What's This "Best Two Years" Crap?

For men in the church, you've been told that your mission will be the "best two years" of your life. After which, you are told that your mission WAS the "best two years" of your life.

I say that's a bunch of horse pucky, and "Gee, thanks." to the guy who made that phrase up.

What about your wife? Your kids? Your LIFE? You're telling me the best two years of your life was when you were living with various people of the same sex, with almost no family contact? Not to mention all the other "wonderful" things that come along with a mission. (Early to rise, the dress, the door-kocking.) Yeah, I know you're closer to God and you are doing His work - yada, yada, yada. BUT - wouldn't your mission be in like...the top 10 years? Maybe? Of course, no one would admit that.

I would've hoped, as a woman, that my husband would find the first year of his first child one of the best years of his life. Or when he was dating me. Or the first year after we got married. For a female missionary, I would guess that being pregnant, having her first baby, or even getting her first job, losing weight, etc... would be right up there in the "best years" category. You're telling me that the people you spend the REST of your life (and death for that matter) with, aren't even a part of the best two years of your life?

What would it be like to live your entire life knowing that it doesn't get any better than your mission?

I'm being a little brash, and playing the devil's advocate a little here. I know how important, wonderful, and meaningful mission work is. But to put it as #1 and #2 on your "best years" list is a little insulting.

4 comments:

Mormon Paleo said...

Amen. Couldn't agree more.

The best two years of one's life should be the previous two years of one's life.

This mythos may be partially responsible for the lackadaisical attitude we see in recently returned missionaries: what's left to live for, they may think? What's the point of anything?

Spiritual death is still a reality. We are still under Adam's commandment to toil under the sweat of our brow. There are many other pressing spiritual issues.

The mission is a wonderful opportunity to serve, to grow, to learn, to experience, etc., but it is just a springboard to the rest of one's life, not the pinnacle, the acme, the peak, etc. To say it is the peak is an insulting and sorry statement towards, as you indicate, those nearest and dearest.

Mormon Heretic said...

April,

I think this "best 2 years" is not the case anymore. I think there was a time when returned missionaries frequently said this, but it definitely was not the best 2 years of my life. It was probably the hardest 2 years. It was 2 years where I learned a ton. It was 2 years where I really grew in the knowledge of the gospel. But it was not the best 2 years of my life.

I think far fewer missionaries say this now. As for your other examples: The best 2 years of my life were the first 2 years of marriage. Let me say that for some women, pregnancy is wonderful, but for my wife (and for me), pregnancy sucks, and so does nursing, and changing diapers, and trying to get a kid to behave who doesn't yet speak a lick of english is just plain hard work.

College was probably the best 3 years of my life, until I got married. And marriage is wonderful, but parenthood is much more like a mission. It's got good and bad things, but it's wayyyyy tougher than I ever expected. I know people who talk glowingly about motherhood or fatherhood, but I think it's just very difficult, much like a mission. Yes it's a good experience, and I'm learning things, but take me back to the newlywed days..... And I'm pretty sure my wife agrees with me on these points.

Enquiring Mind said...

I think that return missionaries mean that their missions were the best two years/eighteen months of their lives UP TO THAT POINT in their lives. If one's mission is the best time of one's entire life, that would mean that he/she did not grow much after the mission experience. Being married and having children and grandchildren has been a much more fulfilling experience than my mission.

Brent and Jas said...

It is a bold statement, but I can understand where it comes from. Granted, I have only been home from my mission for 2 1/2 years, but I haven't lived a day since then that I haven't had some thought or reference to something I experienced in Western Australia. I served mostly in rural areas of the capital city, Perth, and in tiny country towns on the coasts, and learned many valuable lessons from those humble "townies." Was it hard? Absolutlely. Was it painful to leave my family for two years with only 4 phone calls and a few short letters and emails? Of course it was! Did those hardships take away from the amount of joy I experienced as I witnessed people turn their lives around for the better? Not even close! The joys of serving a mission outweigh the hardships a million to one, hands down. Now that I am married, now with a beautiful daughter, I can honestly say that I am a better husband and father because of "the best two years" of my life, and I know that my wife feels the same way about her mission (who also served in the Western Australia Mission). So now after almost two years of marriage, can I still say that the mission was the best two years of my life? Maybe not, but I'll still say that they were two OF the best years of my life :)

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