Comments about ‘Ask Angela: The missionary age changed, but I'm not sure that I want to go’

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Published: Saturday, Oct. 19 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Danbury, CT

I agree with Angela - trust your feelings and make it a matter of prayer and you will find what is right for you. It's difficult to make an independent decision when surrounded by lots of people who are excited about the same things (e.g. missions). I have daughters and a wife who did not serve a mission and they have shared that it's difficult to hear some of the talk about women and missions and how they feel like their decision is not as appreciated. I have a daughter now serving, so the challenge is how to value the choices of each of these women.

I would say, whatever you do, make the most of your life now - take advantage of experiences that will prepare you for your future, experience and learn all you can and find ways to meet new people, expand your perspectives, serve others and find your purpose in life. Set a pattern for your life of finding activities that have meaning and expand your mind and spirit. There are many ways of doing that.


This is the first time I've ever heard of a young WOMAN being under pressure to serve a mission against her will. Usually, that pressure is all on young men, whereas women are pressured to marry and have children at a relatively early age, and are often even discouraged from missionary service until they are over 25 and no longer seen as "in their prime". This is a cultural anomaly.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

There is a great question that Christ directed towards his followers in Matthew 22:42 "What think ye of Christ". If we know him as the literal Son of God and as our Redeemer, then what should we do with that information? He also told us in John 17:3, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

What did Christ do with that information? What personal sacrifice did he make so that each of us could know where to find relief from our sins and redemption for our mistakes? If it was that important to Christ, and if we know him as our Savior, what should we "want" to do?

Every young brother has the responsibility to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is part of his priesthood responsibility to prepare himself until that desire fills his heart. That same opportunity, but not that obligation, is extended to each young sister.

The question remains: "What think ye of Christ?"

Louisville, KY

Angela gives great advice (as always). I would add just one more point - there is time to make this decision.

If you, after prayer and thoughtful consideration, believe that school is you best choice, then go. Keep yourself active and worthy. After the first semester or two, give this consideration again.

It may (stress may) be that a mission will be for you. Just later. If so, perhaps your school experience will be valuable to you. I have a son who went at 25. He had a great experience.

Whatever else, keep close to the Lord. His timeline and ours are often a bit different.


Good answer for young men too.


Do not go on a mission simply because others are pressuring you!

As Angela said, ponder and pray--but listen to your "gut."

The LDS culture is rife with "it was the best 2 yrs," but there are also those for which it negatively impacted their lives.
We never hear those stories. We never really engage in full conversations about missions.

I think we lose many fine young men around missionary age because of the pressure for them to serve 2 yr missions. There is little space in our Mormon culture for a young man who chooses not to go.

Your "mission" needn't be limited to the 2yr variety.

American Fork, UT

If you don't want to go, don't go. It's your life; own it. When I consider that the expectation is you never get alone time for the entire time, there's no way I'd want anything to do with it.


I felt that pressure, even before the age change. I didn't go. It wasn't right for me. Pray and follow the Spirit. The lessons I learned from not serving a mission are probably similar to ones who do serve: to trust God and serve Him even though you don't understand why His plan for you is the way it is.

george of the jungle
goshen, UT

It's hard to make the best out of a bad situation. I would try to see what the regrets will be, than pick the spot between the rock and the hard place.

Mom of 8
Hyrum, UT

I have two daughters missionary age. As soon as the announcement came, one of my daughters was touched to the core. Before that GC session ended, she called to announce she was going on a mission.

My other daughter didn't get touched like that. She was excited for her sister and friends, but the idea of going herself never took root in her mind.

One year later, the first daughter is happily serving in Canada, and the second daughter is happily married.

The Lord will tell you what His plan is for you, and if someone asks you if you're going, tell them that it's between you and the Lord, and when He lets you know about your path, you'll let everyone else know too. That may or may not include a mission, and you have nothing to apologize for as long as you are following the Lord's promptings.

Frozen Chosen
Savage, MN

A young woman shouldn't feel any guilt about not wanting to serve a mission. If you've got other plans for your life and feel good about it then move forward and don't look back.

Lehi, UT

Dear "Sister": Any prospective missionary who goes to "Angela" - and the like - for a final answer as to whether to serve a mission or not, should not serve a mission.

Brent T. Aurora CO
Aurora, CO

Think Angela and Semi-Strong covered this well... that is, the decision is between you and the hold... and should be... and you don't have to go at 19 or before any college... you can weight this decision for a few years... in fact really until you graduate or are made ineligible due to marriage... and in that, you can serve later with a husband or in retirement...

