Let's start three years ago. I had just finished my Junior year of college and was living the BYU summer life. Some of my friends had left or were preparing to leave on missions soon, which was great for them. I love missionary work and support missionaries far and wide, but I just never thought I would be one. The thought of serving a mission was tucked safely in the back of my mind. I kept it there because I never wanted to ask if it should be in the forefront. I was 21, the designated age for sisters to serve at the time, so it was a possibility.
I can remember one Sunday that summer very vividly. The talks given in sacrament were all about missions and marriage, my bishop's two favorite topics. They never hit me quite like they did that day. I just started crying and I couldn't stop. It was definitely an ugly cry so as soon as the meeting was over, I ran home and knelt down to pray to ask why I was feeling this way (and also to wash my face and reapply my makeup :). I felt conflicted and didn't know what to do. In my mind, I thought that serving a mission would limit my opportunities to get married. I thought it was a choice between serving a mission or marriage and I wanted the latter more than the first. (Note: I didn't have any prospects for marriage so that was also a factor in the confusion).
I made an appointment to meet with my bishop and I discussed my thoughts and feelings about missions and marriage. He reassured me that service as a missionary wouldn't "take me out of the running" for marriage. He also told me that to receive an answer of whether or not I should serve, I needed to make a decision and move forward. He promised I would receive an answer.
I chose to start the mission application process. I went into it excited and nervous. I filled out the first few pages and I went home from school for a break between summer and fall semesters to do my medical exams. It was during that time my excitement started to fade. It wasn't out of fear or uncertainty, but I couldn't see myself as a missionary. I made the decision to not continue with my papers and felt at peace with that decision. I was reassured I could still be a missionary without full-time service and that I was needed more where I was at the time. I also thought I would never revisit the thought of serving a mission again.
Little did I know...