Why a mission?

There's a song in my church's hymnbook with these lyrics:

"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in his excellent word."

That's my reason.
That's it, right there.
We all deserve a firm foundation.

I'm lucky - I got an obvious one. I was born in the United States in the 21st century, not in a place or time of impoverishment or where women could do little. I've raised by two parents who stayed married, who taught me right from wrong and loved me. I was not abused or aborted or neglected. I grew up going to a church that teaches the importance of gratitude and personal growth and loving one another. I was told I was special and encouraged to "reach for the stars" from the time I was young.

I am so grateful for all of this. But there are haunting questions - and great responsibilities - that come from having been born into such a privileged world. I don't know why I was blessed in these ways when others weren't, and it's frustrating sometimes to think all I can do to show my gratitude for it is "grow up and be 'successful' and help other people" like others have told me so often to do.

It's frustrating because I see so many people who don't know they are loved. They don't have hope for the future or confidence in what they've learned from the past. They're scared and lonely - even if they'd never admit it - and aren't always kind to others because of it.

Certainly there are moments where I feel that way too. But, deep down, I know I'm loved - by God and others. I know there's a plan for my life and that this world makes sense, that things will be alright in the end. That knowledge carries me through the hard times and gives me the hope to ambition for greater things.

I don't think everyone has that firm foundation. The high school acquaintances who kept seeking comfort from condom-less boys didn't know or remember it when they needed it. The parents of the schoolchildren my mom teaches who steal or find escapes in drugs or drive drunk and end up in jail seem not to know it, or have forgotten it a long time ago. Even some of the people I meet at school, the professors I learn so much from or the friends I make in whatever context, who have so much going for them - sometimes even they seem to have an emptiness where there could be so much joy.

I want these people to to know they are loved. I want them to remember - if this memory exists to pull out of the files - sitting on a parent's lap, being told a story, feeling as if everything were safe and anything were possible. If they've never felt it before and if it's been too long since the last time, I want them to feel, in their hearts, today, the love of their Heavenly Father.

So I'm going on a mission. I'm taking 18 months to serve and proselyte for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - but really for Jesus Christ, and for the people I'll meet.

Because I believe that in order to combat bad circumstances or be motivated or keep enduring a hard situation or ambition for something more, we need to be happy. And I believe the gospel of Christ can bring that happiness, especially for those who don't or never did have the emotional and spiritual support I was blessed to grow up with.

Because this fact is real and accessible to everyone: Christ died for us. Each one of us, individually. He knows our names.  

He loves us.

That's a hard concept to grasp. A really hard one, sometimes, because we can't see Christ or hug him or anything like that right now, and because he lived two thousand some years ago and there are a zillion people who say he didn't matter.

But he did live, and he does matter. He died, and what's more, he came back to life for us. Christ and God made it possible for us to be forgiven for our mistakes, to be comforted through our pains. They love us.

These are such simple words for such complex concepts. It takes a lot of study and prayer - at least, it did for me - before it's possible to say we know these things to be true.

But once we know them - and once we know Them, Christ and God the Father - it's a little bit easier to see the love others have for us. It's a little bit easier to love others. And it's a little bit easier to be more than we were before.

I know not everyone I meet will see "religion" as a solution to their problems. People will probably tell me this message of love is trite. That's their right.

But I hope there will be some people who will feel what I felt when I listened to these words from that song in the church hymnbook:

"In every condition - in sickness in health,
In poverty's vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea -
As thy days may demand, so they succor shall be.
Fear not, I am with thee, oh be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid...
...The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake."

We all deserve firm foundations. And we all have been given them, in some way or another. Through Christ we can find them, and triumph. 

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