Being home (when you still feel as if you're supposed to be in another country) is such a surreal thing. You're surrounded by people and things that at one point in time were so normal-- and now all the normalcy almost makes it all feel abnormal. Have you ever had a dream where you were watching everything happen from a third-person perspective? For example, I once dreamed that I went to the wedding of my dear friend but instead of seeing it all from my own two eyes, I watched myself from above as if I were merely a fly on the wall. Kind of like in A Christmas Carol where Mr. Scrooge gets whisked about from past to present to future and he sees all that is happening but he's not actually a part of the occurrences. Well, that's what it feels like to be an early-returned missionary.
I'm here, I'm home. I'm with family and loved ones. But given my current set of circumstances (i.e. desiring more than anything to return to Korea but remaining unaware of what the immediate future may uncover) my heart doesn't feel quite at home. I'm not sure any collection of words could ever fully capture the feelings, thoughts, and emotions that are so deeply intertwined with the experience of returning home before your assigned release date, but I do know that it's one of those rare life experiences in which a person can only truly comprehend once experiencing it themselves.
And so I sit, day after day, rejoicing as my younger sister moves off to college and my younger brother receives the Preisthood, cheering as a dear friend exits the temple after being sealed to her sweetheart for time and all eternity, laughing when my nephew attempts his first few steps and falls so adorably upon his diaper-clad bottom-- and experiencing life while not actually mentally feeling as if I am progressing down any particular path of life. It's the missionary limbo-- I'm working to complete my service as a full-time missionary in the Korea Seoul South Mission but I am a released missionary residing in Utah. And with no definite verdict in the given situation, I feel as if I am standing at a stopping point in the journey; I'm at a fork in the road and at some point I'm going to have to keep walking. But with the limited information I now have, choosing a course upon which I must continue my journey is a terrifying concept.
And so I just keep smiling when my infant niece presses a slobbery kiss to my cheek. I just keep falling to my knees at my bedside each night in gratitude for all the many ways in which I have been blessed. I just keep pleading in my heart for the opportunity to return to Korea and finish my time in total service of the Lord. And I just keep pressing forward; it's not easy to be home when your world revolves around your yearning desire to once again be a missionary... then again-- life was never meant to be easy. But it was meant to be enjoyed.
All we can do amidst times of hardship and adversity is will ourselves to continually keep taking steps forward-- even if we do not know in which direction to walk. Our Savior is constantly reaching out to us and offering a hand to hold us up and support us when we feel as if we can no longer stand. I don't know many things, but I know He lives and I know that He loves me. And that knowledge alone makes everything I've gone through, everything I'm currently going through, and everything I have yet to go worth absolutely and entirely worth it.
So to any of you who feel as if you're drowning in a sea of sorrows and discouragement, close your eyes and remember to just breathe. Because no matter what, when we do all that we can to be the best that we can be, we're promised our own happily every after.
And it's worth every salty tear drop.