2010 has been a remarkably strange year for me. Strange in that I've confronted the clash between my past and my past's past. I feel like in the last three years I've been three variations on a theme. Preemie, missionary, and RM. The mission left an unshakable impact on my life, yet fifteen months of post-mission life have also done something to shape my character, in ways I've yet to conclude if they're positive or otherwise.
My dad once told me that the mission seems more and more like a dream as the steady flow of time drags it away from the present. Yet it was reality. I most definitely spent over 600 days in Honduras, preaching the Gospel, day in and day out (minus those weird days of confinement). I learned lessons that I'd be an idiot to even think about forgetting. I made an eternal impact in the lives of many, many people. Such experiences transform a person, but as not every RM is fully active in the Church, that transformation isn't perfect nor permanent.
So would I say I've regressed to my silly, immature self? Definitely not. Brother Bott warns his students never to think of themselves as "returned missionaries" because that title implies a return to whoever they were before manning the black name tag. Yet I say that a person can never truly return to who they were before two years of full-time missionary service. Yeah, they can pick up old habits, cruise with their old buddies, and ignore the precious truths imprinted in their hearts, but it's just that. It's making covenants in the temple, spending two years under the mantle of the Spirit, and just immersing yourself completely in the Gospel for such a long, long time.
A mission is like a baptism.
You are deep in a foreign place, inhibited by guidelines like a limb restricted by water pressing from all sides. You are sunk into depths that, if not careful, can enter you and drown your spirit. But there's a transformation taking place. Forget that you were not meant to dwell under the surface forever. You breach the water a different being. You are a new creature, and you can wander the world in any direction, including heavenward. But you can't go back. Not ever.
Was that a good analogy? I don't really think so. But at least I did a blog post. And I feel. If I have these feelings about my mission, that means I served honorably, which means a lot to me right now.
All the good people want to rescue / All the smart people want to talk to you