Monday, December 8, 2014

Men in My Life~Part 3

Spencer Bennion and More

     I am writing about the men in my life that have had the greatest impact on me and about the relationship I shared with each one.  The purpose of these series is to help men everywhere understand the impact we can have on each other as we develop meaningful deep healthy relationships with each other and to help men understand that we never know how our love and actions can change the course of another mans life.  

    Spencer fits the example of that perfectly.  He, at the time we served together had no idea the huge impact he would have on my life and that his friendship, love, tenderness, and kindness would save my life and set me on a much healthier and happier path.  I have asked each person I am writing about permission to share our story.  Spencer, when I asked him, told me he trusted me completely without question.  We have talked a lot about what I am doing and he supports my efforts with all his heart. Often times in life God sends us what we really need and most often it is in the form of another person.  So with that in mind I will try to share on paper the miracle of my relationship with my personal Savior, Spencer Bennion.  

     Kim Webb was so responsible for getting me on my mission and he is a lot of the reason I stayed, but without the love and help of Spencer, I truly would not have succeeded.  He was the answer to many prayers on my behalf.  

     Elder Bennion as I will call him in this blog,  was my forth  companion on my mission.  He came after several very hard months on my mission and after some very hard companionships.  The hard companionships were due to my total lack of self confidence.  Before I tell about Elder Bennion, I feel it important that I share with you the first few months of my mission and the struggles that I had. It will help you understand just how important Elder Bennion's companionship was to me.

     Words cannot express the how terrible I feel for what I put my first companions through.  I want them to know I admire them and pray for their forgiveness.  They were and are still remarkable men.  As Spencer put it, “It was a package deal”.

     My very first companion was Elder Mortenson.   He was my MTC companion.  I will never forget the first day we met.  I was totally shocked when we had companion prayer and he started crying, telling me he loved me.  I disliked him at that very moment.  How could anyone love someone they didn't even know and especially how could he love me.  I didn't believe him.  I was a horrible companion for him.  But he was amazing to me.  He was kind and patient.   He always looked out for me no matter how badly I treated him.  I would get these amazing letters from an unknown person and I could not understand how much they understood me and how they knew exactly what was going on with me.  Later I found out it was his girlfriend.  He would write her and tell her the struggles I was having and the hardships he was having as my companion and she would write these amazing letters.  It never entered my mind he had something to do with it because I resented him and his love for me.  That is how bad I was.  Absolutely no self confidence at all. As we were departing for our mission at the airport I finally met her.  Sometimes we have to grow up before we realize just how important those closest to us are and how often we push away all the good they do.  That is how it was with Elder Mortenson,  it took a long time before I was able to appreciate his kindness and goodness.  He is one of my best friends now and I adore him and love him for his goodness.   I started my mission with him and spent the last week of my mission with him.   I had grown up a lot and cherished that time with him.  It was wonderful as he took care of my heart.  

      My next companion in the mission field was Elder Lake.  I adored him from the first minute I met him.  He was amazing.  Goodness all the way throughout.  Bless his heart,  he had no clue what he was in for.  One time someone asked him what it was like tracking with Elder Petersen,  his comment was this "Picture knocking on doors with Satan standing right next to you".   I was horrible,  Florida was hot, humid, and so hard for me.  From the cockroaches to the humidity I struggled.  And on top of that I had just left the MTC where they taught what kind of person you needed to be to be a good missionary and I felt I was no way near that type of person.  Every quality they said you needed I was certain I did not have.  To make matters worse I was also trying to learn a language,  Spanish and it was hard, no it was impossible.  Many days would find me crying in the middle of the street unable to do another thing.  Elder Lake would put his arm around me and tell me it was enough and maybe it was time for ice-cream.  I think we ate a lot of ice cream.  

