Monday, June 15, 2009

my husband gave this talk

This weekend we had our semi-annual Stake Conference. Darin had the opportunity to speak during the Sunday session, and I asked him if I could share his talk here. Please to indulge.

Reaching In, Reaching Out and Reaching Up
General Session, Stake Conference 6/14/09

Brothers and sisters, it is indeed wonderful to be with you this afternoon and to feel the unifying power and Spirit that come when we gather together. Thank you for your goodness and selfless service. We witness countless acts of kindness demonstrated by so many in our neighborhoods. God bless you for your love and commitment to Him and His children.

I ask for your prayers as we consider a topic that affects all of us and in many ways how our children may learn to treat others; it is the doctrine of inclusion and what I will refer to as the doctrine of reaching in, reaching out and reaching up. As a back drop to this topic, I’d like to share a personal experience with the permission of my wife. As I share I invite you to consider how this might be applicable or relevant to you.

Recently, my wife participated in a Sprint Triathlon with a friend in Salem, Utah. The race included an 800 meter swim, a 13 mile bike ride, and a 3.1 mile run, in that order. The mere fact that she chose to enter the race showed a tremendous amount of courage. As her first triathlon, her goal was to finish the triathlon.

It was a beautiful day and was going to be a warm one. As I approached the site I saw what appeared to be hundreds of competitors dressed in their mandatory wet suits and swim caps, all looking alike, smiling and being very social. There were also what appeared to be close-knit teams who were competing and they were talking, laughing and enjoying their time together before the race. There was a great sense of fellowship and encouragement and so many of the participants and spectators voiced their support of one another and to people around them they didn’t even know.

The time came for her group to begin the swim. This was supposed to be her favorite and easiest part because she was a swimmer growing up. I positioned myself at a point where I would be able to see her coming out of the water. After some time, I saw several people coming out of the water, one after another. I saw her friend, who had already completed several triathlons, come out of the water to go get ready for the biking portion. More time went by and I still didn’t see her. I was beginning to worry, especially because I saw some participants being pulled out of the water by the medical staff. Finally, she came out of the water and told me how she had a problem with her wet suit that caused water to enter and fill up the bottom portion of the suit; it felt tight to where she couldn’t breathe and it slowed her down tremendously. Nevertheless, she continued and began the biking.

All of a sudden, I received a text message (yes, for you youth, I am known to text every now and again) from one of our friends who lives in Spanish Fork and who was along the race path watching. She asked, “Where’s Jenny?” So I responded that she had just started the biking portion. I came to find out that this friend would be the source of great updates throughout the race because she was on the course and could see the bikers and runners.

Then, I received a startling text message that said: “She stopped. There was a crash. (at this point, I thought my wife had crashed, but I read on) the text message proceeded to say “She stopped to help somebody who crashed.” I had seen the blood and injuries of others who had fallen or crashed along the way and I was happy that she would take the time to stop. Nevertheless, this slowed her down. Meanwhile, many of the participants had finished the biking and even the running portions.

She finally reached the running portion and again, spectators and some who had already finished the race, and who didn’t know her, continued to cheer her and others along. Not much later, her friend crossed the finish line. Our friend was going to wait for her until my wife finished. Now you have to know that my wife does not like running (which might sound familiar to you), so the fact that this was the last part of the race was a concern.

While we were waiting for my wife they had already started announcing and recognizing the winners of the different age groups among the males and females. Fewer and fewer people were now crossing the finish line. I got a text message from our friend that said, “She looks good!” Finally, we saw my wife reach the last part of the run. Our friend (who had already finished the race) ran back to where my wife was to accompany her as she finished the race. Finally, she arrived, running together with our friend. As she crossed the finish line, again, she heard applause and wonderful encouragement. Evidently, but not by much, she was the very last person to finish the race. As a family, we were and are so proud of her for finishing the race.

All of these racers had to reach inside themselves to summon the physical strength and stamina to participate in and complete the race. For some, it was easier than it was for others.

Many of the racers reached out to one another, especially at the beginning and end of the race, when it was much easier to do so. Once the race started, however, it appeared that most of the racers turned inward again, focusing on what they needed to do to either swim, bike or run. However, there was never a lack of spectators who continued to reach out throughout the race.

I’m also fairly confident that many of the participants, and at least one of the spectators, were reaching up to the heavens pleading for help and strength, either for themselves as racers, or on behalf of the racers.

This is a lot like our mortal journey on earth. I wonder if sometimes we allow the influences of the world to make us feel that mortality is more like a race we are trying to win than a journey we are trying to finish; like we need to reach inward more of the time than reach out. Are we social and friendly only when it’s easy to reach out, like it was for the racers at the beginning and end of the race? But when the rat race consumes our lives, we focus more on reaching in? I’m grateful to my wife’s example for stopping during the race to help the participant who had fallen. Had her goal been to race instead of just finish, I wonder if her mentality would have been different.

