Yes, that’s me. What a cutie. I’m guessing it was taken almost 50 years ago. Now why would I trot out an ancient photograph of myself? Because a couple of things have driven my introspection over the past 24 hours. (An as you know, when I am feeling self-reflective, you’ll know it.) Today’s topic: How that kid became this man.
First, last night my friend Lori dragged us into a Facebook vortex by posting a personality type test. You know the kind – they ask a zillion questions, many impossible to answer, then lump everyone into a pre-defined personality type. For the record, I turned out to be an “ESTP,” which means I am of the same personality type as Stephen R. Covey, FDR, Taylor Swift, and the Marquis de Sade. Yeah, I don’t know what to make of it, either.
I am a bit of a cynic. Until I see a personality test or a horoscope that offers insight like “You are mean to children and old people,” I will brush them off.
The test DID get me thinking about why I am like I am. What influences, behaviors, genetics and experiences melded and molded me into who I am today? Add to it out knowledge of the eternal nature of our spirits and their associated personalities, it gets even harder to decipher. Yet here I am – Me – and I am the only one.
Last night, we went to see the movie “Wonder.” If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it highly. If you’ve read the book, you know the story.
Here is the synopsis as found on Fandango:
“A ten-year-old boy with a facial deformity attends school for the first time when he begins the fifth grade. With the support of his mother and father, he learns how to make friends and adjust to his new environment. Meanwhile, those around him learn not to judge a book by its cover.” (link)
What the synopsis doesn’t mention is that it is also a beautifully addressed broadside at bullying and unkindness. I know everyone has experienced those things to one degree or another. Yet it was childhood memories that caused me to watch this movie through teary eyes, and occasional ugly sobs. It tore me up.
I was not bullied as a young kid, but a bit in high school. For the most part, I had a pretty great childhood. What tore at my heart, and pried open memories from long ago was that I identified with “Via,” the main character’s sister, and how her life fit in. Watching it play out onscreen was hard, yet cathartic. I wrote a little bit about that aspect of my childhood previously, so please indulge me…
I grew up with two brothers – one older, one younger. My older brother struggled with severe mental and physical handicaps. He had a difficult childhood as he tried to make his way through “Special Ed” schools, surgeries, medications, and social stigma. It was hard for him. Nevertheless he was a happy soul, full of kindness, energy and love.Most of the time.
I remember one afternoon, I was out riding my bike with my friends after school, because that’s what eight-year-olds did back then. We heard a siren, and watched to see where it was coming from, so we could chase the fire engine – again, because that’s what eight-year-olds did back then. We not only saw a fire truck, but an ambulance and a police car! We peddled furiously to get to where they were going.
As we drew closer, I realized that there was a police car already parked in my driveway. I stopped. My friends circled back and encouraged me to keep up. By this time, the fire engine, and the ambulance had arrived, and were parked in front of my house, along with a gathering crowd.
I turned my StingRay around, and peddled off. I spent the next few hours avoiding my house. I knew what had happened: My brother had had another one of his “episodes” and this one must have been a doozy. The specifics didn’t matter – I just wanted to be somewhere else. Anywhere else.
Eventually, I went home. Not because I wanted to, but it was starting to get dark, and I was terrified about how angry my parents were going to be for pulling a vanishing act. But I needed to go home, and find out what had happened.
I don’t remember the details. The house was quiet. My parents were in their room. I think I talked to my big sister, ate something, and went to bed. There was no anger. To this day, I’m not sure that anyone even noticed that I had even been gone.
That was just one of the things that irritated me about growing up with a handicapped brother. Sure, I loved him, and have many happy memories of him from my childhood, but there are other, less noble memories. There were times that I resented him, because his needs were always more urgent. I was embarrassed by him, and felt I was constantly having to explain about him, or apologize for him, to other people. We had little in common, but thankfully, I had a sister who filled the older sibling role perfectly. I’m not proud of those feelings, and I wasn’t back then – but that was my reality.
Sadly, on some days – like that day – I was afraid of him. Once in a while, when pressures, or medications or emotions were out of whack, violence could appear. It was rare, but it was scary. And dangerous. And that is all you need to know.
