I wrote this journal entry back in October 31, 1996, almost 11 months serving as a missionary. It represents a time when we all must face a difficult truth about ourselves and answer “the hard questions” when it comes to our relationship to God and the gospel. It is also a crucial point in what I’d call the “hatching” process…akin to the moment when the little bird inside the egg realizes it’s getting painful to stay in that egg, and has to decide whether it stays…or grows out of that egg. That’s the painful part of any conversion or growth process: admitting where you are, how you are, who you are….and where you need to go, how you need to be, and who you need to be. I post this for the intent of helping missionaries (and Christians…and even skeptics…alike) who may still be struggling and maturing in their personal witness of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ…and in their personal role within it.
One of the great difficulties I’m experiencing right now is Fear. I just realized that one of the most humbling experiences you can have [as a missionary]–apart from physical trials, scriptural/doctrinal and personal concerns, and the great responsibility of the work–is…Facing Yourself. When I say “Facing Yourself”, I don’t mean “Focus on yourself”. Rather, I mean, it’s to admit, “Yes, I have this certain weakness.” The next hard part is: confessing that witness. The third hard part–at least for me–is changing that weakness. IT HURTS!! It hurts because my pride gets in the way. I don’t want to change because I know I’ll be humiliated. It hurts because I’m my worst critic..I don’t want to accept mistakes from Myself.
Am I not humble? Apparently not. Or else I would have already changed. I guess I just don’t feel so committed. I mean, for me, I guess I just don’t want to take responsibility. What’s happening to me? I didn’t think like this before. I used to always want to be in control. I did my own things. I loved other people–but I guess I did it…sometimes…for selfish reasons. I wanted to help others so I could also receive it. I wanted to love so I could get it. I did “this” so I could get “that”. [My end focus wasn’t Them; it was Me.]
I need to get out of this!
I don’t know. I look at myself now. Why do I have a fear of [talking to people about this gospel]? I lack a trust in myself in and in the Lord. I don’t trust myself [because I feel that] people won’t listen to me…because I feel like I don’t know what to say. I don’t trust myself because I think that I won’t or don’t have the Holy Spirit with me. DOUBT! DOUBT! DOUBT! That’s all I ever do. Doubt that the Lord will help me say the right thing. Doubt myself. Doubt so much…that I feel like the Lord has gotten so tired of me, that He doesn’t want to help me until I’ve learned to pick myself up [from the ground of my moping] and get going.
I’m beginning to lose confidence in myself and in this work. And I think Satan is getting happier because of it. Aaaugh!! I don’t like it! I don’t want to please Satan…but I feel that whenever my fears come up and I close up, I am pleasing him.
But I need help! Oh, I need help. I just sometimes don’t want to admit it. I need someone who will lovingly take me and lead me…and I want to feel it…to know that they are doing so. I need someone with patience…who can sense it and not say anything else anymore…and just help me, help me get out of this rut.
I want to dedicate myself so much in this mission…but sometimes, I’m afraid to do so. Why? I don’t know. Responsibility? Maybe. Stretching mysef? Could be. Incapability? Might be. I just don’t know. But in order for me to get out of this, I need the help of the Lord. I know I must be able to act for myself. I know I must initiate. I know I must “do this, do that” But I’ve got to feel it within myself. I’ve got to desire to do it. Otherwise, I’d be begrudging the whole responsibility.
I feel so weak. I feel so helpless. Oh, Lord, I need Thy help. I need strength, courage to look at myself and say, “I am going to change this right now. I will do it.” I need the strength to say, “I will do it”, especially when I don’t feel like I have that strength.
–End of Entry
I can honestly say that things didn’t come easily immediately after that…but my journal entries after that have become more mature, more insightful. I can see that the Lord, through thoughts that came from the Holy Spirit, was training me and helping me get out of my shell, as is evident in this entry:
When in a large group, don’t just sit in one place. Go and mingle. Get to know people. It’s a first step in sociality, sociability. When people sit in one place, not making any effort to go out and meet, they stop any progression. Initiative is the name of the game.
…and in this entry:
People learn much better in an atmosphere of love and safety. It helps when they know that they will be still be loved and helped up even when they’ve made a mistake. People will be scared at first because they’re not sure if they will be accepted–which emphasizes trust and unconditional love (love whether you make a mistake or not). I guess that’s why I’ve been hesitant and resistant to change because I haven’t really felt secure that things will be okay. I felt like I would be judged.
It took me some time to get out of that shell, but eventually, I did. What a freeing feeling it was…to have enough confidence to talk to people more openly about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the truths I’ve discovered through living it!
My TIME and My WILL are at HIS Disposal.
God gives us projects (aka weaknesses) that take a lifetime to complete. Don’t be frustrated when we can’t quite accomplish something within 2 years or 18 months.
Somebody’s out there looking for the truth. Go out there and find them because YOU HAVE WHAT’S NECESSARY TO HELP THEM KNOW IT AND LIVE IT!
Each of us has to discover who we are, how we are, and how we need to be. There’s a point where we have to decide to own up to who we’re becoming and the things we’re doing from then on. It’s difficult to face yourself. It truly is. You can be your harshest critic…even the harshest judge. But when you face yourself, with the Savior as your guide, He will help us see where we are weak…because that weakness is going to the place of one of our greatest strengths. Christ’s Judgement is much more insightful, much more loving, much more truthful, and much more ennobling than what we usually do to ourselves.
May we face our Fears…even the fear of facing ourself..with Christ. May we see ourselves through His eyes. Let us be willing to admit our selfishness, our own pridefulness and stubbornness, our own perception of lack of self-worth to Him, lay them at his feet and say, “I need Thee…Oh, how I need Thee!”
And then, as we listen to the thoughts that come to mind, and the feelings that come to our heart, through the Spirit…let us act and do what we’re instructed to do, encouraged to do, inspired to do, because that is how we show Christ that He is our Partner…even our Yoke Partner. Thus, in Christ, we are made More Perfect, More Complete, than we ever were before.