As I contemplated serving a mission, I made a mental list of all the fears that could possibly plight me and my fears nearly buried my desire to serve. The list included having to be with another sister 24/7, never having alone time, never taking a nap, and finding myself stuck in a place or situation that made me sad. I had this strange vision and expectation of tear-stained pillows and prayers every day—the picture of hardship. What I didn’t expect was how much joy I would find in the midst of great challenge.
My Mission President once said about missions, “If it is not trying, it is not complete.” That one line got me through my initial fears and helped me overcome the number one fear we all have—rejection.
Rejection is one thing you can absolutely count on when you serve a mission. But the secret is that rejection is not a bad thing, it’s just part of the experience that actually ends up blessing you in numerous ways. Here are some ways you can turn rejection into refinement:
1.Say a prayer with your companion for the person that rejected you. The natural man’s reaction to rejection is to get angry or annoyed at someone who has just treated you rudely, but pausing to pray for that person is a reminder that they are not just an obstacle disguised as an investigator but they are a child of God and they are loved, no matter how rudely they turned you and your message away. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44).
2.Take a moment to invite the Spirit again. Christ said, “he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me,” (3 Nephi 11:29). Contention puts a pit in your stomach that makes it hard to teach any other person with the Spirit. It’s ok to take a moment of silence to read a few verses of the scriptures, pray, or share thoughts with your companion. Sticking to a schedule is important, but having the Spirit is more important than anything else.
3.Laugh. I learned this lesson one day when I thought the rejection was too much for me to bear. My companion and I went into an apartment complex to knock doors. We already had many cancellations and thought that this would be our last resort. After knocking only a few doors with no success, the security guard, who had kindly let us in, suddenly ran up the stairs and angrily informed us we needed to leave the premises. I felt like a criminal as he escorted the two of us to the gate and not so kindly shut us out. Tears threatened on the edge of my eyelids when I heard an outburst of laughter. My companion was nearly on the floor with a fit of giggles. Instead of feeling hurt, she laughed at the situation and moved onward and upward with joy. From then on, rejection was an opportunity for a good laugh.
4.Cry. Yes, it’s ok. Crying is therapeutic and helps to relieve rejection-induced stress.
5.Visit someone who will appreciate your message. In every area there will be a member, crazy old woman, or a less active that makes you feel at home. With respect to your calling, take time to visit people you know will make you feel loved and wanted . Share a message with them. Serve them. It will not only bring them joy but it will give you perspective when your, “hearts [are] depressed, and [you’re] about to turn back,” (Alma 26:27). You will realize that not everyone is cold—there are a lot of good people ready to accept your message.
6.Acknowledge God’s will. Sometimes it’s just not someone’s time to receive the gospel yet. It can be difficult when you know full well how much peace and joy it brings but God loves these people, too. He is aware of them. He wants them to have the gospel more than you do. And He knows exactly when and where they will get it.
7.Don’t take it personally. When anyone rejects you they aren’t actually rejecting YOU. They are rejecting He who has sent you. And as your testimony grows that might be the hardest part. It no longer becomes a personal hit—it’s a hit at your dearest friend and Savior. They are rejecting all that He has done for them. Through those trying times on your mission when rejection seems to prevail, remember you are walking in noble shoes—His shoes—which shoes are full of grace and joy.