When does the pain stop when your missionary leaves home?


I think everyone has a different response to their missionary leaving home. Some parents are so thankful that their child is able to serve a mission that there are only tears of grateful joy at parting. Some parents shrug off the good-bye, knowing that their child is doing what they should, when they should, and where they should be doing it.


My son was eager to be a missionary.

I was none of those.


My son planned on a mission since the day he realized what a mission was. He was one of those young men who just instinctively felt the call of the mission.


As soon as he could, he filled out his papers and picked a date of availability. I was so thrilled with who he had chosen to be throughout his teen years. I was so excited for the incredible experiences and growth I knew were awaiting him in the next two years.


My reaction to his leaving was a surprise to me. I expected the tears as we hugged good-bye. I expected the tears as he went through the security scanners and out of sight at the airport. What I did not expect was the overwhelming feeling of devastation that hit me when I arrived home.


It was really hard on me when he left.

“I can’t do this. It hurts too much. My heart is breaking.” I sobbed over and over to myself as I lay curled in his bed, clutching his pillow to my chest. My daughters needing my strength prevented me from turning completely into a salt-encrusted zombie. I had to be there for them as they, too, cried.


Two weeks later, I still wasn’t feeling any better, although I was better at hiding my depression. Two months later, I was still hurting. About two and a half months into his mission, he was allowed to Skype with us for Christmas.


The 45 minutes were precious to us and we decided ahead of time a specific schedule allowing each of us private time with him … we completely pitched this schedule out the window as soon as we saw his face, as no one wanted to miss a second with him!


It wasn’t until he Skyped with us that I felt the weight of sorrow lift from my shoulders. I could hear his voice, see the joy emanating from his face. He LOVES his mission! He loves the people and the work he is doing. Seeing his joy healed the part of my heart that had broken when he left.


So, now we’re 6 months, a quarter of the way, through his mission and we’ve settled into a new normal.


Seeing his joy helped heal my heart.

Six months into his mission, Mondays are our new favorite day of the week, because we get emails from our sweet missionary, filled with the experiences he is having and the people he loves.


Six months into his mission, I’m finally re-painting his old room for his younger sister, who inherited it when he left.


Six months into his mission, I still cry occasionally. More often than not, they are the tears of wonder and joy at the man he has already become in such a short period of time.


This week, I read through an essay my daughter wrote for a school assignment, describing her most challenging experience in sixteen years. The subject? Telling her big brother good-bye. She described their friendship growing up and how part of her sorrow at his leaving was the realization that when he returns home, their relationship would not be the same.


She says:


My daughter’s essay was about her brother leaving, and how hard it was.

It dawned on me that my brother would not be the same after his mission. When he returned home, I would be a Senior in high school.  

And he would be a mature, independent young man of twenty years. Would we still be as close, with both of us being so changed?


Her description so perfectly captured why the tears fell so frequently when our missionary first left.


Will he be the same after two years?


No. He is already changed for the better. This pattern of growth and change will only continue.


Will our relationships be the same after two years?


No. They are already deeper and more meaningful as we share trials and testimony with each other over the miles. This last week, his insightful counsel regarding a family situation was wise and the answer we had been seeking in family prayer.


To read more of Emlee Taylor’s Missionary Mom moments, click here.

Will we ever go back to the way our family was before?


No. That chapter of our lives together is forever closed. That ‘normal’ is gone. But there is a joyous new chapter being written now that has allowed us to connect with greater depth.


We have discovered a new normal and it is amazing … even if there are still occasional tears because we miss his laugh, his hugs, and his ability to make us laugh!

About Emlee Taylor
Growing up all over the world gave Emlee Taylor an opportunity to see the incredible differences the Lord created in humanity; and even better, the passions we all share as members of the human race: love for family, faith, & a desire to make a difference. Emlee lives life with passion—focusing her time now on raising four children and teaching them to recognize truth and to live true to that truth, regardless of others’ expectations. Emlee is passionately in love with her bestest friend and husband of more than 20 years. 

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