Sunday, December 30, 2012

When Someone Believes in You

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When someone believes in you, they help you believe in yourself. They help you see and accept who you really are. They don't really change you, but you can't help wanting to match, in thought and action, what they believe about you. It's powerful.

Let me illustrate. 

Elizabeth Warren, in her book All Your Worth (New York: Free Press, 2005), tells the story of one of her sons who believed he couldn't swim:
When [my son] Alex was a little fellow, he announced (at the ripe old age of 6), "I don't swim," and that was that. We could spend an afternoon at the municipal pool, and he wouldn't even get his bathing suit wet; two rounds of swimming lessons hadn't made a dent. But we were moving so I ... could take a new teaching job, and we would be staying at a place with a pool. It was just plain dangerous to have a 6-year-old who could fall in and sink like a rock, and I was getting desperate. So, with the move less than a month away, I took Alex to a neighborhood teenager who posted a notice at the grocery store promising to teach any child to swim.
When we showed up for the first lesson, the girl eyed Alex silently for a long time. Then she said, "I'm not sure he'll be able to swim; I'll need to measure him." I started out of my chair—I wasn't paying this girl to tell my son he couldn't swim!—but she shook her head quietly. Then, like a surgeon gathering her instruments, the girl took out a tape measure, a scale, and a notepad. She measured his height and the span of his arms, and she weighed him. She told Alex to touch his toes, and then stretch his arms high in the air. When the exercise was over, she sat quietly, writing line after line in her notebook. As the minutes ticked by, Alex stared intently at her pencil, convinced that his future lay in her notebook. Finally, the girl lay down the pencil and looked at Alex.
"Not every boy is cut out for swimming, Alex. But you—you rate very high on the swim-ability matrix. You have the makings of a fine swimmer." Alex's little chest puffed out proudly, as a grin crept across his face. He strode to the edge of the pool, and slowly stepped into the shallow end, keeping his cool as the water rose to his thighs, then his chest, then his neck. And (you guessed it) within the week, he was swimming like a fish.
What happened to Alex? What changed him from a resolute non-swimmer to a fish-boy?

Someone believed in him, and he then gave himself permission to believe in himself.

His teenage tutor saw qualities in him that may have been pointed out by others, but coming from her, it seems, he finally accepted that the evidence was true. And then he did something: he got into the water and proved to himself that everything his teacher and mother and siblings and friends and whoever had said were true.

You might think that the teacher's methods were sneaky or deceptive. I don't believe it. Dramatic maybe, but not deceptive. She merely pointed out a truth about Alex, a truth he had not yet accepted—that he could be something he thought he couldn't be.

Sometimes it really helps when someone points out the truth about us to us. May I suggest that one of the kindest things you can do for another person, a spouse, a child, a friend, a coworker, or acquaintance, is to let them know the good things you see.

Be bold and let them know what you see in them. Then watch what happens.

I have been blessed to be surrounded by people who have believed in me. Family and friends and children, but especially my wife. And my father always taught me the importance of believing in yourself, though I didn't understand what he meant when I was young. I do now.

"If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth" (Mark 9:23).

Believe. All things are possible.

Believe in someone. Maybe that someone should be you.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Quotes to Put You in the Christmas Spirit

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Here are some of my favorite "Daily Messages" from this month, guaranteed to put you in the Christmas spirit or your money back! 

"What all of us long for in our hearts, at Christmastime and always, is to feel bound together in love with the sweet assurance that it can last forever. This is the promise of eternal life, which God has called His greatest gift to His children (see D&C 14:7).—Henry B. Eyring, "Home for Christmas", Liahona and Ensign

"Like the shepherds of old, we need to say in our hearts, 'Let us see this thing which is come to pass.' We need to desire it in our hearts. Let us see the Holy One of Israel in the manger, in the temple, on the mount, and on the cross. Like the shepherds, let us glorify and praise God for these tidings of great joy!" —Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Can We See the Christ?", 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2010

"There was a song in a film years ago with the line 'Have yourself a merry little Christmas.' Well, you can give a great and wonderful Christmas if you remember the gifts God has given you and, as best you can, offer them to others as He would. That is the spirit of Christmas and of true happiness every day." —Henry B. Eyring, "The Gifts of Christmas", 2011 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2011

"Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values. It is peace because we have found peace in the Savior’s teachings. It is the time we realize most deeply that the more love is expended, the more there is of it for others." —Thomas S. Monson, "Christmas Is Love", 2012 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2012

