Guest Post…When Marriage Takes Precedence

Today’s guest post is from a very special person. Nicole is the best friend of my missionary daughter. But she is so much more than that to our family.

In 2005, when our family made our first trek over to New Zealand, Nicole, 14 at the time, was one of the first people we met in our new ward. Almost from the day we were there, she and my daughter Jess became firm friends. Over the last 7-8 years they have remained best of friends, and Nicole has literally become a part of our family, having lived with us for several months when we were back in Sydney.

She would have to be one of the most focused individuals I know. Both in her educational pursuits, as well as her religious devotion. When it comes to the gospel she is unfailing in her commitment to the Lord, and constantly seeks his guidance in everything. Her story reveals this deep devotion.

The decision for a young lady to serve a mission doesn’t carry the same emphasis as it does for a young man, but when that decision is balanced against another of equal importance, it can create some conflicting emotions and feelings.

From my perspective, I have always taught my girls that the preparation for a mission and for marriage is very much the same. So our family focus has been for each of our girls to prepare for a mission, and if marriage comes before that opportunity, then they will be aptly prepared.

In Nicole’s case there was no wrong or right decision, both were noble. But this is when it is important for a young lady to know what is right for her personally. 

If you are interested, Nicole also has a blog. Please stop by there and say hello – Our Happily Ever After.

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This was my journey, this was my story, this is my life
By Nicole Horsford

I was 18 when I received my first distinct impression to serve a mission. Life progressed, as it tends to do. I dated, went to university, and even though I still wanted to serve a mission it was much less of a focus for me.

I was nearly 20 when my focus returned. Part of the influence for that was my best friend preparing for a mission. Another was reading my patriarchal blessing and noticing it seemed as if every paragraph was talking about serving a mission. I felt the spirit testify to me that that was what I was supposed to do.

The experience that cemented my desire to serve a mission came just days after my 20th birthday. I had been worrying for a while about what to do with my future. That night I went to Heavenly Father in prayer. As I prayed, I heard a voice saying, “Go on a mission”. I felt the spirit flood through my body and I was filled with an indescribable joy.

To say I was anxious to go on a mission would be a gross understatement! I counted down the days until I could start my papers, submit them, receive my call, and then leave. I wanted to leave as close to my 21st birthday as possible. Things took longer than expected but by November 2011 my papers were in.

Nicole's Mission Call

The Mission Call Arrives

On the 13th of December 2011 I received my call to serve in the Philippines Quezon City North Mission, reporting to the Provo MTC on the 24th of April 2012.

In January 2012, Joel, the brother of one of my best friends, returned from his mission. His family had moved to NZ in July 2011, and so rather than going home to Perth where he left from, he came to Auckland. I first met him the night he got home and then didn’t see him for another week and a half, but the next time we saw each other something clicked and I realised that I had feelings for him. Over the next week we saw each other regularly and things with us progressed rapidly from there. He was everything I had ever wanted and so much more. In short, he was perfect for me.

On the 10th of February we started officially dating, and we began to talk marriage straight away. It took me by surprise because I was so fixed on my mission. I didn’t know what to do.

I was torn, emotionally and spiritually. I had prepared for so long for my mission, I didn’t see how I could just change my mind. But I had been preparing my entire life for marriage as well, and being a wife and a mother is my ultimate goal.

I prayed about it, we went to the temple the next morning and although I received answers about some things, I was still unsure about what I should do about serving a mission. The next day we fasted and the thoughts and feelings that came through strongest to me were that Joel was right for me, and I should follow the counsel that our priesthood leaders have given us.

Richard G Scott, in the April 2006 General Conference, said:

“In the home a young girl can understand that her primary role is to be a wife and mother. Yet as that preparation unfolds there may be an opportunity to serve a full-time mission, provided recent counsel of the First Presidency is followed: “Worthy single women ages twenty-one and older … may be recommended to serve full-time missions… Bishops should not recommend them for missionary service if it will interfere with imminent marriage prospects.” “

My first choice was whether I felt Joel was the one I was to marry- a decision I made and confirmed with Heavenly Father. If that was right, then marriage was to take precedence. It seemed as if the solution was clear, and yet I still felt guilty.

