Happy Valentine's Week! Since there's love in the air, what better time to talk about loving your companion? You'll be surprised, but sometimes that can be the hardest part of being a missionary. Being stuck with someone you don't agree with or get along with can be very difficult. But I've learned that no matter the situation, you can learn to love your companion! Here's a few ideas to help you when it gets hard.
I've often found my love increases for someone when I simply make their bed, do their dishes, or even fold their laundry. Doing little things to show your companion that you love them will help you actually feel that love. So do the dishes every once and a while, make their favorite meal, or clean the toilet. They'll appreciate it, and so will you!
Remember Who They Are and Whose They Are
President Nelson taught, "First and foremost, you are a child of God. Second, as a member of the Church, you are a child of the covenant. And third, you are a disciple of Jesus Christ. Tonight, I plead with you not to replace these three paramount and unchanging identifiers with any others, because doing so could stymie your progress or pigeonhole you in a stereotype that could potentially thwart your eternal progression." We should remember to apply this to those around us as well, especially our companions! Remembering that they are a Child of God can help you remember to love them. Don't identify them with other labels like Utahn (I know, there's a lot of us), germaphobe, jock, etc. Label them as a Child of God, and the love will come.
Use Comp Inventory
The new Preach My Gospel actually refers to this as "companionship council", which I personally think is much better. A companionship council is a great opportunity to have open and honest conversation. Preach My Gospel recommends using this time to discuss the strength of your relationship, share what your companion's strengths are, ask for suggestions to improve, and set goals to improve your relationship. I often used comp inventory to have meaningful discussions with my companions about how we could improve our relationships. One such suggestion my trainer and I decided to implement was sharing a fun fact each night. Every night we would tell each other one new fun fact about ourselves. This improved our relationship so much, that I used it with every companion for the rest of my mission. Not only did I a learn a lot about them, but I grew closer to them. All thanks to a companionship council.
Pray for Them
"Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love [charity], which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ" (Moroni 7:48). Sometimes, the best we can do is pray and ask Heavenly Father to give us charity. I had a companion who I really struggled to get along with. We were serving in a remote area of our mission, and she was used to being with lots of other missionaries in a city area. I also was completely different from her first companion, and she really struggled with the way I did missionary work. It didn't help that my family was going through a spiritual crisis, and I was struggling mentally. So it was hard for me to have patience with her. One day, we had a long talk, and we both committed to praying for charity for each other. In every prayer, both personal and companionship, we asked to be able to love each other. At first it was awkward, and even felt silly. But over time, God answered our prayers. We became very close, and we're still friends to this day.
No matter what you do to love your companion, remember that you aren't perfect either. We all have our weaknesses and imperfections, but the Lord loves us and is willing to work with us. The least we can do is love and be willing to work with our companions.