Quote of the Week

"I assure you that if you have to wait even until the next life to be blessed with a choice companion, God will surely compensate you."
President Ezra T. Benson, To the Single Adult Sisters of the Church, 1988.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Liked What You Were Trying to Do

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs with Santino Fontana and the 'Sesame Street' Muppets during the choir's annual Christmas concert in Salt Lake City Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

The Muppets came to town to perform with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the annual Christmas Concert in Salt Lake City, Utah. Always a delightful and heartwarming performance, I encourage all who've never had the opportunity to visit the LDS Conference Center to attend one of these events. I promise you won't be disappointed.

There is a little known story with a Utah connection to the Muppets. The year was 1969 and a young man was struggling to get his career off the ground. He was giving a presentation at a Puppeteers of America Festival being held in Salt Lake City. Using light boxes, music, puppetry and film projectors, it was to be a display of daring innovation that would astound everyone. To the young man's dismay, everything was going wrong. Technical difficulties were making audience members restless and they proceeded to exit the auditorium as fast as they could. Realizing his attempt to put on a show was pretty much over, the discouraged young man began packing up his malfunctioning equipment when he was approached by a tall, gangly, soft spoken artist with an uncanny ability to recognize potential,

             "I liked what you were trying to do," he said.

The man's name was Jim Henson. Caroll Spinney was the man who would go on to create the characters of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. Jim Henson proceeded to invite Mr. Spinney to come out to New York City and join his newly formed production company.
The rest, as they say, is history.

As we open the door to a new year, it is common at this time to pause and reflect both on the past and the future. Perhaps you've had a milestone event or two in your life occur this past year: graduation from school, buying a new home, landing that dream job, marriage, or the birth of a new child.

On the other hand, perhaps you anticipate many of these events happening in the coming year. You continue to hope and pray that doors will be opened, hearts will be softened, that someone will see your potential and "like what you were trying to do," because when you stop to think about it, so many of those important life events, the ones that define adulthood and signify a rite of passage, are in many ways beyond our control. All of us depend on each other to make our dreams come true.

In this new age of narcissism, when superficial looks, charisma, having the right connections and knowing the right people are the key to success, those who lack in these qualities can only continue to persevere and try their best. We get all the education we can, then pound the pavement, refusing to let discouragement overwhelm us when no guiding mentor comes along to point the way, when the only return we get in our email inboxes for our efforts is:
             Thank you for your interest but we have selected another candidate for the position you applied for.

We do our best to keep the law of chastity, wait patiently for that worthy priesthood holder if you're a woman, or beauty queen if you're a man. That perfect soul-mate who never materializes, or worse, chooses someone else to create a family while you fear you've been condemned to watch from the sidelines for next twenty years or more. You cling desperately to the belief that your desire to fill the measure of your creation will not be in vain.

We try our best, in a world that celebrates marriage equality for all, to drop a gentle reminder that goodness and virtue should never be abandoned on the side of that road.

We try our best to be self sufficient, to be faithful, to serve others without recognition or compensation with the understanding that some of us may not see the fruits of our labors until the next year, the next several years, or even the next life.

Gifts and talents are honed and refined, in preparation to realize our full potential. Like the ability to create children, they give our lives meaning, purpose, direction and joy. When those talents are recognized and appreciated by others, our spirits are uplifted. Hearts swell with positive feelings of hope and satisfaction that we are on the right path to achievement and success. We work and pray and hope the day will come when someone will "like what you were trying to do." We ultimately hope to be invited to bring our gifts and talents and contribute to a greater cause. This could include the invitation to create a home or being hired in an occupation for which your particular gifts and talents are not only valued but necessary for the good of the organization. There comes a time in everyone's life when it is essential to know what the purpose of our life is and where we are going. We rely on other people to help us discover those gifts and talents, find and follow those paths and cheer us on our way.

When no recognition is forthcoming, when no one ever materializes who sees your great potential, when all you receive in return for your hard work and preparation is rejection and negative feedback, that is when this mortal life begins to drag. Instead of welcoming the new year, discouragement and cynicism have already taken over. Like Job in the Bible, you may begin to plead for death to come and put you out of your misery, because nothing ever changes. You may be forced to realize, after all of life's milestones have passed you by, when everything you tried to do has come to naught and no one is in your corner, death can be a sweet release.

Fortunately, the majority of people in this world have found their place in life and have someone to share it with. They are looking at the upcoming year with hope and resolving to try their best each day to be good parents, better people, contributing members of society.

