Any reader to this blog knows that missionary work is very near and dear to my heart. My mission helped me purify my weak layers in every way and become a lot more like my Heavenly Father. It was a 20 month colossal size jump in testimony, conversion, hard work, a reliance upon God and a simultaneous overcoming and awareness of my many weaknesses and failings.
More than anything else my mission taught me that I mattered to God and that my life could mean something. In some ways I wish we didn’t have unpaid clergy and I could do it fulltime still today, as hard as it was, because no job will ever be as important and matter so much until perhaps I ever get the chance at a family. But even on low days, all these 7 years later, I can look back on it and know that I matter and that God can and will use me to further His work. How can that not motivate you?
The God of the whole universe needs you!
This is what excites me about the new age change for women (the men I hardly noticed although still significant). So many more women will have the opportunity to know that God needs them to share the gospel to the world. Its fabulously important to be a wife and a mother but it can seem constrictive for women who want to have an experience where they see different sides of the church and know that they are needed there too. It just gives women options and options are empowering.
I cried when I heard of the announcement because I thought of all the girls dying to go and now could. I thought of the women watching who would have longed to go but the 3 years of life got in the way. I’m sure their moment of regret and ‘what if?’ must have been tender. (Listen to President Uchtdorf’s talk that might help! ). I thought of the thousands of people that are now going to hear the gospel as thousands of new missionaries get to preach and teach and become the pillars God needs them to be.
Even in the last year I’ve thought about my mission many times. The transition to family ward has felt like a transfer to a new area. Everything feels different and strange. You miss your old area but you try to get to work as fast as you can. I’m still not 100% but I’m trying. I also think of my mission when life gets hard and I want to give up (and boy can it ever get hard, almost overwhelming) In those dark hours I often remember my mission and say to myself ‘you made it through with power and strength. You can make it through this’. How fabulous that thousands of additional women will now be able give themselves a similar pep talk when facing challenges? Makes me so excited!
It also makes me excited for scores of more endowment and other temple work that will be done. When I was 21 I wanted to go to make covenants in the temple but my bishop said I wasn’t ready (which I may not have been), and had to wait until marriage or mission. I had no prospects on the marriage front and was unsure about a mission. I believe I needed this so when I went on a mission, I was SURE, but it was a challenge to my faith at first. I remember driving by the temple and feeling such a yearning and when I made those covenants it was one of the happiest days of my life. I’m happy for those girls that don’t have feel that pain, as helpful as it was in my case, and can get right to serving.
I also cried when they made the announcement because I believe the change has an equalizing force in the church. I love the priesthood and know it is God’s power on earth. However, sometimes I have yearned for the Relief Society and roles of the women in the church to feel as important. We always hear of the value of nurturing and motherhood but are never really sure what it means. Is it just being nice and comforting others? Men can do that. Is it just raising children? Some of us can’t do that. I just see this change as a step in the right direction of putting an equal importance on both gender’s ability to share the gospel and the need the church has for both priesthood and womanhood.
Finally I cried because of the advantages it will give sociologically to the church. What I mean is men and women will basically be the same age and many have the same experiences during their college years instead of the 2 year, I’ve been on a mission, gap. A gap in both education and experience that does and is eventually made up by almost all girls. However, when one perspective dater has done so much and is 2 years older it creates an interesting dynamic when courtship and marriage eventually occurs. I like the prospect of as equal life experience dating as possible. I don’t know if that makes sense but it does in my head. Sorry.
In any case, the 19 year old girls should be able to get more life experience one way or another and hopefully marriage age in the church will go up and the long strain of the single experience may not be so difficult. These are just hopes and projections. Obviously we will just have to wait and see.
At the very least it gives young women options they didn’t have before. It gives them the choice all the sooner to be come rocks in the Lord’s church as my mission did for me. Good luck girls and if anyone wants to mull over their decision with me I’d love it. I love talking about missions and missionary work!
I do have a testimony that we have a living Prophet, President Monson, and that this change is of divine revelation from God. Because of that alone, I know it will be a blessing to the Church and World. Go forth to serve!
Here is the press conference on the topic if you had any questions