Every missionary asks themselves, “How do I keep my testimony strong after my mission?” Nobody plans on going home and losing the truth that they cherished and taught every day of their mission. Missionaries have powerful experiences while living within the rules of a little white handbook.
But the structure of a mission is nothing like the structure at home.
When a missionary goes home, they can be thrown into a world that was once familiar but is now completely foreign! How, then, does a returned missionary find the balance between letting go of their missionary lifestyle and staying true to the gospel of Jesus Christ? Like it or not, waking up at 6:30 a.m. every day, having a 24/7 companion, and testifying to every person you see on the street is probably not going to happen when you take off your name tag and walk back into the real world.
I served my mission in Arkansas, USA. About a month before I returned home, my mission president said: “You will not be full-time missionaries forever. In fact, you will only be full-time missionaries for a very small portion of your lives. But it is your responsibility to be full-time covenant keepers forever.”
These words changed me. As I looked forward, I realized that preparing to go home wasn’t about how I would let go of my name tag—it was about using what I had learned and experienced on my mission to live my covenants.
After this realization, I said a prayer and began to make a list. I drew a line down a sheet of paper. The left side read, “Mission Life and Rules.” The right side read, “Living My Covenants.” I made connections between the two lists so they consisted of different actions that mirrored each other. On the last day of my mission, I took the paper and cut it in half. I read the rules to which I had given my all throughout my mission, and then I folded it up and tossed it away. I kept the covenant side of the paper and hung it up on my wall at home.
This list helped me keep my covenants in mind every day as I adjusted to coming home from my mission. The list below contains ideas that helped me personally, and may help you too:
Mission Life and Rules
Ideas for Living My Covenants
Wake up at 6:30 a.m. every day.
I strive to live a life consecrated to God. I should wake up early enough so I can fill the day with purpose.
Visit investigators and less-active members on a daily basis.
I will strive to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those who need comfort. I will get to know, visit, and love those around me.
Wear my name tag and missionary clothes.
My endowment has blessed me with the temple garment. I will dress in such a way that respects my garment and enjoy wearing normal clothes again.
Go to missionary meetings every week.
I have a chance to renew my covenants each week when I prepare for and take the sacrament.
Talk and testify to everyone you come in contact with.
I have covenanted to strive to be like my Savior. I am promised that as I remember Him and keep His commandments, I will always have His Spirit with me. I will try to treat everyone as children of God and follow the Spirit to know how I can help and serve them.
No dating (or any sort of romantic relationships).
I can work toward my goal of being sealed in the temple by dating those who share that goal and building meaningful relationships with others.
No social media, TV, movies, hanging out, etc.
I will use good media to learn, build up others, and enjoy life.
Study the scriptures for two hours a day.
I love the Spirit and the knowledge that comes from my scripture study. I will study the scriptures every day for at least 10 minutes.
My mission prepared me in unimaginable ways to live my covenants. I’m now doing what I need to do to keep my testimony strong. Missions are not a finish line or something to forget about after you go home. Missions can be a springboard into your life as a covenant keeper and lifelong disciple of Christ. Take the time to ask yourself if you’re truly understanding, focusing on, and living your covenants. Those covenants tie us to Heavenly Father, give us strength from the heavens, and offer so much light in our everyday life.