By Derrick Clements
For those that have been following the exciting feminist love story that is my life, you might be interested to know the latest episode: MacKenzie, my girlfriend of three years, got on a plane this week and went from the MTC to the mission field. We didn’t break up. Or to put it in the more familiar language ripped straight from the Saturday’s Warrior songbook:
I’m waiting for her.
For those that have not been following my exciting feminist love story, I completely understand, and feel free to just skip this one. But I think this could be a fruitful conversation for either of the following reasons:
- Perhaps my story may complicate or dispel a number of myths, including that sister missionaries only serve if they don’t have any “prospects,” or that guys have nothing to gain by their girlfriends leaving and everything to lose, or that going on a mission necessarily ends a relationship.
- I would love to hear from other guys who waited — either for a mission or something else, like grad school in a far-off place — because I know you’re out there. And now with the new announcement about the age change, and statistics that seem to point to a more even distribution of men and women serving missions, I predict that this will happen a lot more often.
Saying goodbye was a difficult but really beautiful experience for me. I got to go with her and her family as she went through the temple before entering the MTC. I got to write to her in the MTC, and hear from her on her p-day. Knowing that this is something that she has wanted to do for a long time, and understanding that for her, now is the right time to do it — not when she was 19 or 21 — has given me a sense of real relationship satisfaction that would not have come any other way.
She was a chemistry major in college, and although I’m an English major, I’m taking Chem 105 this semester because I want to go to medical school. So with her on a mission, I feel like we are getting this really unique opportunity to swap roles and understand each other in a whole new way: as I struggle through reactions and moles, I now understand in a totally new way why she sometimes wanted to throw her textbooks at moving cars (but never did! I made that specific example up). And she is gaining an intimate understanding about not only my mission, which was a significant chapter of my adult life, but also my job for almost the entire time we have been dating — as an MTC teacher.
I’m excited that we can both have the crazy, wonderful, and horrible experience that is an LDS mission. The difference is while I can look back on my mission and wonder how I would do things differently as a 25-year-old, believing what I now believe and not believing what I now don’t believe, and she gets to go now, as a 23-year-old, with a mature perspective that will be an enormous positive for all she works with. Whenever I ran into friends and past co-workers still at the MTC, I would eagerly ask about how she was doing in the last few weeks. My favorite response so far: “She is doing really well. She kind of pushes back sometimes.” When I heard that, I felt a wave of anxiety dissolve into peaceful assurance.
The MTC experience, now over for her, was fun. She ended up being in my exact classroom that I taught in most recently, and I got to send her letters every day and packages several times a week from the BYU Bookstore. I’ve also been surprised at the reaction I get from people when I tell them that she has left: despite the stereotype, no one has thought that this would be the end for us. At least to my face. And my brother told me he would hook me up with some people he knows the day she left. But I think he was kidding.
I’m looking forward to the ways that we will both grow while she’s gone. And so far, it has been really fun to write to her and hear from her when she writes. The only thing I’m truly mad about is that I have to figure out how acids and bases work without her help. But I’ll be ok. And as long as we can both keep up with each other in the ways we both plan to grow in the next year and a half, so will we. I’m planning on it.
Do you predict more guys will be waiting for their girlfriends on missions with the new age change?