I returned home from my mission not even 10 days ago and I have a confession to make…
I’d rather be in Florida.
Coming home is something every missionary thinks about. Will there be a crowd at the airport? How many people will come to my homecoming? Will my younger siblings be taller than me? How am I going to adjust back to being a “normal human?”
Towards the end of my mission going home was something I began to look forward to. I was excited to experience the departing temple trip with my mission president and I heard the final testimony meeting in the mission home was a spiritual experience. Those experiences didn’t disappoint.
At our departing temple trip we were sitting in one of the sealing rooms with our mission president and he directed our attention to a magnificent chandelier. He pointed out the ever so subtle movement of the chandelier and how it it was that subtle movement that caused the chandelier to sparkle. He talked about how each of us had created a little movement in Florida and had left a little sparkle all over the state.
Flash forward a couple weeks and now I’m back in Utah feeling a little less sparkly.
For the first week after coming home I felt like a celebrity. When people would see me for the first time they would scream and run to give me hugs. Everyone wanted to take pictures with me to put on social media. Quite a crowd gathered to hear me speak at my homecoming. I felt like I was on top of the world.
But now the excitement has started to wear off and people are getting used to having me around again. My siblings are back in school during the day and my parents are back to work. My friends are busy with their jobs and school and some of them their new husbands. And I was left at home to try to navigate registering for school and looking for jobs. I would be lying to say it is easy to feel the same kind of fulfillment from day to day as I did when I was knocking doors and preaching the gospel in Florida.
And that’s to be expected.
For eighteen months I wore the Savior’s name on my chest and I did His work 24/7. I had thousands of people praying for me on a daily basis that I don’t even know. I had purpose and I knew exactly what I was supposed to do every second of the day. In all reality it was easy to be successful. But the moment you take off that name tag and people stop calling you “sister” those prayers aren’t for you anymore and your focus starts to shift a little.
As a returned missionary you are thrown right back into the environment you were in before you left. The world around you is basically the same as it was, but you’re a little different. It’s like trying to put on a pair of shoes that you used to wear in the eighth grade. They used to fit great, but now they make your toes curl and give you blisters when you walk. It’s uncomfortable and awkward at first.
But if I’ve learned anything over these last ten days of being a returned missionary is that the Savior still loves me. I know that even though I don’t wear His name on my chest anymore, He is still proud of me every time I do something for Him. Weather it’s unloading the dishwasher for my mom or sending an uplifting email to my friend that’s still on a mission. He’s happy with the service I’ve already given to Him and He wants me to continue to seek opportunities to serve.
I’ve also learned that I’m not expected to be perfect. When I first got home I expected myself to be perfect. And I was shocked when I made mistakes. But I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is still applicable for Returned Missionaries. And if anything, we, as returned missionaries should understand the need for Jesus Christ’s Atonement even more than we did before.
He wants us to keep trying. He wants us to improve ourselves.
So that’s where I’m at now. I’m in a slightly less sunny state trying to learn how to sparkle again.
And He’s never left my side.