it's difficult to hear some of the talk about women and missions and how they feel like their decision is not as appreciated. I have a daughter now serving, so the challenge is how to value the choices of each of these women.

    I would say, whatever you do, make the most of your life now - take advantage of experiences that will prepare you for your future, experience and learn all you can and find ways to meet new people, expand your perspectives, serve others and find your purpose in life. Set a pattern for your life of finding activities that have meaning and expand your mind and spirit. There are many ways of doing that.

  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    Oct. 19, 2013 8:01 a.m.

    This is the first time I've ever heard of a young WOMAN being under pressure to serve a mission against her will. Usually, that pressure is all on young men, whereas women are pressured to marry and have children at a relatively early age, and are often even discouraged from missionary service until they are over 25 and no longer seen as "in their prime". This is a cultural anomaly.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Oct. 19, 2013 8:19 a.m.

    There is a great question that Christ directed towards his followers in Matthew 22:42 "What think ye of Christ". If we know him as the literal Son of God and as our Redeemer, then what should we do with that information? He also told us in John 17:3, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

    What did Christ do with that information? What personal sacrifice did he make so that each of us could know where to find relief from our sins and redemption for our mistakes? If it was that important to Christ, and if we know him as our Savior, what should we "want" to do?

    Every young brother has the responsibility to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is part of his priesthood responsibility to prepare himself until that desire fills his heart. That same opportunity, but not that obligation, is extended to each young sister.

    The question remains: "What think ye of Christ?"

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    Oct. 19, 2013 8:30 a.m.

    Angela gives great advice (as always). I would add just one more point - there is time to make this decision.

    If you, after prayer and thoughtful consideration, believe that school is you best choice, then go. Keep yourself active and worthy. After the first semester or two, give this consideration again.

    It may (stress may) be that a mission will be for you. Just later. If so, perhaps your school experience will be valuable to you. I have a son who went at 25. He had a great experience.

    Whatever else, keep close to the Lord. His timeline and ours are often a bit different.

  • Canyontreker TAYLORSVILLE, UT
    Oct. 19, 2013 8:33 a.m.

    Good answer for young men too.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Oct. 19, 2013 8:50 a.m.

    Do not go on a mission simply because others are pressuring you!

    As Angela said, ponder and pray--but listen to your "gut."

    The LDS culture is rife with "it was the best 2 yrs," but there are also those for which it negatively impacted their lives.
    We never hear those stories. We never really engage in full conversations about missions.

    I think we lose many fine young men around missionary age because of the pressure for them to serve 2 yr missions. There is little space in our Mormon culture for a young man who chooses not to go.

    Your "mission" needn't be limited to the 2yr variety.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Oct. 19, 2013 8:51 a.m.

    If you don't want to go, don't go. It's your life; own it. When I consider that the expectation is you never get alone time for the entire time, there's no way I'd want anything to do with it.

  • EW HENRIETTA, NY
    Oct. 19, 2013 8:55 a.m.

    I felt that pressure, even before the age change. I didn't go. It wasn't right for me. Pray and follow the Spirit. The lessons I learned from not serving a mission are probably similar to ones who do serve: to trust God and serve Him even though you don't understand why His plan for you is the way it is.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Oct. 19, 2013 9:06 a.m.

    It's hard to make the best out of a bad situation. I would try to see what the regrets will be, than pick the spot between the rock and the hard place.

  • Mom of 8 Hyrum, UT
    Oct. 19, 2013 9:23 a.m.

    I have two daughters missionary age. As soon as the announcement came, one of my daughters was touched to the core. Before that GC session ended, she called to announce she was going on a mission.

    My other daughter didn't get touched like that. She was excited for her sister and friends, but the idea of going herself never took root in her mind.

    One year later, the first daughter is happily serving in Canada, and the second daughter is happily married.

    The Lord will tell you what His plan is for you, and if someone asks you if you're going, tell them that it's between you and the Lord, and when He lets you know about your path, you'll let everyone else know too. That may or may not include a mission, and you have nothing to apologize for as long as you are following the Lord's promptings.