I would only add that some of the excitement of the new policy is that more returned elders are going to be able to set a standard to marry a returned sister... and I do believe that returned sister missionaries make better wives (less co-dependency, bring more to the union) and statistically less will fail in their first marriages. If that's harsh to read, while it isn't universally true, applicable in every situation or absolutely required, this valid thesis can be formed from observation.

Daniel Leifker
San Francisco, CA

Sounds like one big concern is that you don't want to give up 18 or 24 months of your life. But a gap in a young person's life can be a huge plus if the time is spent wisely.

I joined the military as a teenager and soon felt like I was in prison for four years. Life was passing me by while all my friends were getting ahead in college or starting careers or families. But my four years turned me into an adult fast. I left the military with lots of maturity and confidence, and I plowed through college a lot more easily with my newly learned discipline. Now I look back at my military experience as a huge benefit in my life.

I think a mission could have similar benefits, as could the Peace Corps or many other worthwhile pursuits. Make your own decision, but do consider how a mission might change you for the better.

Beach City, TX

I know EXACTLY how she feels. I'm a 21 year old gal who was just finishing up undergrad at BYU-Hawaii when the "announcement" was made. I was 20 at the time, and had been telling everyone I would be serving a mission for years. I really knew it was something I wanted to do- and almost every girl in my ward took off for the MTC in the following semesters. But once I finished my student teaching, and the future loomed very big; I knew I needed to re-evaluate. I wasn't feeling that incredible desire I did the year before, and I felt incredibly ashamed that I didn't. It was my mom, who served a mission herself, that laid things out for me. "If it is something for you to do right now, I think Heavenly Father will place that desire in your heart." That desire just wasn't there to go serve a mission in that way, but that doesn't make me unrighteous. I teach with missionaries nearly every week, and share the gospel wherever I go in the world. Frankly, girls can go whenever they wish, and its between them and the Lord only.

Salt Lake City, 00

It is totally, completely, 100% up to the person serving whether they should go on a mission. Like Angela said, it's 18 months of being yelled at and belittled by strangers and having another person attached to you at the hip, but it's also a time of great spiritual growth. It doesn't matter if you're talking about men or women - serving a mission is not for everybody and it drives me nuts when people pressure these kids to go when they aren't ready. Only you and the Lord can make the final decision. If you decide not to do it now, but change your mind a few years down the road, that's fine. If you decide not to go at all, that's fine too! Personally, I would never trade my mission experience for anything - but I am also not ready to repeat the experience in a hurry. Get all the information you can, pray about it, examine your own feelings and abilities, then make your decision and stick to it. And ignore all the busybodies pestering you about it (that's not an easy thing to do, but they never go away anyway).

Virginia Beach, Va

Young men or women should only go on missions if they feel called. And that calling is between them and God not some obnoxious ward member who thinks they know whats best for everyone.

Mount Pleasant, UT

When you pray to Heavenly Father about this choice really talk to Him. Tell Him of your concerns, your hopes and dreams and tell Him what you feel you would like to do and then before you end your prayer ask for peace in your heart if your choice is right and then listen to the Holy Ghost - He will prompt you and if you have a peaceful - hopeful feeling inside then it must be right but if you don't it is not right. I've always fasted when I had a big decision to make and never was I let don't - I knew what was right.

Aunt Sue

Not every sister is called to serve a mission. When I was young, I never felt I was to serve a mission. But at 19, I did find the love of my life in a returned missionary. As he served as ward mission leader, I was involved as his compation in many missionary situations. I also helped several inactive sisters return to activity through visiting teaching and fellowship. Three of our sons went on missions, one son coverted a friend and they are now married and preparing to go to the temple. Everyone's path is different. Especially for the sisters. Just tell everyone that it is not what you feel you should do right now. That is all you need to say.

Farmington, UT

Sisters are not under an obligation to serve a mission. (Only onee poster mentioned it.) The brethren have made this VERY CLEAR. Anyone who pressures a young woman to serve, or makes them feel less than adequate for not serving, needs to repent.

One of my cousins said, upon reaching age 21 and getting ready to graduate from BYU in the late 70's or early 80's: "I'm down to the 4 m's. I don't know which to do but I am not getting any offers for "marriage", I don't want to just go to work and earn "money" right now as I have a life-time to do that, I don't feel like a "mission" is the right thing, I guess I'll go get a "master's degree." So she did. And I don't think she had regrets regarding her decision.

Give it a little time. There is nothing wrong serving a mission at age 20 or 21 or 22 if you change your mind. And you are not less of a person if you don't serve.

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