Well, it's been a while, I know. I've been home for 3 months now and life continues moving forward. It's harder than I expected, but I'm still going.
In missionary life it is common to hear phrases referring to death
when talking about a missionary coming to the end of their missionary service.
And as silly as it sounds, that is exactly what it feels like. It's like the best time of your life has ended (keeping in mind that most returned missionaries are around 20-25 years old) and everything you worked so hard to accomplish in the last 18 months/2 years is just abruptly terminated.
The very day that I returned home my parents took me to visit with my local stake president for a final missionary interview. As I walked into his office I knew that the end had definitely come, but I had this surreal feeling that I would leave that interview still a full-time missionary. In that short time with him he asked me to share my feelings about the mission I had served, what I had learned, what I planned to do now that I had returned, and he gave me various words of wisdom to be able to function in life as a normal human being.
Then he brought my parents into the room and said the fateful words:
"Sister Jones, I need your nametag." And I just started bawling.
All throughout the interview I would tear up every now and then, but I was generally happy, until that fateful moment. When he said those words, I felt like he was asking me to literally tear my physical heart from my chest. Like my identity, everything I had been for 18 months, was gone. I was left with nothing. A blank space.
After 3 months of thinking back on this experience, I feel that I can finally say that the blank space I so terribly feared represents not a loss
of who I was, but rather a glimmer of hope for who I can become. An empty page on which I can carve a new name tag. The shadow of the old will forever remain, but the one I am now forging is much more permanent.
I will never forget the mission.
I will never forget Mexico.
I will never forget what I learned and who the Lord helped me become.
But that does not mean that I must remain stationary on this path of life. There is a long road ahead of me with many more ups and downs to traverse, and I'm ready.
Maybe they are right, ending the mission IS kind of like dying, but just like our physical death is not the end of our existence,
I know that my missionary death is not the end of me.