It all started out so innocently. I was 22 and on one last vacation with my parents. Not surprisingly, then, we were in Salt Lake City, and we were at the LDS Tabernacle Visitor’s Center. My goal: avoid eye contact. If I didn’t look interested, and if I kept to myself, perhaps no missionaries would bother me. My singular goal was to survive the morning unmolested. Little did I realize that the LDS had a secret weapon to foil my carefully scripted disinterest: Female missionaries.
Did I mention that I was 22 years old? When I saw her, I had this strong desire to convert on the spot. It didn’t much matter if I believed in Jesus Christ or not. I made God a simple offer; give me this one, I prayed, and I will accept that as a sign of your existence.
I remember that her top button was unbuttoned. She saw that I was interested. What did it matter if I was interested in her rather than her religion? She told me that she was from California, and that, like me, she was an English major. Upon later reflection, I understood that her duty was to get all chummy with anyone in her range of vision, but in the moment, I pretended that her interest was solely for me, and not for my soul. I imagined that we were two lost spirits reunited, and that somehow my mission to capture her heart was predetermined. Somewhere I just knew that Joseph Smith must be smiling down on us.
She gave me her card. A woman had never given me her card before. Perhaps I could call her and… and what? Tell her that if she gave me her life I would give her my soul in return? How silly. Did I mention I was 22? But even at that young age, I recognized my feelings for her were not genuine. She had an unmistakable beauty, and her beauty was more than physical, but her beliefs were not compatible with mine.
Today, I’m sure she is married to a good church Elder and has a mess-load of children, but that’s not the life I’ve ever wanted for myself. Nevertheless, perhaps her presence that morning served its purpose. If nothing else, she made an otherwise dismal morning relatively bearable. And for that, I will always be grateful.
Describe a chance encounter that sticks with you for whatever reason. What value does it merit in your life story?
“Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness, and dies by chance.” – Jean-Paul Sartre