Often Our Fears Are Unfounded!

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Many years ago we lived in a small town in northern Idaho. We were excited to build a modest home for our growing family. Our three small children ranged from the age of five to one. Our neighbors to one side were as nice as can be. On the other side was a family that moved out shortly after we finished building our house. The new neighbor was a single man who looked nice enough. Within a week of his move-in we were out in the yard with the kids when our new neighbor came out to do some yard work. It wasn’t long before I heard a blue streak of obscenities coming out of his mouth. I glanced over to see him pacing around his yard screaming words into the heavens. They were words that would embarrass even the most hardened sailor. It was a scary feeling so I gathered up the kids and retreated to the safety of our new home. I didn’t know how to react to this situation. I will confess that I thought it rather arrogant of this man to shout such obscenities in the presence of my wife and kids. I came to the conclusion that this man was dangerous! What to do, what to do? Should I call the police? Should I confront him, or should I do nothing? I soon found out that his man was suffering from a rare form of Tourette Syndrome.

“Tourette’s was once considered a rare…syndrome, most often associated with the exclamation of obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remakes, but this symptom is present in only a small minority of people with Tourett’s. ” (Wikipedia).

Once I understood that my neighbor was suffering from Tourett’s, my fear subsided and I realized that my anger towards him was based in ignorance. From time to time he would still have outbursts, but, with my new-found education, I reacted differently. I no longer felt fear, but, rather sympathy for a man who suffered from a debilitating handicap.  I was taught, once again, that my judgement was based on limited information. I continue to make assessments about others, but I try to reserve my final judgement till all the facts are in. Sometimes that is never! Judgement is an important use of our agency, but we must use righteousness when we do so.

As I grow older and interact with other people, I realize just how little I know about them,  and how little most know about me. We do have reason to be fearful of some in this life. But, I’ve found that if we take the time to objectively learn about others, often our fears are unfounded. And I guess, I might add, that taking the time to educate ourselves while living in ‘fearful’ times, such as today;  is also a way we can deal with fear so we are not left unnecessarily paralyzed.

Stanton ‘The Statue’

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Like many boys of my era every summer I played little league baseball. One of the young boys that played on my team for years was a boy by the name of Stanton. Stanton was not very good and seldom played. But when he did play, each time he came to bat he would get in his stance; hold his bat high, and then stay in that same position for the entire at bat. He never swung the bat or even adjusted himself at the plate. If three strikes were thrown before four balls, he would strike out. If four balls were thrown by the pitcher before three strikes, he would receive a walk. No matter what happened, he would never move once he got in the batters box. The pitch could be wild and bounce around the backstop with the catcher running after it. Most boys would step out of the batters box, adjust themselves, take a practice swing and get back into the box; but not Stanton. He never moved…no matter what! Soon, some of the boys tagged him with the nickname, “Stanton the Statue,” a nickname that stuck and was used as a source of joking by a number of my teammates. I must admit it was comical to see him at the plate never flinching, never moving, standing as still as a statue.

A number of  years ago I received a surprising email in my box. It was from this long ago childhood teammate. I opened his email and read his opening line which said:

“Scott, perhaps you don’t recall who I am, but you might remember me from the days we played baseball together when everyone called me “Stanton the Statue!”

I laughed out loud when I read that line. He went on to write some pleasantries and closed his email in hopes I would respond back, which I did. However, the thing that struck me most was that here it was forty plus years later and he introduced himself to me as “Stanton the Statue,” a name that had been used to deride him and given to him by insensitive teasing boys. It made me wonder just how much damage can be done to our self-worth when we allow the world around us to define who we are? And if we do allow the world around us to define who we are, don’t we become a slave to its tenants?

Wouldn’t it be wiser for us to embrace the view that we are of royal birth and that a loving Heavenly Father holds us in high esteem! We should allow him to define who we are! His view of us is found in the scriptures. In Luke we read:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear yet not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrow.”

In John 10:14-15 we read, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Isn’t it exhilarating to be known, by name, by the almighty God of us all? A few years ago I visited one of my sisters in the west, and had the opportunity to pronounce a priesthood blessing upon her. As we spoke following the blessing she made this emotional statement in reference to the blessing:

“It is wonderful to know that Heavenly Father knows who I am!”. How profound! Indeed it is wonderful to know that we are counted by the Lord. He has promised to us the “ministering of Angels.” He provides much of that ministering through His servants. People like you and I as well as many others! May we be worthy of that title!

