“Oh my goodness, you’re going on a mission, right?”
“Hey so when are you putting in your papers?”
“Have you thought about serving a mission? You’d be great at it!”
“You should go on a mission like asap.”
These are just a few of the handful of comments I would receive from friends and family about serving a mission. Sometimes I felt bombarded. Sometimes I even felt pressured. But most importantly and most unexpectedly, I felt frustrated. Why wasn’t I seeing what others were seeing in me? Why was it taking me so long to make the decision to put in my papers? Why couldn’t I whole-heartedly commit into being a full time missionary?
So my life continued onward. I clearly assumed that if others saw goodness in me, then my Heavenly Father and Savior must see it too; so I decided to start putting forth some effort. I went to the Lord on my knees and prayed with all my heart to know if He would have me serve a mission or not… several times a week and even several times a day. I didn’t receive an answer immediately and found myself frustrated. Why couldn’t He just let me know? So I waited. I prayed and prayed and prayed, but most importantly I waited. For two and a half years I waited for an answer. I prayed throughout high school, and I prayed even harder during college. Why wasn’t the answer coming?
I made pros and cons lists galore. Seriously, I was that ridiculous. The cons list continued to get smaller and smaller and smaller until one day it disappeared completely. At this point I had decided that I was completely and utterly willing to serve Him, but I just had to wait for the OK from my Father above to make sure it was a part of His plan too.
One beautiful snowy day I went to church with my roommates and was sitting with them in sacrament meeting. One of the intermediate hymns was “We are all enlisted” and we all began singing. I remember being filled with love as I heard the sweet harmonies among my roommate’s voices; but then towards the end of verse one these were words the clearly came to my mind: “Shelby, listen to what you’re singing.” At the beginning of verse 2, I really began trying my hardest to listen to the lyrics of this hymn.
Hark! the sound of battle sounding loudly and clear;
Come join the ranks! Come join the ranks!
We are waiting now for soldiers; who’ll volunteer?
Rally round the standard of the cross.
Hark! ’tis our Captain calls you today;
Lose not a moment, make no delay!
Fight for our Savior; come, come away!
We’re joyfully, joyfully marching to our home.
I remembered feeling so overwhelmed with the peace and love of our Savior that I didn’t dare try to sing or speak. I sat there silently as warm tears endlessly rolled down my face. I couldn’t stop them. This was the moment I had been waiting for. I began to feel even more warmth as the congregation moved on to verse 3.
Dangers may gather–why should we fear?
Jesus, our Leader, ever is near.
He will protect us, comfort, and cheer.
That was it. I came home that day on cloud nine. I, Shelby Mills, had finally received my answer regarding my mission. I was going to serve! I was going to serve the Lord!
Surprisingly, the days and weeks following only got harder. I felt that influence of the adversary bombard my life. The thoughts of “you’re not qualified” or “you’re not worthy” relentlessly penetrated my mind. I began to doubt. I began to wonder if I ever did really receive my answer. I became frustrated all over again. What was I doing wrong?
The semester ended and I moved back home to Arizona soon after. Things didn’t get much better. I felt the adversary attack me relentlessly. His influence was so overwhelming in my life sometimes that I didn’t know if I could continue onward. Should I even go through with this? Is it really going to be worth it? I began to pray and fast and pray and fast and pray harder than I ever had before. I spent early mornings at the temple searching for an answer, for some peace, for some simple guidance. One day memories began flooding back into my mind of numerous times where I received a gentle witness that serving a mission was the right thing to do. (Too many instances to even list) It was then that I realized that the Lord had been guiding me and encouraging me all along. I had received the further “push” I needed from the Lord and I decided to finally meet with the Bishop and start this whole mission paper process.
I remember sitting outside of the Bishop’s office. I was over-thinking things once again well because… I’m Shelby and that’s what I do. I sat there and prayed so very fervently. I told the Lord that I knew I was being ridiculous, but if He could just give me one more reassurance that I was doing the right thing than I’d be able to find it as I read my scriptures. I just so happened to be reading the Doctrine and Covenants and was on chapter 6. Here is what I read:
“…Blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me and behold, as often as thou hath inquired thou hath received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldn’t not have come to the place where thou art at this time. Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth. Yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there are none else save God that knowst thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart.”
Then verses 22-23 became the cherry on top of it all.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon that night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?”
My heart about soared through the roof. This was it. I was serving a mission.
And here I am. A couple months later with all my papers turned in and submitted to the Church headquarters. I sit here anxiously but ever-so patiently for my call. I’m not entirely sure why it took me such a long time to figure out if the whole mission thing was for me, but one thing I do know for sure is that the Lord has a greater plan. He knows me perfectly, and more than that, He knows the people I’ll serve perfectly. His timetable is greater than my own. He see’s the beginning from the end… from all eternity to all eternity. He has helped me to learn valuable lessons all along the way. My journey to serve a mission has just now begun! After more than two years of waiting, it’s finally my turn to get sent out into the world and serve God’s children…. my turn to teach eternal, life-saving truths to some of God’s children. How blessed am I?
It’s so important to be patient and trust in the Lord’s timing. We must be willing to submit our will to His and try our best to be humble enough to be lead my His spirit. I’m anxious to see where I’ll be called! I don’t know who I will meet or where I’ll go, but I love the people already.
This gospel is wonderful. This gospel is a gospel of love, peace, happiness, and pure joy.
Watch out world, Sister Mills is coming for ya.