    One particular hard day  we headed home early.  I was a mess that day.  Totally saying horrible things to  Elder Lake. Every time I opened my mouth something horrible would come out.  It was a hard day.  Finally in the middle of the day he had had enough and we went home where I continued to say the most horrible things to him.   On the inside I was crying for help but when I opened my mouth to ask for help something rude would come out.  At one point I told him that after he went to sleep that night I was going to smoke the cigarettes I had stolen from the Morales family we were teaching.  I did not steal any from them and I had no intentions of smoking,  I was just saying horrible things.  Finally Elder Lake came into the room and placed his hands on my head and blessed me.  I broke down and cried.  He was so good to me.  I really loved him and think if we had been companions for longer I would have gotten better sooner.  I guess my next 2 companions needed a trail.  Elder Lake was transferred  and I received my next companion.  

      Elder Badal,  I hated him the moment we met.  He was,  so I thought, a proud latin man with an attitude.  Funny how we place our faults on others.  The pattern with me was that I would test my companions to find out if they really loved me or not.  Sounds childish, but I was a total mess.  Immature, childish, and scared.  I sure put Elder Badal to the test.  Some days I would just sit on the bed and not move or even speak to him.  I resented every moment with him.  I would complain to the other missionaries how impossible he was to be with.  In the middle of the road many times I refused to go another inch. Wow, I am so ashamed of how I treated him.  To me he failed the test.  In all fairness to him,  he had no clue what to do. I was a handful to say the least.  He never once lost his temper or got mad at me.  He was kind and forgiving all the time.  He was just plain lost at what to do.  Looking back I cannot imagine how he survived my constant anger at him. Later in my mission as he was going home, we wept.  I grew to understand how much he really did love me, I just could not see it at the time.  He is one of my dearest friends,  no we are brothers.  His son's call me Uncle Brad and I adore him.  

     My next companion was Elder George.  I continued the same pattern with Elder George as with previous companions, that of constant testing.  Elder George in my mind failed also.  During my companionship with him I was called into the mission office to meet with the Mission President.  I was there for hours as he lectured me on Alma Chapter 32 in the Book of Mormon.  At one point he told me that he had given me the sweetest, kindness companion in the mission.  My thought at the time was "President, you don't have to live with the guy".  In my mind he was the problem not me.   Elder George was the sweetest missionary in the mission.   I vividly remember one really hard night.  Elder George just left me on my bike in the middle of the road.  He went home without me.  When I arrived a little later to our apartment,  Elder George was in the middle of the floor on his knees pounding the floor with his fists crying and saying "I can't do this anymore,  I can't take it".  He didn't have to,  his prayers were answered and he was transferred.  Later I found a message he wrote in my scriptures that I treasure,  It said "I love you Elder Petersen".  It was signed by him.   

       At this point in my mission I think everyone was ready to give up on me.  I was a trail to all and it didn't look like it was going to change.  I think I was on my way out because of my constant problems.  Miracles do happen. My next companion was Elder Bennion.  I have to say the very first moment I met him I loved him with all my heart.  He was amazing.  So, I started to test him just like the rest to see if he really did love me.  Before if my companions would get mad or show anger or disappointment at me I would shut down.  In my warped mind they failed the test and no matter how hard they tried I knew they did not love me.  I could not believe that anyone loved me and in my desperate need for love and acceptance I would test those around me.   Elder Bennion got the worst of it.  I was brutal to him.  The thing about Elder Bennion is that he would pass each and every test so they had to get harder and harder.  With each test he passed I had to come up with harder test to confirm in my mind that I was not loved.  My whole world was built on the fact that I was not loved at all, so if it looked like someone loved me my world started to crumble.  

      I remember one night we were out coming home and we came to a railroad track.  I got off my bike and stood in the middle of the track just waiting for the train to come.  I was so stubborn that I was determined not to move.  The train was getting closer and Elder Bennion was begging me to move.  I would not.  Finally Elder Bennion, just before the train hit me, ran unto the track and picked me up and moved me.  I loved him even more,  but I could not let him know it.  So I proceeded to test him even more.  I started running away at night.  I would slam the door behind me,  because I wanted him to know that I was leaving.  He would follow me and beg me to come home.  I loved him even more, but could not let him know it.  

