I was lying on the floor in my bedroom experiencing a crippling panic attack, one of many that day. I had just returned home early from serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I felt like a failure. The ensuing months involved bouts of debilitating depression, numerous medication prescriptions, countless therapy visits, and feelings of wanting to end it all, at times.
It was in these moments that I learned a valuable lesson: we all have a mission, both in and out of the Church, and there is meaning in our missions. Regardless of what we may be going through: struggling with pornography addiction, lack of testimony, same sex attraction, feeling lonely and forgotten, experiencing mental illness, etc, there is purpose behind our pain, and there is hope in our struggle.
It’s up to us: are we going to go through life, or grow through life?
Table of Contents
1: The What, and the Why of Missionary Service
2: Saying Goodbye
3: The Missionary Training Center
4: Coming Home
5: Now What? Coming to Grips with Reality
6. Three Pillars of Peace
7. The Father of All Lies
8. I am the Light of the World
9. The Anatomy of a Mission Call
10. Letting Go of Perfectionism
11. A Sister's Perspective
12. Your Mission Awaits You
Drew Young is a native of the east coast, growing up in Connecticut, and now resides in Utah with his wife and daughter. He studied at Brigham Young University where he helped in teaching and developing curriculum for various student development courses. He's been sharing his story with numerous audiences around Salt Lake County for the past five years and has been featured in LDS Living's YouTube series and magazine.
He serves as the publicity manager at FranklinCovey, where he assists in managing best-selling book launches, social media campaigns, as well as booking high-profile thought leaders, storytellers, and celebrities for On Leadership, the fastest growing and largest leadership development on-line newsletter in the world.
“I’m so proud of Drew and his willingness to share difficult experiences in an authentic and helpful way. This book is an important reminder that each of us has a mission in life and we can fulfill it as long as we turn to the right source, get up when we fall down and keep moving forward in faith.”
- Jane Clayson Johnson, Journalist and Best-Selling author, “Silent Souls Weeping”
"Drew’s honesty and openness will bless many young adults whose full-time missions may have been altered by world conditions or personal circumstances. In addition, Drew’s experience is an encouragement to discover that a full-time mission is only a small subset of a life’s mission for each individual, which is ongoing, which is unique, and from which one will never be released."
– John Bytheway, Author
“As a therapist, I’ve seen firsthand how mental illness, discouragement, and other challenges are misunderstood and stigmatized in Latter-day Saint culture. Drew’s story, written with vulnerability and honesty, gives readers permission to discover and fully live their own missions— regardless of the personal battles they face. To anyone who is looking for understanding, hope, and healing, I highly recommend Drew’s book, The Meaning of Your Mission.”
—Julie de Azevedo Hanks, PhD, LCSW, Therapist, Author, Owner of Wasatch Family Therapy, Assistant Professor of Social Work at Utah Valley University
"The author poses the question, 'Why not memorize the First Vision by singing it?' Drew Young asks the reader to find their own voice as he tells the parable of his song of discovery. Through his personal reflection with cultural conflict and awareness of his internal struggle surrounding a mission call, he claims his own path of reconciliation to believe Christ. He recounts a journey beyond the expected mission experience; transitioning from anxiety and despair to acceptance and fulfillment. With integrity, he grows with experience, singing his journey to the music of his own creation. I invite you to listen."
– Richard C. Ferre, M.D., Leading Psychiatrist, Family Services Missionary Clinic, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
"Finally, someone who isn’t afraid to be real and raw about the not so pretty and complex aspects of our life’s mission. We strive to be the person we believe we are supposed to be, but it can be discouraging and isolating when we fall short. Being in a culture that values image and perfection, it can be difficult to handle the reality of how messy and imperfect our lives truly are. Often times because of the judgment of others, or our harsh judgment we have towards ourselves, we don’t see the intrinsic value we have. Drew’s book helps validate that experience and draw up purpose and direction out of any situation, especially when it isn’t deemed the ‘perfect ideal’ experience. He shows that mental illness, trials, confusion, and conflict can be a jumping off point for connection and a more fulfilling life. If you have ever felt alone or like you aren’t enough, give this a read."
- Monica Moore Smith, Film Actress, Content Creator, and Writer
The Meaning of Your Mission is such an important topic. God’s plan of happiness is personal for each of His children. So it is heartbreaking when we compare our plan with someone else’s. Thank you Drew for sharing such an authentic look into the wrestle and process of finding your way when the way looks differently than planned.
