thank you, elder holland

Yesterday, I griped about working late hours, feeling drained when I got home, and not being able to spend as much time with the girls as I would like. And today, because life is just like this, I left on time, came home full of energy, played with the girls until their bed time, read them to sleep, worked out at the gym, and got to hang out with Holly when I got home.

Then, because life was just starting to make its point, Holly and I happened to read Elder Holland’s talk from April’s general conference, The Tongue of Angels. You know, the one where he informs us that “no misfortune is so bad that whining about it won’t make it worse.” Yeah, that’s the one.

Here’s a digression. While I was running, I started thinking about what the pioneers would think of the average, modern-day gym, with its legions of treadmills and stationary bicycles facing rows and rows of television screens, each broadcasting Kylie Minogue videos, hot tub ads, and street ball tournaments. How would you even begin to explain a Hummer to them? Or the internet? Or blogging?

“You do whut now?”

“El oh el?”

Those silly pioneers.

On my way into Maceys tonight (I really don’t make a Maceys run every night, even though according to this blog, I must), I passed a homeless guy. I thought about giving him some money, but then I did the thing in my head where you worry that the money would just go toward sinful living, and then you feel horrible and self-righteous and judgemental (and cheap) for thinking something like that. Then my brain went a step (or six) further—I actually went through the following in my head (and yes, I am aware that all of the following and most of the preceding is completely insane and probably very offensive to the homeless. I apologize in advance):

“It’s too bad there’s no way to really know if the money you give that guy will go toward food or shelter or something that he really needs. There ought to be a way to know in advance. You know… I could test him. Offer him a choice. I could buy a bottle of whiskey or a pack of cigerettes or something and then offer that stuff to him—on the one hand—and on then offer him money on the other. Then, if he chooses the bad stuff, I’ll know for next time not to give him any money. That would work. Wait, but then I’d have to do that for every homeless person I see. I’d never remember who was who—who had passed and who hadn’t. Hmm… Maybe I could put together a database to keep track of everyone. Make it searchable. Add profiles with photos. Post it online, open it up to everyone. That would be a real service, you know? You could just do a quick search on the guy as you are walking into the store, like, from your smart phone or something.”

These were actual thoughts that were forming in my brain. Holly, tell me again why you agreed to marry me.

Can you digress from a digression? I think that’s what just happened here.

Anyway. All crow eating, pioneer bashing, and mind wandering aside… it was a good day. It was a great day. I guess they’re all great days, if you think about it.

If you’re the one wondering whether or not you should be giving away a couple of bucks and not the one wondering where the next couple of bucks are going to come from, you really don’t have anything to be whining about in the first place.

  1. Mom K

    Dave, I love this post. It’s funny how sometimes lessons we learn actually come from inside our own head or heart with just a little tug from someone else.

  2. the mccoy's

    seriously. i do that all the time, and i shouldn’t judge. i heard once to give out mcdonalds money. that way, they can always get something to eat. what’s worse for me, is when they ask me for money, i fear they are judging me. when they see me walking our of the grocery store, or target, and they ask for cash, i seriously NEVER have cash. i use my debit for everything. so here i come out with cartloads of crap, and i have nothing for them? i want to ask, what they need, and then i get all scared and fear for my life and run or walk away real fast. if i have it, i will give it. especially when brandon is with me.

  3. Brooke

    i find that they also really enjoy candy bars. that’s what i usually give– or whatever’s in my bag– because i never have cash either.

    and if they’re wearing some sort of team hat if you say, “go (insert team name here)!” they get very excited.

    i’m glad it was a good day.

  4. Tracy

    Wonderful post – wonderful feeling after reading it – I want to copy and paste it into my “life lessons” folder. Thanks, Dave!

  5. c jane

    Dave this diatribe post just made me have a huge lump in my throat. What is this feeling? Humility or something?

    Meanwhile, good post. Hope to meet you sometime.

  6. Joe

    This reminds me of when I was a missionary in Spain and wanted so badly to be magnanimous toward the addicted homeless guys that would see us coming from a mile away. There just isn’t an easy answer to the quandary that they presented to us–especially with the meager stipend we got each month. Luckily, we’ve all been instructed to not judge who deserves alms and who doesn’t, but to just give what we can to those who ask. I didn’t understand that really well until spending four years in downtown DC and downtown Philly.

  7. Jody

    I don’t want to ruin all lesson learning, good feelings from this post but I have kind of a funny story that relates:

    A friend was standing outside a hotdog place in Los Angeles (just finished with a temple session) and a homeless man came up to him and asked for some spare change. Our friend, not knowing where the money would go offered to buy him a hotdog instead. The homeless man said, “Oh, I’m a vegetarian.” And without missing a beat our friend said, “Well, beggers can’t be choosers.” The guy got totally offended and stormed off!

    Only in L.A.!

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