Of all the reasons for coming home from a mission early, this reason could be the most heartbreaking. If you’re reading this page, I’m going to go ahead and assume that you are on your way with the repentance process and go from there. If you’re not on your way with repentance, then I encourage you to repent and then to move on by forgiving yourself.
Perhaps you were sent home early wrongfully. You did not actually commit the mistake you were accused of making. Or, you were struggling and, in stumbling over your words, made it seem like you made a mistake that you did not actually make. If this is the situation, talk to your priesthood leaders, tell them what happened, and then if possible, get back to the mission field as soon as possible. You still have a great work to do.
If you did make the mistake that got you sent home though, then that is another issue. I do not know what the severity was of the mistake you committed. It is not my business to know. In fact, it is not anyone’s business except yours, the Lord’s, and your priesthood leaders’. Everyone else needs to “look in the mirror and ask if they’ve been translated yet,” as one of my friends put it. We all make mistakes. We all need repentance. We all need forgiveness.
As you go through the repentance process, remember that the Lord loves you and is happy that you are repenting. Nothing you have done is so appalling that you cannot be forgiven (except denying the Holy Ghost, but if you committed that sin, I’d be very, very surprised. It’s kind of hard to do. You have to know Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father, or the Holy Ghost and then deliberately deny them. It’s more than saying “The church isn’t true!” Alma said similar things, and he wasn’t cast off. (For more information on denying the Holy Ghost see Alma 39:6 and the Guide to the Scriptures). Despite your sin, it is possible to obtain forgiveness, and as you continue to move forward, it is my testimony that you will obtain that forgiveness from God and from anyone else whom you have wronged.
Sometimes, I really hate going through the repentance process. It can be so painful. It is sometimes easier to just throw my hands up and say, “Forget it. It’s too hard. God hates me. He’s not answering my prayers. I cannot be forgiven.” This discouragement is normal, but it can be compounded by Satan. Satan is a liar. He is cunning and is so good at making lies look like truth. You are stronger than him. You are better than him. You can be forgiven. Satan cannot. Ignore his lies. Keep moving forward in the repentance process.
And eventually, you will be forgiven. You will know in your heart that you are right with God and with those whom you wronged, and it will be like a burden lifted off of your chest. You will have forgiven yourself. You will feel light. I hope you have good people surrounding you who will help you continue to feel this lightness.
However, if you have people surrounding you who continue to cast judgment on you, remember that you are right with God and this is the only thing that matters. You are worthy to enter the temple. You are a good person. The people judging you are likely good people as well. Be wary of casting judgments on them, too. This will only incite you to anger, and anger is not something you want to deal with. You have too much going for you. Let those people be angry. Let them cast their judgments. It does not need to affect you. Eventually, they’ll move on.
Do not be afraid to ask people to forgive you for your mistakes (even if it is not their responsibility to forgive you). Most likely, this will catch them off guard. They will expect you to be defensive, not humble, and your humility will likely cause them to self-reflect and see how judgmental they are being. If they say they cannot forgive you, say you are sorry to hear that, but that you forgive them for not forgiving you (Not forgiving others is a sin. See Matthew 6:14-15). Avoid rudeness and sarcasm. Be sincere. These people will likely leave you alone, or maybe, just maybe even look up to you.
Keep going. All is not lost. We all fall short from time to time. Unfortunately, your mistake was publicly broadcast more than most people’s mistakes because of being sent home early from your mission. But as you repent, forgive yourself, accept forgiveness from others, and move on faithfully with your life, all will be okay.
Have something to add to this page? Please send suggestions or stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.