on shame and coming home early

Today as I get on Facebook I am expecting to see airport homecomings of some of my dearest friends- girls I served in the MTC with, who I went into the mission field with, and who had the same homecoming day as me. 

Today my 18 month mission ended. 

2 years ago I was prompted to serve a full time mission. I was at a hockey game - Inspiration can come anywhere folks. Literal words came to my mind telling me this was what The Lord wanted for me.

I spent the best and worst months of my life in the field 
& my experience with the divine changed my eternal being forever. 

And then one night while serving I was prompted to come home. We were on Los Alamos taking the usual 15 minute drive home. Holding Sister Bramwells hand and bawling my eyes out, again literal words came into my mind. 
They said I was loved 
They said I had served faithfully 
& they said that I would be supported in whatever decision I had to make.

So last march I found myself at the airport - the hardest drive I've ever had to take. While boarding my flight, the stake president of the area I served in was sitting first class. I smiled at him and he immediately stood up and pointed towards his seat. "Take this, you deserve it" he said. I looked at him in surprise and realized - he didn't know I was going home early. In his mind I had served for 18 months. Immediately following me taking his seat, the shame came back.  This was the same emotion that overtook me 2 weeks prior when I made my decision. "You dont deserve this seat Sister Waters" wouldn't leave my mind. I never realized until that moment how powerful shame is. It drove thoughts of inadequacy & guilt & I was prepared to come home and not talk to anyone that knew I had gone on a mission. I had it all planned out - moving away and deleting all social media - no contact with my old life. 

But it was on that flight, post drawing out my plan, that I had a simple conversation with The Lord. He told me that because I chose this, I had also chose to finish out my mission at home. To find connection and empathy with people through my experience in the field.  And the only way that could happen was to never be ashamed or hide that part of my life. 
Shame has no place in our lives.

March 25th marks a year since being home. I believe the quiet conversation I had with The Lord on that plane made this past year one of light and growth, when it easily could have been the opposite. The Lord gave me opportunities this year that made it clear that all of this was planned, no surprises, I was serving the rest of my 18 month mission here at home. & There isn't one thing I regret or would change about all of it. This was the plan. There is nothing shameful about my decision to serve the Lord or about my decision to come home early.

Whatever the reason for coming home early, 
shame should never be apart of that decision.

I love The Lord more than I could possibly express -
& I have no doubt the feeling is mutual. 

"Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.

If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can't survive.

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light." 

-Brene Brown