  • Frozen Chosen Savage, MN
    Oct. 19, 2013 9:24 a.m.

    A young woman shouldn't feel any guilt about not wanting to serve a mission. If you've got other plans for your life and feel good about it then move forward and don't look back.

  • Kouger Lehi, UT
    Oct. 19, 2013 9:44 a.m.

    Dear "Sister": Any prospective missionary who goes to "Angela" - and the like - for a final answer as to whether to serve a mission or not, should not serve a mission.

  • Brent T. Aurora CO Aurora, CO
    Oct. 19, 2013 9:50 a.m.

    Think Angela and Semi-Strong covered this well... that is, the decision is between you and the hold... and should be... and you don't have to go at 19 or before any college... you can weight this decision for a few years... in fact really until you graduate or are made ineligible due to marriage... and in that, you can serve later with a husband or in retirement...

    I would only add that some of the excitement of the new policy is that more returned elders are going to be able to set a standard to marry a returned sister... and I do believe that returned sister missionaries make better wives (less co-dependency, bring more to the union) and statistically less will fail in their first marriages. If that's harsh to read, while it isn't universally true, applicable in every situation or absolutely required, this valid thesis can be formed from observation.

  • Daniel Leifker San Francisco, CA
    Oct. 19, 2013 9:51 a.m.

    Sounds like one big concern is that you don't want to give up 18 or 24 months of your life. But a gap in a young person's life can be a huge plus if the time is spent wisely.

    I joined the military as a teenager and soon felt like I was in prison for four years. Life was passing me by while all my friends were getting ahead in college or starting careers or families. But my four years turned me into an adult fast. I left the military with lots of maturity and confidence, and I plowed through college a lot more easily with my newly learned discipline. Now I look back at my military experience as a huge benefit in my life.

    I think a mission could have similar benefits, as could the Peace Corps or many other worthwhile pursuits. Make your own decision, but do consider how a mission might change you for the better.

  • Andalia Beach City, TX
    Oct. 19, 2013 10:19 a.m.

    I know EXACTLY how she feels. I'm a 21 year old gal who was just finishing up undergrad at BYU-Hawaii when the "announcement" was made. I was 20 at the time, and had been telling everyone I would be serving a mission for years. I really knew it was something I wanted to do- and almost every girl in my ward took off for the MTC in the following semesters. But once I finished my student teaching, and the future loomed very big; I knew I needed to re-evaluate. I wasn't feeling that incredible desire I did the year before, and I felt incredibly ashamed that I didn't. It was my mom, who served a mission herself, that laid things out for me. "If it is something for you to do right now, I think Heavenly Father will place that desire in your heart." That desire just wasn't there to go serve a mission in that way, but that doesn't make me unrighteous. I teach with missionaries nearly every week, and share the gospel wherever I go in the world. Frankly, girls can go whenever they wish, and its between them and the Lord only.

  • PepperLayne Salt Lake City, 00
    Oct. 19, 2013 10:30 a.m.

    It is totally, completely, 100% up to the person serving whether they should go on a mission. Like Angela said, it's 18 months of being yelled at and belittled by strangers and having another person attached to you at the hip, but it's also a time of great spiritual growth. It doesn't matter if you're talking about men or women - serving a mission is not for everybody and it drives me nuts when people pressure these kids to go when they aren't ready. Only you and the Lord can make the final decision. If you decide not to do it now, but change your mind a few years down the road, that's fine. If you decide not to go at all, that's fine too! Personally, I would never trade my mission experience for anything - but I am also not ready to repeat the experience in a hurry. Get all the information you can, pray about it, examine your own feelings and abilities, then make your decision and stick to it. And ignore all the busybodies pestering you about it (that's not an easy thing to do, but they never go away anyway).

  • runnerguy50 Virginia Beach, Va
    Oct. 19, 2013 10:33 a.m.

    Young men or women should only go on missions if they feel called. And that calling is between them and God not some obnoxious ward member who thinks they know whats best for everyone.

