As we well know, there are a lot of “first times” in life like starting a new job, going to a new school, going on a mission, getting married, starting a family, becoming empty nesters, having a new church calling, moving to a new neighborhood, and more. These can bring on anxiety and stress. The booklet Adjusting to Missionary Life teaches:
Stress Is a Normal Part of Life
As you begin any new experience (like joining the Church or attending a new school), you feel excited about the opportunity—and nervous because you don’t know quite what to expect. Over time you learn to meet these challenges, and you grow in the process.
Missions are no different. Sometimes a mission feels like a wonderful spiritual adventure—or at least a challenge you can handle. You calmly move forward with faith, realizing that much of the nervousness or worry you experience is temporary. You take courage in knowing you will adjust with time, grow spiritually, and develop many new skills. Experiences you once feared become more manageable. You even come to cherish aspects of missionary life that once felt overwhelming. You rely on the Spirit, grow in confidence, and find joy in your service.
At other times, however, you may face unexpected problems or experiences that are more difficult or unpleasant than you anticipated. You might wonder how you can succeed. Resources you once relied on to help you cope may not be available. Instead of feeling motivated to try, you might become anxious, irritable, exhausted, or frustrated. You might have physical symptoms like pain, upset stomach, sleeplessness, or illness. You could have trouble learning or connecting with people. You might feel discouraged or want to quit.
Then after a few weeks, we learn how to manage the expectations of our “first times” experience, whatever it might be. You might even write an email home like this one: [shared with permission from that missionary]:
So from last Sunday to this Sunday, I had a lot of “1st times” doing something. I’ve discovered that there is Power in 1st times. So as I said in my email last week, I was able to confirm someone a member, as well as give someone the Priesthood. This week me and my companion had our 1st youth activity that we started up. We had our 1st 18-hour power outage (well that one’s not fun, but it’s got power. Well, had power, haha.) … And we had a lot of people come to church for the first time. And they contributed in the 2nd hour. So I say there is Power in 1st times, cause when you do something for the 1st time, you finally have experience of doing that thing. Therefore, you can change and improve, see what worked and what didn’t. But you can also come closer to our Savior through it all. When I was able to confirm and give the Priesthood, I personally felt the Power of God working through me and in my life. I am constantly always growing my testimony when I am blessed with a first time. I promise and testify that we are in an ever-changing world. And because of that we will all experience many firsts in our lives. But when we rely on the Savior, we can look for the good in firsts. They will strengthen us and bring us closer to Our Savior, and to our Father in Heaven. I invite you all to strive and have as many firsts as you can. And to find and see the good from them all.
Love, your missionary
May the Lord continue to bless and strengthen us as we experience the “power of firsts” in our mission and in our lives!
[Note: The ideas and suggestions contained in these articles are designed for self-care, but they are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a qualified mental health professional. In addition, if you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek medical or mental health assistance immediately. In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat at 988lifeline.org/chat/. Services are free and confidential.]