05 February 2009

Godspeed, Elder Webb

As I approached 1296 Magnolia St, I assembled the letters and larger envelopes to go into thier mail box. They only had one large envelope... from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Missionary Department. It was addressed to an Elder James Webb. I felt the small spiral bound booklet inside, containing such instructions as what suits to buy, what kind of haircut to get... this envelope is unmistakable.

I was instantly taken back to that June morning in 2005 when I found a similar large white envelope in my mail box. I was called to serve in the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Mission.

Much has transpired in my life since I opened that fateful envelope... things I would never have dared to imagine...

...and even now, at this moment, I am instant messaging with a missionary I served around during my mission.

There is something incredible about dedicating your life to a cause that is bigger than you. I was so happy when I recieved my mission call. I was SO happy when I landed in Philadelphia and met President Wagstaff... it was a wonderful time of my life.

If you've read much of my blog, you probably understand the complicated subtext in which I say this... I loved my mission. I am glad I went. I only have a few regrets about my missionary service. Elder Webb, if you are reading this... (and I'm sure you aren't, but maybe some other preparing missionary will read it some day)...

1. I spent WAY too much time obsessing over my 'worthiness', and thus left little room in my heart to let the love of God in.

2. I spent WAY too much time trying to convince everyone that our church was 'the true church'.

3. If I could re-write one aspect of my mission... I would have relaxed about 1 & 2 and just LOVED the people more. That's what the people in the world need - they need to feel love. They need to believe that they are lovable. And when they feel lovable, ONLY THEN will they be able to love thier own neighbor.

I just wish I would have loved people more.

Elder Webb, I want you to know, even this AP-gone-agnostic, could not stop smiling for the rest of the afternoon, as your mission call sat in your mailbox.

Godspeed, Elder.

4 comments:

  1. that is beautiful;)

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  2. paul, this brought a lot of emotion to me. You write incredibly well. Aside from that, this message here is one that I wish was taught in every classroom-at church and school everywhere. It's brilliant the way you are able to articulate this truth- the essence of knowing we are loveable rather than obsessing on worthiness and so many other things. It's close to insanity in many cases... inhibiting the ability to love and even feel loved. So heartbreaking.

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  3. Elder Jensen... What about Hanging out with Elder Osmond more than you did on your mission?? :)

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  4. Paul -- Thank you for this. It's always a great reminder that one of our most important purposes here in this life is to LOVE each other! It doesn't matter where we are from, what religion we are, etc, etc, etc. We just need to love each other more!

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