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Monday, August 18, 2014

Pre-mission Trials

I have heard countless accounts of other people's experiences of trials in their faith and feelings of anxiety right before their missions. I, myself had felt little doubts in my mind over the past four months since getting my call. However, I guess I let pride get the better of me, because I told myself, "I'll be ready for Satan when the time comes. I won't let him get me down!"

Easier said than done.

Last Wednesday I was getting excited about leaving. I had only about 28 days left, so I started packing a few things in my room up so it would be easier for my little sister to move in once I left. Needless to say, my room was a mess and in no state to be slept in so I decided to sleep on the couch upstairs.
I usually don't sleep as soundly on the couch, and at around 4:30 on Thursday morning I woke up feeling down. Not just down, I felt like I was drowning in despair. My heart literally pained me at every beat. I felt tormented like I had never been before. My mind was wallowing in grief at past sins that I had committed and had THOUGHT that I had been forgiven for.

"Who are you to teach these people? You aren't worthy! What will your parents, your friends and fellow church members think of you when they find out that you failed as a missionary?"

These terrible thoughts swirled around in my mind, pulling me to new depths in my despair. I felt like Alma the Younger from the Book of Mormon... "I was in the darkest abyss... My soul was racked with eternal torment" (Mosiah 27:29).

Finally I posted on a Facebook page for sister missionaries about my troubles. I was literally bawling as I wrote the post. It was about 5:30 a.m. at this point, so I doubted that I would get any responses until hours later. Miraculously, I got several responses almost immediately.

Several sisters told of how Satan uses our past and already forgiven sins as a weapon against us. I had been called of the Lord. Everything would be fine.

These posts gave me temporary hope, but soon I was again swallowed by the same despair. I kept trying to force myself to think happy thoughts, but it felt like I had a pile of bricks on top of my faith. I prayed harder than I have ever done before.

This experience reminds me of Joseph Smith's experience with the Adversary when he prayed in the Sacred Grove... "I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such astonishing influence over me... Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction."

After calling upon God for some time, I decided to sit back and listen to my thoughts. Were they positive thoughts, or were they negative thoughts. This might seem easy in hindsight, but at the time my mind was foggy and I couldn't focus on much other than the present feeling.

As I let the thoughts come in, I realized a pattern. All my experiences in the temple, all my testimony-building opportunities, and my love for the gospel seemed distorted and faint. The night before I had felt good about all of this. I also noticed that my future seemed dark and negative... I had thoughts such as "I can't go on a mission... But if I don't go on a mission, what will I do? Everyone will judge me and hate me! I could never face them after this... I can't go to church... I'll just be alone."

Sounds silly, right? These were seriously the thoughts that were swirling my mind. Luckily I had the sense to ask myself, "Are these thoughts and feelings from God?" I remembered learning in church that nothing evil or bad comes from God. Even when Heavenly Father is prompting us to repent, He does so lovingly. We will have a hope to become better so that we can become more like him and live with him again.

I immediately decided that these feelings were of the Devil. Heavenly Father wouldn't want me to suffer a life of torment, even if I wasn't worthy to serve a mission. By now it was about 6:30 and I heard my siblings getting ready for school. After they left, I paced the house, waiting for my dad to get ready for work. I finally worked up the courage to ask for a Father's Blessing. I broke down crying again, saying that I was scared of serving a mission.

In my father's blessing I was told that Heavenly Father is pleased with my decision to serve a mission. He also counseled me to do as Bryant S. Hinckley told his son Gordon B. Hinckley as he was having a hard time on his mission, to "Forget yourself and go to work!"

I felt better afterwards, but at this point I was exhausted, having about 5 hours of sleep and having much of my energy drained from my experience. The rest of the day I spent reading my scriptures and Preach My Gospel. I had a restored sense of peace, but something was still nagging at me.

I decided to talk to my bishop on Sunday. I broke down crying when I recounted my tale. My bishop was very understanding and loving, assuring me that Satan is unhappy that I am doing good. The Devil is trying to prevent me from spreading Christ's Gospel. My bishop also told me that he truly believes that I am worthy to serve, which gave me so much peace.

The Devil is a COWARD. That's all there is to it. My lowest point was at 4:30 a.m. My mind wasn't functioning as it would have in the middle of the day. As soon as I had my father's blessing, my thoughts were restored and I realized how lame Satan really is. I am now ready to serve, even though Satan is still trying to tug on my heart with doubt. I want to prove Satan wrong. I am a daughter of God. I am a daughter of a King. I am a daughter of the One who will defeat the Devil, and I will live up to that title.

We are all entitled to this. DON'T LET SATAN GET YOU DOWN! EVERY MOMENT SPENT AWAY FROM THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS A WASTED MOMENT!!!!! Be valiant warriors against evil. Be as the Army of Helaman! We WILL bring the world His truth!!

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