  • suzyk#1 Mount Pleasant, UT
    Oct. 19, 2013 10:35 a.m.

    When you pray to Heavenly Father about this choice really talk to Him. Tell Him of your concerns, your hopes and dreams and tell Him what you feel you would like to do and then before you end your prayer ask for peace in your heart if your choice is right and then listen to the Holy Ghost - He will prompt you and if you have a peaceful - hopeful feeling inside then it must be right but if you don't it is not right. I've always fasted when I had a big decision to make and never was I let don't - I knew what was right.

  • Aunt Sue SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Oct. 19, 2013 10:36 a.m.

    Not every sister is called to serve a mission. When I was young, I never felt I was to serve a mission. But at 19, I did find the love of my life in a returned missionary. As he served as ward mission leader, I was involved as his compation in many missionary situations. I also helped several inactive sisters return to activity through visiting teaching and fellowship. Three of our sons went on missions, one son coverted a friend and they are now married and preparing to go to the temple. Everyone's path is different. Especially for the sisters. Just tell everyone that it is not what you feel you should do right now. That is all you need to say.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    Oct. 19, 2013 11:19 a.m.

    Sisters are not under an obligation to serve a mission. (Only onee poster mentioned it.) The brethren have made this VERY CLEAR. Anyone who pressures a young woman to serve, or makes them feel less than adequate for not serving, needs to repent.

    One of my cousins said, upon reaching age 21 and getting ready to graduate from BYU in the late 70's or early 80's: "I'm down to the 4 m's. I don't know which to do but I am not getting any offers for "marriage", I don't want to just go to work and earn "money" right now as I have a life-time to do that, I don't feel like a "mission" is the right thing, I guess I'll go get a "master's degree." So she did. And I don't think she had regrets regarding her decision.

    Give it a little time. There is nothing wrong serving a mission at age 20 or 21 or 22 if you change your mind. And you are not less of a person if you don't serve.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Oct. 19, 2013 11:50 a.m.

    I've been thinking a little more on the subject. I will give Dave Ramsey for the word intention. Intention is the plan. So what ever the plan is, do it with intention.

  • Old RM Mesa, AZ
    Oct. 19, 2013 12:03 p.m.

    I have wished I could have served a mission when I was young. I have with my husband and loved every minute, but I was old. My older two daughters served missions and my youngest found her husband. When they announced women could begin serving at age 19 I wrote on fb I would have gone had I had that option at that age. My youngest daughter wrote back she would have too. What a great age to get to serve. However having been in the mission field I have to say it is very hard, but you learn a lot about living with other people. Sometimes there is homesickness that is difficult. Sometimes the hours are long. I think all these situations that come up help a person really get ready for marriage and motherhood and serving in callings. Experiences you can get in a number of ways, but a mission is a really nice way to learn and serve the Lord while at it. But never go unless you want to go. That could be a disaster for you.

  • J.D. Aurora, CO
    Oct. 19, 2013 12:26 p.m.

    This is just one of the many stresses that is part of our cultural norm. If you don't want to go, don't go.

  • Bernard GUi Puyallup, WA
    Oct. 19, 2013 12:48 p.m.

    Only one opinion matters...let the Holy Spirit guide.

  • OlderGreg USA, CA
    Oct. 19, 2013 3:09 p.m.

    Moses was told to accept tabernacle donations only from those who gave with a willing heart. Christ addressed the issue of social appearance/ willing heart by vocally acknowledging the widow's mite.

    Ecclesiastes addresses times and seasons. Not everyone gets all the times and seasons.

    As a married convert, I didn't go on a mission. When the subject of a senior mission came up, we had a whole bunch of "yea, but---" things in the way. Meanwhile, we served in new callings, and did new things. Over time, each "yabut" was exposed and cleared away. Then we were ready to go. Others of my generation had similar walks to different destinations/ callings/ jobs -- all directed by the Lord.

  • ? SLC, UT
    Oct. 19, 2013 3:32 p.m.