I knew without a doubt that I had received revelation that helped me to make the decision to prepare for a mission. But I didn’t know if all of that had happened because I was supposed to go on a mission, or because it would give me opportunities to learn and grow, and be in a position where I could meet and marry Joel.

We sought the counsel of my bishop. I am grateful for my kind, wise bishop, who listened as I explained how things had happened, my thoughts and feelings, and the questions that I had. The first thing he said was that he would not make any decision for us, that was our responsibility.

We talked about how a mission is a priesthood responsibility, and that while it is a fantastic thing for sisters to serve missions, it is not an obligation. He stressed that there is no shame in not serving a mission, even though I had received my call. He cautioned us about discerning between emotions and communication from the spirit so that we would be able to more clearly receive the answers we were seeking for. We talked about the need for righteous families to be reared.

As we talked, I felt my fears being calmed. I felt at peace. I felt that Joel was the one that I was to marry. And, I felt like serving a mission was not what I was supposed to do right now.

Later that night, Joel proposed and I, with no doubts or reservations, said yes!

The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple

There are opportunities that I will not have because I chose not to serve a mission right now. But there are many more opportunities that have opened up because I have chosen to be married in the temple, to a wonderful man, and to raise a family with him in the gospel.

I still plan on serving a mission, hopefully several, but now with my eternal companion.

This was my journey, this was my story, this is my life. How grateful I am for the gospel, and for a loving Heavenly Father who has a plan for each of us.

Have you had to make a similar decision? How did you come to decide? I would love to hear your stories and how you made, or would make, the decision between serving a mission or marrying.

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30 thoughts on “Guest Post…When Marriage Takes Precedence

  1. Thanks Nicole for sharing this experience with us. We have watched these events over the last few months, and know that you have made the right decision. We love you…

    • Thanks for giving me the opportunity Tracy! Thank you for the righteous influence you’ve been in my life! I love you!

    • Oh Jordy… I should have got you to do all the wedding planning before you left! I am much more excited about marriage planning! 😀 Love you!

  2. I was with you through this, but still so impressed with how you handled and made your decision. I am so proud of you and am so sure of your relationship with Heavenly Father that any decision you made would have been the right one. Thank you for your example of following the spirit – even when it was difficult. I am sooo excited for you guys!! Love you.

    • Eva you are wonderful. I have been blessed with such fantastic friends who have been such a strength to me! I love you so much!

  3. An amazing post. Well done Nicole on following your heart in this amazing decision. I didn’t face the same choice but I was att a point where I’d been too hurt before and didn’t want to trust another man with my heart. Only after prayer did I feel that it was a good idea to date Tom and it turned out to be the best decision ever! Good luck with your wedding planning and future together. Enjoy every moment xx

    • Finding that right one makes all those frogs pale into existence. Sometimes it takes a leap of faith to get your prince. You got a keeper there Jess. Thanks for visiting.

    • Thanks so much Jess! I am so grateful for the blessing we have of being able to turn to Heavenly Father when making such important decisions. I am grateful that He sees the things we don’t, and that He loves us enough to help us make the best decision!

  4. I was devastated after being ‘Dear Janed’ by an Elder after waiting for him for 18 months, so I decided I really needed some direction in my life. My parents’ marriage was failing, my siblings were going inactive in the church and I was working 12 hour days as a legal secretary at the age of 18. Crazy stuff!
    I prayed and asked if I should prepare to go on a mission. Of course the answer was a great big YES! However I didn’t realise that when you pray, you have to be careful of your wording. I asked if I should ‘prepare’, not if I should actually go on a mission.
    There I was, saving, preparing, tracting with the sister missionaries in our ward, blissfully unaware that a young man had his eye on me, and that Heavenly Father was making sure that I wasn’t going to be able to turn him down.
    In His own special way, Heavenly Father made sure that I knew this young man wasn’t going to leave me heartbroken, and we became really good friends before we even started dating. I don’t even know HOW we started dating, but we did, and when I prayed about it, the answer came “My child, you asked if you should prepare, and that was enough.”
    To cut a long story short, we’ve been married for over 12 years, have two children and have gotten through some amazing struggles (I’m sure there’ll be more to come).
    The lessons I learned: Word your prayers carefully, and Heavenly Father has a plan for you – even if you might be blissfully unaware of it 😀

    • Dianna, what a fantastic story. I’m so glad you shared it because it just highlights how much we need to be prepared to change our course when we are prompted. While we work towards an honorable goal, we still need to be open to an equally honorable, but different result. Thank you.

