Did They Doubt?

My daughter has been home from her mission for 5 months now. Believe it or not, she only just gave her homecoming report to the Stake High Council this past Sunday. No fault of anyone in particular, just life circumstances that prevented it happening sooner.

Anyway, as I reflect on the things that have happened since her arrival home, I {again} realise that life doesn’t always go the way we want, or expect, it. Whether it is challenges the Lord throws in our way to make us stronger, or Satan’s sinister subterfuge; things can derail us if we are not prepared.

Five months down the track and my daughter had expected to be well into the second year of her university studies; picking up where she left off prior to leaving for her mission. But as life would have it, that has not been possible. Instead she was obliged to delay those studies and seek full-time employment for a few months until the start of the new semester in July.

The job she was forced to take was actually very similar to the work she was doing on her mission…like many other missionaries, cold call selling seemed to be a natural progression for her. With similar frameworks of goal setting, door to door approaches, and prepared presentations, it is a familiar pattern to a returned missionary. The only difference being that the rewards are not nearly as good as those on a mission.

Knowing she still had over two months before returning to her studies, about 3 weeks ago I got a text from her while she was out working…

“Mum, I want to quit my job, what do you think?”

The ensuing conversation between the two of us consisted of self doubt on her part, and a need to bring support and encouragement to the situation on my part.

While on her mission, we rarely had the need for these kinds of conversations. For the most, she seemed to manage the few down times on her own, and relished and shared the up times with us.

No parent wants to hear those words of doubt from their child – whether on a mission or anytime else.

So how does a parent instill in their child a sense of purpose, of overcoming doubts and battling debilitating discouragement? Every missionary will undoubtedly have times when those small seeds of uncertainty arise and bloom; many battle with it weekly, some daily.

I won’t go into my own experiences here, but needless to say there was many a day on my mission when my companion and I would be riding our bikes home after a long and fruitless day and my tears surpassed in quantity the pouring rain falling all around me.

The support of family and friends is vital in time of doubt. Having only had one missionary daughter serve so far, I feel inadequate to address this topic as a whole. But I did want to raise awareness of it; especially to those new missionary mums, dad’s and families who may not have considered it.

I also want to share with you a great article in the Meridian Magazine by a father of 5 returned missionaries – Larry Barkduhl – who discusses this topic in detail. It’s a must read for anyone who has sent, or is sending, out a missionary.

LETTERS TO STRUGGLING MISSIONARIES

I am pleased to say that my daughter didn’t walk away from her job that day, but managed to stay the course. I would like to think that it was because of the multiple quotes on success/failure that I sent her that tipped the scales. But in reality I think it was her own sense of understanding, and drawing on her own experience as a missionary, that helped her through it.

But for what it’s worth, here are a couple of the quotes I sent her that day…

‘You have never failed until you give up’  (Wall plaque in my home as I grew up)

‘Don’t confuse psycho-babble for reality’ (I own this one)

‘Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm’ Winston Churchill

‘Your attitude determines your success’ Spoken, I’m sure, by many a prophet and apostle

‘The only limit to our realisation of tomorrow will be our doubts of today’ Franklin D. Roosevelt.

signature