May the Forth be with you...
What a grand week! I'll admit things have been really rough for me lately, but it all took a turn for the better recently.
I've been struggling with... contacting. Going up and talking to people on the road is okay, but for some reason I've never had a love for it. I just don't like it. I've never gotten good results from it. Over the last week I've been, I guess you could say, avoiding contacting by putting in different finding activities in the schedule to keep us busy. But our numbers tanked and my companion felt we should be contacting more so our relationship was on the ropes. We were not doing well.
I scheduled an interview with President, and I met with him a few days ago. He did not really give me the answer I expected. I told him about my struggle to contact, and he asked me if I enjoyed contacting. When I replied in the negative, he told me of a recent leadership meeting he had attended. Some missionaries were in attendance, and he asked the group which of them honestly liked contacting. As he talked with those missionaries, he learned that contacting was an acquired taste. Most of the missionaries disliked contacting at the beginning of their missions, but as they worked on it, and pushed themselves through their barriers, they grew to enjoy it.
He then referenced a talk from the last General Conference, by Elder Hallstrom:
Several decades ago I was serving as a bishop. Over an extended period I met with a man in our ward who was many years my senior. This brother had a troubled relationship with his wife and was estranged from their children. He struggled to keep employment, had no close friends, and found interaction with ward members so difficult he finally was unwilling to serve in the Church. During one intense discussion about the challenges in his life, he leaned toward me—as his conclusion to our numerous talks—and said, “Bishop, I have a bad temper, and that’s just the way I am!”
That statement stunned me that night and has haunted me ever since. Once this man decided—once any of us conclude—“That’s just the way I am,” we give up our ability to change. We might as well raise the white flag, put down our weapons, concede the battle, and just surrender—any prospect of winning is lost. While some of us may think that does not describe us, perhaps every one of us demonstrates by at least one or two bad habits, “That’s just the way I am.”
Well, we meet in this priesthood meeting because who we are is not who we can become. We meet here tonight in the name of Jesus Christ. We meet with the confidence that His Atonement gives every one of us—no matter our weaknesses, our frailties, our addictions—the ability to change. We meet with the hope that our future, no matter our history, can be better.
President Blickenstaff told me that I cannot live with the excuse that "I'm bad at contacting, and that's just the way I am!". He invited me to write down some specific things I wanted to improve between now and the end of my mission, and then do my best to achieve those goals.
Ultimately, I'm trying to change my attitude about contacting. This is coming from my Mission President, and I feel like I should probably be heeding his counsel. Not to say that I should override all spiritual promptings that I get about different things to do, but I should not write off contacting just yet.
After the interview, we put more effort into contacting people, and I just tried to throw myself out there. I had some enjoyable exchanges with a few motorcyclists, not much, but enough to help me keep going on to the next person. It felt good to be following my leader's counsel.
Last week we had two baptisms, and we are looking good to help another person get baptized in a couple weeks too!