    If you don't want to go, then don't go. I think it is wonderful they have lowered the age, so those who do want to serve can. There are so many choices available for young women, whether that be serving a mission, going to school, or getting married and having a family. This is where you get prayerfully work with the Lord in finding your path in life. In the end, you may eventually do all three, just in a different order than someone else.

  • ? SLC, UT
    Oct. 19, 2013 4:21 p.m.

    I have no idea what you are planning to study in college, and maybe somewhere down the road you may decide to serve a mission.

    An example of getting your education first before serving a mission, might be like studying to become a nurse, doctor, or dentist and then filling an LDS medical mission. Not saying you have to do this. But it is an example of using the knowledge you gain toward a profession you could later use to fulfill a mission in the church.

  • djk blue springs, MO
    Oct. 19, 2013 5:44 p.m.

    go when ready spiritually, emotionally, physically. our Savior needs missionaries but what he desires is for those wanting to serve and serving to be prepared and ready. never go when you are not ready. pray and prepare and when the time is right YOU will know. i am proud of each missionary for their desires to serve . this is a decision not to be taken lightly or just because others are doing it now. be whom our Savior needs YOU to be.

  • Mont Pugmire Fairview, UT
    Oct. 19, 2013 7:40 p.m.

    I am a missionary serving with my favorite companion ever, my special wife. She serves as the medical adviser to nearly 500 missionaries in two missions. PLEASE don't give in to social pressure from anyone. All of our sons served missions but one was 20 by the time HE felt it was right. He served well. And what if you don't feel the inspiration to serve at all? Sister Pugmire has already counseled with some who came before they were REALLY ready to commit ... and it is a FULL, CONSECRATED commitment. Be prayerful. Be willing to take on or two steps out of the light of faith and into the dark unknown but make certain you are REALLY ready to take them. Thank you for your honest question of the heart. If you will ask HIM, you will be given to KNOW FOR YOURSELF. May He continue to bless your life... one way or the other. Elder Pugmire, Uruguay, South America

  • fowersjl Farmington, Utah
    Oct. 20, 2013 7:48 a.m.

    The consensus in all the comments is "pray about it". And I totally agree. Went to BYU as a 17 year old determined to find my knight in shining armor. Received my patriarchal blessing as a freshman, and in it was a long paragraph about serving a mission. Didn't like that part, folded that paragraph out of the blessing, so I could read it and skip over it! Graduated from college, taught school, went back to BYU for a master's. Had the prophet, Harold B. Lee, tell me personally that I was going to serve a mission. A few weeks later had Stephen Covey tell me the same. Yikes! I reluctantly got on my knees and asked the Lord. He changed my heart in an instance, and I went at the tender age of 25. Wonderful, hard mission in France and Switzerland. Later married one of the elders from that mission. So many blessings from serving!

  • LittleStream Carson City, NV
    Oct. 20, 2013 8:23 a.m.

    I know with the struggles of being a missionary; being away from your family, leaving a boyfriend, giving up college for a time, there are going to be struggles to overcome. I know from the dedicated sisters who brought my granddaughter to baptism, that you need to be truly called. There is a huge difference being called by God and everyone else thinking you should do it. Pray about it. God will let you know if he needs you.

  • Wastintime Los Angeles, CA
    Oct. 20, 2013 12:59 p.m.

    If you are young and really want to do some good in the world and affect your peers, I suggest you consider attending a university or college located outside Utah.

    My youngest son has chose (so far) not to serve a mission, but is attending a UC school where he has impacted many people by his example. His older brother, who served a mission and then attended BYU, impacted nobody while he was at BYU. Surrounding yourself with other like-minded people is not what Jesus did, and is not what we should do. You can get a better education, and be a 'missionary' if you branch out into the world where the people who need to hear the word live.

  • Kinderly Riverdale, MD
    Oct. 20, 2013 4:25 p.m.

    I think you probably will get lots of people asking if you are going to go. But you don't have to take that as pressure, people are just curious. If you "own" the decision, as others have discussed, you can answer confidently, "I'm really happy with my decision to go to school right now." If others suggest you're doing something wrong don't worry about it too much. Someone will always think you're doing it wrong your whole life.

