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McKay Coppins: So, you don't want to serve a mission...

You are most likely reading this article because a parent, bishop or big brother gave it to you. I don't blame you if you want to stop reading now, but before you toss this in the trash or delete it from your inbox, let me see if I can at least pique your curiosity by telling you a secret about whoever gave it to you.I'm guessing the person who gave you this article is a returned missionary who has talked with enthusiasm and emotion about "the best two years of (his) life." Well, here's the secret:He didn't want to go on a mission, either.Of course, I can't say that with complete assurance, since I don't personally know your parent, bishop or big brother. Maybe he couldn't wait to leave home and spend two years depriving himself of every worldly pleasure. Maybe he had attained perfect faith that if he did his part, the Lord would do the rest. Maybe he really was a spiritual giant by the age of 18 who had nothing but pure intentions to preach the gospel and convert souls to Christ.But probably not.More likely, he was worrying about the same things that you worry about. He was probably terrified at the prospect of leaving behind his family, friends and girlfriend. He probably didn't like the idea of waking up at 6:30 a.m. or working 14-hour days. And he probably wondered if he could live up to the standard of what an "ideal missionary" is supposed to be.Everyone has his or her own reasons for serving a mission. Some are motivated by a sense of adventure. Others go because they believe it's "the right thing to do." And still others strap on the name tag because their family and fellow church members have pressured them to do so.The point is, you're not alone in resisting missionary service. Whether they voiced their concerns out loud, or kept them to themselves, most returned missionaries wished, if only for a moment, they could just bow out of the whole mission thing before their departure.I base this assertion not on my own experience alone, but on a year's worth of missionary interviews I conducted while working as a teacher at the MTC in Provo, Utah. Every single elder and sister I taught confided that they had, at some point, wished they didn't "have to" serve.And, of course, none of them "had to." But they did anyway, because something — call it the light of Christ, the Holy Ghost, or just the wisdom they had soaked in through years of spiritual osmosis — kept telling them that they should.That it would be worth it.At the end of the day, nobody is forcing you to serve a mission, even though the pressure might seem intense. It's your decision to make, and yours alone. I won't pretend I know your exact reasons for resisting, but as a guy who silently hesitated quite a bit before entering the MTC about three years ago, I can tell you that I probably had many of the same doubts you have.Some of those doubts turned out to be valid: My girlfriend did Dear-John me, tracting on hot afternoons was the most physically exhausting thing I had ever done and I endured bouts of homesickness throughout the two years.But the real doubts, the ones that kept me up at night in the MTC, turned out to be complete nonsense.The testimony I thought was too weak for missionary work grew exponentially in the first months of my mission, and soon I was able to powerfully testify of the gospel. I realized that there was no such thing as an "ideal missionary." I argued with my companions sometimes, but I also left the mission with lifelong best friends.The last thing I want to do is preach to you. Like I said, you have to make this decision on your own, regardless of what other people think. All I can say is that, for me personally, if I had given in to my own doubts and decided not to serve a mission, it would have been the single biggest mistake of my life.As cliched as it sounds, that oft-repeated Mormon axiom always seems to prove true: You'll never regret serving a mission, but if you don't go, you'll always wish you did.