Coming home early from my mission, was a nightmare scenario that sometimes kept me up at night on my mission. It was an irrational worry I’m sure. But, I have a lot of sympathy for Missionaries that come home early for whatever reason. There is a great pull to stay and finish your mission. This is an important thing, otherwise more would come home. However, for those that do come home early, there must be compassion and an accepting when they come back.
This SLtrib article says that 58% of early returning missionaries felt they were treated coldly or indifferently by ward members. 73% reported feelings of failure. In defense of indifferent ward members, it is somewhat of an awkward scenario when you unexpectedly run into someone that you thought was still on a mission. What the heck do you say? “Hey, I thought you were on a mission?” “How was the two months you spent on your mission”? “Why did you come home?” All, crappy questions.
When I was recently confronted with this scenario at Church, this is how my conversation with my young friend went. “I am proud of you”. I gave him a hug and then we moved the conversation to what his plans were now. It was the best I could think of. And I am proud of him for coming to church after coming home early from his mission. It is a difficult thing.