When I was 21 years old, I decided that my heart’s true desire was to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I was assigned to proselyte in South Africa, Johannesburg. I was thrilled!

Most of my friends and family were thrilled, too. But some were nervous for me. Maybe I didn’t seem like missionary-material. I don’t know. But, they’d tell me stories of the difficulties they encountered as missionaries themselves, or maybe other missionaries they’d known. They were difficult stories to hear – being a missionary is hard.

But guess what. I already knew that. I already knew it was going to be difficult. If I was somewhat naive, it was only because I had not yet experienced it for myself. But I was all in. I was determined to learn for myself, and, if necessary, suffer “with Him” (Romans 8:17), for the honor of being a part of my Lord’s work.

And I did “suffer”. Not as Paul in Rome, but as a missionary in South Africa. I was rejected by most, attacked by some, robbed once, almost arrested another time, and I remember the day that the big black dog bit me. I’d expected it at some point in my mission. I’d read enough dog vs. Mormon missionary stories.

And, when that dog bit me, I could not help but well up with joy that I was now truly a missionary! It was an expected part of the work. I wanted to live that life – every aspect of the missionary life. I wanted the full experience! The good and the hard.

The emotions from this 18-month missionary experience came back to me this weekend, listening to Brooke Castillo’s podcast.

Let me share a little about the podcast.

Can I be at peace and feel content, not being at peace or feeling content?

Can I be okay, not being okay?

Can I be comfortable, being uncomfortable?

“The goal of life isn’t to be happy … it is the experience of being alive!”

Confidence comes from not being afraid of a negative emotion. Right? Think about it. Confidence as a missionary, in part, came from not being afraid of being bit by a dog. In fact, I EXPECTED to be bit by a dog. I wasn’t shy to approach a door. I wasn’t scared to walk down a new street. I smiled at the barking dogs. And, guess what, the people around me started smiling too.

My experience? I was loved more deeply than I was hated. I was hugged and kissed more often than I was spit upon or rejected.

“The currency for success is discomfort.”

Confidence comes from not being afraid of discomfort or negative emotions. Insecurity, on the other hand, comes from thinking I cannot handle negative experiences or negative emotions.

When I am open to feeling pain, rejection, disappointment, I show up 100%, in Brooke’s words. And I can live the full human experience.


It is a part of my human experience:

  • getting bit by a dog
  • not making the cheerleading squad
  • getting my heart broken
  • getting a college rejection letter
  • struggling with family relationships
  • losing a son
  • being gossiped about, or being rejected

But it is also a part of my human experience:

  • learning about another culture – many other cultures!
  • learning and excelling at the piano instead
  • finding real love
  • getting multiple scholarships to different universities
  • family reunions
  • having children to love and to raise
  • learning how to be who I want to be in this life, separate from other’s opinions or expectations

“(It’s) about having the full experience of life, being able to process emotion, being able to be present with all aspects – the good, the bad, the right, the wrong, the positive and negative – so you can have a complete experience. That complete experience is what gives you emotional health.”

I’ll close with that today. Wow! Really! I want this, my friends. I am going to go out and get this – the human experience!

“I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiled, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor’s children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone’s garden. I want to be there with children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.” Marjorie Pay Hinckley



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