When President Thomas S. Monson stood at the pulpit on Saturday morning and began to talk about missionary service and the age variability in different countries, my husband turned to me and said, mouth slightly agape, "They're going to change the minimum missionary age." Moments later, we saw that he was right when President Monson said young men could serve at 18. My initial thought: What a blessing this would be to so many young men.
Our surprise and pleasure was compounded when they announced a lower age (age 19) for young women as well. My initial reaction to this was what many people felt: That is was wonderful for the young women of the Church, and that surely there would be more of them serving missions as a result. I was thrilled. (Many of you said the same on our Facebook page.)
Already we have seen huge shifts in Mormon life from the announcement: young men who are planning for a mission a year earlier than they expected (or deciding when to go, like high school basketball standout Jabari Parker), young women who are changing their life and college plans now that a mission seems more accessible and colleges that are trying to accommodate new enrollment policies. It will certainly take some adjustment, but the resulting blessings from the change are innumerable.
The effect on the Church's young adults is astounding, but there is also certainly an effect (though more personal) on the adults of the Church - especially the women.
Rewind for a second back to Saturday morning: Not long after President Monson announced the change, I had my secondary reaction: I thought, "If the age of service for women had been 19 when I was 19, I probably would have served a mission." I have always wanted to serve, but while I made plans to go on a mission as a young adult, I met my one-day husband, and marriage instead of mission ended up being the right thing for me.
I know this situation has played out for many women over the years (and even some men). There's no way to say what definitely would have been. After all, if I'd served a mission at 19, would I have met my husband? It all comes down to personal revelation, I know, but we at LDS Living are still curious to know: How did the news affect you, personally? And how did the news affect your family?