In the beginning of my mission, I came to Arizona as a happy, fun loving, cheerful 19 year old kid. I was a little (or a lot) on the quiet side when it came to new situations, but knew eventually I'd probably grow out of that. The one thing that terrified me however, was something that every person who ever served a mission constantly told me-"you'll never be the same".
I guess I always thought of it as a bad thing. I enjoyed being me! I think I'm hilarious! I seem to get along okay by being myself. I knew I was far from perfect, but I didn't want to lose any parts of myself that I liked. I didn't want to let go of Annie Messick. I didn't want to lose me.
But as I've been on my mission, I've realized that "never being the same" isn't a bad thing at all. I've realized that you really can't eat sleep drink breathe the gospel of Jesus Christ and remain a flawed and unchanged being-it just doesn't make sense. Repentance, faith, covenant making and keeping, and above all else-the Atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ-is meant to change us, form us, mold us, and refine us into something greater. The whole point and essence of living the gospel is to get us to become something far greater.
I've changed and grown and "become" more in the past year than I have in the whole rest of my 20 years of living. I've lost some parts of myself, and I've gained some new traits as well. I've lost some Annie Messick, but I've gained more of Jesus Christ-and no matter who is keeping score, I'd call that winning.