  • washcomom Beaverton, OR
    Oct. 21, 2013 12:41 p.m.

    I know of a sister who has chosen to go on a mission in her early 30's, as prospects for a husband are not happening. Whether the young woman chooses to go or not is ultimately her choice, as it is for a young man. The age has been lowered to help many others out in their desires to serve, and they have come to that conclusion on their own.
    For those that choose not to go, please, please do not judge them. People have NO IDEA what a person struggles with - emotionally, mentally or physically - and it is not their choice to choose for someone else.
    We need to remember - everyone has their own free will and choice. Let them use it.

  • Meckofahess Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 21, 2013 12:53 p.m.

    From Brent T in Aurora Co we are informed "... and I do believe that returned sister missionaries make better wives (less co-dependency, bring more to the union)". Wow, I will be sure to tell my wife and daughter and my dauters in law that they are all "lesser wives" because they didn't serve a mission. I really find that thought to be offensive, narrow minded - and CERTAINLY UNTRUE! We were recently taught by President Uckdorf to not judge one another. Let us accept one another for whom we are, each a child of God and of great worth in his eyes - whether we serve a mission or not.

  • Ender Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 21, 2013 1:01 p.m.

    Missionary service is a priesthood responsibility. Worthy young men should serve.

    Sister missionaries is a totally different ball game! They have the option to serve if they feel like it is right for them. There should be no "pressure" to do so, even with the age change.

  • Alden Salt Lake City, 84116
    Oct. 21, 2013 1:03 p.m.

    Perhaps the problem here is that she feels she even needs to ask for advice, which would pre-suppose that she is seeking approval, like we all do, but eventually we must come to the conclusion that we live with our choices, other don't. Women are especially susceptible to this type of "my life is run by committee" subconsciously powerful thinking. With all the love I could muster, I'd slap her in the face and earnestly say to her "stop it!, just stop it!."

  • Scott Hoskins Palmdale, CA
    Oct. 21, 2013 1:46 p.m.

    I believe that if I had pressured my children to go on missions, at least one of them would not have gone. I told them that I was sure that they would do the right thing, and they did. As for last child to make that decision (a daughter) it's up to her. And a girl is not expected to go, even though she is welcome.

  • CWJ Layton, UT
    Oct. 21, 2013 2:06 p.m.

    There's nothing worse or more disheartening than a missionary who is not ready/prepared to serve, whether it is a Sister or Elder. I know because I was one of those who was not properly prepared when I went into the mission field. My ambitions weren't because it was my priesthood responsibility per se, but because I was ready to get away from my home for two years and be out on my own as it were. Many good things came from serving and the experience was a blessing in a lot of regards, but I will never, ever be one of those returned missionaries who say it was the best two years of their lives. When my two years were up, it was time to get back to life and move forward.

    If you don't feel ready, don't go, but pray and prepare yourself for when the spirit moves you to know when that right time is.

  • Monsieur le prof Sandy, UT
    Oct. 21, 2013 2:06 p.m.

    I agree with almost every comment here. They've all said the same thing. It's between you and the Lord.
    There's a fine line here. You shouldn't go just because others want you to go. You should make the decision on your own. On the other hand, I don't know anyone who hasn't benefited greatly by a mission. It's a marvelous spiritual experience with great rewards. The important thing is that one makes it a matter of prayer. The Lord doesn't want uncommitted people in the field. It's hard on companions and mission presidents!
    My granddaughter was "touched" as soon as she heard the news and put in her papers immediately. She is having the time of her life and will come back prepared to be a better wife, mother, and human being. But we didn't push her into it. It was all on her own.

  • Dadof5sons Montesano, WA
    Oct. 21, 2013 3:00 p.m.

    To me sister missionaries are very special. First they do not have to serve they chose too. Second they can open the hearts of people that Elders can not. I feel that for each sister they need to prayerfully take the time to think about that choice. If they serve great if they don't great. I do know this they serve a mission in life far greater then knocking on doors. They serve the Mission of motherhood and they have a lasting impact on not just the children they raise but generations that follow. To me sisters are awesome no matter if they serve with a black name tag or not.

