Readers’ Forum: What? You didn’t enjoy your mission?

859
This mindset that missions are wonderful and aren’t hard that can lead to the stigma that missionaries who didn’t enjoy their missions or came home early did something wrong. Yes, there were so many amazing moments and I met tons of wonderful people but that doesn’t take away the trials I faced. (Made in Canva by Megan Zaugg)

Here it comes, the dreaded question of “Where did you serve your mission? Hawaii! No way! You must’ve loved that so much.”

I have two options: I can leave out part of the truth and say it was the greatest experience because that ends the conversation on a light note, or I can tell them that it was a hard experience and that I didn’t really enjoy it.

Yes, there were so many amazing moments and I met tons of wonderful people but that doesn’t take away the trials I faced. However, if I choose to tell them the latter, I can immediately feel the judgment.

How could I not enjoy my mission, especially when I served in paradise? Was I not a consecrated missionary? Was I doing something wrong? No, in fact I always strived to be obedient and give it my all, but the overall experience just wasn’t as enjoyable for me.

Up until recently I felt very alone in this. I felt like I couldn’t really talk about my mission because of the stigma that surrounds not enjoying your mission or coming home early. This stigma can be so hurtful to those who served their missions to the best of their abilities and have a strong testimony but happened to have a different experience than is normal.  

There are people though who absolutely loved their missions. There are so many good parts of serving a mission such as being able to serve others and helping them find peace and joy through Jesus Christ.

Some missionaries don’t view their mission as hard and that is OK because each experience is different.

However, it is this mindset that missions are wonderful and aren’t hard that can lead to the stigma that missionaries who didn’t enjoy their missions or came home early did something wrong.  

When we read a mission call does it say that the missionary is expected to enjoy every second of their mission? No, in fact it doesn’t even mention anything about that matter.

Instead, it talks about how as we devote ourselves to the work we will be blessed with knowledge and a greater testimony. I know that as I devoted myself to the work my testimony grew tenfold and I’m sure many people can say the same.  

So why does going home early or not enjoying the mission tend to have a bad reputation? If someone comes home early from their mission it makes sense to wonder why. But that shouldn’t be what we focus on.

I’m not saying that everyone focuses on this, I know plenty of people who don’t focus on that at all and are very accepting! But as someone who didn’t enjoy all of her mission there are times when that negative view can be felt.

That doesn’t mean that other people are rude. In fact, I don’t think anyone does this on purpose. We have just grown up in a culture where it’s easy to slip and judge someone without meaning to.  

As I have started to open up to others about my mission experience, I have found others who have similar feelings, and those who didn’t but helped me feel accepted.

However, I have also had negative experiences of feeling judged for this which has been less than ideal.

We are human and we are imperfect, which is okay because we can grow and change! We can help erase this stigma that surrounds missions for the Church and cultivate a culture that is full of more love and acceptance. 

-Mallory McKell

-Provo, Utah

Print Friendly, PDF & Email