A guest post by Major Cohen:
I was on my mission when President Monson made the announcement of the age change for young missionaries. Throughout the whole church, we all immediately realized that this change would be a big deal, and it has been, for sure, but there are some other differences that are happening now that maybe we haven’t thought about yet.
I completed my mission to Albania on March 20th 2013 and I received the same advice from my mission president and stake president as all returning missionaries: go out and find a companion through dating and start an eternal family. Well, at that point I hadn’t really understood how the age change was such a big wake-up call for a lot of young women that had thought about going on missions, but had most likely hoped to find an eternal companion before turning 21.
The change made it possible for these young ladies to start their missionary papers almost right out of high school, without getting too serious in their dating or attending more than a couple semesters of college first. The only eligible girl to date in my home ward left on her mission a single week after I returned home. How could this be? Well, when these wonderfully mature and spiritual sisters come back from their missions, we are able to date the best versions of them that we have ever met. Since this realization, I’ve actually wished to encourage young ladies to go on missions because I know of the personal growth and maturity that comes from serving the Lord for 18 months.
There is a girl that I’ve dated a couple times that is 19 years old and I like her. She is super cool, but I’m 22 and sometimes I wish that she was a little more mature and spiritually stronger. Even though I like her now, I know that she would grow and become a better person from her mission and I would like to encourage her to go (although I don’t want to leave her any expectation that I would wait for her if she went and served a mission).
In my opinion, she is very similar to me before I served my mission. I had dated a lot of different young women, but I knew that I couldn’t get serious with any of these girls because the mission was always there and waiting for me to get old enough to go. Not that it is obligatory for girls to serve missions in any way, but I think that they should consider it seriously, not only because of the good that they can do serving in the Lord’s vineyard, but also because of the spiritual growth and maturity that comes from serving God with all your might, mind, and strength.
The opportunity to serve a mission so young is a great blessing to all those that accept the call and I have realized now that those 18 months to 2 years that any missionary is away from the “dating scene” increases the happiness of their future marriage exponentially more than the time that they missed. I encourage all young women to consider and pray about this magnificent opportunity to go out and be the biggest blessing possible in the lives of others. You may feel like you’re wasting time, but it’s the same as any other time spent in service, you’re really just investing it into happiness for yourself, those around you, and especially for your future eternal family.
This guest post was written by Major Cohen. Major Cohen was born in California but was raised in Alabama. He spends his free time thinking up new and exciting things to do with his other free time. For the time being that is mostly traveling and gaining work experience for his desired profession of being a zookeeper. He is currently working on a trip to Utah in the spring and a return visit to Albania in the spring of 2015.
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