After President Monson announced the missionary age changes in October 2012, suddenly the lives of everyone around me began to change as well. It seemed that all of my friends and even the strangers around me were filling out mission papers, opening mission calls, and flying out to the MTC.
I, however, was not. I was surprised and excited when the age was lowered for girls to go on missions, but for me, it was not a call to action. It was simply an opening of an opportunity I had not considered before. If I wanted to, and if the timing was right, I could go on a mission. I would tell people that when I soon turned 19, I would see where I was at, and possibly serve a mission.
To be honest, I do not think I prayed about it. It was not something I seriously considered, so it was not something I felt the need to pray about.
As my best friend says, “If you don’t want to go on a mission, don’t pray about it.” That is not why I didn’t pray, but I think what she says does have a point. If you feel the need to pray about serving a mission, God probably won’t tell you not to go unless there is a substantial reason.
Anyways, I went to college and roomed with girls who were waiting until they were 19 to go serve a mission. Many social media posts showed their excitement as they were called and went off to serve. I was excited for them, but I just did not see myself serving. And that’s okay.
As a girl who did not go on a mission after the age change, I learned that I was still okay. Although it was suddenly the trend (a good and righteous one) to go on a mission, I did not follow it. Many girls were off serving missions and doing the Lord’s work, but that did not mean I wasn’t doing the Lord’s work. Perhaps I was needed at home, where I could visit my family and be a good example to them.
In my friend group, I was the minority. And it was hard watching them all go on missions. Out of all the girls I hung out with, and even people I was acquainted with, I was only one of a few who did not leave to serve a mission. That meant that I was basically alone.
However, personally, I did not want to serve a mission just because it was the popular thing to do or because all my friends were doing it. If I was going to serve, it was going to be between me and the Lord.
It turned out that I did the other very ‘Mormon’ thing and got married. I met a fantastic returned missionary and fell in love. He was not willing to wait for me to serve a mission and come back, and I was not willing to lose such a great man.
I can’t say for sure that I didn’t go on a mission because I was going to get married, but by the time I was mission-age, I was promised away to this amazing young man. And as great as missionary work is, and as much as I wish I had mission stories to tell and brag about, I got married instead. I did not go on a mission.
And that’s okay.
I learned that I am still a prized daughter of God, by doing alternate righteous things here at home.
I learned that I can do missionary work in my own backyard.
I learned that a decision like serving a mission is between me and the Lord, and if I do not feel the need nor the urge from me or from Him, I am not obliged to go.
I learned that all of these missionaries are going to need someone to send them packages and letters, so someone has to be home right?
And lastly, I learned that no matter what life throws at you, if you are going down a righteous path and consulting Him and your conscience, you are okay.
Lauren is studying Journalism at Brigham Young University and considers the East Coast home. She has a passion for writing, photography, skiing, hiking, and traveling. She enjoys studying German and is married to her best friend.