Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Splits and Change

Missionary work is a lot like life. It's hard work. You are pushed out of your comfort zone over and over again. It forces you to confront your weaknesses and faults. Then you either let yourself be changed for the better, or pass through whatever trial like it never happened, and you haven't gained anything from it. Obviously the better choice is to yield to our Heavenly Father's will and allow ourselves to be shaped into the person we were meant to be.

Life is all about change. Humans are not stagnant beings. The times that change us most are always the times that are the hardest to get through. Trials are hard, they are usually painful. It can be hard sometimes to look beyond the moment we're in right now. But there are always great blessings, a downward slope, if you will, on the other side of the mountain. We just have to trust our Heavenly Father all the way up the hard climb. We just have to endure with faith, striving to remember that "[our] adversities and [our] afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if [we] endure it well, God shall exalt [us] on high" (D&C 121:7-8).

God doesn't give us trials to punish us, but to refine us and help us become the person He intended us to be. If we trust that our Heavenly Father will give us the strength to get through, those trials we are faced with will always change us for the better, the way God intends. We will be able to look back and realize that we never would have gotten where we are without that trial.

As a missionary I have embarked on a journey of change. And it's hard. But I'm glad for the challenges I have, because part of the reason I chose to serve a mission was to strengthen myself and smooth out the rough edges of my character. So I willingly accept the challenges I have, because I want to change and be refined, and become the person my Heavenly Father wants me to be.

Last night I faced one of the biggest challenges I've had so far on my mission. My companion and I went on splits, which means we each went with a sister from our ward and separated to knock on doors, trying to find people to teach. I had to stand on my own, without my companion to support me or cover me if I froze up. I'd never done that before, and I almost never initiate conversation with people I've never met before, let alone try to invite people to learn about the Gospel. But that is exactly what I had to do. I had to be the leader, the one who knew what I was doing because the sister I was with had no idea either.

I was scared. But I knew that with my Heavenly Father's help I could do it, and even have success. So I took a deep breath, braced myself and tried to decide what to say, completely expecting to be speaking Spanish and probably mess up a few times. And my Heavenly Father knew it. So He made sure I got the side of the street entirely inhabited by true-blue...Americans. Everyone spoke English. And the first person I talked to was already a member. A little tender mercy, for sure.

As it turned out, nearly everyone turned us away (One woman even called us a cult! Her tone and body language practically screamed "get away from me and my family!"). But I knew I'd tried my best, and after the first few doors I wasn't nervous anymore. In fact I started getting excited. And I even managed to find someone! He turned us away at first, though very politely, then, when me and the sister I was with were several houses farther down, he chased after us, apologized for turning us away, and said he really wanted to learn! I know that was my Heavenly Father telling me that I wasn't a completely failure, and that He was proud of my effort.

So, even though it was hard to step out of my comfort zone, I was able to overcome my fear, and even find excitement in the task. I was able to laugh at the various forms of rejection I got, and wasn't discouraged at all. And the next time, while I will still be nervous, I will find it easier to do, and, as my companion told me, by the end of my mission, I'll "be a pro at door approaches!" I know that everyone can have a similar experience. All we have to do is trust in God and allow Him to work through us and shape us into the person we are meant to be.

I got these pictures from the Facebook page Every Member a Missionary. There are a lot more great, inspiring sayings and quotes. Check it out!

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