There may be times when our mortal journey is more difficult than at other times. My wife had a difficult time with her wet suit. Nobody knew that she was struggling, except her. How often does this happen with people around us and we don’t know they’re struggling? I also think we often make assumptions about others who may appear to race by us without any challenges, yet they do have their challenges as well and still need a hand of support, fellowship and encouragement.

Like in this race, there were several spectators encouraging the racers. We have many on the other side of the veil who are cheering us on with voices of encouragement. I also believe there are those who have finished the journey and come back as ministering angels to help us finish, like our friend did with my wife. If we’re worthy, we also have the promise of the Holy Spirit as our constant and still small voice to help us.

At the beginning of the race it was obvious that there were several who had already completed several races and were even part of racing teams. Some racers may have felt out of place when they were surrounded by these more experienced racers and teams of racers. Similarly in our lives, there are many among us who feel out of place among those more experienced or who have been around longer and don’t feel like they belong, often unbeknownst to the experienced individuals and groups. During the race these experienced individuals could reach in, draw upon their previous race experience; the teams could similarly draw strength from one another and reach in within their team, not needing to reach out. Do we do the same thing in our social circles and cause others to feel excluded without even knowing? Let’s not be paranoid, but I do believe we need to be more proactive and sensitive to everybody around us.

Brothers and sisters, I would suggest that our capacity to reach in and to reach out will be exponentially enhanced when we first, reach up to God. We know the common ‘Sunday School’ or ‘Seminary’ answers that we need to do to have the Spirit with us in great abundance. I would make special emphasis and testify that one of the very best ways to reach up, reach out and reach in at the same time is to serve in the temple.

When we focus too much on reaching in or too much on reaching out, without reaching up to God, our priorities may become out of balance. God is the giver of all gifts, both temporal and spiritual, and I testify that as we reach up to Him first and His kingdom, He will add unto us the things we need. God will bless us with the wisdom, discernment and strength to balance all of our many responsibilities.

“Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”

“And who is my neighbour?”

You know the parable, how a man from Jerusalem was on his way to Jericho and fell among thieves and was left half dead. A certain priest passed by on the other side; neither did a Levite stop to help. Then Jesus taught:

“But a certain Samaritan (who, as we know, commonly didn’t associate with Jews), as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

“And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”

“Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among thieves?”
“He that shewed mercy on him.”

“Go, and do thou likewise” (see Luke 10:25–37).

May we reach up to God through the Atoning sacrifice of His Son who shows us constant mercy, so our ability and capacity to reach in and reach out to others is increased and we seek to include others, and be more patient and merciful towards them as we all strive to finish the journey of mortality. We need one another and God will help us as we reach out to bless one another.


Kalli Ko said...

I love it.

Kerrianne Lehnhof Burch said...

awwww...that was awesome. You guys are awesome. Awesome! Are you gearing up for this weekend still???

Gerb said...

Honestly my favorite part of conference. It's nice to read it, though - I didn't realize that I missed some parts. I agree with Kerrianne - you guys are awesome.

p.s. So are your kids. I would do that again anytime. I'm not even kidding!

b. said...

I really really love it. What great timing for him to be able to prepare a talk with such great parallels. He's a good man.
You're an amazing woman.
I'm honored to know you both.

cari said...

He always does such a great job. I missed conference (don't ask) so thanks for posting this. What a remarkable story! You are amazing. Thanks for such a great example.

Adriane said...

WOW!! Thanks for sharing...I wish I knew more about you and your amazing family. I have to tell you a funny story about the first time I was jealous of you...(because I am jealous you had the courage to participate in that race). When I was first hanging out with Mark there was a time that he and Eaton and a few others were heading to Chicago and he borrowed your guitar. I was spending the last few minutes before they left with Mark and was bummed when he sent me home because he had to go to Jenny's to get a guitar...Silly I know, but thanks for letting him borrow your guitar and for being a friend now. Love ya and soon we need to hang out. I love Utah County!!

La Yen said...

I love that Tio Papi. He is my favorite. I can't wait till he gets translated and tells us all how it went.

Bunsies said...

Wonderful! I love Stake Conference talks, they are always are the best. Like LaYen I love that Papi.

Queen Scarlett said...

I finally had a chance to read this - what a good man you have there. So glad I finally got to meet him in person. Good catch. ;-)

I love reading about your experience in the tri too. Amazing!!!

Shar said...

What a great talk!

Kemp Kuties said...

Wish I could have heard Darin give the talk in person (we were out-of-town for Stake Conf). Thanks for uplifting me tonight.