Tuesday, July 18, 2017

6 Ways to Prepare Emotionally for Your Child's LDS Mission Service

1. Get Involved. Find out who the missionaries are in your area and help them.  Drive them to the store.  Feed them dinner.  Go with them to appointments.  The full-time Sisters in my stake were inspired to ask me to go with them to read the Book of Mormon with a less-active member.  The first visit was so powerful.  The Spirit was strong.  The sister was open about her struggles and her desire to understand God's will.  We all had a tender experience as we felt God's love for her.  And I gained a testimony of the sweetness of missionary work. 

2.  Create Memories.  We purposely planned fun and meaningful things to do together.  We involved each family member in planning activities, but especially our departing missionary son. Our favorite activities took on new meaning when we realized it was our last time together (for a few years).  We did one last hike to Adam's Canyon, one last ice cream cone at Farr's and one more camping trip to Zion's.  We did not let these times become sad though- they were celebrations of our family bonds.

3.  "Bro Dates".   Our youngest child started acting out about the time our oldest submitted his papers.  Her moody behavior was so unlike her usually sunny self.  We couldn't figure out what was stressing her out.  Finally my husband asked if she was worried about her big brother leaving.  And then the tears poured out. (So Surprising!)  In the course of comforting her and talking about just what a mission entailed, my husband had the brilliant idea of "Bro Dates".  Matt would take each sibling out, one at a time, and do an activity of their choosing.  Everyone was so excited about their Bro Date and spent weeks deliberating activity choices.  Matt came up with the idea of getting everyone a hat too.  Anticipating the fun, knowing they were important enough to have a place on the busy pre-mission calendar, remembering the date after, and wearing their baseball hat, helped each of our children cope emotionally.

4.  Reach Out.  I kinda thought I was the only parent who ever sent a child out on a mission.  But guess what?  I wasn't.  Ha!  Surprise!
Reach out to other families sending out missionaries.  It's so wonderful to have the support, and to be the support, of friends and family who understand.  A knowing hug, call or visit means so much!

5.  Really Feel. Give yourself permission to fully feel and express your emotions.  I was oh-so-sad but in complete denial about the depth of my emotions.  (Supposed to feel happy!! Supposed to feel excited!!)  And I got stuck.  
Once I realized that I was mourning his mission like he was dying, like it was the death of my family as I knew it, then I could process it and move on.  It is a BIG change. Our family will never be quite the same.  And it's okay to feel sad and grieve those changes. Fully experience those emotions so you can move on.  The danger lies in getting stuck there.  
Also, it's okay if you aren't grieving. If you are happy or relieved, that's okay too!  Give yourself permission to fully feel any and all emotions.  Emotions aren't good or bad, they just are.  Feel them and then let them go without judging them, or yourself.
6. Look Heaven-ward.   Again, you aren't the only parent who has sent a child out on a mission.  Heavenly Father sent His Son on the most crucial mission of all time.  He totally gets all of our heartache.  
After realizing my sadness and worry were affecting our whole family, I gave myself a "talkin' to".  Then I knelt down and gave my burdens to the Lord.  I visualized a big altar and poured out all of my emotions: worry, fear, etc.  I asked Christ to make it all better.  I asked if He could take all those things weighing down my heart and turn them into Joy and Excitement, so much so that I'd almost want to jump in the suitcase and tag along.  And it worked!  
Christ took my burdens, lifted my heart and filled me with joy!  I choose to do this whenever I needed to - 3 more times the month he left.  
I am so grateful for My Savior, Jesus Christ, for Heavenly Parents and for the good news of the gospel and it's power to save and bless.  Without my sure testimony of it's truthfulness and peace there is no way I'd survive!  With this sure testimony I feel full of peace, fully supported and know that Heavenly Father's plans are wonderfully better than my best-laid plans.  

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