Sunday, February 27, 2011

I Just Can't Stand That Guy!

While volunteering as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Pennsylvania I was paired up with other missionaries to share in expenses and mainly help each other share the gospel of Jesus Christ. I served in 10 different areas of eastern / central Pennsylvania for two years.

During those two years, I was paired up with 13 people from all over and from different backgrounds than me. You don't have a say in who you get teamed up with. These are people you most likely don't know and don't know you or on occasion you may know and just not care to be in their company. You will be sharing an apartment with and preaching with them for AT LEAST the next 6 weeks.  It even seemed sometimes that the other volunteers in Pennsylvania that I got along with easier I never got paired with.

I remember a time early on in my missionary service, when I was having a particularly hard time liking a companion missionary and life was a little difficult. We would go to meetings once a week with other missionaries in the area and discuss how we could be more effective as missionaries and helping people. After these meetings we would all grab a bite to eat at some place and just enjoy the comradory. During these times I remember getting with the guys who I got along with more and we would all complain about how we wished we were paired with someone else, and when I say "we" I mean mostly "me". Seems pretty contridictory, I know, for someone who was trying to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ but I was and still am a work in progress.

For some reason I had a really hard time seeing things through other's eyes at that time in my life. It was hard for me to imagine what life would have been like for these guys growing up in a different home than mine and a different city and some even on farms. You could say I was pretty ignorant but I was only 20 at the time.

Going back to my story, I remember an interview with a mentor of mine, Neils, who was the President of the missionaries in that area, and telling him of my struggle to like some people and how all I can seem to do is complain to others. He told me that evil speaking of someone to others is like getting on top of a tall building, ripping up paper in small confetti, and letting the pieces fly in the wind. It would be impossible to recover all the paper, just like it is impossible to recall your words.

That little analogy has really changed my outlook on speaking behind someones back. Although, just like everyone else I still struggle with it I try to stop myself before I defame some one's name. As crazy as it might sounds I can be wrong sometimes and I sometimes don't have all the information. God can however see 360 degrees, from all perspectives, and can deal perfectly with people. Most of those guys I ended up really getting a long with. I have been back home for 6 years now and I don't see or call them all the time but I still consider them among my closest friends.

Like I said, I still have not mastered this but at least now I recognize that I can and should do better. So think before you speak or you might end up looking like an idiot like me. One of my favorite hymns now is "Should You Feel Inclined to Censure" because of a few lines.

Should you feel inclined to censure
Faults you may in others view,
Ask your own heart, ere you venture,
If that has not failings too.

Do not form opinions blindly,
Hastiness to trouble tends,
Those of whom we thought unkindly
Oft become our warmest friends.

"And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking;" (D&C 20:54)

- Joe Macedone

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