Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Door to door
After spending a summer as a salesman in high school I began to have doubts about how well I'd like being a missionary. Being a salesman was possibly the worst job experience I've ever had and I've had a lot of jobs.
I hated putting people on the spot, I hated asking for referrals, I hated the false enthusiasm, I hated that I couldn't just give it to people straight and let them make up their mind instead of running them through a gauntlet only to redirect them back through if they seemed unmoved. I also hated that people migh genuinely not want what I was selling. I was showing some seriously awesome stuff! Everybody would benefit from what I had to offer. Everybody.
I calmed my fears about hating missionary work as much as I hated door-to-door sales by telling myself that (1) the Gospel is FREE so I don't have to worry about that awkward moment when I try to close the deal and make the sale, (2) the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the ultimate product because it is without a doubt the very most important thing on Earth and literally everyone needs it, and (3) God's on my team! Sharing the Gospel couldn't be easier when you have the Holy Ghost testifying all over the place!
As it turned out, the two years I spent on my mission felt a lot like being a salesman and it was, for the most part, absolute torture. We put people on the spot all the time, asking if they had read, inviting them to church when they very clearly didn't feel comfortable enough to do so, "challenging" them to be baptized, and even asking them to pay the Church 10% of their income as tithing. I made plenty of sales, so to speak, but the memories of my interactions with the people in my mission still haunts me to this day. We pestered members for referrals, we plastered permanent smiles on our faces in effort to always exude the Spirit, we gave runaround answers to simple questions. We were salesmen.
The good news is that there was a lot more to my mission than just testifying and pushing scriptures on people and consequently I was able to learn a lot about the world and the ways we human beings try to make sense of it.
I can't say I regret going on a mission for the Mormon Church, but I know I would never do it again. After I came back home I had a number of dreams that I had been sent back to my mission to do more missionary work, and in every single one of those dreams I resented being back. I would wake up wondering what was wrong with me. Why would I resent being a missionary again? Didn't I have the time of my life? Weren't they the "best two years" of my life? Isn't the work of the Lord simply wonderful?