As of February 24, 2016, I have officially been home from my mission for exactly one year. And what a year it's been! This is my third semester back at school. I've been on countless dates (and still don't have a boyfriend). I've met so many new people and done so many other things. But most importantly, I have not forgotten my mission, nor have I forsaken it. To repeat the cliche, my mission was the best 18 months of my life.
Now, I define "best" in a few different ways. First and most predictably, those eighteen months spent in the desert valley of Mesa, Arizona were some of the happiest of my life. I wasn't always happy, mind you--I'm still human, after all--but I was close to the Spirit, close to my Savior and my Heavenly Father, and that kind of happiness cannot be replicated.
Second, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, those eighteen months were the hardest of my life. I cried more times on my mission than I ever remember doing at any other time in my life. I was constantly rejected, let down, heartbroken, stretched and wrung out and burned (literally and figuratively). My Heavenly Father was constantly testing me, pushing me beyond my comfort zone, occasionally shoving me out of my depth. He tested my resolve. But, I never gave up. And I grew and became better because of all those hard times. To quote Kelly Clarkson, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," and since my mission didn't kill me, it must have made me stronger.
Piggy-backing on that idea, my mission was the best in terms of my own personal growth. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I am not perfect--far from it, in fact--but I am always trying to be better. And with every trial that my Heavenly Father gave me, I found a way to learn and grow from it. As a result, I didn't recognize the person I'd been before by the time I finished my mission. She was a stranger to me. And I made a solemn promise to myself that I will never go back to the person I was before. And I am happy to say, a full year--12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days--later, that I am still going strong!
I still have my challenges. My life isn't all rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes the trials I face seem bigger than anything I experienced on my mission. I still struggle with some things. But, I'm trying. I'm fighting. My ultimate goal is the same now as it was while I still wore a name tag that read "Sister Hurd": become the person my Heavenly Father wants me to become, and help as many other people along that path as I can--starting with my very own family (and believe me, that isn't an easy task).
I have a long road ahead of me and a whole new set of challenges awaits around every corner. But I won't give up. I will always be striving to become better, a little bit every day.
Wish me luck on my new journey!
PS: Don't forget to check out my other blog, A Writer's Cache!