Sooo, I've been home for 2 weeks and 4 days and I still feel like I'll never get used to it. Return missionary life has its blissful moments; like being home with my family for Thanksgiving, watching my sister get married for time and all eternity in the temple, shopping with no time crunch, cuddling with my dog at night, listening to good songs you forgot about and enjoying texts and shapchats from a cute boy. Buttt, its also a really hard adjustment to go from doing the most important work you could ever do, to having nothing to do. You go from filling your entire day with appointments to teach and serve others to having no agenda, no responsibility, no schedule. When I first got back, I struggled feeling like I had no plan for my future, but everyday it gets better and I feel like I have been letting go of my anxiety to want to plan my future and letting God guide my plans. Its okay that I don't have everything figured out right now, even though every part of me feels like I should. If I only had to remember one thing I learned in the past 18 months, it's that God loves me. He loves you. He is aware of the details of our lives and what matters to us. He knows our desires and ambitions. He knows how many hairs are on our heads. Above all, He wants us to be happy! I know that His plan for our lives is the only one that leads us back to him and leads us to ultimate happiness. So why is it so hard for us to let go and trust him?
Coming home from my mission is the hardest thing I've ever done. When you leave for your mission, you expect it to be challenging, you expect to miss your family, you have a million people telling you how to prepare for the best 18 months. But theres no one to tell you how to prepare for the return, and I'm not sure if there really is a way to prepare for it. The day I came home was beautiful, I felt peace in my heart and a confirmation from the spirit that I had done my very best and that God was pleased with the work I had done. The plane ride seemed painfully long as the much anticpated moment of seeing my family approached. I remember hearing the pilot announce that we were in Sacramento and through the thick fog, I began to see hundreds of trees. I knew I was home. As I got off the plane, I started to cry with a flood of emotions. I pulled myself together and made my way quickly to the baggage claim. Only seconds later I was greeted with screams, shouts, hugs, laughs, tears and the most joyful reunion I could have ever imagined. The next 6 hours were kind of a blur as I felt like I was dreaming the whole time. Then it came time to meet my stake president to get released. I had done a great job of holding myself together until the moment he asked me to bear my testimony. How could I possibly find the words to describe how much I had learned or how much I grew to love the Lord during my time in Wisconsin. As I finished muttering the words of my heart through my tears, he asked me to stand and then he asked my mom to come remove my missionary name tag. THIS was the hardest part. I promise you, I've never wanted to hold onto something so much in my entire life as I did my name tag at that moment. I didn't want it to be over, I didn't want that part of me to die, I didn't want to return to being just "Karlie" again. Taking off my name tag was the hardest thing I've had to do, I miss it everyday. I miss the blessings and the closeness of the spirit that come with being a missionary. But the only constant thing in life is change. We need change to help us grow and be molded into the people God already knows we can become. I know God will continue to bless me, as well as all his children and that I can feel his spirit as I try my best to stay close to him. I know that my mission has forever changed me. I am a different person than the Karlie that left for Wisconsin last May. I am now Karlie Tanner, a daughter of God who knows her place in His eternal plan. I am so excited to live my life as a diciple of Jesus Christ. I will be forever grateful for my mission, for all the people I met who changed my life, for the unshakable testimony I gained that my Savior lives. I know that because of my mission, my decisions for the future are different, my goals are different, my actions are different. As hard as it is leaving Wisconsin, the place I have come to love so very much, I know this was all part of the plan for me and that Heavenly Father has something special waiting for my future too. I can't wait to find out what it is. :)