 "The more commercialized and busy the Christmas season becomes, the easier it is for the sublime message of the Savior’s life to get lost along the way. If we notice that planning for parties and scrambling for presents begin to detract from the peaceable message of Jesus Christ and distance us from the gospel He preached, let us take a step back, slow down a little, and reconsider what matters most." —Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Seeing Christmas through New Eyes", 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2010

"This joyful season brings to all of us a measure of happiness that corresponds to the degree to which we have turned our minds, feelings, and actions to the Savior, whose birth we celebrate." —Thomas S. Monson, "A Bright Shining Star", 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2010

"While it’s true that we can find materialism and anxiety in Christmas, it is also true that if we have eyes to see, we can experience the powerful message of the birth of the Son of God and feel the hope and peace He brings to the world." —Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Seeing Christmas through New Eyes", 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2010

"The celebration of Christmas helps us keep our promise to always remember Him and His gifts to us. And that remembrance creates a desire in us to give gifts to Him. He has told us what we could give Him to bring Him joy. First, we can, out of faith in Him, give a broken heart and a contrite spirit. We can repent and make sacred covenants with Him. . . . Second, you can give Him the gift of doing for others what He would do for them. —Henry B. Eyring, "The Gift of a Savior", 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2010

"Christmas is a time for remembering the Son of God and renewing our determination to take upon us His name. It is a time to reassess our lives and examine our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Let this be a time of remembrance, of gratitude, and a time of forgiveness. Let it be a time to ponder the Atonement of Jesus Christ and its meaning for each of us personally. Let it especially be a time of renewal and recommitment to live by the word of God and to obey His commandments. By doing this, we honor Him far more than we ever could with lights, gifts, or parties." —Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Seeing Christmas through New Eyes", 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2010

"Christmas is what we make of it. Despite all the distractions, we can see to it that Christ is at the center of our celebration. If we have not already done so, we can establish Christmas traditions for ourselves and for our families which will help us capture and keep the spirit of Christmas." —Thomas S. Monson, "Because He Came", 2011 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2011

"The Christmases I remember best, the Christmases which touched my heart the most, are Christmases filled with love and giving and the Spirit of the Savior. . . . Bringing the Christmas spirit into our hearts and homes takes conscious effort and planning but can surely be accomplished." —Thomas S. Monson, "A Bright and Shining Star", 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2012

"We are entering another wonderful Christmas season filled with music and lights, parties and presents. But of all people, we as members of the church that bears the Savior’s name need to look beyond the fa├žade of the season and see the sublime truth and beauty of this time of year." —Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Can We See the Christ?", Liahona and Ensign, November 2012

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Why We Moved

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We moved last month from Mapleton to Salt Lake City. It was a difficult but logical choice. But sometimes a sensible, practical choice is a hard and painful one as well.

Here is the practical side.

First of all, I have, for almost two years, spent 60 to 80 hours commuting to work each month. I needed to convert that time into family time and a bit of it to work time. (My current job is the most demanding of my career.) My commute is now all of seven minutes, on foot—sometimes five minutes, when I hit the crosswalk right.

Secondly, my health is not all that great, still. It is a great comfort, and convenience, to be close to our domicile and my wife. Sometimes the pain comes on suddenly, and it is much better to be a few minutes from home rather than 60 miles away.

Lastly, simplification. Our lives, now on a smaller scale, are much simpler. We are living in an apartment for the first time since 1983. We have only one car. We have no yard. I won't be shoveling any snow this winter. We live four minutes away from a grocery store. In fact, we can get to most of the places we need to go by foot or rail.

But I miss our old ward and the people I love there. I miss our kind neighbors. I miss seeing our horses out the front window. I miss our chickens. I miss our dog that we had to put down last winter. I miss my old, rattle-trap pickup. I miss the quiet of the country. I miss Maple Mountain.

If we were financially and physically able, I would move back. That is at the heart of this. We tried for many months to figure out a way to buy a house. Nothing worked. Finally, the idea of a practical move dawned on us and it has worked out well, except for the heartbreak.

But. But.

My dream is to own a home on land. To own horses and cattle and chickens again. To have a barn and a shop and a pickup and a four-horse trailer. To live in a wide, open space.

My life is not my own any longer. It doesn't feel like it, anyway. It seems like it belongs to a different purpose. As much as I feel like I've lost control, I also feel a need to consecrate everything I have. I don't know where it will take me.

But I want to go home.