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).
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.