The Company We Keep Can Lift Us Up Or Drag Us Down: Do We Really Practice What We Know To Be True?


In my senior year of high school I was given the award for the “Most Improved Varsity Wrestler.” I earned the award because in my junior year I had a losing record as a varsity wrestler. Most of the matches were close but I came out on the losing end of the matches more often than winning. In my senior year I miraculously turned things around, losing only one match during the regular season. I  took 2nd  in the county championships, became the regional champion and finished 4th in the entire state.  A remarkable turnaround!

It was, however, years before I recognized the main reason I had accomplished such a turnaround. The reason for my success was tied to the fact that my wrestling partner most of the year was a lowly sophomore who was bold, brash, and cut from the same cloth as a Mohammed Ali. He arrived at the school and word quickly circulated that he was bragging around school that he could beat anyone of us on the wrestling team. We seniors didn’t take kindly to his bragging. When wrestling season started I didn’t like him because of his brashness but when the coach told us to work together for the entire year I knew I needed to change my attitude. It wasn’t long before I became friends with Loran and we forged a friendship. He and I wrestled everyday together, often harder than the others. We took each other seriously and we never wanted to let the other get the upper hand in practice.

I was reminded of Loran when I visited my old High School a number of years ago. There immortalized on the walls of the gym are the names of the “Wrestling State Champions” since it was founded.  My high school was built around the 1960’s so it has now stood for some 60 years.  As I gazed at the wall, there were only four names of young men who had earned a state title in all that time. One of them was my old friend Loran.

It was years after graduating from high school that I  came to recognize that I had been the recipient of “the company that I keep.”  Wrestling with Loran everyday had brought out the best in me. He had made me try harder  by encouraging me to sharpen my skills, molding me into a champion I would become that senior year.

While wrestling champions are of little significance in the eternities, “the company that we keep” on a daily basis can lift us to heights of exaltation or bring us down to the depths of hell. I have been blessed to associate with men and women of honor and dignity through my church and professional associations.  I have stated a number of times in meetings:

“Whose life wouldn’t be blessed by associating with men and women like you!”

We need to keep our life in order, so that we can be the kind of people that “lift” others to greater heights an may we have the wisdom to “keep the company” of men and women that will bless, uplift, and ultimately help us become the champions of our Savior.

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