Dr. Gary G. Taylor
Ten ideas that will minimize the pain of an early release from missionary service..
Dealing with the guilt and regret common when experiencing an early release from a mission can be a challenge. Thinking about the release in the following ways can be a great help:
1. I did not make the decision to return home early. I was officially and formally released after prayerful consideration by my priesthood leaders.
2. I am a returned missionary in every sense of the word. If anyone ever asks if I served a mission, I can proudly answer yes; and there is no need to add that it was not for the full term.
3. I will focus on what I learned and the good experiences I had while serving; not on what I might have experienced if I had stayed the full term.
4. I will think of my experience similarly to a soldier wounded in combat. He or she accepted the call to serve their country, prepared well, and did their best. They returned with honor, and often even with medals. This was true whether they were wounded on their first day in combat or on their hundredth.
5. In a way similar to the case of Abraham and his son Isaac (Genesis 22), I was willing to make the sacrifice of my time and effort; but I was prevented from following through.
6. My prayers were not in vain. The Lord heard my prayers and they will be answered as He sees fit; and in the time frame that He knows is best for me. In fact, this whole experience may be an answer to prayer in that it brought attention to a problem that I might not have adequately addressed under other circumstances.
7. I’m not going to worry about returning to complete my service. I have been officially released. When I feel like myself again, I can then consider whether or not to return to my mission. In the meantime, my focus is on getting better.
8. I am under no obligation to return to complete an 18 month or two year mission. I can get on with my life and serve faithfully. All promised blessings are available whether or not I return to my mission. My mission experience is just a part of my life, it doesn’t define me. What I do with this experience, and my degree of faithfulness from now on, will determine who I become.
9. I’m determined to stay active and continue to serve in the Church. If I am uncomfortable in Church, it is because of how I am thinking about myself; and what I assume other people are thinking about me. I can choose to think differently; which over time, will change how I feel.
10. Even if I am feeling better now, I need to see any treatment plan through. I need to do everything within my power, including taking any prescribed medications, to resolve the issue once and for all as I seek to reach my full potential.