– Ganel-Lyn Condie, Speaker and Best-Selling Author
“Drew’s book reiterates the truth that the Savior has already taken care of it. Stop worrying so much about being perfect. Jesus bought us with His blood. To think we are anything less than that is to undervalue the sacrifice of our Lord on our behalf.”
– Paul Cardall, Gospel Music Association’s Dove Award Winning Recording Artist
“In The Meaning of Your Mission Drew Young has written a valuable book to help lessen stigma associated with anxiety, depression, and having your mission cut short from what was anticipated. He helps people understand needed perspectives that help, and hurt, the wonderful missionaries who experience this challenge. There is so much to like in this book, but in particular I felt drawn in by Drew’s transparent rawness with his experience, and benefitted by the principles he shares to help us understand and know how to help someone dealing with similar experiences.”
– Anthony Sweat, Associate Professor, Brigham Young University, Department of Church History and Doctrine
"I came home early from my mission about 5 years ago on an honorable release, but I struggled with so much anxiety about my decision to come home. I wish I would have had this book at the time. Drew speaks about how Heavenly Father still loves us immensely for the sacrifices we make, no matter what they are. I am so glad that this issue is finally being spoken about and addressed for today's missionaries!"
–Jane Williamson, Latter-Day Saint Instagram Influencer, @JaneInsane
“One challenge faced by many in our community is the difficulty of returning early from missionary service—either personally or helping a loved one who does. This book provides increased understanding and personal perspective on this challenging issue and provides important insights to consider.”
– John Hilton III, Associate Professor, BYU Religious Education
"At first, I was skeptical of this book’s ability to provide deep, meaningful advice and experiences for early returned missionaries. However, Drew shares his raw emotions and stories about this “hush-hush” topic in a way that embraces all who read it as well as empowers those who have lived it.As a big advocate of sisters serving missions, I especially loved the chapter where Drew directly addresses the young adult women of the church and discusses the differences between the doctrinal and cultural expectations that often plague our faith. I highly recommend this to ALL members: if you’re thinking about serving, The Meaning of Your Mission will give you direction and help you discover your purpose before you step foot into the field; and if you're just living your life's mission, Drew’s book will help you in your own walk with Christ but also feel compassion for members who are often struggling in silence."
- Jesse Espinosa, Latter-Day Saint YouTube Influencer, @SundayJess
“After teaching the author in my college course I hired him to work with me. I was impressed with his determination, ability and genuine interest in other people. It was not until many months later I learned of his struggles. What makes The Meaning of Your Mission different is that it is more than just his story: it provides a guiding light for others who struggle and seek solace in life. It is not just a roadmap to be followed, but provides hope for others to find their personal way to happiness . This story is real and for those who have feelings of inadequacy it offers insight into the beauty of finding our path even if it is sometimes filled with feelings that don’t have to defeat us. What I loved was the way he showed that with all the issues he faced he kept moving and found the way that was right for him. This message can be read and assimilated into the lives of those who ponder his thoughts and use them to develop their own ideas of a future. He gives hope that struggles are places to start the process, they are not the definitions of the person. I firmly believe that his experience was a vital outcome of his missionary service."
– Kerry Hammock, Director, University Advisement Center, Brigham Young University
"I am so grateful that Drew was willing to share such personal and painful experiences in The Meaning of Your Mission. I know that this book will be a huge blessing to other young people who may not be able to serve a mission in the way they anticipated, as well as their parents and leaders and anyone who may be struggling with feelings of perfectionism or self-doubt."
– Vanessa Quigley, Co-Founder, Chatbooks
In The Meaning of Your Mission, Drew lays out with striking vulnerability his coming-of-age story. If you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and you (or someone you know) struggles with discouragement or mental illness, Drew's heartfelt memoir will provide both comfort and encouragement.
– Whitney Johnson, Award-winning author, world-class keynote speaker, frequent lecturer for Harvard Business School’s Executive Education, and an executive coach and advisor to CEOs
“In these distracting and contentious time, we are often bombarded with disparate messages about who we are and what the meaning of our lives should be. This heartfelt, poignant, and insightful book points the reader to a deeper and more meaningful life. As someone who struggled with intense feelings of depression after my mission, I wish I had been able to read this book then! As it is, I am profoundly grateful for those who will now benefit From Young’s inspired research and writing.”
- Seth Adam Smith, Best-Selling Author, "Your Life Isn't For You", Mental Health Advocate