Sunday, August 23, 2015

Post-Mission Update

So ever since getting home, I have been thinking about how I needed to write again on this blog about what I have been doing since I got home and what it's like to come home from a mission.

But I couldn't. I couldn't get myself to do it. I think it was partly because of denial of being home and partly because I hate admitting feelings, but here I am and have finally decided to update whoever ends up finding this post. And hopefully someone will benefit from it.

It's now been 6 months since I got home. Here's a little bit of what I've done in those 6 months:

I turned 22!

I went to Minnesota for 13 days for my sister's wedding.

Angie from Indiana came and spent a week with me.

Worked Engineering State (aka Nerd Camp!)

Had a Christensen Family Reunion

I went back to Indiana for the Temple Open House.

Spent a week in Phoenix to see some family

And a lot of other things, including a little bit of working in between all the play. :)
On with the post-mission shpiel. It's been 2 years since I left for the mission. I know I said it almost every week of the mission, but I honestly can't believe how fast time goes. Those two years have been the best. And it's true what they say: I have thought about my mission every day since getting home. I don't feel like I've been home long enough to say that it's been every day for 6 months that I've thought about it, but it has been. And I pray that I continue to think about it every day for the rest of my life. Some of my heart is in Indiana. And hopefully it stays there. 

But now the question is, how do I not lose all the things I learned in those 18 months? How do I keep my heart in Indiana but still be living the life I'm supposed to back home? I thought it would be easy to come home and just keep every good habit I learned on the mission and now be the BEST member missionary ever. But spoiler alert for all you who haven't been RM's: it's not easy. It actually is really hard. And stinks. I no longer had time set apart for exercise, study, prayer, lunch, dinner, church, etc. I suddenly was thrown back into basically the same situation I was in before the mission except with a whole different perspective. The same people were on my facebook, at church, in my home and they had a remembrance of who I was before, but now how was I supposed to fit back into this situation as a "New Darcie" in the old circumstances?

I can't say I have the answer to that question, but I think I'm slowly learning. At first when I got home, I just really didn't want to accept anything about being home. I didn't want to move on from the mission because of fear of forgetting. But now I know it's all about applying and moving forward. I think going back to Indiana actually triggered that realization. I went back and saw so many of the people I love and I realized that it really isn't much different to be there as a "normal human" as it was as a missionary. No, I wasn't proselyting and I didn't leave anyone with a dinner message, but I can still have an influence on them and they still have an influence on me. 

I can't put into words all of the things I learned while I was a missionary because there's far too many. But all of those things I learned really come down to two distinct principles: Progression and Repentance. 

God doesn't want us to stay the same and He's given us a way to move forward if we choose to, even when we make mistakes. And after being home for a little while, I realized I wasn't really applying those two principles. I was focusing way too much on what had happened instead of what was happening. I kinda was at a standstill for a little bit there. I was reading my scriptures and praying and going to church, but all I could focus on was how great things were on the mission and how stinky things were at home. I wasn't progressing and using the gift of repentance as a way to change and improve. I was bitter that I felt like I was back in my 18 and 19-year-old circumstances, living with my parents, going to a small town YSA ward, not going on dates, not having a bomb job, not finding a million people for the missionaries to teach, not really having a purpose.

But, I learned that I wasn't really doing my part. I wasn't praying with the intent to change. I was praying with the intent to have God change my circumstances, which is funny because I feel like that was so easy to apply and teach in the mission, but when it came to "real life", I wasn't very good at doing it. I wanted Him to tell me what to do and to just all the sudden make my life "perfect" because I'm an RM and I served with all my heart so I should be blessed, right?! But spoiler alert again, that's not the way God works, and I knew it, I was just forgetting to remember and apply it. I wasn't studying with the intent to find out how I could change. I was looking around me at all the great things that had happened and were happening to my friends and fellow missionaries. They were finding big-kid jobs, getting engaged, progressing at a rate that seemed a bajillion times faster than me. But I forgot to be grateful for where I was.

Turns out that Satan is really good at getting us to feel like we aren't adequate or good enough and aren't anywhere close to where everyone else is in progression. He gets us to compare, compete, and complain. But it turns out that we are enough. I am enough. I have a purpose: it's to be happy. It doesn't mean life is perfect and I have all the best circumstances, but I can receive all the promised blessings in my patriarchal blessing. I can go back to school and enjoy it. I can succeed in serving others. I can eventually find someone to spend eternity with. But I've got to do my part. Luckily, this past little bit I've been doing a lot better at it and I'm seeing the difference. I have a long ways to go, but again, it's all about progression and repentance. That's why Christ suffered the Atonement for me: so I can apply everything I learned from my mission into everything I do for the rest of my life. Elder Holland, in his talk "Missionary Work and the Atonement of Jesus Christ" from a seminar to Mission President's in June 2000, summed up what I want to happen: "Everything that I hold dear has somehow been affected by my decision to serve a mission." I hope that someday I can share that same testimony.

I love Indiana. I loved being a missionary. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

But for now, I'm just going to love exactly where I'm at.

I'll finish with attaching this video where Elder Holland I swear is speaking to me and hopefully it speaks to you too. Totally worth the 7 minutes.