I am a 19 year old girl who is feeling the intense pressure to serve a mission. I consider myself a very spiritual person, but I never felt like I wanted or needed to go. I am just starting to get a hold of my life, and although I understand that a mission could never be a wrong decision, I can’t help but feel like it’s not the best decision. If I go on a mission right now, the main reason for going would be pressure. Am I just making up excuses? Should I serve a mission, and if not, how do I tell people?
It’s understandable to feel pressure to do something good like serving a mission. At the same time, it’s not always the right decision, if the pressure is the only reason for the choice. Heavenly Father would love to have all his worthy children serve a mission. At the same time, he knows that a mission is simply not for everyone.
Once, I heard a returned missionary explain why he served. He used an example I’d like to share with you.
Have you ever seen a movie that totally amazed or entertained you beyond your expectations? When you walked out of the theater, how did you feel? Suppose you saw a dear friend that you know hadn’t seen the movie yet. What would you do? Would you encourage your friend to see the movie? What would you say?
Sharing the gospel with others on a mission is much the same. Those of us in the Church have experienced an amazing thing in our lives, that being the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have felt the Spirit within us. We have learned and grown in amazing ways far beyond our expectations. The feelings that we receive through following the Gospel are what prompts us to serve missions. We want to share those feelings with others, knowing that it can lead to becoming as our Heavenly Father is. This is what Heavenly Father wants for us all.
Kelsey, I simply wish to remind you that while serving a mission is certainly an option for you, and a good and wise option, it is in no way required of you. There are many ways you can explain to people why you decided not to serve. There is nothing wrong with either decision, as long as it’s a decision you have made of your own free will.
Heavenly Father has never used peer pressure to lead us to obedience, and I feel He might be a little upset if that were the only reason you chose to begin a mission. If you sincerely believe you have better options in front of you, options you believe in, options you can fully invest yourself in, such as college, or even celestial marriage, then those might be the better direction in which to go.
Many faithful, spiritual, obedient, and sincere members of the church choose to not serve a mission for one reason or another. President Monson was in the Navy when he could have served a mission, yet that did not prevent the Lord from putting him where he was needed most.
To your situation specifically, pray about this choice. Make it a focus of next month’s fast. Heavenly Father will help you find the peace you seek, as well as the right answer for the decision you face.
May God be with you always, Kelsey.