One night, the Prophet Joseph Smith was sitting down to dinner with his wife, Emma. They had nothing to eat except one johnnycake (corn meal pancake) between them. President Smith bowed his head and said “Dear Heavenly Father, we thank thee for this johnnycake. Please send us something better. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
I’ve been dealing with a similar issue for roughly the past 14 years.
On September 30, 1997, I boarded a plane from San Jose, CA to Houston, TX, ending a 2-year, full-time mission for my church. I was sad to leave my mission but excited for what the future held. I’m not saying those were the best two years of my life. They weren’t. Every year since then has been better than the one before it.
But since my mission, I’ve had about 17 jobs (part-time and full-time) and I haven’t enjoyed any one of them as much as I did my time as a missionary.
To be clear, I’m grateful for my career. It has been such an amazing blessing I can hardly comprehend it. It has allowed me to support my family temporally and spiritually, afforded me the privilege of associating with some amazing people and given me the opportunity to learn great things.
But not one of those jobs has made me as happy as my missionary service.
It’s not hard to see why. The life of a missionary is comprised of four things: working to help others (~11 hours/day), studying the gospel (~2 hours/day), meals/hygiene/etc. (~3 hours/day) and sleep (~8 hours/day). Almost a full 50% of the day is spent putting all your time and energy into finding ways to improve the lives of specific people around you.
Over the course of my two years, I helped people quit alcohol and drugs, helped couples turn around their marriages, taught children to read or speak English, sang songs in a nursing home, mowed lawns, did construction work and did countless other acts of service. And I’m not saying that to boast; every missionary does it. That’s the nature of a mission.
Which is exactly the problem with my career thus far. That’s NOT the nature of any of the jobs I’ve had since my mission.
This leads me to my dilemma: my first priority is supporting my family but every day I can’t help but think I could be using my time more effectively (i.e., in a way that makes more of a positive impact on the world.)
Which brings me back to the story at the beginning. After Joseph said the prayer, what happened? Well, they ate their johnnycake together and, just as they were finishing, there was a knock at the door. Joseph opened it to a brother holding a turkey saying he’d felt impressed to bring it to the Prophet’s house.
I know prayers are answered and I’m sure somewhere out there, there’s somebody with a turkey with my name on it, looking for my house.
But I can’t believe I’m alone in this. Have any of you had feelings like this and, if so, what did you do about it?