Sunday August 3 2008 El Companero Dificil

Sunday Sermon
Good Sunday Morning to all!

As usual, it is my hope to inspire, uplift and encourage you noble reader. I give my usual disclaimer: I am only a fellow journey-er. I make plenty of mistakes. I ask that my fellow-man be patient with me.

In 1992 I was in Santiago, Chile in a sector called Alicahue as an LDS missionary. My new companion was a Chilean named Segundo Nanco. As I was waiting in the chapel with another missionary named Elder Opazo, I was lamenting that I had been stuck with a number of "hard" companions and how I hoped that Elder Nanco would be easy to get along with.
Elder Opazo looked at me earnestly and said, "Usted Elder Gately es el companero dificil."
"YOU are the difficult companion."
So, I took out my notebook and wrote down some resolutions.
  • One, that I would compliment him sincerely three times each day. Sincerely.
  • Two, that I would not say anything negative about him either in public or in private.
  • Three, that I would change any habit that he didn't like without question.
We had a great time. We got along famously. I couldn't change him. But I could change myself and my own perceptions.
I found out later that when he was assigned to me as a companion he was in a deep depression and had thought of giving up. But that two months later when we parted ways he was lighter of spirit and he served the rest of his mission.
This same attitude and principles have served me well in my marriage as well. Though I admit I haven't been as consistent.
One of my favorite books of all time is Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball. It's a hard book to read, but I've read it at least eight times. And by hard I mean it's impossible to get through without finding something to improve on, or some difficult, but much-needed insight.
Here is an expanded version of one of my favorite passages from the book:

Before Spencer W. Kimball received confirmation of his calling as an Apostle, he felt he needed to make a visit to his hometown.
“Spencer’s worst worry was how to live up to his call. What about people he had offended? Would they resent him? He started visiting every man he had done much business with, to explain his new situation: ‘I’ve been called to a high position in my Church. I cannot serve in good conscience unless I know my life has been honorable. You and I have had dealings. If there was any injustice … I’ve brought my checkbook.’ Most shook hands and refused to hear any more. A couple of men fancied that in fairness they should have got a few hundred dollars more on certain sales. Spencer wrote the checks.

“He visited a neighbor. The two men had had a difference over use of the irrigation ditch that ran past their home lots. Spencer knocked at his door and apologized. ‘I felt very definitely that he had been the offender largely and that he had hurt me terribly, but I knew that no quarrel was one-sided and therefore I was willing to forgive and forget. …’

“A clerk in the stake whom Spencer had once taken to task for carelessness in keeping some Church financial records had been cold toward him ever since. Now Spencer looked him up and said he could not begin his apostleship with bad feelings between them. They talked it out.

“There was a woman in his stake so bitter she would cross the street to avoid him. She had never told him why. Spencer’s stenographer remembered him fidgeting in the Kimball-Greenhalgh office one morning, a folder under his arm. … ‘I hate to go. I never did anything so hard.’ But he went. He asked the woman, ‘What have I done against you?’ She thought he had intervened with the governor to oppose her husband’s being named to a state office.

“ ‘Who told you that?’

“ ‘My friends.’

“ ‘They were mistaken. I wouldn’t do that. And I don’t have that kind of influence with the governor anyway.’

“Their talk patched things up between them” (Edward L. Kimball and Andrew E. Kimball, Jr., Spencer W. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1977], pp. 197–98).
Family Land
It was a great Sunday as usual, a lazy morning watching some movies, then off to church for some up-lifting. Afterwards we went for a walk and ended up chatting with a neighborhood family (the Barrowes) for about two hours, eating some grilled salmon and hummus.
In the evening, after the kids were in bed, I watched Stargate: Continuum with my wife while reading the Monster Manual. It's a good life.


ekimatuan said...

I watched the 'Primetime' program called 'The Last Lecture' last week and this post dovetails nicely with one of the messages from that program.

There are three steps to an apology.
1. Understand that you did something wrong.
2. Admit to the wronged party that you were wrong and that you are truly sorry.
3. Ask what you can do to make things right.

Most people get the first two done but only rarely do we get around to the third step. I think this easily translates to the principle of repentance as well.

Most people feel badly when they understand they have done something wrong, but rarely do we ask the Lord what we need to do to make it right... Other than feeling badly of course.

I recommend you watch the YouTube video of the lecture (now a book as well) here:

Anonymous said...

SOME people... never even 'get' the first part.

It's called NPD - Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

NPD is characterized by "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration and lack of empathy... indicated by four or more of the following:

1. An exaggerated sense of self-importance
2. Preoccupation with 'magical thinking' i.e., believing your thoughts can/do cause/prevent events to occur
3. Believes that he or she is 'special' and can only be understood by, or can only associate with, other special or high-status people
4. Requires excessive admiration or attention
5. Has a sense of entitlement...
6. Selfishly takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends
7. Lacks empathy, i.e. sees others as tools, resources, or playthings
8. Shows arrogant, haughty, patronizing, or contemptuous behavior or attitudes
9. Displays a 'flexible' approach to honesty - can be lying, or omitting truths to mislead or manipulate others


Blue Table Painting said...

Wow! That totally describes me! Thanks, "crotch barnacle". You've made the world a better place.

Blue Table Painting said...

ekimatuan: Thank you for that thoughtful addition. I saw that special on the Last Lecture and looked up some vids on Youtube. Good stuff.

Blue Table Painting said...

Seriously, swing by the studio for a chat. It's a lot less creepy than the anonymous jabs. Just be sure to call first, please.

Otherwise for pity's sake, move on with your life. What are you hanging around here for?

Anonymous said...

SG said -
"Wow! That totally describes me! Thanks, "crotch barnacle". You've made the world a better place."

AG said -
Maybe that's why you can't "keep good people on long-term."

Blue Table Painting said...

I should apologize for that first sarcastic comment. Let me re-phrase it:

I don't think you've made the world a better place for expressing derision for me personally.

I have an open door. If I have wronged or harmed anyone, well let's sit down and get that worked out. You won't have to fight me.

I think that to take issue with someone on an open forum, wearing a mask (figuratively speaking) isn't a useful way of going about it.

So, whoever you are, I extend the hand of peace and friendship. I admit that I don't always go about thing the right way-- I've made mistakes. So, now what?

I suggest that it would make the world a better place to build something better. And please leave me in peace. Or peacefully resolve things with me.

I believe that I have been done wrong by some, but I have moved on in a positive way and let bygones be bygones.

Blue Table Painting said...

More thoughts for "crotch barnacle":

Please don't mistake me for your enemy.

I would urge you to take pause before you make yourself an Executioner.

Often, things don't turn out how you plan. It's usually better to go with mercy. If you lay land mines for me to step on, you can't be sure who will ultimately set them off. When you call for Justice, the Universe tends to mete it all around. That's not an oblique threat, just a word of caution.

Also, over the last year, I have changed my tune on some matters. Some things circulating about me and my policies are erroneous or out-dated. How much better it would be to just speak with me openly.


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