It's said that young men speak of the future because they have no past, and old men speak of the past because they have no future. ..Today, since I consider myself neither of the two (speakin' missionary time here, haha -- don't worry, I know I'm only 20), I want to talk to you about a little of both today.
For each of us, life is a journey. ..Am I right? It may not be the most extensive journey we'll ever be a part of -- but it's quite the journey nonetheless. Heavenly Father designed it for us out of love. Each of us has certain experiences and unique characteristics that give us great variety among each other -- But, our journey began in the same place.
We were taught by Elohim, the Father of our Spirits. We loved him, and wanted to be like Him, and to be with Him forever. He told us plainly what it would take for us to be able to obtain that kind of joy.
First, we would have to receive a body. Some would get a Ferrari, others maybe a Geo Metro -- but they would all be of use to us, regardless. We needed a body that could run, jump, feel taste, sense and altogether help us really be alive. But, we would also be subject to illness, broken hearts as well as bones, the processes that would lead us to death, and all of the powerful cravings for physical satisfaction. Heavenly Father continued to explain that not only that, but a loss of our memory would also be required, so that we could "walk by faith, rather than by sight" and obey and follow our Heavenly Father's plan because of our faith in Him; not because of our knowledge or memory of Him. We would experience trials because of this, and most certainly be deceived to choose other paths and ofttimes lose our way. But, if we allowed them to, these trials would purify us instead of defeat us, which would be necessary in our learning to overcome the trials we would face from both life itself and the natural result of our breaking His commandments. The last requirement: We would not be able to do it alone.
You know from the scriptures there was a certain number of Heavenly Father's children who chose not to participate in this journey that was offered to us. These Spirits were afraid. They did not want to run any risk that they might not be able to make it back when all was said and done. They weren't confident. They didn't trust in themselves or in Heavenly Father's promises.
..But every one of YOU was among the brave, the faithful, and the true in that ultimate conflict. You are remarkable -- each one of you, even among those who chose right in the contest in the Spirit world. You qualified to come into mortality and to make this journey at a time when the Gospel of Jesus Christ was on the Earth. Not only that, but among the billions and billions of Heavenly Father's children now living, you were privileged to find the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His true church. Isn't that amazing? Perhaps you've taken that for granted. ..Perhaps you let it drive and uplift you each and every day.
However, Satan and his legion of fallen angles wants more than anything, as you know, for you to be miserable. He wants to put out the light that you have inside of you. He knows you and your goodness. He knows your power to teach and influence -- as a parent, missionary, friend, or peer -- hundreds of Heavenly Father's children, which would mean thousands of His children in generations to come. He knows that if he can get you to wander away from the right path -- he won't just bring harm to you, but to many. We make choices every day that keep us walking toward or away from the light of the Gospel. ..Some of the most important choices are what we set our hearts upon. What are the desires of your heart? What are those treasures that you lay up in store?
There are so many things that we consider admirable -- for example, the approval of other people. All of us want, to some degree, that approval. We want the "you belong here, with us" stamp. We feel a need for friends. All of us are searching for some evidence that we are people of worth.
I remember my childhood in a very unique way. My parents divorced when I was only 4 -- but I didn't so much remember the fighting and yelling as I do the simple anticipation to get to see my dad every other weekend, and how much I loved spending time with my mother after those visits. It was so fun to be a part of two totally different worlds. I remember lots of extra birthday presents, and "Double Christmas"es, along with an endless array of friends and acquaintances across all walks of life. My father -- a unique, valiant, man of heart-- and my mother, the most selfless, hard working human being I'll ever know have influenced me greatly. I have always sought their approval. We moved a lot, growing up -- but I only remember the surplus of friends I was able to meet and become close with because of the multiple changes in schools. From Maeser Elementary, to Spring Creek up to the middle of fifth grade, and Twin Peaks Elementary to finish off 5th and 6th grade, I found some of my very best friends to this day. I was even privileged to be the President of my elementary school. ..My friends were important to me. However, I had to leave those friends again when we made the final move to where we live now, in Holladay, Utah.
