Seeking some serious guidance


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Thank you in advanced for reading this, connecting with me, and sharing your support.

I am 23, have been a member for 2 years, and am currently attending BYUH. I am seeking advice about considering going on a mission, but I have some concerns (as I'm sure anyone is when considering such a decision). To know my concerns, please read along and learn a bit about me (my background/life/etc.) and you'll come to understand a bit more why I have such concerns. Please consider I have talked to multiple bishops (as I've moved a few times since I've been a member) and have all given me council different from one another - I trust them, and would like the help of my community, too.

--I grew up with parents whom divorced when I was 5; both alcohol/drug users, and I moved around 20 times before high school graduation. I never settled down, had long-term friends, and remain very close to my two brothers. When I was 14, my father committed suicide just four days after our birthday (which we shared on the same day). This, along with the other family and social issues left me angry, bitter, unsociable, and deeply depressed - feelings that plague my life even to this day. I've taken medication, sought counseling, and do all the things that make up what I've come to understand as a righteous Latter-day Saint - Read daily scriptures, attend firesides/devotionals, serve the community, home teach, pray night and day, do well with my family, forgive others, duties in the temple. Yet through all my diligence, my trials, my humility, I hurt every day. Some days it's hard to get out of bed; I don't enjoy much of anything except being by myself; I don't really have friends; I don't date; And I'm finding myself growing accustomed to a community where I feel if I don't go on a mission, I might as well seal a lonely fate. After living in an LDS community (BYUH - I'm not from a state which has many LDS), I feel alienated, even ostracized for not having been on a mission. I have a strong testimony, I've taught lessons and home taught and have felt some recognition of my love and devotion to the gospel, the prophets, Christ and Heavenly Father, but I feel like I may never be "good enough" to truly be 100% supported in the LDS community. If I go on a mission, I feel I will do what the Lord wants me to do, be accepted into this community, find a suitable eternal wife, and fulfill my patriarchal blessing. As I've strived to live in the path of Christ, I cannot shake my depression. I can't shake the pains and sufferings of just getting out of bed and going to class. With few to talk to, and being the only member in my family, I haven't turned to many people with much success. I don't want to serve a mission just to satisfy other people's "checklists"; that if I'm a RM, I'm qualified to be a good person - which subsequently hints that not being an RM means I'm not good enough for people's "standards" - so I can't truly be accepted for who I am, if people aren't willing to accept me for who I am now. Questions I ask myself:

-Should I go on a mission with this depression if it means acceptance from Heavenly Father and my Community?

-Should I go on a mission despite not having prayers answered on whether I should go?

I love this church, I love my living Heavenly Father - for His mercy, His love, His guidance, and His plan for all of us - and I love my Savior who is as real as his atonement. I do not know what to do, and have so many questions that it is hard to determine what it is Heavenly Father wants me to do. I feel alienated from this community which, as my missionaries taught, are supposed to uplift and accept one another so we can build the kingdom of Zion.

Thank you for reading and being a friend.


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I do not believe that a mission necessarily makes you feel "accepted" with Heavenly Father if you didn't feel it was right to go in your situation, and I've never liked the part of the LDS community that is so focused on whether Joe went on a mission or not.

I do believe that when you don't get answers, it's often Heavenly Father saying it's your decision and you need to use your intelligence and feelings.

That being said, going on a mission with depression is a very difficult thing that can make it hard to serve. My question is... how controllable is your depression? Is it fairly debilitating at times, or can you manage with it and to what extent?

Now do you want to go because it will mean being accepted? If you want to go because you think God would like you to go, I think that's a decent reason. If it's to please people, that's not. Personally, if someone told me they couldn't serve because of a condition like depression, I wouldn't think twice about it.

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I thank you for reading and for your insight added to my already swirling thoughts.

I want to go on a mission because I know it truly is the right thing to do - grow in my personal spiritual existence, spread the gospel and love that I've come to know and love, and be a better example to those in my present and future life. I agree, that going on a mission or not is not a "make or break" situation for Heavenly Father's love; His tender mercies are far greater than I am sure I can ever imagine.

But I'm coming to understand this community's focus on going on a mission - what men and women are taught about those who go and don't go. Last night, in my Achieving Eternal Marriage class (the professor wrote 9 books about the subject), my professor proclaimed that if a male member doesn't serve a mission, basically, he will not be able to handle a successful eternal marriage. I don't know what is taught around the LDS world about marriage and missions, I know all professors and teachers are different in their interpretations of the teachings of the church, but I am currently seeing the pressures which the church and families put on going on a mission. He is also not the first teacher that I've heard proclaim such a thing.

That said, I am torn between my uncertain feelings and unanswered prayers, the social pressures of going, and depression. It is the right thing to do, but telling people that I "haven't felt the spirit prompt me" or telling my bishop how I suffer from depression seems like people look at me as making up excuses why I'm not going. It hurts that depression is part of my life, something I suffer from daily, has not been managed by pills or counseling, and doesn't seem like there is much hope for me feeling better. Nobody wants to hear any of this. I've noticed this community is notorious for not wanting to hear about other people's problems, sufferings, concerns, trials, etc. The scriptures say that if we are in-tuned with the spirit, we will see our brothers and sisters suffering and will be willing to help them. Yet I walk alone most of my days around this community without a whisper from people. I've listened to other people's problems for the last 10 years - I am a magnet for those who feel down, depressed, lonely, uncertain, or who have trouble coping with day-to-day things, yet I can't find a friend who is willing to do the same for me. Maybe I'm the pin cushion, the balance of life where not everyone is going to be happy, not everyone is going to feel secure, not everyone is going to be married, have children, and live that fulfilling life that many strive and find. Maybe I was meant for my life to be a Gethsemane so I can make room for others to be relieved of their pain. I'm not Christ, but I imagine there are those who suffer and those who don't for a reason, which I do not understand.

I am not losing faith in the church, it is perfect. The people may not be perfect, but I know that this is all part of some greater plan, for me to learn and grow. I want to go on a mission because I know in my heart it is true, and in my mind it is the right thing to do and would give me great benefits and blessings to my life riddle with pain. Do I feel ready? No. Do I feel capable? No. Do I feel down, emotionally numb, and alone? Most minute of every day.

God gave us intelligence and feelings, but I'm "new" to my spirit (listening and being guided by it).

I don't know if I can manage it, I don't know if the spirit is telling me to stay or go, but I know I have to be patient. It is hard, though, to live in a community that I thought I was accepted in despite my differences. It's even harder that people aren't willing to take a second look at me before pushing me away.

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I think you need a hug.

I'm sorry, but whatever these teachers say is not doctrine. If that were true, every man who has served a mission would have a successful temple marriage. I've seen plenty of non-missionaries who live happy temple marriages.

If you have any desire to go, I would recommend going... just don't worry too much about other's opinions on it.

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