What my mission did for me: (in no particular order)
1. Provided an experience where I felt like I had done something substantially good–something selfless. (important when you have to forgive yourself).
2. Provided an experience in which I could experience both celibacy and happiness and therefore understand what it would take to be celibate. (important when deciding if this is the right option for me)
3. Provided a place where I was surrounded by and loved by men. The fraternity is almost inescapable. It is wonderful to call other guys every night and tell them how much you love them and hear them tell you how much they love you–and it’s all acceptable! (important for creating the experiences I felt I had missed)
4. Provided a place where I didn’t have to worry about women. Or dating. Or pretending. (just plain relieving)
5. Allowed me to experience the “peak” of the Mormon experience–the Temple endowment and mission rite of passage. (important when looking back with no regrets–I tried it all).
6. Allowed me to do everything I could to change my orientation. My mission let me have the satisfaction of knowing that I had done everything I could to be the perfect righteous Mormon I wanted to be. (so that I could say I did everything and still didn’t change).
7. Gave me really cute guys to live with and develop crushes on so that during spiritual experiences, when the Spirit was clearly there, I could also simultaneously feel attracted to men. (important for realizing that God is not offended by my feelings/attractions).
8. Taught me how to love other people. (important for when I decided that being emotionally alone is not good).
9. Taught me how to think about someone besides myself. (important for when I decided that it is not good to be the center of the Universe).
10. Forced me to get out of my comfort zone–to talk to people I didn’t want to talk to, and perhaps even harder, to socialize with men in ways that scared me. (important because life can’t be lived within a comfort zone).
11. Provided my parents with the joy of having a son fulfilling their dream for him. (hey, they liked it, and there’s nothing wrong with that).
12. Taught me to love myself–gave me a self esteem. As I was successful, I started to actually like myself. (important when stopping self abusive habits).
13. Provided me with a constant, high dosage of Mormonism so that I could decide if I wanted to leave the Church or not. (important for realizing that even being completely immersed in Mormonism wasn’t enough to fill my needs).
And so I can honestly say that I loved my mission and that I don’t regret it at all. It gave me so much that I needed. I never could have come out or stopped hating myself or gotten to the place where I am today without the things that I gleaned from my two year sacrifice. If these are things that you need, you might consider the mission as the place to get them. If not, maybe the mission would give you something else–something that you do need. Or maybe a mission is not for you. Maybe you can get these things somewhere else. I do know that I never could have known that these are things I would get from my mission until after it was over. Good luck you people who are deciding if you should serve a mission!