For me, one of the more difficult parts of growing up has been learning how to accept my brother. It is a process that was accelerated when he passed away some years ago, but I’m not finished yet. I still deal with regret and remorse that I did not love him more, try to understand him more, and defend him more. Now, with grownup eyes, I look back at his life and I am awed at what he was able to accomplish, given the specific challenges he faced. My life is so easy, so complete, so fulfilling. I get to experience the joy of marriage and children, and so many other things he never could.
I have come to the conclusion that my brother has secured a very exalted place in the heavens above, and I anticipate that when I get there, I will probably need to make an appointment just to see him.
So “Wonder” did hit some chords with me. Now here I sit with my “ESTP” personality wondering how I got to be who I am, and what things helped that to happen. Admittedly, it is usually an exercise in focusing on the negative traits I might wrestle with. Why? Because of a movie and an internet test. This could go south, except…
Self-reflection can be a good thing, if it leads to change. Maybe there is something in my personality test that reinforces a nagging feeling in my heart that I just might need to make some adjustments. Perhaps some feelings I had from my childhood have impacted me in a way that might require some adjusting. I say this fully aware that my upbringing was pretty darn good. I had stable, loving parents, everything a kid could ask for, and Gilligan. So many have not had such good fortune.
I have a friend who is knee-deep in writing a memoir that tells the story of a much tougher life. Writing it down requires wrestling some ghosts and demons that have long been dormant. It has been a difficult but worthwhile process.
Back in the 80’s there was an obscure song by the band “James.” I mostly remember it because of one lyric.
“Stop, stop talking about who’s to blame, when all that counts is how to change.”
That simple phrase often comes to mind as I see examples in a society that is focused on victimhood, and its associated justifications. Do I cling to past slights or experiences as justification to accept things about myself that could be improved upon? Has the thought “That’s just the way I am,” ever crossed my mind?
Do I have character traits that stem from my life experiences or upbringing that could use some remodeling? Probably.
Is that kind of change even possible? Is it possible to let go of guilt that has been hoarded for decades? Is it possible to let go of feelings or grudges held and nurtured for a lifetime? Yes, but it can be difficult. But that is the nature of our challenge here in this life: To change.Thankfully we have the Gospel and the Savior.
“The essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ entails a fundamental and permanent change in our very nature made possible through the Savior’s Atonement.” (Elder David A. Bednar)
Just this past April, Elder Jeffrey Holland said, “Come as you are,” a loving Father says to each of us, but He adds, “Don’t plan to stay as you are.” We smile and remember that God is determined to make of us more than we thought we could be.” (link)
The very purpose of Gospel of Jesus Christ is to help us change, and become better versions ofourselves.
I fear that sometimes we reduce the effect of the Atonement to that of a “spiritual car wash.” We show up every Sunday (as we should) with repentant hearts, take the sacrament and leave, happy to be cleansed. That is true and worthy, but it minimizes the tremendous additional impact that is available. Rather than just a spiritual car wash, the Atonement can function as a spiritual mechanic and body shop – perpetually rebuilding, adjusting and fine-tuning.
“Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace.” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson,Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988, p. 361.)
Am I insecure at times? You betcha. As I should be. One of the dumbest feel-good expressions I hear nowadays is “You are perfect just the way you are.”
So much nonsense! If I were perfect the way I am, I wouldn’t need to depend on the Savior and His Atonement. He – along with the Holy Ghost to help with the heavy lifting – can help me make the changes I need to make. Because that is why I am here.
I am grateful that a worthy movie, conversation or prompting can stir my heart to remembrance of the blessings and challenges in my life, and also the reminder that I am yet a work in progress – and will continue to be until I draw my last breath.
