Going on a mission is one of the best learning and growing experiences a young man or woman can have. Tt tests and tries us in ways we have never experienced before. However, the hardest part of a mission is often coming home and adjusting to life as a ‘returned missionary’ (RM). Finding the right balance after returning from a mission is extremely hard. This is evident by the ever increasing number of returned missionaries who struggle with adjusting. Here are 7 mistakes returned missionaries make and how to avoid them.
1st. Struggling to keep up with healthy habits.
When my mom asked me what I wanted to do when I got home from my mission I told her, “I just want to go home and sleep for a week.” As I’ve talked with missionaries all over the world this is a common theme. Missionaries work so hard that when we get home we just want to sleep.
But the problem is that many fail to get back into the habit of early to bed early to rise. As you stay up into the early hours of the morning temptations are harder to resist because you are physically exhausted. My mission president once said, “The Holy Ghost goes to bed at midnight.” Whereas he was joking when he said this, it is true that the more exhausted you are the less mental willpower you have to resist temptation.
The morning hours also set the tone for your day. Getting up early will provide you with undisturbed time for your healthy habits, like exercising or eating a real breakfast. And let’s be honest, you will look far better for the ladies (or the guys if you’re a sister) if you don’t look like a zombie who has had no sleep.
Another healthy habit is budgeting your money. Just like if you were a missionary and you ran out of money you had the unhealthy ramen diet, the same applies if you budget poorly as a returned missionary. You can’t eat healthy if you’re broke. So budget!
2nd. Failing to establish holy habits.
Holy habits go hand and hand with healthy habits. Just like your body will die without air and water, so will your spiritual life without prayer and scripture study. As a missionary, 8AM-10AM was a time set apart every day to study your scriptures, personally, and with your companion. When you get home that structured time is no longer there, it will be up to you to set time aside for these holy habits. If you wake up early enough you will have time to study the scriptures, not just “read” them. You will also have time to commune with God, not just “say” your prayers. Don’t let your journal habit get cast aside either.
It is also vital to establish the habit of attending the temple. We are counseled to set personal goals for temple attendance. (I try to go at least once a week.) An easy way to do this I’ve found is to work at the temple. For information on how to work at the temple just ask your bishop.
“Consider the reasons we pray and study the scriptures … these holy habits primarily are ways whereby we always remember Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son and are prerequisites to the ongoing companionship of the Holy Ghost.” – Elder David A. Bednar