Friday, August 01, 2014

8 Days to 40: Lesson #1

Including today, there are 8 days till August 8 – my 40th birthday. I have pondered this birthday quite a bit over the past few weeks, and what has come to mind the most as I have reflected on my life to this point are the lessons I have learned. These next 8 days, I will share with you 8 lessons that I have learned that have made me who I am today. Enjoy.


If you want to understand me, truly, think of a bull in a china shop…who desperately loves china.  That is me in one sentence. I have always desperately loved people and craved relationships of meaning. The thing I want most in life is to know that somehow I have been able to bless the lives of others and made them happier somehow by something I did or said. And honestly, God gave me more than a fair share of talent and ability to do and to say. And I have passion and faith and desire – I certainly am willing. But I am also awkward, rough, blunt, and a bit too much for people – and many of the very relationships I so badly want and need and love, break.

Yes, I wear people out and offend them and overwhelm them and bull them over. Like the bull that doesn’t quite fit in the china shop, I break things. Then when I excitedly turn to see and touch the next beautiful relationship, it continues. It is a hard thing for me. While I have known and do know many, many people and have many who I would claim as my friend, I have spent most of my life feeling lonely.

It didn’t help that we moved around in my youth. I never lived anywhere quite long enough to have really close, long-term friends. And those I did befriend, usually found easier friendships with higher rewards than what I could probably offer. I never really learned how to be a great friend.

I remember one day being in my room after being sent there for something I did wrong. I was probably 11-12 years old.  For context, understand that when I was that age, I was the smallest kid in my school, was totally ADHD (literally), had Tourette’s, and well, had my personality. A tough mixture to live with at times.

Anyway, my father came into the room to talk to me about things. I remember the conversation very well because as  I was expressing my frustration to my dad about how I didn’t have any friends, and how I didn’t feel liked, and that I was lonely,  my father began to breakdown and sob. It was the first time I remember seeing him cry like that and it surprised me. This big, tough man crying like it were him suffering. I was puzzled at it. I mean, why would he cry because of what I said?

Then, my dad quietly told me that he understood and that he hurt for me.

To be honest, I don’t remember much else about that conversation. But I will forever remember how my father felt deeply for me.

As I have thought upon that experience many times since, this scripture has often come to mind:

3. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
 4. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
 5. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
--Isaiah 53: 3-5

It has taken me years to really develop the meaningful relationship I have now with my Savior. And as I have tried to strive to gain that relationship and truly understand what it means, my father’s example has been a primary example for me. I truly have seen that moment in my bedroom like watching Christ himself, crying and suffering for me.

Alma 7:12, in the Book of Mormon, it says,

12. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

I’m not sure exactly how it is all done, but I have long known what that felt like and looks like. As I watched my father act as Christ would have. It was truly a Christ-like moment that I have leaned on for a long time and tried to emulate with those I know and especially now my own family.

The first covenant of our journey toward eternal life is made in baptism. In Mosiah 18: 8-11 (also in the book of Mormon), it tells us about the significance of the baptismal covenant.

8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
 9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
 10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
 11 And now when the people had heard these words, they clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts.

My dad bore my burdens and mourned with me. He showed me what it really means to take upon me the name of Christ. It was one moment, but it has had great impact on my life.

When I contemplate what the desire of my heart is, like the people in the story, I exclaim, “YES! That is the desire of my heart! More than anything! Please God, help me be a bearer of burdens, one who comforts, and one who mourns with those who mourn!”

And so I try again, each day. Even in my own awkward way, I try. Because the way my father made me feel that day was how I want others to feel. Now if only I could only be less of a bull.
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