How Being Bullied As A Missionary Drove Me To Christ
I grew up in Utah County. I was home schooled, admittedly I was socially awkward and overweight. This caused me to be bullied growing up. When I arrived in New England for my two year LDS Mission I was excited and nervous. I finally had a chance to have a fresh start. I prayed that I would be able to make friends.
When I met Elder Smith* (*The names has been changed) I felt that my prayers had been answered, we hit it off and became friends immediately. Everything was going perfectly, I expected the next six weeks to be my favorite transfer of my mission, little did I know that the next six weeks would be the hardest and darkest of my life.
The next morning the phone rang, it was the Assistants, I was told that would be having another missionary join our companionship, we would be a trio. I knew and loved Elder Johnson*, so I was excited to have two friends as my companions at the same time. How lucky could I get?
I quickly realized something was not right. They were both fun to be around, but after the first lesson I noticed they hated the people we were teaching, they talked bad about them non-stop. It was demoralizing. I loved these people, and my new friends treated them poorly. Things deteriorated over the next few days.
It reached the boiling point on Thursday, it was just three days into our trio when Robert*, one of my favorite investigators dropped us. When we arrived at home Elder Smith smugly commented that “Robert was not real growth anyways.” My blood boiled and I lost it, we started fighting. I accused him of not caring about any of my investigators, he replied saying he did not, and he started to insult them, he said he would drop them as soon as I got transferred. Hearing him talk bad about these people that I loved sent me into a craze. Luckily the Zone leaders called us with a question, when they heard what was happening they came over immediately.
When the Zone Leaders got to our apartment, they sat all three of us down and asked us to talk about our problems. They started with Elder Smith. They asked him what I did that annoyed him so much. For the next two hours Elder Smith, then Elder Johnson talked. Then each of the Zone Leaders joined in expressing parts of my character and personality that they did not like. By the end I was in tears, everything I had dealt with as a child, all the bullies, and every weakness I had came rushing back all in two hours.
“He is just going to call and lie to President, he will ruin our chance at leadership” Elder Smith bemoaned. “He has already caused a big enough mess”
“Don’t become that missionary” The Zone Leaders quickly told me. “President already has enough problems, don’t become another mess to clean up”
“I promise. I won’t cause another mess” I replied, buying into the lies that I was a failure.
“Good. We are all agreed then, Elder Goff just needs to do better.” The Zone Leaders said as they stood up to leave.
Over the next four weeks, I was ridiculed for everything I did and was, but I could deal with it, I had dealt with being bullied for as long as I could remember. But when I was told I did not have a testimony of The Atonement because I had never broken the Law of Chastity or viewed porn, or when I was even mocked for kneeling to pray, it started to hurt worse than anything I had ever felt before, I was miserable, they were attacking the only thing I held dear, my testimony.
Being bullied about my testimony was demoralizing, I was also being told non-stop about how much of a failure I was, and how I was hurting the people in New England by staying on my mission. They told me to just go home as it would be better for those I loved if I went home. I had no one to turn for support. We are told not to email family/friends about mission problems, and I was told by my Zone Leaders not to tattle to my Mission President. (which is garbage, I learned to always be open with him)
I reached the breaking point, one night I waited in my bed till my companions were asleep. I then knelt down in my bed so I would not make a noise and I started praying. I started crying, begging and pleading to God. I could not take it anymore. I had been convinced that I was hurting everyone I cared about and loved… “God…If you love me…Let me die tonight. I can’t deal with this anymore. Please, if you love me let me die tonight.” I prayed.
God did love me and was about to teach me that The Atonement is real. I did not die that night, that next week I decided I would confront my companions in hopes of making peace.
I confronted Elder Johnson first. We had known each other now for almost six months, he recently noticed how much I was struggling and had started being nicer to me. He expressed that he felt no ill will towards me, but that he would not confront Elder Smith, he said he would not get in the middle of our fight, he told me that I need to talk with Elder Smith myself.
I still remember the morning like it was yesterday…Elder Johnson was taking his shower and Elder Smith was reading when I came up to him and asked if we could talk.
“What did I do? I am sorry for whatever I did to offend you, why do you hate me so much Elder Smith?” I asked.
“I am so thankful we are having this conversation…The past six weeks have been the hardest of my mission…Being mean to you felt so wrong, I knew it was hurting you but it was the only way to teach you to be humble. It was so hard”
Confused and dismayed at what I was hearing, and in a state of shock realizing that he had intentionally been ignoring the Spirit to bullying me, I stood there. Then he asked me the question that rocked me to the soul.
“Will you forgive me?” He said as he opened his arms for a hug.
My first thoughts were, “kick him in the balls, punch him in the face and tell him to go to hell.” I was angry, confused, and shocked. He had caused me so much pain and suffering, but expected just to say sorry and it would be better. I wanted more from him than that, I wanted vengeance, he made me suffer. I stood there when words came to my mind, I can still remember them to this day. It was if I heard Jesus Christ say.
“Is My death not enough? What more do you want?”
“Was It? Was His death enough?” I asked myself.
“Yes, I forgive you.” I told him as we hugged.
I went into the other room and knelt in prayer. I had finally learned that The Atonement was real. That Jesus Christ’s death is enough. Enough to swallow the pain caused by others. Enough to forgive others of their trespasses, no matter how much they hurt me. Enough to help me endure bullies, and find strength in Christ. I learned that when I hit rock bottom that Christ is the rock at the bottom.
Am I still bullied? Yes. I am still teased and bullied to this day about my weight, how I talk or something others deem wrong about me. But I have Jesus Christ, and His Grace is enough to help me repent and forgive others, it helps me endure and enjoy the journey of life.
PS I am now on good terms with my two companions, later the next transfer when I saw Elder Smith again he profusely apologized, and now we are friends. The Atonement is real!
PPS Something cool happened as I was writing this, Robert contacted me! It has been more than 3 years since he has talked with me, and he has not been meeting with the missionaries. But he reached out to me, and now we have been communicating back and forth! He has committed to start reading the Book Of Mormon again!