They say that a prophet should be a window to the Lord. I would say President Monson has been just that. I can’t pick up the phone and give him a call, ask him how he’s doing, offer him a blessing, or tell him what I think of his years of service… but I can write a blog… so here are the 5 things I wish I could tell President Monson this Sunday…
1. Wiggling Your Ears At Conference Taught Me A Huge Lesson On Life
Remember that time you wiggled your ears at priesthood session? Yeah… I do. I was sitting with a bunch of brothers and we were shocked! How did you do that?!
You told a story about how you were seated on the stand during a stake conference and saw a young boy in the congregation who was mimicking your every move. Cross a leg… the boy would do the same. Put your hands in your lap… the boy would follow. Rest your chin on your hand… and there the boy went. This went on for awhile until finally, you decided to “put him to the test.” You wiggled your ears and you had him!
But that small act taught me a huge lesson on life. That is… to not take yourself so seriously. I’m sure that boy will never forget that a prophet of God took the time to wiggle his ears at him during a stake conference. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Putting smiles on faces through small acts of kindness and service.
2. Your Enthusiasm Has Rubbed Off On Me
There was a time on my mission when I wasn’t doing so well. I was being negative about the constant rejection, hours of door knocking, and was honestly a little homesick. In a period of despair, I came across a time when you said that “The only thing more contagious than enthusiasm was a lack of enthusiasm.” When I read that, it hit me right in the gut. It reminded me that there are two types of people in this life: There are fountains and there are drains. Fountains are enthusiastically bringing life and love into every situation they encounter, while drains are continually sucking the life out of every good opportunity that surrounds them. I didn’t want to be “that guy” any longer. I wanted to be enthusiastic about the work and about every good or bad situation I’d encounter. Because of that quote… I’ve tried to live enthusiastically from day to day.
3. You’ve Helped Me Live In The Present
One of my cardinal weaknesses is that of not living in the present. I have a tendency to stress over the future and lament the past. I think this is one of the great stressors of our generation… but you reminded us that “there is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today.” You quoted Horace when he said, “Whatever hour God has blessed you with, take it with a grateful hand, nor postpone your joys from year to year, so that in whatever place you have been, you may say that you have lived happily.” I believe that if people lived according to this principle, worldwide happiness levels would increase 10 fold. I know that it has helped me “find joy in the journey.”
4. You Put People Over Process
You were all about the people… and we need more of that. In a world where everything is about getting things done, being busy, and striking another administrative item from our checklist, you taught me to slow down and think about the people we’re serving before anything else. Productivity and efficiency is great… but unless we slow down and think about the people we’re serving, all that we do in the church just becomes labor… instead of a labor of love.
One of the most impactful things I’ve ever heard from you was this:
“We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us. Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say “I love you” more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. Friends move away, children grow up, loved ones pass on. It’s so easy to take others for granted, until that day when they’re gone from our lives and we are left with feelings of “what if” and “if only.” Said author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”
5. I’ll Bet Frances Is Proud
From your first date/dance at the Pioneer stake building to the day you were married on October 7th, 1948, to the day she died on an early Friday morning, May 17, 2013… your “quiet and unassuming” wife of more than 64 years is probably beaming with pride (the good kind of pride) for the perseverance and commitment that you’ve shown to her and to the Lord.
Once you said, “Never once has she complained. Never once. Not in our entire married life has she done anything to keep me from any aspect of my service. I have never received anything but support and encouragement from Frances.”
I’ll bet that she’s extremely proud of the husband, father, and priesthood holder that you turned out to be. I would safely assume that it was never about a title or calling for her… but always about the condition of your heart that caused her to be so unwaveringly committed to you and to the cause. I’ll bet she awaits with eager anticipation the reunion she’ll eventually have with her eternal companion… you.
These are the five things I’d tell President Monson if I could, but there is so much more to say. These three words are going to have to sum it up: We. love. you!