  • Alan_Hamilton Mesa, AZ
    Oct. 21, 2013 3:33 p.m.

    This may not be a popular opinion but no young person, male or female, should feel pressured to serve a mission. In my mission we had far to many who were there to please mom and dad or someone else and they accomplished nothing. The LDS church and its members need to move past the pressure and guilt associated with many "callings" and truly allow people to make decisions based on their own desires. Going to college, working or entering the armed services (among many other options) should be a viable plans for graduating high school aged young adult. Missions are great but not for everybody and acting like it is good for everyone is not doing anyone any good.

  • CMaynard Utah, UT
    Oct. 21, 2013 4:04 p.m.

    Welcome to life in Utah. I am a male, and was expected to go, and I did, but it was a terrible experience, I did learn many things, but I absolutely dread my children going on missions. I struggle with social anxiety and every day speaking to strangers was pure torture, every transfer was pure terror. I honestly believe I should not have been required to serve a mission because of my disability, but not going on a mission in Utah as a young man is guaranteed judgement that you aren't worthy to go, at least as a young woman you won't be judged immoral because you did not serve a mission.

  • USAlover Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 21, 2013 4:17 p.m.

    Since young adults are delaying getting married like never before, I actually think the Brethren were hoping missions would become a place where young adults of similar age met and...sigh...fall in love.

  • BYR West Bountiful, UT
    Oct. 21, 2013 4:27 p.m.

    Big Gigantic red flag here. Sis, go to college. Do not let anyone force you to go for any reason. Accepting their reasons will only make you resent your mission (as you so wisely already know) but eventually your family and the church. The shame and guilt used by some on this thread and in our culture is horribly wrong. It is better to not go and retain your testimony than to go for the wrong reasons and lose it. Did we not hear in the most recent general confercence about the mistakes some leaders have made? Please, please, do not go, at least not at this time.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Oct. 21, 2013 4:41 p.m.

    The claims someone "impacted nobody while at BYU' just miss the reality. Not all the hearts that are heavy are outside the church, not all who struggle with sin and need to feel the love of Christ are away from sacrament meeting.

  • Surf is Up Miami, FL
    Oct. 21, 2013 10:31 p.m.

    I had a wise mission president who frequently said that a mission is the most miserable place a young man or woman could be if they were there for the wrong reason and had no desire to serve.

    I spent almost a year deciding if I wanted to serve. Serving was the most wonderful and difficult time of my life. And many of those difficulties were companions who apparently were there because their girlfriend wanted them them to serve a mission.

    It is good for young people to ponder, pray and consider it before just jumping in because of pressure from family or friends who think they should go. Those who do so and choose to serve make the best missionaries.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Oct. 23, 2013 12:51 p.m.

    Your stake probably offers a missionary prep class. If you think you might go, then try it out. You don't HAVE TO serve, but it may help you know if it's for you or not.

  • let's roll LEHI, UT
    Oct. 23, 2013 10:44 p.m.

    Reading the comments makes me glad, once again, that I was raised in the Mormon faith but not in the Mormon culture. T can truly say I've never done anything in the Gospel because I felt pressure to do so.

    It was a great blessing to grow up in Oregon and Washington and New York where no one at school cared if I went to Church on Sunday. I had to decide early on whether I believed what I had been taught and whether I wanted to live a life few, if any, of my peers and classmates were living.

    Best wishes to this young woman.

  • Fullypresent Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 14, 2013 8:40 p.m.

    There is far too much pressure put on young people to go on a mission, get married young, get married in the Temple, have children right away, etc. The pressure on these kids is ENORMOUS and needs to STOP. They need to know what their options are and then be left alone to come to a decision about what the best decision is for them, their situation including their strengths and challenges, and what feels like the right decision to them. These are all life changing decisions and we need to give them breathing room and time to make them without all the pressure. If we really love them we will do that for them.