When I first came out on a mission I struggled changing myself into a missionary. I wasn’t use to thinking of myself in terms of missionary work and missionary standards in relation to how I spoke, dressed, served, and used my time. I could follow the guidelines physically, but I felt I needed to change inside too, but I didn’t know how to do it, except to just keep trying to look and act like a missionary.
I had an assistant that unknowingly helped me with this. He shared an experience he had when he received a call as a zone leader. He had a spiritual experience where he actually saw the mantel of a missionary leader come upon him in the reflection of his mirror. This really helped me. I felt in my heart that I really needed to SEE myself differently if I were truly going to become the consecrated missionary the Lord wanted me to be.
I started working on this. In all things I started to have the missionary standard in my mind; “I am a missionary! Should I think about this, wear this, read this, say this, do this?” etc. It was a hard process to let some things go, it is definitely a higher standard for me. But the more I said, “I am a missionary.” The more I saw myself as a missionary. Soon I became a missionary in my heart and I embraced the standard and loved it. Instead of just loving the gospel, I now loved missionary work too.
As I work with young missionaries I have come to the realization that they too have to go through this same change. Those who really see themselves as missionaries adjust faster to the standard and become a more consecrated missionary earlier in the field.
This was really driven home to us when the age change happened and we saw so many younger missionaries coming into the field. We realized we needed all of these young men and women to see themselves as missionaries quickly. We talked to all of them about seeing themselves, not as young women and young men, but as missionaries. A young woman will see how she is dressed in a different way, than a sister missionary would. A young woman will talk to elders differently, than a sister missionary would. A young man associating with his peers will act differently, than a missionary does.
I love seeing the process of our good wonderful missionaries coming to see themselves as missionaries; consecrated servants of the Lord. It is so wonderful to watch them learn and grow, and realize new ways of looking at themselves and life. Their changes are very close to our hearts. These are very special young people. For example:
At interviews 6 months ago I had a sister missionary who talked about her spiritual experience with this. She said, “I have left Sarah behind, (name is changed). I have realized Heavenly Father doesn’t need Sister Smith to be Sarah anymore. I feel stronger now. I feel more loving and capable. It feels so powerful to leave behind what the Lord doesn’t need. I don’t need attention or to be the center, I want to draw people to Christ, not to me. Letting go of that girl I was at home has allowed the Lord to be able to do so much more with me as His missionary.”
I loved that and I’ve never forgotten it. I know if all of us, not just missionaries, are willing to let go of whatever is holding us back and see ourselves for what we truly are and can become, then the Lord will make us into what He wants and needs us to be. And there is a lot of power in that.
I believe reading our patriartical blessing is important in this quest; so that we can get the vision of who we are, who God wants us to be and what his plan is for us. I believe trusting our Heavenly Father and believing what He says is vital. The things we give up will be a sacrifice. We have to trust that when we close a door, He will open a window. I imagine reaching our divine potential and achieving His divine plan for us must be the most fulfilling, meaningful thing we could possibly do with our lives. It takes deep faith and hope that the compensating blessing for our every sacrifice will be realized.
Sadly there are some missionaries who never quite get to the point of being a fully consecrated missionary while on their mission. They find it hard to let go of the wants, needs and fears of that young man or young woman. They are still good missionaries but just don’t quite reach all of their potential while in the mission field. This is not the end of the world. It’s just the end of the mission. Life does go on for another 60 years or so and there will be a lot more chances to learn. Thank goodness! I always remind the missionaries they are not developed, they are developing; we are all an unfinished project the Lord is working on.
I wonder if I am fully consecrated myself at times. When I start to wonder, I have to ask the Lord what more I need to give. Sometimes I am sure I am fully consecrated, other times I’m sure I’m not. Take 4 weeks ago when I finally started this blog. I knew I hadn’t fully consecrated myself and finally gave in, letting go of fear and started writing, but it took over 2 years for me to do that. I think I just finally wanted peace more than I wanted to be safe. And then God gave me a vision that I could do it. Again, thank goodness life is long, and we have lots of chances!
I am convinced the way we SEE ourselves is the most important factor of what and who we become. If that vision of ourselves is the standard of what we will do, say or think, then we can become who the Lord needs us to be. Closing the door means we will give or give up what holds us back. And the window is: there is a lot of power and blessings in that.