I had one of those jarring moments the other night. I was in the middle of a sentence, and a realization hit me, sort of like the feeling you get when you’re walking along on an icy sidewalk in the wintertime and all of a sudden you slip, then catch yourself.
I was just beginning my talk at the Methodist Church the other night and I wanted to thank those who had come. As I started into a sentence thanking my friends for being there, I suddenly realized that I didn’t know any of these people a year ago.
Then, like the proverbial life passing before my eyes in a split second, I thought about how much my life has changed since last October. I thought about all the years that I spent in various wards, serving in callings, attending ward functions, and how few friends I had had during all those years.
Next, I thought about all the extraordinary people who have come into my life in the past 10 months, some of whom were sitting out in the congregation. Then I thought about how much I have changed during that period. And I felt something that I have rarely felt during the course of my life: bliss. And gratitude.
All of this occurred in a split second or two, causing me to pause in mid-sentence. Then I continued on. The moment had come and gone. But it is in such moments, is it not, that we often gain startling insights into our lives, into who we are – like flashes of light that illumine for a moment, then are gone. But the memory of what we saw remains, and we re-examine it over and over again in our minds.
People like to say that their greatest growth occurs during periods of trial. I accepted this platitude without question for most of my adult life; I suppose there is some truth to it.
But I would like to counter it with another observation: the greatest growth in my life has occurred when I have been true to myself instead of living a lie. And I think part of the reason for that growth is that being true to myself, being authentic, allows me to open myself up to the nourishment that my fellow human beings offer – particularly those who themselves are living authentic lives. Plastic cannot nourish plastic. It merely rubs up against it, transmitting nothing.
I want to thank all of my friends - both near and far -, all of those who have nourished me these past 10 months. I want to thank you for all of the love, acceptance, support and encouragement you have freely given me, expecting nothing in return. You have reminded - and taught - me so much about what it means to be human – to breathe, to feel, to think, to love, to be.