I’m pretty sure you’ve been wondering what happened to me. In the last post, my friend, Kira, told you that I would be returning home. Well, here I am, writing this post in person!
It took me a while to be willing to touch this blog again. One reason is because I couldn’t remember my password. The main reason is because I didn’t want to be home. I didn’t want to have to tell people about being home. But today, I’ve decided to tell you what it’s been like to be home.
It’s been rough. Lots of tears, lots of tantrums, and lots of culture shock.
Leaving my mission was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. The night before I left I didn’t sleep much. I just laid in bed and cried. I absolutely loved being a missionary. I loved sharing the gospel, I loved wearing the missionary nametag, and I loved being an official representative of Jesus Christ.
At first, being home wasn’t too hard. I got to see my family for the first time in 18 months. I got to see Kira and other friends again. And I got to eat real Mexican food for the first time in a long time. But this happiness only lasted for as long as my family was visiting.
I really started to struggle afterwards. It was hard adjusting back to normal life. On my mission I couldn’t watch any movies that weren’t church produced or listen to music that wasn’t about Jesus. All of a sudden, I could watch stuff I wasn’t allowed to watch. I no longer had a busy set schedule. I no longer had rules keeping me from doing normal people things. For some, this would be like waking up on Christmas morning.For me, it was just a reminder that the happiest part of my life was now over and I’d never get it back.
I also started to stuggle, and do currently struggle, with wanting to go to church. I wouldn’t admit it to anybody because everyone seems to have this idea that returned missionaries are perfect. They just returned from doing the Lord’s work. Why wouldn’t they still be all gungho about being churchy? Well, it’s hard going back to your home ward. Everyone here has always held me to a high standard. I was already struggling with not being a missionary anymore, and the pressure of the “RM perfection standard” just pushed me over the edge. Plus with people saying offensive things to me, it’s made it even more difficult to go to church. I know that the gospel is true, and I love it with all my heart, and I know this is God’s church, but I still don’t want to go to church. I know this is a phase that I’m going through, but it’s still difficult.
The most difficult part of it all is that people think I’m fine. Since I’m a returned missionary, I’ll always be fine. Don’t need to worry about me. I’m perfect. Nothing wrong with LaPriel, right? Ha. What a load of crap. Because I’m fine, people try to heap responsibility on me that I am not emotionally capable of handling right now. Because I’m fine, people freak out when I tell them I’m not fine. And when people ask about how my mission was, if I liked it at all, they just blank out and don’t listen when I talk about it. Because they don’t care. They act like they do, but they don’t. They just want me to be the fine, perfect RM they think I am.
Now that I think I’ve gotten my point across, I’d like to say a few things to people who have RM’s in their lives. Don’t just assume that we’re fine. Most of us struggle for a while after coming home. Coming back is really difficult for a lot of RM’s. We don’t show it because people expect us to always be happy. People also don’t let us talk about our missions. As soon as we do, people get that glazed look in their eyes like they’re not really listening or interested in what we have to say. So we stop talking. No use talking to a wall, right (although the wall probably has better listening skills than most people do)? Our missions were great, and we really want to talk about it! But when people just shut us down like that, it makes us feel unwanted. All of this stuff just contributes to the difficulties of adjusting to being home. So please. Listen to your RM talk about their mission. Let them struggle and don’t judge them for it. Don’t expect them to be perfect. Trust me, even missionaries make plenty of mistakes, so being an RM doesn’t mean immediate perfection. Lend a listening ear to them. Let them talk. Let them be awkward for a bit.
Now I don’t want you to think that my life has been doom and gloom since I got home. It has been difficult, but I’ve also had some really good things happen. I recently got into a serious relationship with my best guy friend, and I kinda love him a lot 🙂 He helps me want to be better. I’ve also gotten closer with my family, and developed a better relationship with those that I didn’t get along with before. I’ve been able to talk with my best friends and catch up on things with them, and we are still wonderful friends. The distance of my mission didn’t affect that friendship at all. I’ve also been able to rely on my Savior a lot more in my trials, and I feel that I’ve gotten closer to Him, even though I’m no longer a missionary.
I do not regret my decision to serve a mission. I loved my mission so much and I would never trade it for anything! The people I met there changed my life for the better. I gained a stronger testimony of the gospel and a greater love for my Savior. My mission helped me change into a better person, and helped me come another step closer into becoming who my Heavenly Father would want me to be.