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I have always admired the two young men who knocked on my family’s door when I was 5. They taught us about the faith I have grown to love, and I made a goal at an early age I would be a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was older. And in 2010, I became just that.
The 18 months I spent proselyting in Billings, Montana, were some of the best in my life, but I could have never imagined how serving in the community and teaching people about my faith would prepare me for motherhood. As I begin the daunting task of raising my daughter, I frequently look back on these six things I learned as a missionary:
1. Establish a righteous routine. As a missionary, two hours of each morning are devoted to studying the word of God, both individually and with your missionary companion. The leader of my mission, called a mission president, named this our “righteous routine.” Now in our home, we try to create a righteous routine each night. Now, don’t think we spend two hours studying the scriptures. Good heavens, no! But my husband and I try (quite imperfectly, I might add) to study the scriptures individually and as a couple. We also pray individually and as a couple. It makes a world of difference. By making God a priority in our busy and exhausting schedules, it helps us focus on what matters most. We come closer together as a couple. This also establishes good, wholesome patterns as our family continues to grow.
2. Be flexible. For the Whitlocks, parenthood is becoming synonymous with flexibility. Maybe you’ve heard, but the thing about babies? That patience skill is not so refined. As a missionary I spent 30 minutes each night planning the events of our upcoming day, complete with backup plans for each. Inevitably, there were (many) days that every one of those plans fell through. It taught me the valuable lesson of going with the flow. It’s not worth getting frustrated if things don’t go exactly as you plan them. Instead, it was about making the most of each minute we had. I plan to do the same with my sweet daughter.