You may hear from your missionary and sense they are struggling and want to come home. How can you best help?
When my son Shawn was in college, he had a conversation with some other LDS students. They were not very active and were giving Shawn a hard time about his adherence to Church standards. They said, “Oh you're that kind of Mormon.” Shawn had a simple response for them: “I am a Mormon.”
In this statement, Shawn pointed out that being a Mormon is not a function of where or how you grew up. It is a function of conversion and of living by principles and covenants. There are so many people who have spent their lives in the Church, but for some reason the Church is not yet in them. They were baptized, but they do not currently feel born again.
Sometimes when we see what else we're required to do, we feel it is too hard and we drift away from God. The light in us diminishes. We rationalize our self into another worldview; we begin to lean toward our “own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). In so doing, we lose sight of the fact that the understanding of truth is dependent not only on the sophistication of our mind but also on the sophistication of our spirit, the purity of our being. In the state of charity, we can be flooded with pure intelligence and embrace alternatives that are not available to worldly logic.
The movement toward Christ is reflected in increasing complexity of the soul, both mind and spirit. This process results in joy but begins in the pain of personal discipline. As we move forward toward the light, it makes us aware of those parts of our life that still lack integrity. It exposes us to a new need to repent. We often lack the resolve to continue in this process and we choose to stop growing. The light does not withdraw from us; we withdraw from the light.
As Bruce R. McConkie said in Mormon Doctrine, “To be born again, one must enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost, be fully converted, and 'give themselves without restraint to the Lord.'” This includes a mighty change in heart and receiving the Lord’s image in one’s countenance (see Alma 5:12-14, 19). Those who are born again are in a blessed and favored state, which is obtained through “faith, righteousness, love and overcoming the world.”
We constantly hear that the Church is raising the bar for our missionaries, and we tend to view this as a good thing. We want them to overcome the world, be filled with light, and do the hard work of being born again. And we know the benefits that come with hard, committed missionary work.
If the bar is being raised for them, shouldn’t we also raise the bar for ourselves? If you did, what would be the impacts on you, your missionary, and your family? What would happen if you wrote to your missionary, sharing how you are stretching and how you are benefiting? Your testimony might convert your missionary.
How can you raise the bar on yourself?
What have you done to overcome the world and what was the result?
What is the most authentic and powerful message I can send to my missionary this week?
**Following the journal entries in each blog will give you great material for responding to you missionary child's concern on this subject.