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you; And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.”(D&C 78:17-18).

My long ago teammate, Stanton, stopped playing baseball soon after the nickname of “The Statue” was given to him. But it appears that, after decades, the memory of being made fun of still seems to linger in his mind. How unfortunate! Sometimes we can be so cruel to one another! It is a great blessing to know that we are sons and daughters of a loving Father who knows who we are and values each of us. Let our self-worth be set by Him and not by the world. He has revealed unto us of our royal heritage! We are statues infinitely more valuable than the price tag given to us by man.  (Looking at faded picture: Stanton-far left middle row, I’m on first row 2nd from right.)

Waiting For ‘The Iron Horse To The City Of Angels’

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“And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.” (Rev. 21:25)

The sounds of the station are so vibrant and filled with ‘colors my world.’  The bustle of the passengers, and  the shouts of the vendors are all about us.  Life is at it’s zenith, yet at the end of everyday we wait…wait…wait to hear our names called and for the conductor to punch our ticket to board the train that leads back to our home.  But it’s always the name of someone else called each day.   Most often the names are of those we don’t know, strangers and the sort. But the longer we live, the more often the names of those we love come up. And so they leave us, often without even having the chance to say ‘goodbye,’ never to return. Yes, the train to sights unseen comes back everyday,  but never with any return passengers on board.

One thing we all understand is that one day our name will be called. Our ticket will be punched, and we will board that train that will take us to an unearthly destination. A destination that, for believers in Christ, holds hope, joy and peace.  For believers, that train will take them to a place of respite, and glory. Indeed, for the faithful, the promises of the Savior of,  “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” (Matthew 25:34) will be realized.

For a few, the names of all who they have ever loved have been called, and their personal platform at the station is empty, and they are left standing alone…waiting, waiting…waiting. And while these disciples of Christ, are left alone at the station, they enjoy life because either way, when you are waiting for the train to return home, both the excitement of the trip, and of the anticipated reunion, hold joy beyond measure.

That’s the greatest blessing I find in having faith in Jesus Christ while I am waiting for the ‘Iron Horse’ to Zion.  It’s the hope that someone will be waiting on the other side to pick me up when I disembark, and that the City of Angels will be everything I have ever imagined!  I hope the countryside is as beautiful as I have pictured in my mind! I hope my loved ones will be there! I hope to see my Savior, Jesus Christ! I hope there will be no night!  I hope!

(Pictured- My then 88 year old Father-Shoshone, Idaho who got on “The Iron Horse to Zion” in 2020.)

But He Has Such Beautiful Feet! (In Appreciation Of Spouses Everywhere)

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A few years ago I had the opportunity to sit down with my sister-in-law and reminisce about her now deceased husband who was my brother. Cancer had taken him at the young age of fifty-nine. She related to me that when my brother was in his last days of life, she stood by his bed and happened to notice what beautiful feet he had. She smiled and said, “I thought, ‘How can he be dying when he has such beautiful feet!’” I also smiled as the picture she painted came to my mind. It’s interesting how such minor things come into sharp focus when we are faced with the great tests in our lives.

It has now been more than ten years since my brother passed away. Recently his widow told my wife, “I used to get upset when he left his clothes on the floor. Now I would do anything to have the privilege of picking them up.” Encompassed in her statement is the key to happiness of marriage in this life.

My wife is a ‘connoisseur’ of McDonald’s Diet Coke. One sip and she can tell you if it meets her approval. On occasion when a drink hasn’t passed her ‘test’, I will have to find another McDonald’s close by that will deliver the approved drink. Now and again I show some irritation regarding this “drink tasting” festival on wheels. But I know the day will come when we won’t be able to share this experience together. When that day comes, and no matter what side of the veil I am on, I am sure that I will wish for one more trip to the local McDonald’s with her riding shotgun. I will wish to see in her face that nod of approval she gives me when the ingredients put together that day in that drink pass her test.

Unlike my sister-in-law who now wishes for, and misses, the small things she and my brother shared together, I still have my beloved beside me. Perhaps I should remember that the next time something small she does irritates me. Perhaps I should thank the Lord that I  still have her by my side. Maybe I should be more grateful for the little things about her that I will miss when she or I am gone. Maybe I should love her more fully. Maybe I should be more grateful to the Lord that through him and by him I have the chance of being with my wife for the eternities. Maybe I should look at her beautiful feet and cherish them more often.

 

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