    • This is such a great story! I love how every person has their own one, and how perfect it is for them! I love being able to look back and see how revelation received has influenced the way we have lived, and to be able to understand some of the reasons why things have happened. Thanks for sharing Dianna!

  5. A friend of mine, Dawn, from The LDS Missionary Moms Email Group tried to post her story on here today, but she had no luck. So I offered to post her story for all of you to read. So, here it is:

    “25 years ago, I was preparing to leave for a mission to Sao Paulo Brazil. I
    had been dating a young man and he had gone home for the summer. In that
    time I decided to serve a mission. After I got my call, he asked me to
    marry him and I said no, because I felt I had* *answers to prayers through
    my patriarchal blessing. In my singles ward at BYU, marriage was pounded
    into our heads weekly. I had pressure from many friends to get married. And
    eventually I broke up with him, because I knew I was supposed to serve a
    mission. He simply reassured me he would not ask again, that we could just
    have fun together, with no pressure to get married. And if he was still
    around when I got back, we could see what would happen then. I couldn’t see
    the harm in that. 🙂

    “The death of my grandfather and the circumstances around it and time spent
    together catapulted our relationship to the next level. I went to my bishop
    for counsel. He asked me if I loved him and I told him I did. He then told
    me I had an obligation to marry if the offer was made and to turn down my
    mission call. He must have seen some disappointment on my face (not in
    marrying, but in turning down a dream of serving a mission) and gave me the
    following advice. “Dawn, you can either go on a mission and teach the
    gospel to other people’s children. Or you can marry and teach the gospel to
    your own children.” It went directly into my heart, that my joy would be
    full in teaching the gospel in my own home. I now have seven converts and
    my third son is serving a mission. I count my missionaries converts as my
    own, even though I am not counting. I have never regretted my decision. I
    hope that we are successful in teaching all 7 of our children the gospel.
    And my joy has been great with the 7 souls we have taught and brought unto
    Him.”

    Thank you Dawn for sharing.

    • Dawn, I love your focus on missionary work in the home. I think it is the most important place that we can teach and live the gospel! While it can’t have been an easy decision, it is amazing to see the effect of it rippling through your life, and I’m sure it will continue throughout eternity! Thank you!

  6. Hey Sister Maurer, I love love love your blog, and this post from Cole. Just thoguth I should let you know that the link back to her blog doesn’t work. xx

    • Hi Demi, Thank you so much. So glad you enjoy it. Nicole really knows how to put a few words together doesn’t she? Thanks for the heads up on the link. I have fixed it now, so it should work. Did I hear somewhere that you have a blog too?

    • Hey Demi! I love that we have another blog to stalk now! Tracy, I completely agree with Demi, this blog is fantastic!

  7. Tracy, I saw your link to this on facebook and had to pop over, Nicole’s experience is so similar to my own. It was through prayer and some wonderful counsel from family and our priesthood leaders that helped us realise that for us postponing marriage would not be right. We were both ready for marriage and knew we had found a wonderful person that we wanted to share eternity with. I realised that preparation for the temple should always be our goal, if we are prepared for that then whatever happens we will be ready. Also, something that stood out clearly to me at the time was counsel from my bishop that while a mission is a wonderful thing and can be an amazing experience, it is not a saving ordinance and that I did not carry the same priesthood responsibility to serve that my male counterparts did. My husband and I have been married for 10 years and have three beautiful sons who we are helping to prepare to serve a mission one day. I sometimes wonder what might have been but I never regret my decision, I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.

