Thursday, April 9, 2015

Brightening the Shadows

[DISCLAIMER: I've been in something of a funk lately and I've found through experience that one of the best ways for me to get out of a funk is to write.  So here I go.] 

All of my life, I have felt like I am destined to walk in other people's shadows.  I have always fought hard to be in first place but I always come up just a little bit short.  Even if I get the best haircut in the world, I will never be the prettiest girl in the class.  Even though I consider myself to be a somewhat intelligent person, I have never gotten the highest grade.  My career path perhaps doesn't seem as interesting as others.  Though I have musical talent, my voice isn't the most powerful and is more suited to blending with other voices than to solo pieces.  I have, what others have called, a "quiet humor" and so will always be outshined by louder, more outspoken comedians.  I try to serve in my own little ways but I struggle with feelings of inadequacy when I see others who seem so much more capable of comforting others and talking to them about their problems.  I haven't traveled the globe (though I want to) and my life experience seems fairly ordinary.  I have realized that, despite my best efforts, most of the time I will be in second place.  My personality is kind of a back-stage personality rather than that of a stand-out actor.

I think all of us feel like this at some point (or many points) in our lives.  Even those popular, extroverted people who seem to constantly be in the limelight probably feel like they do so much yet receive so little acknowledgement for their efforts.  I think it is human nature to desire praise, to feel validated, to feel like people appreciate your contribution however small it may be.

There were many good talks in General Conference but Elder Ringwood's talk entitled, Truly Good and Without Guile, was especially timely as I have struggled these past few weeks with feelings of inadequacy and self-criticism and the (probably stupid) notion that my life is boring in comparison to others' lives.  Elder Ringwood spoke about Alma's sons, Helaman, Corianton, and Shiblon.  Though he was perhaps the most steady and diligent in his faith, Shiblon received the least recognition.

"It appears that Shiblon was a son who wanted to please his father and went about doing what was right for right’s sake rather than for praise, position, power, accolades, or authority. Helaman must have known and respected this about his brother, for he gave Shiblon custody of the sacred records he had received from his father. Surely Helaman trusted Shiblon because 'he was a just man, and he did walk uprightly before God; and he did observe to do good continually, to keep the commandments of the Lord his God' (Alma 63:2). As seems truly characteristic of Shiblon, there is not much recorded about him from the time he took possession of the sacred records until he gave them to Helaman’s son Helaman (see Alma 63:11).

"Shiblon was truly good and without guile. He was a person who sacrificed his time, talents, and effort to help and lift others because of a love for God and his fellowmen (see Alma 48:17–19; 49:30). He is described perfectly by the words of President Spencer W. Kimball: 'Great women and men are always more anxious to serve than to have dominion.'

 "In a world where praise, position, power, accolades, and authority are sought on every side, I honor those wonderful and blessed souls who are truly good and without guile, those who are motivated by a love of God and their neighbors, those great women and men who are 'more anxious to serve than to have dominion.'"

I'm not saying that I'm as good of a person as Shiblon but I feel a certain kinship with him.  He didn't hold positions of power.  He didn't gain world-wide fame.  He didn't stand out in a crowd.  He probably lived a relatively quiet life.  But he put forth his best efforts to do good within his sphere of influence.  Though he lived in his brothers' shadows for most of his life, he chose to keep the commandments and endure to the end in righteousness simply because it was the right thing to do.

My life may seem dull to some.  I may not be a model.  I may not be the funniest kid in the class.  But I have the same capacity for good as everyone else and my life is just as valuable as the lives of business owners or the rulers of nations.  If it is my lot in life simply to brighten up the shadows cast by others, then I guess I'm alright with that. :)


Nancy Oram said...

You never know when someone equally as quiet is appreciating your reflection. I tend to look past the shiny things to discover gems of real quality and worth. You are a gem.

Nicole said...

Thanks for sharing your ideas on this talk. I hadn't quite thought of it that way and will appreciate adding another angle to my RS lesson Sunday.