“Okay, I’m home now. Now what?”
I’m sure every returned missionary has asked himself or herself this question at least once. As I have recently come home and received that “RM status,” this question is still fresh on my mind. I’ve had a lot of time over the past few weeks to think about what I need to do to adjust to life as a “regular” member of the Church, so hopefully this article will help others adjust as well.
My last companion gave me a piece of advice that has echoed in my mind ever since he said it. “You can go home, but never return.” Though he probably thought what he said went in one ear and out the other, I’ve thought of that little phrase quite often since I’ve been home. It reminds me of the talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland about the story when Christ’s apostles returned to their normal lives after His death. He said that once we are changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can never go back to the way we were ever again. We can never return to our old habits. We can return home from our missions, but not return to what we used to do. Elder Holland takes some non-scriptural libertyin quoting the Savior when speaking to Peter on the shore of Galilee, “Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever.”
What the Lord needs is missionaries, and He needs them forever. Missionaries who will go home and still faithfully do their callings and remain active and strong and anxiously engaged in the gospel. I recently overheard my mom talking about an email she got from a missionary who used to serve in our ward. He mentioned a quote spoken by Elder David A Bednar: “If we keep doing what we’ve always done, then we will get what we’ve always gotten.” He said in his email that if a missionary goes home and starts doing the same things he did before then he will become the same person he was when he left. And for all the missionaries who have ever been changed by their missions, that is one of their worst fears.
Here are 3 departments of your life that may need some adjustment once you come home.
To keep it simple, in order to stay spiritually strong after coming home, just do the things you’ve been inviting others to do for the past 18 to 24 months. Continue a habit of daily scripture study and prayer, church and temple attendance, and obedience to the commandments. Accept any and all callings given to you by your church leaders. Just be obedient. Not because you don’t want to get in trouble, but because you love the Lord.
To quote the Missionary Handbook, strive to fulfill what the President of the Church expects of you, as expressed in your call letter: “You have been recommended as one worthy to represent the Lord as a minister of the restored gospel.” While you don’t have to fully live by the rules of the handbook anymore, you can continue to pick out rules from it that you think will keep you spiritually strong. For example, you may want to start watching TV again, but if you like the daily schedule and planning guidelines, then continue to follow that rule. There’s nothing wrong with that.
A few other tips? Pay a full tithe and continue to pay a generous fast offering when you fast. The more you give the Lord, the more He gives back! Be there to support the missionaries when needed. Give them referrals and go out with them often. As an RM, you know the need for members. Do all you can to help the missionaries in your ward to find, teach, and help them fulfil their purpose.
Also, be honest with yourself. If you feel you are slacking, do something about it! Make your own game plan and revise it when necessary. Set goals and follow up with yourself regularly to see if you have met those goals. After-mission life is when you put into practice everything you learned on your mission.
Now that you’re off your mission, this is the real deal. No more practicing for the game. Dating is serious now. Your next companion will be your eternal companion: your spouse. And yes— that is scary news. Just remember one thing: your goal should be to get married in the temple to the person you love and endure to the end of your lives with that person and then on into the eternities. Don’t do anything to forfeit that.
I’m not here to give you a specific time frame on when you should get married. It also doesn’t matter if you only date one person before getting married or dating a dozen of them. As long as you achieve your goal of a lasting temple marriage, nothing else matters. What does matter is loving the Lord, putting your trust in Him, and enduring to the end with your eternal companion.
I guess what I’m saying is if it truly works for you, then do it. And do it in the temple. Again, be honest with yourself. There is no “one size fits all” guide to dating. Dating is a personalized experience for each individual. Just beyourself. Follow the counsel by modern prophets and apostles, and you’ll be fine.
3) Education and Finances
I don’t have much after-mission experience in this area, but I do have just a few tips on what has helped me so far.
As far as schooling and a career goes, I echo my mission president and his sweet wife. They said that money is important, but it is not everything. They said that we need to remember that as long as we live the gospel, everything else will fall into place. We need to do what makes us happy. We can have the highest paying job in the world but still be unhappy. Again, as long as we have our priorities right and put everything in its proper place, then we don’t have to worry.
Budget your money! Be thrifty and wise with how you spend it. Yes, you do have a little bit more freedom with how you spend your money. Just remember, do not spend more money than you take in. Elder Bednar said that is how the Church stays out of debt because that is how the Lord designed it. If it works for the Church, it will work for a person.
-One of the biggest things you will struggle with when you come home is seeing how relatively little your friends and family have grown spiritually compared to you. That isn’t to say that they didn’t grow largely, but your accelerated spiritual growth compared to theirs is very noticeable. Don’t let it get you down. Just help them grow spiritually like you have.
-You will notice a decrease in revelation, guidance by the Spirit, and ability to do certain things you were able to do as a missionary. This is because you no longer have the mantle of a missionary. You don’t have the need for revelation for others like on you did as a missionary. You don’t need to have all the answers like you did before. This was one of the hardest things for me to deal with, but I have mostly gotten over the fact that it isn’t my duty anymore to receive the kind of revelation to the same degree that I did as a missionary.
-After the first little while you’re home, your mission will begin to feel like a dream. Just like your “home life” did while you were in the mission field. Is that a bad thing? Nope. That’s the way the Lord designed it to be. If you weren’t a strong journal keeper on your mission, I would keep a “random mission memories” journal and write down every mission memory that randomly pops into your head. I’ve done this and had some great memories written down that I would have otherwise forgotten.
If you have any further suggestions or ideas on how to adjust after coming home from a mission, please leave a comment below!