Some articles are just fun to write. This was one of them.
I am one of those folks that loves people watching. Many times I find myself enjoying the interesting characters in the drama of life.
Take Roger Ridley of Santa Monica, CA, for example. I love his YouTube performance that I ran across a few years ago. Ridley’s epitaph was written by his sister, where she recounts Roger’s mega-hit video on Playing For Change, “Stand By Me.” The performance had reached 50 million at that time. The video is currently at 126 million with no end in sight. Sadly for all of us, Roger passed away eight years ago. Thankfully, his music lives on.
There are dozens of others in the Playing for Change movement, and millions more creating music all around us. Each has unique characteristics and talents, like Grandpa Elliott from New Orleans, USA and Blind Boy Paxton in New York City, USA. “Redemption Song” and many more are among my favorites.
I think that somehow we are apt to consider our value less by the sheer fact that there are billions of other people on the earth. “I can’t be that important. I am just one of billions of others.” Somehow, the fact that we are a single entity in the mass of humanity can cause us to lose hope or think that we can never achieve value or significant importance. That is another reason that I love Playing for Change: these seemingly innocuous people that were once relatively unknown and unappreciated are not just household names, but their attainments warrant millions of views on YouTube for sharing a talent that brightens others’ day.
What did the Savior say about our worth? What did He do?
Volumes have been written about the teachings of Jesus Christ, and numerous books of scripture testify of His reality in our lives. His lessons are many. I wish to mention just two:
We are promised that our Heavenly Father is aware of us all. The scriptures use the comparison that even a sparrow does not fall to the ground without our Father’s notice. He reminds us that we have nothing to fear, because we are of more value than many sparrows.
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
The Lost Sheep
A favorite parable taught by Jesus while He lived on the earth was that of the lost sheep. Still beloved today, it helps us to realize that we are all important in our Savior’s eyes. The idea of Christ leaving the “ninety and nine” to come find us—the one who is lost and desperately needs Him—helps us feel hope, warmth, and comfort.
3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
Humble and Kind
When my dad was still alive, I could always depend on him to cheer me up. Don’t get me wrong; I am a pretty happy fellow. I find a great deal of my happiness in helping others and trying to be the kind of person that I would like to be around. I am weak, however, and often don’t measure up to the person my parents think I am.
Ha. Who am I kidding? I have never measured up to the kind of person my parents think I am! But I guess that is why I enjoy being with them so much. They treat me like I am really something special, and that feels good.
When I was a boy, I had plenty of shortcomings and misgivings. My family was there for me, though, and they made me feel important and loved despite the opposition that I faced. That continued later as a young man, but external forces like friends, social interactions, and, of course, church, played a bigger role in my life.
Now, as a father, my focus has changed to church and religion for guidance and direction handling family issues, meeting social obligations, and achieving the goals I have been working for my whole life. I have always known that my beliefs were important and sustaining, but I did not always recognize the degree of influence they would have in my and my family’s life. It seems so obvious now that I can’t believe I did not fully realize it earlier, but some things must be learned through experience.
My dad used to enjoy listening to songs that my son produced. On the occasions when we would play his music, my dad would ask for a copy of the lyrics so he could follow the words along with the melody, and for him it made the songs that much better. By reading the words, he could capture and enjoy the song’s full meaning. The interesting thing that I learned from him through this small gesture was the importance of focusing on content in order to derive the most joy and guidance in our lives.
That is exactly what we receive every time we watch, listen to, or read the general conference messages.
Making Time for the Important
I just went on a trip with my family. I feel it was a life-changing opportunity. We spent a week together by the ocean. One of my impressions was the consistency of the waves. I still think it is miraculous. The tide was high; the tide was low—but no matter what, the waves were there. We played, we ate, and we kept busy the entire time. The waves never stopped. During everything we did, they just kept going in and out and never ceased—not once.
Since we left our bit of paradise and have now returned home, the waves still splash on the rocks and smooth the sand. Day and night, they consistently continue their back-and-forth on countless beaches all around the world. It is an amazing fact that has continued day after day and year after year for centuries.
That is just like the gospel of Jesus Christ. It helps you and me in every part of our lives, no matter what we do. It has the ability to change our lives if we will let it. This past weekend’s general conference is an example of this. This gathering has been happening for decades, and sessions since 1976 are even recorded online for our perusal.
Again, this is just one of dozens of example and hundreds of ways that the gospel blesses our lives.
Many today feel alone and isolated in a sea of people. In the Church, you need never feel on your own. We face obstacles together as a ward family. I literally have hundreds of examples, but for the purposes of this article, I will provide just two:
The Church has grown to fill the earth with its influence. There are thousands of church buildings all around the world where members meet to worship and renew covenants. Each night around 10 o’clock, priesthood quorum members participate in something called building lockup. A couple brethren in the ward check that the building is secure. This would be impossible to do in the aggregate on your own, but the task takes approximately ten minutes after arriving at the building—thousands of buildings every night.
Monthly ministering is another example of the magnitude of the influence of the Church. There are approximately 16 million members of the Church throughout the world. When we do our jobs, every one of them gets a personal visit from a representative of the Church every month. Formerly, this was called home and visiting teaching. Now the term has changed to “ministering” in an effort to focus on the important needs of helping others, assisting our neighbors, and following the Savior’s example. This too is a sort of checkup to ensure the needs and security of our ward and church family are met.
Again, I can provide dozens of examples, but the consistency, repetition, and reliability speaks for itself. Just like those waves that never stop, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to give to and bless members as well as those who are not of our faith. It never stops.
That is something you can bank on.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.