I guess you could say I have done a lot of reflecting in the past little while. Today at church one lesson after another seemed to be about missionary work. They went about as usual giving the charge to go forth and save souls and bring them unto Christ. These lessons caused me to ponder on my own previous missionary opportunities, many of which I have mentioned in prior posts, but forgive me for being repetitive, as this is something I should have shared in Relief Society, but did not.
What is the point of this life anyway? What is a major point of the plan of salvation, and agency? It's experience, isn't it? D&C 122: 7 "all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." Well, my handful of missionary opportunities have been just that, experience. I have found that my best growth can come from times qualify-able as "experiences," if nothing else. Some even go to an extent where I feel like the experience wasn't even about the other person, but about me.
Rewinding to my freshman year at Southern Utah University, I received my roommate assignment in summer of 2009. Naturally, my first instinct was to facebook stalk them and find out a bit about who they were. Through the course of meticulously picking through their info pages or whatever else I could see despite their security settings, I realized that of the six of us, three were members of the LDS church. Long discussions were had with my parents about staying true to my foundation and that my roommate assignments presented a great opportunity for missionary work. I leached onto this idea, and I went into the situation with the attitude that they had been placed in my life for me to teach them the gospel.
It took a few months but I was finally hit with a realization. After these months of interacting and answering each others questions it hit me that the experience was just as much for me as it was for them, if not more. My perspective broadened and so did our conversations. We talked about what they believed, theologically and beyond. We discussed lifestyle choices and personal philosophies on topics even outside of religion. It was through these discussions that my testimony was fortified, I didn't always agree with their choices or theories, but I learned so much. I wasn't just sent to them, but they were sent to me too. We learned to respect each other and each others beliefs.
Because of that experience I have had a softened heart in every missionary opportunity since. Missionary work is so much more than drawing the line between right and wrong. It is about the individual, and relationships that can be built. We hope and pray that we will be able to be a force in bringing that person closer to the Savior, in helping them build a relationship with their Heavenly Father. But additionally, missionary work is about building relationships between each other. There isn't just one teacher and one student, those roles are interchangeable. In the ideal missionary discussion, both walk away having learned something new with a strengthened relationship with each other and with the Lord.
So, I guess what I am getting at is, after the lessons today that were so heavy in admonishing us to go and do, and to valiantly save the world, I would like us to step back and evaluate how we may need saving too. People are placed in our lives for us to learn from them. What a shame it would be to be given such a great privilege of having the gospel, and to then put on our blinders to our brothers and sisters who can offer so much to us. We have nothing to lose, but everything to gain. If nothing else, just imagine how much our missionary opportunities will be enhanced because we have a greater understanding of humanity and God's children.
Go ahead, be selfish and ask yourself, "what's in it for me?" Because chances are, there is so much more in store for you than ever could be imagined.