teeth

Yes, But He Has Such Nice Teeth! (Looking For The Good In Others)

TheDiscipleMD

I was sitting in an afternoon school class during the middle of my eighth grade year when a girl sitting across from me named Nancy asked me, totally out of the blue, “Do you ever clean your ears?” I didn’t know what to say and she didn’t wait for an answer. I remember feeling embarrassed and wondering if every kid in the class was talking about my dirty ears. And so began my daily obsession in the cleaning of my ears with Q-tips.

That one innocent comment made in 1969 has spurred me to clean my ears everyday for more than forty years. Simple statements that we make can have a powerful impact on those we associate with on a daily basis.  Perhaps you have a similar experience to draw from regarding the power of simple statements.  I am sure that Nancy doesn’t know that her comment changed my personal hygiene. However,  her statement stands as a testimony that we can do much harm,  and also much good with what we say; and how we say it.

It is so much nicer to compliment than to tear another down.  Complimentary statements are just as powerful as negative ones and what we say about others to our friends, can leave a lasting and permanent impression with them regarding that person.  Here are some words from Elder N. Eldon Tanner that were published in the Ensign in March of 1973 entitled: “Nay, Speak No Ill”.

“There is a very famous painting titled “Washington Crossing the Delaware.” Many who have seen this painting…have admired the appearance of straight and dynamic leadership exhibited by General Washington. The painter has skillfully caught the vision of determination and courage in the expressions of the men in Washington’s boat.

But this is what some critics have pointed out: that 12 grown men with guns and supplies could not possibly remain afloat in a rowboat of the size illustrated. If this did not sink it, certainly the three men standing up would tip it over. The 13-star flag shown in the hands of the soldier was not even in existence at the time of the Delaware crossing in 1776. The background for the river was not the Delaware at all, but the Rhine River in Germany where the painting was made.

When one is reminded of these imperfections, it is difficult to appreciate the real message. The observer sees only the defects. So it is with people. When a defect or flaw in personality, character, or appearance has once been pointed out, it is difficult to see clearly the virtues of that person.”

I hesitated to use this particular example because one of my sons told me just the other day that this painting is one of his all-time favorite. I hope that he will still see it in the same light that the painter intended. I am confident that he will appreciate it even more as an example of how we can be inspired by flawed people and their works.

All of us are paintings. Maybe some of us have dirty ears, or wear unclean clothes, or a number of other character flaws.  However, let us not focus on the flaws of others,  but rejoice in the painter, who is God our Father. We are His beautiful workmanship. While all of us, His children, have deficiencies,  let us focus on the positive and learn to develop a habit of looking for the good in others, not the bad.

As  children we were riding home from church one Sunday when the older girls started picking on the looks of a young man. My mother was listening and after hearing such talk, turned  to them and said, “Yes, but he has such nice teeth.”  My sisters were rendered speechless. My Mother always looked for the good in someone, a trait all of us should emulate!

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The Greatest Man To Ever Ride In My Car

TheDiscipleMD

Many years ago I received a last minute phone call at my office asking if I would be available to drive an important business magnet and church leader to a meeting that evening. I said I would, and since within hours I needed to be on the road,  the first thought that came to mind was, “How clean is my car?”  The self imposed question was more of the retorical type, since, as the father of five small children, I knew it was a mess.  I hurriedly told my sectretary that I would be gone for the rest of the day as I walked out the door, and immediatly set out to clean the beast that was parked outside my office building. With great effort I vacumned the inside and detailed it like a professional. Then I hand washed the car till it shined of gold. When I picked up the dignitary that day, my car looked better than the day I drove it off the dealers lot.

A few years ago I invited my Father over for Christmas dinner, which he accepted.  Since he is getting up in age I offered to pick him up, which offer he gratefully accepted.  Christmas morning as I was getting ready to leave,  my wife asked if the car was clean. I replied,  “No, but my Dad doesn’t care about that type of thing.”  She answered back, “Yes, but it would be nice.” As I thought of her response I remembered how I had taken such effort to clean my car when I had to drive that “VIP” years earlier and I couldn’t help but think that my Father deserved to be respected by me far more than that man.

So, I painstakingly detailed the car till I felt it was fit for a man of his stature.  I stopped at the Carwash on my way to pick him up so that it shined just so! I know that my Dad didn’t care about the look of my car or weather it was perfectly clean on the inside.  I’m sure that he didn’t care if it shined like the sun or was covered in the dust of the day, but I didn’t clean it to impress him. I made it sparkle because that is the way you should present yourself, and your life,  to the greatest man who ever rode in your car.

Death

There Is No Language For This Loss

TheDiscipleMD

She stood in black. I didn’t know what to say. The death had been so sudden. I was at a loss. I extended my hand and offered my condolences, but no words could convey my thoughts and emotions. Echoing in her mind were the words of a recent song:

“Now everybody’s come. My loved ones file by. I stand here feeling numb, while family and friends hug me as they cry. There is no language for this loss.” (“Don’t Know What to Say”, Olivia Newton-John, Liv On, 2016)

Now everybody’s left and they have gone on with their lives! The world is till turning but the feeling is not the same for those left behind. As she stands looking out her bedroom window she ponders her emotions.

“Now so much time has past but for me it is standing still. And way too soon they’ll ask that I stop looking back, I hope someday I will.” (“Don’t Know What to Say”)

This love we feel for others is the most divine gift given to us by a loving Father. It is the essence of who we are and what we so desire to take with us. As Paul stated to the Romans:

“…the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (6:23)

If you have ever stood in black, there really is ‘no language’ for the loss. But there is a name by which we can draw strength, comfort and hope. The greatness of the gospel of Christ is that we can stop looking back. Time does move forward and the loss and grief we feel now will be replaced with the love we so deserve and desire. Is there any greater doctrine of which I would want to embrace?

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I Just Do!

TheDiscipleMd

One lesson I learned during the first years of my marriage is that expressing your love and devotion to your wife is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, the law of the Lord has always been complete and full giving of one’s heart and soul to your husband or wife.

I am not sure how or why we end up marrying “the one.” But when I think of all the women who have lived, are living and will live, the chances of meeting and then marrying “the one” is far beyond numerical calculation. The odds are infinitesimal! With that in mind I have come to understand the unique relationship of the individual and of a couple.

There are many reasons I married my wife but I think it is best summed up by a conversation that I had with her not too long ago. As we were riding in the car and for no apparent reason, I said to her that I loved her. She looked at me and replied, “Really….Why?” And you know, at that moment I could have said a thousand things about “Why.” I could have repeated the words from a love song or perhaps a poem could have embodied my true emotion. But no flowery words or poetic songs seemed to capture the real reason. So my answer to her that night was “I just do!”  “I just do” meant that I love her for all that she is, both good and bad. Loving someone is more than just loving the good side of who they are. It’s also being patient with and being understanding of the “prickly” side. You know, the side that is not so easy to embrace. But if you truly love someone you seem to eventually even love “that” side as well.

My wife’s good side is much greater than her bad side, but true love to me, is loving the totality of the person. And that kind of love is hard to put in words but might be best expressed by Paul when he wrote to the Ephesians these words, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it… So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.(Ephesians 5:25, 28)

“I just do” may be a simplistic way of expressing our deepest love for our spouses, but the word “do” implies action such as was demonstrated by the Savior towards the church.  Words are great, but our actions always speak louder than our words. May we show our love by so “doing!”

 

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