Part 9 of ‘The Return of the Missionary’ Series.
For many parents, family and friends it is all they can do to assist the missionary to find their place in the world when they return. Not always, but sometimes, it requires the help of others to make that transition.
Getting help. Sometimes missionaries face more than temporary adjustments to returning home. Some struggle to make sense out of disappointments or negative experiences as missionaries. Others stop being active in the Church, or still seem lost many weeks after returning home. Some assume that since they completed an honorable mission, God should take care of them better than He seems to be doing. Parents, bishops, other missionaries, siblings, former advisors, teachers, and professional counselors may help such missionaries to make peace with their mission, sort out problems, and get back on track.
Conclusion. Transitions take time. The first year home from a mission seems to be especially vulnerable, and if other family or life transitions are thrown in at the same time this can dramatically multiply the stress your missionary feels. Model tolerance for ambiguity, humor, baby steps, decision-making and problem-solving skills, self-forgiveness, adult spirituality, and loving connections and acceptance. And enjoy the ride!
What do I think?
Fortunately I never had to seek professional help on my return. But I have to say there were times when I considered it. It certainly was not an easy journey for me. I did find help from family and friends. However, I was sure to choose those people I trusted the most.
But the thing to remember is to be patient and don’t over-react. These things take time, love and understanding. In many cases it is just as challenging an experience as the mission itself. That’s ok, because it is a time of learning and growing. There are a lot of people out there who can assist, not just professionals. Friends, family, and ecclesiastical leaders can often assist the missionary in finding the perspective they need. The important thing is for the missionary to keep connected, and not to cut themselves off from everyone around them.
1. If your missionary does seem to be distancing themselves from everyone around you, can you identify two or three people you could call on that your missionary would trust the most?
2. What are some other ways you think would help a missionary to find help?
**Before I finish this series, next time, I am going to add another source of information on this topic. From a recently returned mission president, I will share some information that they offered to their returning missionaries on ways to assist in their transition.