As C.S. Lewis once said, "

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” 

I hope that all of us, when it comes time to face our maker, the creator of the universe, after we have given an account of all the efforts we made to live a righteous life, we will ultimately hear Him say,
I liked what you were trying to do. Now, let me show you what I want you to become.

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's a Wonderful (Single?) Life


Here's the clip from the movie unfortunately I couldn't link up the scene where George Bailey accosts the spinster librarian who never married but I found this still frame shot from the movie.


Every year my local city newspaper, The Deseret News, publishes original reader-submitted essays about their most memorable Christmas under the subject: The Christmas I Remember Best.
I thought I'd share my own submission to Deseret News of my own memorable Christmas past and the Christmas Future I yearn for. If they don't publish it, it's okay, because I'm posting it here for the entire world!

It’s a Wonderful (Single?) Holiday Life
By Michelle Llewellyn

Dear Father in Heaven,
I know I haven’t prayed in awhile but if you’re up there and if you can hear me, I’d just like to remind you that I’m forty years old now and still waiting for you to either send someone who will lasso the moon for me or lead me to a fulfilling career. Flipping burgers isn’t exactly how I imagined using my two college degrees. Spending yet another Christmas alone isn’t exactly how I imagined my life turning out either.
I’m beginning to wonder what the world would be like without me. The death of a patriarchal society, men shunning their responsibilities with nobody seeming to mind, has left the bulk of community and family service to women. I love being an aunt, the world’s best babysitter, but I’d prefer the title of “Mommy” like all the other women my age. Teaching Sunday school, serving all the married people in my neighborhood because I have tons of disposable time and money on my hands is supposed to fill that empty hole. Well, guess what? It isn’t working anymore. With no offers from a big, strong man courtesy of ldssingles.com to pay my bills so I can be a stay-at-home mom, I’m forever on my own. I’m beginning to think no one will miss me. How long’s it been since a young man asked me out on a date? I fear I’ve gotten senile in my middle age.
Remember that 1984 Christmas when I was ten and all my little girlfriends had Cabbage Patch Dolls except me? I was so happy when I unwrapped my very own chubby, dimpled, pacifier-faced baby girl, beige yarn hair in braids complete with official birth certificate and adoption papers. That was the same year I tried to cheer up my family as my parents were contemplating ending their dysfunctional marriage by getting a divorce. I thought, maybe if I put together a Christmas Eve program with me playing the piano and assembling my younger brothers and sister acting out the Christmas Nativity story, it might postpone the dreaded event that would forever change our family unit. They ended up divorcing anyway but the Cabbage Patch Doll helped.
Well, that’s sort of what I had in mind for this year. Like Ralphie’s Red Ryder, you could surprise me by pulling out an eleventh-hour Christmas miracle for me to unwrap. With all the Mr. (and Mrs.) Potters in Utah constantly passing me over for all those higher paying jobs requiring a degree, maybe I could get that library job I recently applied for. I can just picture myself walking home one evening after closing when a crazy man, claiming to be my long lost husband runs up to me, demanding to know the whereabouts of our children which means he desperately wants to create a family with me. I promise I won’t scream or faint! Instead, I’ll throw myself into his arms so we can start multiplying and replenishing.
Yes, I realize there have been many opportunities in the past to initiate a relationship with a member of the opposite sex. I haven’t forgotten all those blind dates you’ve blessed me with. One-time only blind dates that never worked out because so many single men these days don’t do romance and have tastes that are very singular compared to my high standards and principles that don’t include commitment to an Xbox or another person of the same gender. I’ve tried to live a full and meaningful life, finding happiness in the little crumbs thrown at me but it isn’t easy sometimes.
Please, don’t wait too long to make up your mind which Christmas wish to bestow on me. I must have a career or a husband soon before frustration and flat-out desperation drive me to hook up with Tinder or some other Monster!
How about if you just give me Clarence’s phone number instead? He seems like a really sweet guy. He’s immortal, he can fly, save lives and he likes to read; every single woman’s dream of a potential husband.
If not, I’ll just hasten my way to the next life where I’ve been told every desire of my heart awaits me, including all the Cabbage Patch Dolls I ever wanted. Okay?

 And here's what she looks like thirty years later. The pink "Cabbage Patch Kids" enblazoned nylon jacket is the only original item of clothing left . (Please, don't sue me for indecent exposure, Xavier!) The pink and white striped shirt, blue pants, pink and white tennis shoes, socks and original pacifier were all loved away over the years including the original yarn braids, re-styled, because, honestly, doesn't she look like a Fraggle with that 1984 hair? And, no, I don't mean the giddy owner sitting next to her!