I smiled as my sister’s weekly email popped up in my inbox. Reading her adventures of missionary life always made me laugh a bit. Plus it reminded me fondly of my own full-time mission.
My excitement waned a little as I came to the end of the email. She invited me to pray and come up with a personal mission plan. Great, I thought with a twinge of guilt. Another thing to put on my list to make me feel like I’m not doing enough.
Don’t get me wrong. I love missionary work. I cherish the memories I have—both on my mission and since I’ve returned—of miracles that began because I reached out to others and testified of truth.
But now just didn’t seem like a good time to make a personal mission plan. I felt overwhelmed trying to balance the craziness of my own personal life. Decisions demanding my attention dangled over my head. And even though I knew I had opportunities to share the gospel within my own apartment, I was still trying to build relationships with my new roommates.
Approaching a stranger on the bus as a missionary with a name tag over my heart and a Book of Mormon in hand didn’t seem nearly as intimidating as breaching a conversation with a friend who had complicated feelings about the Church.
I felt as if all of these excuses were tangled up in a ribbon of guilt and sent to settle at the bottom of my stomach. I knew that I should do more, but I just didn’t feel like I could. So as I pondered the questions I planned to seek answers to during general conference, my personal mission plan was included—but it wasn’t exactly at the top of my list.
My heart was softened over and over again as I listened to each speaker testify of the simple truths of the gospel. When Elder Uchtdorf shared his five guilt-free ways to help gather Israel,1 I couldn’t help but laugh to myself. His words were so real and specific to exactly what I was feeling! As conference continued, the Spirit testified to me that missionary work is something I can do right now. I realized that gathering Israel isn’t just another thing to check off my list. It’s the purpose of my life.
I was also relieved to be reminded that sharing the gospel doesn’t mean I have to get into a debate about Church policy or controversial topics. Being a missionary, as Elder Uchtdorf said, is about sharing what’s in my heart. It’s as simple as sharing my feelings about Jesus Christ. And it’s not something I have to force, either. I can share how I feel about the Lord and His Church in normal, everyday conversations.
In the days that followed general conference, I began praying for my friends by name and looking for opportunities to naturally share the gospel. I was surprised by how easily those conversations came up. Christ-centered words and experiences came to the surface in responses to questions as simple as “How are you?” and “How was your weekend?” I was already living the gospel, so I didn’t have to necessarily do more to share it—I just needed a change of heart.
By inviting me to share the gospel through my sister’s inspired email and the words of living prophets, God wasn’t sending me on a guilt trip. He was inviting me to experience the joy that comes from sharing the gospel—the kind of joy you can’t feel any other way.