    • Hi Sarah, thanks for popping in and sharing your personal experience. I love how everyone has commented on the love and support they received from family and friends. Sooo important. Yes, I agree that Temple preparation is key, regardless of where our life’s path takes us. And this is where we find those saving ordinances you talk about. The work you are doing with those little young men of yours is the best kind of missionary work there is. Far more intimate and personal than that of a proselyting missionary. Beautiful words you have spoken…thank you.

    • Thanks for your comment Sarah! It’s great to be able to relate to other people’s stories! As I read your comment I found myself nodding the whole way through! My mother gave me the same advice about the temple when I was younger. I asked her whether I should prepare for a mission or for marriage (I was about 15 at the time, obviously thinking ahead!) and she said to me, “Prepare for the temple, that way you will be ready for both.” She also added that preparing for a mission is the best marriage preparation you can do!

    • This is me!!!!
      I’m going to be one of Nicole’s lucky AUSSIE aunties! ;).
      13 years ago I had the same decision to make. I can totally relate to Sarah!
      I had the added pressure of all 4 of my older sisters having served missions- and everyone would ask when I was going….

      I felt the same want, desire, ‘obligation’, pressure, to serve a mission, but knew marriage was ultimately best for me at that time.

      I too think back and wonder what would have been- but like Sarah, don’t regret my decision/s made back then.

      Now, 4 delightful children later and a WONDERFUL family life- – – – – – who would’ve thought!!!!! Heavenly father knew what I needed most of all.
      Such blessings!!!! 😉 xxx

      • I have three daughters. One married, who did not serve a mission, a second one who knew at 19 she was going to serve, and is currently serving, and a third who is not old enough yet. Whatever she decides will be alright by me. If there is one thing I have learnt it is that we each have our own path in life. But all my children know that no matter what they choose, their focus needs to be on preparing for the Temple and the saving ordinances within the walls of that sacred building. As they do that then they will be worthy to determine what the Lord requires of them. Thank you for helping us all to understand that we each have our own path to follow.

  8. I have enjoyed everyone’s comments on this topic but i wonder if there are any success stories from women who still chose to go on a mission even though marriage was on the cards? I am also wondering what makes this decision of mission or marriage so hard for women? Are we afraid that the men in our lives wont wait for us? And if so, who are these men who wont wait for their eternal companion for just 18 months? I am sure there are plenty of other valid concerns regarding this issue, but the older i get the more i realise that my mission happened in the blink of an eye. 18 months is really such a short amount of time, but the priceless lessons i learnt will last me a lifetime. Every day I am grateful for the absolute love and trust I felt from Heavenly Father when i was in His service as a full-time missionary. And i would hope that the man i marry would understand what a miracle a mission was for his own life and would love for me to experience the same thing. Anyway, I am glad for anyone who follows the guidance of the Spirit in their lives, which seems like what everyone has experienced here and that is the most important thing!! But I just wanted to add that there is the opportunity for women to have both miracles in their lives – a mission and a marriage.

    • I would be great if we had someone comment here who took a different path in a similar situation. I would whole heartedly welcome it.

      I, like you have had the blessing of serving a fulltime mission, and I enjoy the blessings of marriage and family since then. But marriage was not on the cards for me at the time, so the decision was much easier.

      I would hope that fear is not the motivator in this situation – it certainly has not been a motivator for any of the stories shared so far – and I would suggest that if it is then more time is needed to seek spiritual guidance before any decision, either way, is made. Mormon taught that, “…perfect love casteth out all fear”. Moroni 8:16

      But key to all that has been said here is that each of those who have shared here did not take this situation lightly. They took time to consider, pray and counsel with the Lord, their leaders and families, before they made their decision. This is the greatest blessing we have in this life for any decision we make.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and I hope that we do find someone here who can share just such an experience.

    • Good on you for sharing this- gives a lovely balance to the stories….
      Of course you can have both and I admire those who serve missions!
      All of my sisters have had both and I look up to them.
      The most important thing to remember is to rely on the Lord at any stage- in any decision. And no-one knows you better than the Lord …(sometimes including yourself)

  9. This made me cry! You are so inspiring Nicole. And no doubt the Lord is so pleased with you and your decision. You are an amazing girl, and I look up to you so much.

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