I will never forget the first time I made a phone call as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It involved a man screaming at me at the top of his lungs and telling me I was wasting my time out on a Mormon mission among other offensive things. Yeah...I cried after I hung up the phone.
Afterward, I wondered why he felt it was OK to treat me like that. I could understand why he might disagree with what we were teaching as missionaries, but why did he feel like it was OK to treat me like trash?
As you can imagine, experiences like this came often on my mission. Some people made fun of us, others opened their doors to list off the reasons why my mission companion and I were terrible people. I even had someone pull a knife on me once when I tried giving him a card with our church Website on it (which is a great story to tell now, but I about wet my pants when it happened).
Some of these experiences made me laugh, others made me roll my eyes, some just made me cry.
Some days, I didn't feel like a real human being anymore. People talked to me like they could say whatever mean thing they wanted just because they disagreed with me or didn't understand what I believed.
I don't want you to get the wrong idea about me sharing these negative aspects to a LDS mission. I loved serving as a missionary for that year and a half. I was able to meet and help so many amazing people. The wonderful people and memories from my mission far outweigh the hard parts, and I have never regretted serving. However, although many people were kind, I was amazed at how many people treated us terribly over a difference in opinion.
I think that sometimes we can get so caught up on the things we disagree with that we forget to show love, tolerance, and compassion for others no matter what our personal beliefs are.
There have been so many times in my life where I have been guilty of saying hurtful things to someone's face or behind their back just because I disagreed with them. Many times, I didn't even care to see things from their point of view.
Serving an LDS mission has helped me be more willing to hear others out and try to see things from their point of view (However, I do avoid listening to telemarketer spiels). Although there are lots of topics where I disagree with others, I try and take an interest in what others believe because I would hope that they would give my beliefs and points of view a listening ear as well.