Thursday, March 19, 2015

On Missionaries and Priesthood Blessings

Three missionaries have been absolutely instrumental in my conversion, and in my life.

The first is Sister O. I met her last fall, when I returned to college. She shared Alma 32:27 with me. She asked me if I had a desire to believe, and asked me to let that desire work in me. She asked me to listen to the Spirit. And because of her, I know that God lives and loves us. I know a lot of things because of her, but that's the most important thing.

The second is Sister A. She arrived last fall, after I'd been at school for a little while already. My city was her first area, and she stayed here the longest of any missionary I've interacted with. And she taught me a million things. I had/have such an indescribable connection with this missionary. I don't know why. I remember the first time Sister A went on exchanges (that's when two missionaries in cities near each other switch places for a day or two), she was gone for two days. And I had a lesson with Sister O and the visiting sister both days. The second day, I was really upset and frustrated that Sister A wasn't back. I thought transfers were only supposed to be one day? So when Sister A was at church that Sunday, I was ecstatic. I told her that I was so happy she was back, and that I missed her so much. I said that I loved Sister O and I was sad when she went away, but it was just different for some reason with Sister A. She was my missionary. I knew she was something special.

The third is Sister M, who thank goodness is still serving in my city! She is still teaching me many things, about anxiety and trusting God and being a missionary.

My city was the last place Sister O served; she finished her mission in my city. So when she went home, we got to be facebook friends and see each other's instagram pictures and text whenever.

My city was the first place Sister A served, meaning when she left she was still a missionary without facebook or instagram or texting (thankfully we can email!). She just got transferred to her second area. My missionary, who taught me a million things and stayed long enough to hear me open up about my eating disorder and depression and anxiety, who taught me that faithful members still have doubts. My missionary. I don't know how else to describe her and our relationship.

Transfer calls were made Monday (the mission leaders called the leader of our smaller area to tell us who was staying here and who was moving to a different city). I happened to be hanging out with the Elders (boy missionaries) and other college kids when the call came in. And Elder S told me that Sister A was moving. I left this party early and went to the Sisters' porch to chat, because I couldn't believe it. Sister A said, "It hit me like a ton of bricks." I tried not to, but I cried. Especially because I'd been having a really rough time the past couple of weeks, with my depression, my family, and my faith. I needed this girl who knew me inside out and knew what I needed and knew what to tell me. I needed her. I needed her as I climbed out of my illness, and as I approached baptism. I had trials and I needed her support!

Sister A told me she'd been praying that the mission leaders would be truly inspired in their decision, that they would not move her just because it had been a while. I told her that I had been praying for the right missionaries in the right places. I started off praying for her to stay in my city, but then I realized that Heavenly Father knew a lot more than I did - who I needed, what I needed to learn, and who else Sister A needed to teach, who else needed Sister A. I tried really hard to find peace through that. I know that Heavenly Father answers prayers, and that "all things work together for the good of those that love God" (Romans 8:28). I know that Heavenly Father knows more than I do, and I tried really hard to accept this as His will.

And it was hard at first. Sometimes we think we know what's best. Usually, we don't. But that's okay, because He does. And as we seek to follow Him, things work out how they're supposed to. And we learn magnificent lessons.

The day after we learned that Sister A was leaving, her last day in my city, was very, very hard for me. That morning, I asked the missionaries for a priesthood blessing. I had faith that a blessing given with the priesthood would make me feel better. As the day went on, things got worse. And worse. And worse (and worse). I walked campus on the verge of tears, until I finally stopped feeling. I went numb. I wasn't sad anymore. I wasn't anything. I didn't want to dance anymore (a major sign for me that I'm falling into a deep depression). I was absolutely apathetic. I had disappeared.

The sisters came over that evening as planned for our last lesson, the three of us. I asked them a couple questions, as I always do in lessons. I didn't want to talk about how I was feeling, because I wasn't feeling anything. I didn't even really wanted to talk about anything. I wanted to cease existing, because I didn't feel alive anyway. So I asked Sister A how she was feeling. And we talked about that, and made other small talk for a few minutes. I don't remember what happened, but I opened up. And I talked about how I felt numb and I didn't want to do anything and I was feeling quite discouraged. And they just listened. Which was great, because I don't really think they could have said anything to help me.

The Elders arrived to give me a blessing. I didn't even care about it anymore. I didn't really want it. I didn't think it would help. I had fallen into a pit of despair and didn't see a way out. With previous blessings, I'd been thinking that I wished I could listen to it again; there were things that I could vaguely remember, but I wanted to remember them fully. So I recorded this blessing. Which was really good, because I didn't hear a thing Elder S said when he gave the blessing.

The missionaries left, and I met a friend at Orange Leaf. We chatted for about an hour, and then the sisters met us, so Sister A and I could say our final goodbyes. I cried. I told Sister M, "I know this blessing is working, because I feel sad again!" We all took pictures. Sister A and I hugged a lot. She told me over and over, "This isn't goodbye. This is, see you later." We talked and hugged and cried and reminded each other to have faith that this was Heavenly Father's will. Because we both knew it was, we just had to remember.

The next day, I woke up crying again. I read my scriptures. Because reading the scriptures is never a bad decision. As I walked to class, I listened to my blessing. And it started to give me hope. During my first class, I started feeling better. And during my second class, I was feeling even better. When I went to my room and did my homework, I felt better still. I listened to my blessing and typed it up so I could read it. I studied what was said, so I could learn what Heavenly Father was telling me. I don't totally understand everything, but that's okay, because I feel blessed and comforted, and I have faith that Heavenly Father will reveal what I need to know when I need to know it.

I went to Walmart with a friend that afternoon. I texted Sister M and asked about our new sister. I was incredibly worried. I was worried that I wouldn't have someone good enough to take the place of my Sister A (though I worried the same thing when Sister O left). Sister M texted me, telling me the new sister's name. When I read her message, I felt overwhelming peace. I knew that this Sister D2 was sent by Heavenly Father specifically for us, in this city, for this time. She has something very important for us in the next six weeks.

I know that Heavenly Father hears our prayers. I know that He knows what is best for our lives. I know that missionaries are sent to specific locations because they are the exact person needed by the people of that city. I know that the priesthood is the power and authority given to man to act in God's name, not only for the salvation of His children, but also to help us and bless us in His Church. I know that when He give something to us, it's something we need. I know that He will not test us beyond what we are capable of overcoming with His help. As we call on Him and rely on the Atonement of His perfect Son, we will overcome.

"Our Heavenly Father did not put us on earth to fail but to succeed gloriously."

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