I just want to start off with a big THANK YOU to all the people who have supported me and understood what has happened the past few weeks. But more than just understanding and supporting me, those who have supported any missionary who ever had to come home early - for any reason.
I never imagined it would be this hard to come home. Almost everyday in Argentina someone asked me "Do you miss your family?" In an indescribable way I could honestly answer "No." It wasn't that I didn't miss them but it was that I understood why I wasn't with them, and that my not being with them could potentially help someone else be with their family for eternity. But I missed them, not in a painful way. I was never homesick or sidetracked by the fact that I didn't get to call my mommy every night. I was delighted with the chance I had to help other come closer to Christ.
But this post isn't about how I felt on the mission. It's about how I feel now. I'm not frustrated. I'm not depressed. But I'm not ecstatic nor am I bursting with happiness. I am torn. I want to be in both places. I want to be here, home, to get better. I want to be there, Argentina, to be a missionary. I know I need to be here because the work required of me in Argentina is impossible with the current state of my back. With that - for those of you that don't know - I am home because of a back injury. Bringing me to the point of this post.
I am home. I am home for a reason. Every missionary that has ever come home, simply put, is home and they are home for a reason too. Maybe it is a medical reason. Maybe it's not. But they are home. To come home (early) from a mission is heart breaking. The only thing that lightens the sting is family and friends. The people who are willing to stand behind you and support you. Whether they understand from experience or just understand...the people who understand are the people who help us heal. In my case the ‘understanders’ will not heal me. Just because people understand my pain doesn't mean my pain will get better. But they will help me.
I read Our Search for Happiness while I was on my mission and I love the first paragraph...
"Consider for a moment the word understanding."
"It's a simple word, really - one that most of us use every day. But it means something that is quite remarkable. With understanding we can strengthen relationships, revitalize neighborhoods, unify nations and even bring peace to a troubled world."
Think about what he said for a moment. The importance of understanding. I never imagined how important understanding could be in my own life...but it is. I have now been home for a week and a half. I have gotten text messages, comments on social media posts, and unexpected visits from people, who want to understand. Who want to help. Who want to help me heal. But there is always the occasional gossip. Yesterday I went to lunch with one of my best friends. After I was released I went to her house. She was someone I knew I could turn to. With that. Others too thought they could turn to her for answers. To their own questions.
"Did you see that Brooke is home?"
"Why did she come home?"
"Can you believe she came home early?"
"Wait! Did she not repent of something?"
I'll stop there because this is where my heart stopped. Why does everyone think that if a missionary comes home early it because of the last question? Did he/she not repent of something?
I'm not saying it doesn't happen because I know people who have had to come home early for that. But guess what? It doesn't matter why they, we, or I am home. We are home to get better. I'm not going to post about how hurt I am that people always think the worst. I just want this post to be an eye opener.
You. Our Friends and family. Can help us. It doesn't matter the reason. Nothing is more important than recovery. Missions are strange. You leave on your mission heart broken because you won't see your family and friends for 18 months / 2 years but you know it's what God wants you to do, and you love him enough to do it. But when you come home..Your whole heart doesn't come home. You fall in love with the people, the culture, the country. Simply put, you fall in love with your mission. It can't last forever. In the beginning that's our hope..."I only have __ months left. I can do this." But in the end it's our fear. "I only have __ days left. I can't I won't I don't want to leave." Then we are released and stripped of the spiritual strength we have enjoyed. We feel torn. Like part of us is missing. Life is different than before the mission...but exactly the same. We still have our friends. We still have our family. Our ward. Our pets. But we are different. We have led a life VERY different. And we are left torn.. Half my heart is in Argentina. The other half is here, and very confused.
I want everyone to know the truth. I am home for an undiagnosed back problem. I can't tell you what it is or how I got it because I do not know. But I am home. To get better. Every person who has ever come home, came home for a reason. Whether it be mental, emotional, physical, spiritual or just the end of their mission. They came home. To get better. Missionaries who served their full mission are home to get better. They now get to apply their teachings to their own life. And trust me, if missionaries apply what they taught, if the live what they asked their investigators to live...no matter how great your life is or was. It will get better.
Think what you want. Believe what you want. But if you want to make a difference in someone's life, you can. Listen to them. Help them. DO NOT JUDGE THEM.
There is a quote from last conference that I love...
I have many friends that have served me in the week and a half since I have been home. I recognized. Maybe the person you help won't recognize. But I promise, God will. We can help anyone, if we try. When Christ was on the Earth He didn't exclusively help the righteous or the rich. He helped EVERYONE. Our purpose in this life is to become like him. We can help everyone. We shouldn't look for the opportunity to help someone for praise; we should look for the opportunity to help someone for God.
- Bottom line - You shouldn’t judge us for why we are home or assume you know why. Jesus Christ wouldn’t. He would help. He would understand.
If you have recently come home from your mission, or if you came home years ago, and just need someone to understand...please e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org
I want to listen. I want to help. I want to understand.