What is the meaning of Matthew 25 40? ›
Matthew 25:35-36, 40 (NIV) God wants our lives to overflow with mercy, love, and compassion — the marks of His kingdom. As followers of Jesus, we have a choice: respond to unsettling realities in fear and withdraw, or follow Him in responding to the greatest needs of our day with love and hope.What is the meaning of Matthew 7 1? ›
In this verse Jesus warns that one who condemns others will themselves be condemned. The rest of the Bible, including the very next verse, make clear that all manner of judgment is not being condemned.Why did you make me this way Bible verse? ›
For who resists his will?" But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, `Why did you make me like this?' "What is the Bible verse Romans 10 9? ›
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.Why is Matthew 25 so important? ›
Matthew 25 illustrates the shocking depth of Jesus' love for the human race. His identification with “the least of these” is so profound that when we reach out to them with love and enter their pain, it is Jesus himself we are loving and embracing.How do you understand the text from Matthew 25 34 40? ›
In prayer allow the little word 'I' of this parable speak. Jesus invites us to visit him in prison, feed him in hunger, clothe him in coldness. Not just care for the people, but see and sense him in them. Allow a time of prayer to open the door to the presence of the Lord in everyone we meet.What is God's number one rule? ›
Gospel of Matthew
"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. ' This is the greatest and first commandment.
Explanation and Commentary of Matthew 7:7
Jesus explains that our Father in heaven loves to answer our prayers and give us that which we seek. He tells his disciples that just like a good father gives good things to his children, so will your Father when we sincerely ask, seek, and knock.
Introduction. Jesus Christ continued His Sermon on the Mount by teaching His disciples to judge righteously. He also taught about receiving personal revelation and doing Heavenly Father's will.What does the Bible say about questioning your faith? ›
"And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." "For we walk by faith, not by sight." "But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." "Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."
Where in the Bible does it talk about questioning God? ›
James 1:5-6. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.Who questioned God in the Bible? ›
When Thomas finally saw the risen Lord Jesus, all of his doubts went away (John 20:24-29). Gideon doubted the Lord could use him to turn the tide against the oppressors of the Lord. He tested the Lord twice, challenging Him to prove His reliability through a series of miracles. Only then would Gideon honor Him.What is the main message of Romans 10? ›
It was Paul's heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel that they may be saved. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Moses writes about righteousness that is based on the law, the person who does the commandments shall live by them.What is John 3 3 in the Bible? ›
John 3:3, KJV: Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.What does the Bible say about Romans 10? ›
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."What are your own crosses in life? ›
Definition: To deal with your burdens and problems. In the Bible, Jesus carried a cross that has come to be symbolic of the world's problems. Therefore, when people carry their own crosses, they are dealing with their own burdens.How do I prepare myself for God? ›
- Prepare Physically. • ...
- Read your Bible ahead of time. ...
- Pray for God to give you a good heart. ...
- Forgive and bear with each other. ...
- Purify your mind. ...
- Come with a spirit of teachability. ...
- Be prepared to think.
The journey of the master to another place and his return (Matt 25:14–15, Matthew 24:19; Luke 19:12, Luke 19:15) speaks of Christ's going away to Heaven at his ascension and his return as the time when he comes again.What does Matthew 25 31 46 teach us about taking care of the poor? ›
As God's children, He expects us to help everyone around us, especially the poor ones, because in our Lord's eyes we may be rich or poor, but we are all equal. Our Lord also expects us to be humble and generous to everyone, even to people who did bad things to us.What is the meaning of Matthew 24 34? ›
Within the same sequence of events and thoughts, Jesus' reference to 'this generation' in Matthew 24:34 is thus probably going back to Matthew 23:33 and 36 and most likely refers to this wicked spiritual generation of vipers who oppose God's kingdom and contribute in causing 'all these things' to happen.
