My face when I am faced with the prospect of doing Missionary Work as a introverted, shy, conservative person.
As we were driving home, I thought about it. While I was sharing my thought, I felt like desire burning in my chest again. It's like having a little flame in front of you; at first it's not giving off much heat, it's pretty small but it's THERE. It's not invisible or gone, it's there in front of you. You can either fan it, give it oxygen, and feed it to make it grow stronger and give off more heat...or you could pour water on it and douse it out. I felt that desire to serve burning like a little flame and with bearing my testimony on the "Cocoon of Gawkiness" blog and sharing my concerns about serving a mission, I felt that I was feeding the flame. After writing the blog about my concerns, I felt so...alive. So excited to serve a mission even though it's 2 years away; I literally wanted to get up, pack and serve right NOW! It's a wonder...when I fed my fears, they began to ignite and burn everything beautiful around it. It put fear and doubt into my heart and head and I began to doubt everything that I knew was true and if I really wanted to serve. BUT when I focused on the positives of serving a mission, focused on the blessings and service I'd be receiving and giving...it ignited the burning desire to serve one. It felt like a "burning in my bosom" as the scriptures say when recognizing the Spirit testifying to your spirit.
Lately I've been slack with the Spirit...I've discarded this wondrous gift because of laziness, fear, doubt and excuses. I want that peace again that the Spirit brings to my spirit that what I've set out to do is right and that my preparations leading up to a mission will all come together if I have that faith in Christ and am willing to do the work for it. Luckily, the Atonement is there to help me change as I have made a mistake...I'm so grateful for the Atonement. As I've come to learn about the Atonement, I realize it's not just something for the broken hearted sinner...it's for those who slip up every once in awhile, who need that encouragement that just because they fell over, that they can climb back up again and dust themselves off and get back to the work. I struggle with feeling that...if I don't study the scriptures for hours, pray for hours and focus ENTIRELY on Spiritual matters and discarding the other aspects of life, that I have sinned and that I can't come back. I feel that I've theoretically "slipped" in the race of life and that I can't get back up because I'm ashamed, or embarrassed about my actions and all I want to do is climb into a hole and die. BUT...that's where the Atonement shines! That's where Jesus Christ says, "Ashleigh...you'll never reach perfection in this life. Do not expect so much of yourself. Give me ALL that you have and I will make up the rest for you". I didn't really understand that until I listened to the talk, "Believing in Christ: A practical approach to the Atonement" by Stephen Robinson. I know that I've slipped...but I need to lean on my Saviour and Father in prayer and know that as soon as I continue to get up after slipping, they will always carry me through and help me make that run through life.
So...these experiences are:
1. I let my own doubts and fear trouble my mind that the adversary took hold and I listened more to the whisperings of the adversary than of the peaceful Spirit, which made me begin to doubt whether or not I wanted to serve a mission in the next 2 years.
2. I focus so much on my weaknesses and insecurities that I think that, in this life, I can fix them all. THAT IS NOT THE CASE, EVER. I know that in the scriptures, I am given weaknesses so that I will go to my Father for help, to lean on him through faith to be made strong in those weaknesses as long as I pray for my Father's help. Weaknesses are not bad, they are only bad if you don't confront them and let them consume you. Weaknesses are practically the adversary's gateway to let fear and doubt pour into you and stop you from reaching your true, infinite, powerful and divine potential.
3. I have recognized what the Spirit does and the peace that I feel from it. I often question the Spirit because I don't feel this powerful voice in my head that goes, "DO NOT WATCH THIS TV SHOW FOR YOU SHALL BE CURSED AND THRUST INTO HELL!". The Spirit is not like that. He is gentle, quiet, still but powerful. There is a surety if you listen to that voice. It's like common sense...you clearly know it's wrong to kill another person or to steal. You know that deep in your heart and your mind, without doubt. That's how the Spirit feels. He gives a thought that is so powerful, so convicted that you KNOW it's true...it's now up to your own agency whether or not you listen to it or abandon it. It takes patience to listen to Him, it takes a lot of pondering and thirsting to feel the Spirit. BUT, because I am baptised, I have been given the GIFT of the Holy Ghost to be my CONSTANT companion as long as I stay worthy. I know that a surety that the Holy Ghost feels like peace, you don't worry about the things that are going on in your life even though they are bad, and you are happy even through trials. I notice (AND NEED TO REMEMBER!) that I feel the Spirit the most when I focus on the positives in life, when I focus on good things and not all my fears, doubts, worries and trials that are going on in my life.
4. A mission is going to be just a longer, harder, and more spiritually/physically/emotionally growing experience than EFY. I enjoyed EFY even though I was absolutely petrified at every small noise, request, question or action. It was a worthwhile experience and growth that I wouldn't trade for the world, even though majority of the time I was a worry-wart about EVERYTHING...
5. I know that I DO want to serve a mission. As I bore testimony on the blog about my concerns of serving a mission, I felt the Spirit. I felt that desire and "burning in my bosom" that this is something I'm passionate about, that I want to do but I'm letting fear get in my way. Surely, closer to the time I'll have that conviction and confirmation that I am going :) HOPEFULLY. My fear is battling my faith on a constant bases and something I try to fight with every single day...
So...yes, with Michael's going away and now realizing that I only have 2 years to prepare everything and to do as much as I possibly can in my power to prepare emotionally/spiritually, I am FREAKING OUT. This opens up a lot of time for the adversary to jump on me with temptations, fears, doubts, distractions...everything he possibly can. It's amazing, scary, and something I can't wait to do in 2 years :)
I have received answers, I have received that confirmation. I am serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in two years for 18 months...I am preparing now to enter that blessed and sacred work :)