Saturday, September 5, 2015

Christopher Columbus and deciding to serve a mission... and how those two are related!

Rewind to a year ago this month. I was packing my room, preparing for what I knew would be my greatest adventure yet: COLLEGE.  I was attending Brigham Young University - Idaho and I could not WAIT to start that next exciting part of life. I knew I would meet so many new people and make some amazing memories. Still though, I was nervous. Not because I was scared to leave my mommy or buy my own groceries but because BYU-I has an infamous reputation.  It hasn't been called "Breed'em Young University" or "BYU - I DO" for no reason. The number of 18 year old girls who leave their first semester with a ring on their left hand is staggering.  Not only did I feel WAY too young to be thinking about marriage, I wanted to serve a mission so badly. I loved my Savior, and I wanted the whole world to know Him like I did. I remember telling my roommate Audrey the first day I met her, "if I met the perfect guy right now, I would turn and run!"

Well, I didn't.

It took me less than two weeks into my first semester to meet him. He was tall, broad, blue eyed and blond haired. We met at a bonfire. We talked about everything, all of the things we wanted to do in our lives: humanitarian work, traveling Europe, our future careers.  And did I mention he was an R.M.? Did I mention he had a nice car?  More than that, did I mention that he made me laugh and feel pretty and comfortable enough to be silly? He didn't even feel like a stranger that night. After that bonfire, we never spent more than one day apart from each other, and even that was rare. I kept thinking, "This can't be happening, I have to serve a mission" But I would break down every time  I thought about being without him. 

He knew from the very beginning that I wanted a mission. I remember so clearly the first time we talked about my mission. He looked so sad when he told me he couldn't wait for me. "I can't send you out," he said, "It never works out for people." We talked a lot that night, and when I got home I crept into my room, slowly closing the door behind me, sat down by my bed and cried. Not because I was sad or confused about my mission, but because I was so overwhelmingly happy. He had told me he wanted to marry me that night! I knew right then that I was in love with him because I had never felt so incredibly happy. That semester ended and a new semester began. Things got serious. We talked about buying rings and moving to Virginia after graduation. I still wanted to serve a mission, but I knew that marriage was a higher calling, and maybe this was Gods plan for me all along. Then one night he just strait asked me. Not with a ring, but he didn't just suggest, he ASKED. I was about to say yes, but being the good little Mormon I am I said, "lets pray about it together". 

Its not like I hadn't prayed about it before. I had prayed and fasted MANY, MANY times over him and my mission. This time, however, I got a clear message from God: Go on a mission. I was shocked. Terrified. Petrified even. He was my best friend, I trusted in him, I NEEDED him. I thought I would spend the rest of my life with him. I couldn't imagine how life would be without him, I couldn't fathom ever falling in love again. I couldn't bear the thought of him being with someone else. Breaking up with him felt like walking off a cliff. 

I don't remember when I started thinking about Christopher Columbus, but I want to share with you why he will always be one of my heroes. Christopher wrote in his journal that he was moved upon by God to try to sail to the Indies. The Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 13:21) confirms this. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE told him that it could not be done. Experts, kings, his crew, probably even his own children. He would be sailing into a clear blue, (endless, for all he knew) ocean. He didn't have GPS, he didn't have Google maps. All he had was a feeling in his chest that he could not deny. To put it in the words of Columbus, “With a hand that could be felt, the Lord opened my mind to the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies…This was the fire that burned within me…Who can doubt that this fire was not merely mine...”

He knew what he had felt, and he trusted the Lord with his life by setting sail into an expanse of unknown water. How cool is that? He didn't know what was ahead for him, and there were times that he doubted, even considered turning back. But he didn't. He didn't even know that he was about to discover a New World, a place where the true Church of God could be established upon the earth again. He only felt that he should sail towards the Indies. AND THANK GOODNESS HE DID!

He had enough faith to cross an uncharted ocean and all I had to do was break up with my boyfriend and go on a mission! I remember driving to the temple, parking outside and just talking to God. I was so afraid of the future. But God calmed my fears and gave me a quiet, wonderful sense of peace. Just like Christopher Columbus, I didn't (and still don't) know what God has in store for me, but I did know what he wanted me to do. I took the leap of faith and told by boyfriend I was going on a mission. Suddenly we went from lovers to strangers. I walked by faith.. actually, I let Him carry me. It was the hardest, most painful thing I have ever done, but I knew that God had my back!

I am SO grateful to my loving Heavenly Father for His guidance in my life. Sometimes we face a lot of doubt in His plan, but TRUST ME, he always knows best! Basically, if God prompts you to do something, do it! Its so good that I didn't get married. I wasn't ready at all. God loved me enough to correct my path, even if it meant hurting me. Who knows what God has in store for me, but I know its something better than I could have planned! I know that my life will be blessed because of the decision to serve a mission and I can't wait to share my testimony of Gods love to everyone I meet. I am determined to let Him lead me across all of the "unknown oceans" for the rest of my life, starting with the stretch of ocean from here to the 9 islands I have been called to serve on. Only 39 days until I report! 

~ SISTER McClellan :)