What do you learn from Jesus personal connection with his children in Matthew 25? ›
The story that occurs in Matthew 25 reminds us that Jesus endured hunger and shame while He was on Earth. We obviously do not live in first century Middle East, and cannot change the life of Jesus as a human. However, when we take care of others, we do it as though we do it for Christ, because it is for Him!What is the most important thing God wants us to do? ›
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ' This is the first and greatest commandment.What is the Golden Rule of God? ›
Golden Rule, precept in the Gospel of Matthew (7:12): “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. . . .” This rule of conduct is a summary of the Christian's duty to his neighbour and states a fundamental ethical principle.What is the number for Jesus? ›
In some Christian numerology, the number 888 represents Jesus, or sometimes more specifically Christ the Redeemer. This representation may be justified either through gematria, by counting the letter values of the Greek transliteration of Jesus' name, or as an opposing value to 666, the number of the beast.What does Matthew 7 7 8 teach us? ›
Ask then and seek things righteous. For by asking and seeking grows the appetite of taking. God reserves for you those things which He is not willing to give you at once, that you may learn greatly to desire great things. Therefore we ought always to pray and not to fail.What does Matthew 7 6 teach us? ›
Matthew 7:1–6 delivers Jesus' declaration that His followers must not pronounce God's judgment on each other. Those who do try to take God's role in this way will be judged in the same way themselves. Human beings are not qualified to pronounce judgment because they are blind to their own sin.How do you ask and receive from God? ›
Ask God specifically for what you want.
Tell God what you want or need and ask Him to provide that for you. Be specific about your request. Even though God knows what you want and need, He wants you to ask Him for it. God can answer vague prayers, but being specific creates a deeper bond between you and Him.
The word used here refers specifically to dogs without a human master. They were unclean and would eat whatever scraps and carrion they came across. Pigs were the quintessential unclean animal and were closely associated with the Gentile communities in the region which kept them in large numbers.What is the meaning of Matthew 7 22? ›
In this verse he notes that even some who have performed miracles in his name would also be excluded. The verse does not deny that these unholy may have made correct prophecies and driven out demons. These were acts that in that era were commonly attributed to teachers and mystics.What is the meaning of Matthew 7 24 27? ›
In other words, they trust in their personal sufficiency rather than the sovereignty of God as their foundation, which is why Jesus encourages us to build our house upon the rock of His Word (Matthew 7:24-27) immediately after warning us we will not be saved on judgment day if our decision to follow Him does not result ...
How do you keep faith in difficult times? ›
- sleep support+ ...
- Be generous to others.
- Sometimes the greatest strength we can receive comes through helping others in need. ...
- Get inspired.
- Let inspiration help you stay connected through faith. ...
- Surround yourself with people you admire.
- We are how we spend our time.
He created people out of love for the purpose of sharing love. People were created to love God and each other. Additionally, when God created people, he gave them good work to do so that they might experience God's goodness and reflect his image in the way they care for the world and for each other.Does God want us to question him? ›
God wants us to seek Him without fear for answers to our questions. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.Who created God? ›
We ask, "If all things have a creator, then who created God?" Actually, only created things have a creator, so it's improper to lump God with his creation. God has revealed himself to us in the Bible as having always existed.Who in the Bible felt abandoned by God? ›
Ruth: A Story for When We Feel Abandoned by God - Groundwork Bible Study.Is it OK to test God? ›
Moses tells us–Jesus tells us–that we must not put God to the test. To test God means much more than trying to get Him to do a miracle; to test God is to insist that He prove that He is trustworthy. To test God is to look at today's difficulties and say, “A loving God would never let me suffer in this way.Who in the Bible struggled with trusting God? ›
Jonah wrestled with his faith because he knew God was going to be gracious and compassionate to those he felt didn't deserve it.What is the meaning of Romans Chapter 10 verses 9 and 10? ›
“Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God's work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That's it. You're not “doing” anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That's salvation.” (Romans 10:9, MSG).What is the meaning of Romans 10 1? ›
Context Summary. Romans 10:1–4 describes Paul's honest desire and prayer for the people of Israel to be saved through faith in Christ. He acknowledges their enthusiasm for God, but that cannot overcome their ignorance about how to reach God's righteousness. It is not through keeping the law; that's impossible.What does Romans 12 teach us? ›
Romans 12 highlights the social and community aspects of salvation. Paul was not writing to an individual but to the community of Christians in Rome, and his constant concern is their life together—with a special emphasis on their work.
