Close to 3,000 missionaries return home every month, a number that will grow alongside the number of missionaries the next couple of years. The first few days back are full of light and joy as family and friends reunite. But soon many of these young return missionaries will feel lost as they rebalance between missionary life and home life.
Here are some tips for how missionaries, as well families, friends, and leaders, can make the transition smoother.
Expect the transition to be hard
Young returnees can be caught off guard by the complexity of post-mission life. “Your lifestyle literally changes overnight. While you served, you only had to worry about one thing. The work was not easy, but once you settled in, the daily schedule became a manageable, simplistic life. Then you go home and it’s not that way anymore. Your life suddenly has a number of dimensions: dating and finding a spouse, school, job, money, cars. It can create angst in the returned missionary who suddenly has a million decisions to make every day, “explains a Missionary Department spokesman.
Know that the once your name tag has been removed and your release made official, that you join the ranks of countless other returned missionaries who have felt similar angst, sadness, confusion and possibly even anxiety. It will be hard to leave behind the people you’ve taught and the experiences you’ve had–but you don’t have to leave behind the new person you’ve become. Take things day by day and lean on the Lord.
Advice for the RM
First: Take a short break. Take your first vacation in almost two years!
Second: Bring the Lord into your work. You were in the middle of the Lord’s work while on the mission and now that you are home, bring him into the middle of your work.
Third: Find a spiritual home in your ward. Get a calling, be involved. Maintain a high spiritual life style.
Fourth: Make decisions: Your mission prepared you to make tough decisions. Take an inventory of your life and make the decisions that need to be made to allow you to progress.
Fifth: Embrace your family. You’ve grown, your family has grown and things will be different than they were when you left. Keep a sense of humor and be humble in your familial relationships.
Advice for Families and Friends:
One: Don’t use your old parenting styles on your missionary. Rules and standards should be revisited in open communication. Your child has been on his/her own for two years and has grown in numerous ways.
Two: Don’t coddle your child. Avoid the trap of doing everything for your child as this will cause them to regress. Offer assistance with new things, like setting up health insurance for example, but let your child be responsible for the majority of the work.
Three: If you have served a mission, offer support and encouragement to the returned missionary to join the ward family and possibly even be a sounding board as needed
Four: Ward leaders can take special note to make sure retuned missionaries are quickly given calling and assignments in the ward.
“Ultimately, your gaze should be facing forward,” said another Missionary Department spokesman, “You’re not a missionary anymore. Get on with the rest of your life!”
To read the full article, visit LDSLiving.com