Yesterday at Church we were talking about missionary work.
The LDS Church has always been a church with missionaries. There were missionaries in Christ's established Church before the apostasy, and when the gospel was restored to the earth, it wasn't long before missionaries were called to go out and proselyte.
And while we do have some 60,000 full-time missionaries around the globe teaching about the restored gospel, we are also taught as members to open up avenues whereby we can talk about our faith. With technology and the internet and media coverage, there has been a lot of opportunity to bring up the church and talk about what I/we believe in and how it affects our lives.
It was just yesterday, though, that Melissa and I were thinking about how to meet more people - specifically guys - in order to open up our social circles, that I realized that missionary work and dating are very similar.
With both activities, you have to be on the constant lookout for opportunities to meet and talk to new people. Without being pushy or desperate, you have to be able to bring up the conversation and direct it towards a path that opens up a person's mind and makes them ask questions. Are Mormons Christians? What does it mean to be "sealed" to someone? What does she like to do for fun?
Both are personal and can be awkward and misconstrued into something that it never was meant to be.
With missionary work, I can put my testimony and my beliefs on my blog and hope that someone will read them and not judge me - or think that I am judging them - and if they have questions, they know they can ask. I think it is easier to delve into interesting theological questions and if talking to someone, you can part with a respectful "agree to disagree" and continue on your merry way.
With dating, you have to go through the process of finding someone and selling yourself through a series of general, bland questions. It's a huge obstacle for me to overcome, because I'm terrible at small talk! There is nothing very interesting about me within the first five minutes of meeting me. My sparkle all comes from me being able to talk about whatever in front, without fear of being judged or condemned for being a little bit quirky -and maybe a little bit like a crazy person? (LO SIENTO! (sorry, only Melissa and our neighbor Sean will get that!)) I think I have some fairly interesting things to say; I'm fun! and funny! But most people aren't going to see that within the first meeting or two. Or if we never get past the da-darn small talk phase!
Another problem for us, is that now that we are graduated, we don't have as many opportunities to meet people. Melissa works in an office of women, and I work in an office full of married men. Outside of our ward, where are we supposed to meet new people? Where do people outside of church meet new people?
I suppose there is the stereotypical bars and clubs... but I'm honestly at a loss.
We decided to ask our bishop's wife last night. She recommended a few places: institute, co-ed softball and maybe taking up a dance/art class at the community center.
I can't say that any of those things appeal to me. Institute is quiet-time. There isn't a lot of time to meet people, and even if you do stay and socialize for a minute afterward... see above paragraph. I don't know that I've ever gotten past small talk in a setting like that. Dance and art classes that are available will be filled with middle-aged moms. I am generally a hit with middle-aged moms, but since that isn't really what I'm going for, I don't see how it can help in the dating department. I am interested in taking a pottery class, though - I'm not going to lie. And softball. Now, this might be a good idea.
It's probably a really good idea. Only 1) I suck at softball and 2) I'm pretty sure you have to have your team already put together before you can enter in to the league. If you do BYU intramurals, then you are still limited to those in your ward; and if you are trying to put together a team, then you are limited to who you already know.... So unless you are joining your friend's team filled with available men, who don't mind if you compromise their talent, then, as good as an idea it is, you probably aren't going to be successful.