When I started school at Evergreen Jr. High, I was a lot less confident in my ability to make friends because.. well, there were so many more people to meet. It wasn't just one class anymore. With 8 classes spread out among 2 days, and not a single person I knew outside of my older sister, Nix, I was pretty lonely. 7th grade came and went, and I had 3 friends I could count on to make my life a little more fun. We would have sleepovers and play video games until 5am, eating pizza for breakfast and wrestling when we were bored. We watched movies and tried to invite girls over (sometimes being successful) and would always talk about how we'd be the "coolest kids in school" someday. That was what was so important to us. We looked up to and idolized those who walked with popularity and influence in the hallways of our childhood. Everyone knew who the "cool kids" were. We'd talk about them almost every day. When we got together we'd swap stories -- which cool kids were in who's class, where they sat in relation to us, and if we'd had any noteworthy or remarkable interactions with them that day. ..It was unreal. We were lucky to rub shoulders with these Jr. High giants, and it always boggled my mind to think about why it was that way in the first place.
I remember a particular day the following year, where, in a Pre-Algebra class taught by a "Mrs. Lambert", I found my new seat in class placed among three of those beforementioned "cool kids". Hanna Thatcher to my left, Brock Bettilyon behind me, and Derek Allred to my right. I told my friends the day after our seats had been changed-- we could all hardly believe it. And so went my 8th grade year. I kept to myself mostly, and thought every part of those kids sitting next to me was just.. beyond cool. From pen-spinning tricks to the "Tall-Tee"s they would drown themselves in, I wanted to be just like them. Not just to be cool, however, my object was to become that kind of powerful character. For instance, as I kept to myself in class, I got in a lot less trouble and got a lot better grades that those that weren't quite as focused. That being said, they noticed and would ask for help on assignments, quizzes, and tests. The fact that I probably would have done, and basically did, everything that they asked completely amazed me. ..In only 8th grade. Isn't that wild? All I wanted to do was to obtain some kind of recognition - some form of acceptance that they, who, for whatever reason I entirely respected and looked up to, respected me as well. .. That kind of influence on a person at that age blew my mind. I wanted to nothing more than to become such an influence -- in the best way possible.
Then, one day, though I was somewhat clumsy, still a little chubby, and slightly friendless, Hanna Thatcher reached out to me one day while talking among her peers in class. At my Jr. High School everyone met after school on Fridays, just outside the side doors to discuss where they would go and what they would do during the weekend. ..As they talked in the middle of class that Friday, I couldn't help but want to be a part of it SO badly. I listened, feeling a little lift out, once again, not really really looking forward to the chores I would have to do when I got home that day. Weekends were harder for me, growing up. They were the only times I could see my dad as a kid, and as I made the final move to Holladay, I distinctly remember coming home on multiple occasions in tears as I flopped onto the couch, discouraged and distraught at my lack of friends and enjoyment of school-- absolutely not looking forward to another weekend alone. ..I don't know quite why, but friends were always such a big part of my universe. My dad would always counsel me growing up that "you can never have too many friends" -- and so I suppose I always aimed to put that saying to the test. Having only enough friends to count on one hand was a little discouraging.
..as they continued to talk about the plans and happenings that weekend, Hanna asked me what I was doing that weekend, and swiftly invited me to join them in their adventures.
..That simple invitation to come and see, to be a part of what they were -- a group of friends-- changed everything.
I went on to do all sorts of other things, some small- others big- after obtaining that first step of self-confidence, and feeling loved and welcomed into a family of friends. That day, someone made a decision that not only affected me, but all the people I would ever meet and interact with, in some small way.
Remember that you're here, to make choices each and every day that will either keep you walking in the light, or inching away towards darkness. In football, we always learned that life was a game of inches: One step to slow, or too fast, you don't quite catch it, one inch too short, or too far, and you don't quite make it. ..Each inch is so valuable. It's the difference between winning and losing-- between living and dying! ..Someone reached out to me, with a question- giving me an inch. And that inch became the catalyst for so many other adventures I would just begin to experience.
Remember the worth of One.
It all starts
All the love,