Six years ago, I was serving as a Mormon missionary. It’s something I did full-time for a year and a half of my life before getting married or finishing school. I learned some of my most valuable life-lessons in those short, cherished 18 months. I made friendships that will last forever and came to know myself more clearly than I had up to that point in my life.
Depending on the area I was asked to serve in, I attended multiple congregations on Sundays, sometimes up to three in a single day. Our standard church meetings lasted three hours, with leadership meetings an hour before or after those standard meetings. Church was quite literally my life! You can imagine how many gospel lessons I heard each Sunday. They all mostly run together in my mind when I reflect on my time as a missionary. But there is one that has always stood out because the message behind it was so important for me to learn.
I had been paired with a missionary companion in one area who I did not get along with well. I spent most of my days biting my tongue, rolling my eyes, and trying to ignore her loud personality. I found myself trying to do things my way, sometimes without including her in my plans. She tried my patience constantly. I found myself resenting her every night as I knelt and prayed before crawling into bed, pleading that she might change or learn how to be more tolerable.
On this particularly memorable Sunday, nothing was different. The same tension existed between my companion and me, and I was struggling to feel anything positive. The woman who taught in our Relief Society meeting that day had no idea what she would do for me as she prepared her lesson for that day. Her words instilled within me the most wonderful desire to live the “Path of We,” though at the time I did not know what that was. I remember some of her words as clear as day:
“Some of us have God’s hands to create beautiful artwork that enhances our lives and homes. Some of us have his eyes to see others for who they truly are. Some of us have His ears to hear and make music that will inspire others. Some have hearts to love others the way He does.” She continued on in her simple but profound words, naming countless attributes, and how they are each small portions of our Heavenly Father’s nature. “Together, all of these characteristics make up His perfect personality.” None of us have all of them because none of us are perfect like Him. We each lack many traits that others have. Once we all use our strengths and talents together as one, we become more complete and perfect, like Him.
Her words and thoughts were some of the most profound I’ve ever heard in my life, as simple as they were.
It became so apparent that we all need one another to make up for our faults, to pick up our slack, and to become more perfect. We really can’t do it alone. I realized suddenly that I had been on a path of independence. I had been excluding my companion because I couldn’t see the parts of God’s personality within her, and I had been refusing to allow my own strengths to make up for her faults.
The following week was amazing. Our weekly report to our leaders may not have shown any kind of difference, but there was a new harmony between us that made our efforts more meaningful. I laid aside my frustrations with my companion and instead began focusing on letting her do that which I couldn’t. When she had a hard time or forgot something, I picked up her slack without thinking twice. We suddenly found ourselves laughing often, praying more fervently together, teaching others in a more unified and powerful way, and developing a friendship that I never thought would exist. I began to see her the way God does. I came to love her more dearly than I ever believed possible.
Since that Sunday, I’ve looked at each person I meet differently. I try to see what they can do that I can’t, and I try to use my gifts and talents to help them in the ways they may need. I find people whose characteristics compliment my own, and then we work together in harmony and happiness to uplift and strengthen each other. I find others who possess the exact attributes that I need in my life. I’ve learned to accept and rely on them for those. I married a man who truly does “complete me” and I look forward to finding out what attributes my children will have to offer others as they grow. Because of this simple perspective, my life has become full of purpose, friendships, love, joy, and satisfaction.
Together, we can do more than we ever could if we were alone. It’s only then that we can do everything our Creator would have us do in the Forward Walking of our lives.