Trunkiness: A Treatise

5cde4e85b6d2e00cb8694c0c1340b5beSo my workaholic sister Lauren, the excellent missionary (whom I affectionately call “Leaux” since she is serving in France), recently became concerned that, with the end of her mission looming large and thoughts of home working their way through her brain, she would become every missionary’s worst nightmare – *dun dun dun* – TRUNKY.

She expressed her worries to me in one of her emails home and asked for advice. I decided to get a little creative with my response….

In which Ashley Nef, esq., considers 
Written upon the 24th of April
the year of our Lord Two-Thousand-and-Sixteen
Trunkiness, noun (TRUNK-i-ness), the state or fact of being trunky. 
Trunky, adjective (TRUNK-ee), In which a missionary loses sight of their purpose/mission in anticipation of their return home. 
Example: “Dude, Elder Smith is soooo trunky – he doesn’t even want to do the work anymore.”
Yo, here’s the deal. Missionaries freak out about the idea of “trunkiness” because in the missionfield it is synonymous with SUPER AWFUL BAD MISSIONARY BAD BAD BAD.
There’s a tiny grain of truth in that (emphasis on tiny). A missionary who does not maintain a good focus on why they are there is not going to be much of good to anyone. This is true of anyone in any calling, job, work, cause, etc. Anyone who doesn’t keep their eye on the prize/purpose of why they are doing what they are doing is wasting theirs and everyone else’s time. 
However. I take issue with how missionaries talk about and define trunkiness. 

Thinking about home is not being trunky. Considering what you are going to do after the mission is not being trunky. Being a realistic, pragmatic person is not being trunky.

Being trunky is not thinking about home, or life after the mission. It is losing sight of your purpose. Period.

Think back to school – whether college or high school: the end of the school year is near, but exams are at hand. Do you just not take the exams? Or do you set a low bar for them with the idea that eh, you’ll pass? No. You’re not that kind of person, Leaux. You charge ahead and keep doing what you have been doing the whole semester. The prospect of summer vacation changes nothing. It just means you get a prize for finishing. 

A litmus test: are thoughts of home distracting you from your work? By that, I mean, are they interfering with you working with the Spirit? Are they disrupting your teaching? Lessening your effectiveness? If not, you are fine.

Consider this: your purpose doesn’t change with the end of your mission!
The mission, contrary to what everyone else will tell you, is actually an integrated part of your actual life. Shocker, I know. It’s not a separate chapter. It is not outside the space-time continuum. In the words of Elder Holland, “THIS IS REAL LIFE.”

As such, when you near the end of your mission and the idea of returning from the missionfield to your home becomes an actual real thing that is coming towards you, you take that into account and think and act accordingly. 
If you are on a plane and there is a connecting flight you need to catch, wisdom says you should look at your ticket before you need to switch planes. The same principle holds true for the mission. 
As you near the end of your mission, your job is to think on and ponder who you will be and how after the mission. It is a time to consider how you will carry on your mission, and all that you learned from it, in your life at home. The mission is a time of incredible growth and spiritual progress, but it is also very, very structured, and that structure will fall away entirely the day you step on that plane and head home. Will that loss of structure make or break you? 
This is not the world ending. It is not a personal apocalypse. It is not you “dying” (even though that is a fav word among missionaries). It is a part of your real life. A transition. Just as baptism is a transition. Or entering college. Or driving a car for the first time. Or eating your first real croissant. It changes everything and nothing. Excepting a small difference, life carries on as it always did. 
Same with the mission, babe. Your mission will end in the sense that you will not wear the nametag anymore, you are not strapped to a companion 24/7, and 6:30 am exercise is optional. But other than that, the spiritual sense of your mission is never over. There is no end, really. 
How did I transition, you asked? Simple: I decided that the end of my mission was no big deal, and proceeded accordingly. Looking at the end of anything as a HUGE DEAL runs the risk of making you anticipate it overly much. Anticipation can be a breeder of trunkiness. But if the end of the mission is a small ripple in a big pond, then you maintain a proper perspective, and you keep a much more level head. Trunkiness becomes an impossibility because how can you be trunky for something so inconsequential?

Look, in the eyes of God, your mission is the smallest blip in the already small moment that is your entire life, and to Him, it’s all one anyway. The nametag and official calling make it special for you, but to Him it’s business as usual. It’s true that your time is consecrated to the Lord; but think on your temple covenants: technically, your whole life is consecrated to Him anyway. So the end of your mission is a man-made, fabricated illusion since you are always a missionary always and forever no take backs.

So why think of it as a big deal? You get to decide how much is going to change when you come home. And really, the things that matter most don’t change with your return. How you read your scriptures, how you think about your fellow men, how you serve, how you love the Lord. Do these change with the end of your mission? Not if you decide they won’t.

Windy Cannes2So don’t stress about the end of your mission, Leaux. It’s no big deal. Sure, things will change. But change happens all the time, so why worry about it? Change is good anyway. In the meantime, just keep doing what you are doing. If thoughts of home filter in on occasion, that’s fine: use them to productive purposes. Keep the Spirit with you, and you can never go wrong.

Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other concerns. I am going to bed now because it is late and this took longer than I thought it would.




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