Returning home early from a mission can be devastating. But with the support of loved ones and Heavenly Father, returning missionaries can press forward to achieve what the Lord has in store for them.
For most missionaries, coming home is a joyous occasion. As the proud returning missionary is greeted by an eager crowd of friends and family members, he or she may say, grinning from ear to ear, “It feels good to be back.”
But for others, nothing could feel worse. In her Ensign and Liahona article “Returning Home Early from My Mission,” Brittany Romanello Casco describes the feelings of worthlessness and doubt she experienced after coming home early because of a severe physical illness.
“I felt ashamed and confused,” she said. She began to question herself and her faith: “Was I worthy of God’s love? Why was this happening when I had served so diligently? Wasn’t I a good missionary?”
Most missionaries who return early experience similar emotional trauma, especially if they have a history of mental illness. For some of these troubled RMs, the support of others can make all the difference between rising back up or sinking into despair. Sister Casco wondered if her “peers [would] accept [her] ‘flawed’ missionary service.” Many others also fear criticism and gossip as they grapple with feelings of guilt and unworthiness.
We can help these missionaries heal and adjust by showing them love and refraining from judgment. We should welcome them back with open arms and express our appreciation for their service, no matter how long they served. We can help them realize, as Sister Casco eventually did, that their missionary service is as valid and valuable as any other missionary’s.
If we reach out in love, these sons and daughters of God can rediscover their divine worth and continue to build the kingdom long after they have put away their missionary name tags.
Read Sister Casco’s story in the Ensign or the Liahona.
—Maryssa Dennis, Mormon Insights
feature image courtesy of lds media library
Find more insights
Read this Mormon Channel message from another young woman who returned early from her mission.
Read or watch Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s address “Like a Broken Vessel,” which discusses mental illness and depression.
Read the Mormon Insights article “What I Learned from Not Serving a Mission.”
Read or watch President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s “The Merciful Obtain Mercy” on the importance of not judging others.
My brother returned early from his mission because he is battling depression. It has been very difficult for him to deal with his depression and his returning early, but I am so grateful for my home ward. They accepted him back with completely open arms. They were so full of love for him and sympathy for his plight. They showed true Godly love for him. And I am so grateful for them, especially as he feared that he would be judged and criticized for coming back early. Because of my brother’s experience, I will always follow your advice to “welcome them back with open arms and express our appreciation for their service, no matter how long they served.”
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