Ever get into that "pity party" phase and think to yourself, "There's nothing I'm good at"? It's a very depressing statement. One I've sat and said to myself many, many times.
While in the MTC, I shared a room with my companion, Ben, as well as another companionship made up of Daniel and Carter. Ben was/is an amazing violinist. I mean, we're talking prodigy child. The guy could play the violin better than anyone I'd ever heard. (A statement which remains true to this day.)
There was one day when Daniel, Ben, and I were in our room. It was actually Halloween 2001. And whatever it was, I was not feeling well. (Probably stress, knowing me.) Well, I was attempting to sleep at the time (or rest) and Daniel and Ben were discussing Ben's violin skills. Daniel said to Ben, "I wish I had a talent like that. Really, I'm good at nothing."
Now, if you know me well, you would know that when I'm sick, I'm boldly honest, more than I usually am. And thirteen years ago, I didn't like that Daniel was discrediting himself. So I sat up, looked at Daniel and said, "That's not true. I know there's something you're good at. And I see it in you. I won't state what it is, because it's for you to find and own." (I may not have said "own", but truly, it's something I should've said.) Daniel looked at me and said, "Thank you."
Over the past few months (probably longer, to be honest), I've thought to myself how I'm not good at anything. However, I've started to notice (whether on my own or pointed out for me) how I'm actually good at a few things. And even though I look at people and think "Man, I wish I could _____ like that person," I know that I can do more than I give myself credit for.
Of course, in the earlier story, Daniel was jealous that Ben had a talent that could (and has) put him on a stage and have people clap for him afterward. Daniel, on the other hand, was the epitome of charity. No, he didn't give up everything he had. But he did show his love for those around him through his actions and words. And seriously, it was a talent he possessed well.
A talent of which I have always had envy towards others is in art. Two of my fellow Mormon Geeks, Joe and Stephen, are great artists. They have worked hard for what they can do and do a great job at their art. Having watched Stephen do many sketches has with flawless ease (in my viewpoint) has me sad at my own ability. Looking at things Joe has created I sit back and think "I could never be that good." And I used to believe that I have no drawing ability in my blood.
But as this General Conference approached, I sought an activity to do whilst listening. Yes, I could be note-taking, however, I've learned it just doesn't work for me anymore. And I remembered how much I liked to sketch. Yeah, the ones I did weren't all that great, but I did try. Growing up, there was a sketch of my dad and his sisters hanging up in my grandparents' house. I was probably ten when I asked my grandmother who had done the drawing, only to be surprised when I found out it was my own father.
If you've noticed the few sketches that have shown up in this blog post, you'll notice they're not perfect. No, they're not the best in the world. But in my opinion, they're good. They're not gonna win any awards. But they were done with love, as they were all done for somebody in my family, including myself. There was time taken on each of them. There were mistakes made. The eraser was used. And sometimes, the mistakes were left in.
But you know what? I don't care. I'm glad I did them. I did the best I could do. And I didn't give up. And I think they're good. Earlier this week, as I sketched Olaf for my youngest, my wife looked over my shoulder and said "You're a really good artist." As much as I wanted to shrug it off and say "it could be better", I just said "Thank you."
However, there's something else I thought I was bad at that someone else has pointed out the opposite to me. Monday, I was struggling with something and I ended up texting my bishop. What I sent him was a note of appreciation for all he does for our ward. He replied asking if everything was okay. (Can't blame him.) But after we texted for a moment, he said to me that I was a really good friend and he sees me as an example to follow. Despite my instinct to sell myself short and say that he was wrong, I couldn't argue that I try. There isn't a friend, past or present, that I don't love in some way. Yes, I love my wife more than all of them and my children next. But that isn't the same kind of love.
Loving a friend is different. And if the friendship doesn't last, like those high school ones that you write in their yearbook "We're gonna always K.I.T", there's still something to love about the person and about the friendship.
Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.