     About this time in our companionship the Mission President instructed Elder Bennion that if I ran away again I would go home. That is how bad it was.  I was in a hard place.  This is why I love Elder Bennion so much,  he was in a hard place also and is what makes him so special is that he took it to the Lord. He prayed and told the Lord that if he had to he would be my companion for the rest of his mission if it meant he could help me out.  Later he explained to me that he thought about it and decided the worst possible thing that could happen to him was to have to be my companion for the rest of him mission.  He could think of nothing worse.  He said it was so draining to have to constantly deal with my problems.  He said when he prayed he receive the distinct impression that this was Elder Petersen’s last chance. He did not know what that meant and did not want to find out.  He was determined to save me.  Can you see why I loved him. 

      My heart was so empty of love.  My heart ached to be loved and accepted.   Elder Bennion knew that and was so kind.  There were many times that he would just hold me in his arms for long periods of time – longer than he was comfortable with, but he did it anyway. To me it seemed like hours.  You cannot imagine how that started to heal my heart and soul.  And still I tested him and tested him.   It all came to a head one night.  I ran away again.  I slammed the door as I left.  I wanted him to know I was leaving.  Remember I loved him with all my heart.  He came running after me yelling at me to stop.  I finally did.  I turned to him and yelled right in his face.  "Leave me alone,  I hate you.”  That wonderful man just looked at me with tears streaming down his face and said, "Elder Petersen,  I don't care what you think about me,  I love you.”  Something inside of me broke and I knew at that moment he loved me.  We stood in the middle of the street hugging and crying.  We walked back to the apartment and finally I poured out my heart and soul to him.  

    My entire problem was that I did not believe anyone loved me.  I could not understand how we sang the song "I am a child of God" all the time when I didn't feel like a child of God.   I didn't believe that God even knew who I was.  How could I be a missionary and teach people that if I didn't even believe it myself.  

      I wish I could say it got better that night.  It didn't, but it opened the door to great discussions and now that Elder Bennion knew what the problem was he had direction and now that I knew he loved me unconditionally I trusted him and believed in him.  The tests stopped and I was able to start healing.  We fasted and prayed often.  He still continued to hold me and pour love into my heart.  I soaked it up and gained confidence and hope that I could know for myself that I was of value  to God and others.  

      About three weeks after the last run a way experience Elder Bennion's prayers were answered, as were mine.  I will never forget the night. We had our companion prayers and I had just said my personal prayer.  I laid in bed for a long time pondering about all I had been struggling with.  I realized that I needed to pay the price.  So I got out of bed and knelt in prayer.  I poured out my heart to Heavenly Father, pleading that if I was to be a missionary teaching everyone about a loving Heavenly Father I needed to know that there was a Father in Heaven that loved me and a Savior that cared for me.  At the moment it was as if the heavens opened and Heavenly Father wrapped his arms around me.  I knew without a doubt that he loved me and knew who I was.  I ran to Elder Bennion's bed and woke him up crying and laughing.  He looked at me  and said "It happened didn't it?”   We embraced and hugged each other.   

     Another one of Elder Bennion's prayers were answered,  he was transferred and didn't have to spend the rest of his mission with me.  

     I love Spencer with all my heart.  I am so grateful for his love and friendship.  I am so grateful for his willingness to sacrifice his comfort for me and my wellbeing.   Our friendship has grown in sweetness over the years.  I always look forward to seeing him and especially having him hug me. When he does I feel completely loved.  Nothing is sweeter then the pure love of Christ between two men.   

Thank you Spencer, Robert, Jaun, and Roger,  for your goodness and purity of heart.  I love you.  Brad

Become a member,(on the side panel) and recieve notice when we post a new blog entry. You can also respond, comment or ask for informations about our JADE group by using the link on the top of the side panel.  Thank you.    

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing, your stories are an inspiration. I look forward to continue learning about your experiences.