Do you have to be born again to go to heaven? ›
Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, `You must be born again.What is born of water Spirit? ›
We believe we must be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (through an ordinance called confirmation) to be saved in the kingdom of heaven. The Savior taught, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).What does John 3 teach us? ›
Chapter 3 of John explains the main belief of the Christian faith. This chapter details how Jesus came into the world so that mankind would know the nature and character of God. It also refutes many of the long-held beliefs the Jews had had about God being an angry punishing God.How do you know if you are saved? ›
Put simply, our salvation depends solely on the person and work of Jesus Christ. As we continue to trust in him, we will experience the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives to make us more like Jesus. When we see this happening, our assurance that we truly are one of God's children grows.How do you get saved according to the Bible? ›
We receive salvation in Christ through repentance and faith. This means turning away from sinful ways (repentance) and turning to God (faith), trusting in Christ. Jesus will forgive your sins and set you on a path to life with Him. We cannot earn this right, it is His free gift.What is Romans 11 saying? ›
Paul is implying that there will come a day of success, when most Jews will accept Christ. Paul believes the majority will be saved — first a remnant of Jews, then a good number of Gentiles, then the majority of Jews, and finally another blessing for the Gentiles — the salvation of the great majority.What is the verse for Matthew 25 40? ›
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.What does the Bible mean by the least of these? ›
What Jesus says in Matthew 25 is not “conservative” or “liberal.” It's Christian, and has everything to do with how we treat other Christians. “The least of these” refers to other believers in need—specifically, itinerant Christian teachers dependent on other Christians for hospitality and support.What does the Bible say about caring for the least of these? ›
When asked when Jesus was ever hungry or thirsty or needed clothes, He replied “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” You see, one of the attributes of God is mercy. Our God is a merciful God.What does the parable of the sheep and the goats teach us? ›
The Parable of the Sheep and Goats strongly encourages Christians to take action to help those in need. In this parable, Jesus makes it clear that a life worthy of the reward of Heaven must involve actively helping people in need.
What does God say about homeless? ›
1 Samuel 2:8. “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. 'For the foundations of the earth are the Lord's; on them he has set the world. '”What can we learn from Matthew 24? ›
If we continually seek the Spirit, we will be prepared to meet the Lord. Through developing our talents and improving upon what the Lord has given us, we can prepare to meet the Lord. We show our love for God by the way we treat His children.Why is it called the 10/40 window? ›
The 10/40 Window is a rectangular geographic area stretching from North Africa through the Middle East to Asia, covering 68 countries. Its name comes from its position between 10 and 40 degrees north latitude.Who are the least in the kingdom of heaven? ›
' It is thus He speaks of these precepts of Christ, such as Thou shall not be angry, Thou shalt not lust, as 'the least;' and they who commit these lesser sins, are the least in the kingdom of God; that is, he who has been angry and not sinned grievously is secure from the punishment of eternal damnation; yet he does ...What does it mean when Jesus says whatever you do to the least of my brothers you do to me '? ›
The least of the brothers and sisters of Jesus are those persons who are vulnerable. They are the socially, psychologically or economically disadvantaged, such as the sick, the poor, the mentally and physically disabled.How did Jesus feel about children? ›
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.What are the basis for a man to be righteous? ›
A person is righteous coram deo, that is, he is in a right relationship with God, when he simply receives the imputed obedience of Christ and the forgiveness of sins through faith. This righteousness is passive and comes apart from the Law.What you do to others you do to me? ›
For “whatsoever you do to the least of your brothers and sisters, you do unto me,” says the Lord Jesus. Let us pray, reflect and as ourselves: Have I seen the Lord in my brothers and sisters? Did I give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and the prisoner?Where in the Bible does it say the poor will always be with us? ›
After all, Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11).What does a goat represent spiritually? ›
Goat meanings and symbolism include sure-footedness, desire, creative energy, revelry, tranquility, aspiration, and faith. The goat was the first domesticated animal.
What does sheep symbolize in the Bible? ›
Sheep are the followers of Christ, while goats chose not to follow Christ. The parable is based on the differences in behavior between sheep and goats. Sheep are gentle, quiet, innocent animals. They do not give their shepherds a lot of problems.What do sheep and goats represent in the Bible? ›
The Bible tells us, “for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ….” (2 Corinthians 5:10). You and I and every other person will be either on the right or left hand of Jesus. Those on the right hand, represented as sheep, are the saved. Those on the left hand, represented as goats, pictures the lost.