Where do you record the lessons and insights of your life? When you’re gone, will others benefit?
Welcome to the new blog of Kevin Crenshaw. You can learn about my professional background at www.kevincrenshaw.com. However, that is only a small part of my life. The most important things aren’t appropriate in a resume.
Bridging the Gap
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”). Mormons are encouraged to keep journals. My early journals ended during my early married years, then I started keeping “small plates” accounts of personal inspiration and spiritual experiences. But there was a huge gap in all this. Over the years I’ve missed opportunities, made mistakes, and stared down brutal experiences that yielded priceless lessons, but they have no real outlet.
Will all that learning go to waste?
I’ve tried to share insights with my children and family and friends, but did they really understand? Will they remember accurately? Will they even be able to read my handwriting on the loose pieces of paper and journals accumulated over the years??
Therefore, this blog.
Do We Hide or Learn From Mistakes?
How do you deal with mistakes—even big ones? I decided years ago to turn errors around by extracting lessons from them. I’d analyze and ponder and pray for understanding until the governing principles became clear. Then I applied those lessons from that point on. I couldn’t do everything right the first time, but I could hope and pray to do better from then on. “Fool me once, shame on you,” my Dad quoted, “fool me twice, shame on me.” I owe my father for teaching me to learn from mistakes—especially the mistakes of others. “Mistakes are good,” my wife and I have since taught our children, “if you learn from them.” Better still if you can learn from others’ follies before they become yours.
Some small examples from my own life:
- A Seventh-Day Adventist minister asked me on my mission how the atonement of Christ actually accomplished its purpose. He honestly seemed willing to listen, but my answer at age 20 was incomplete.
- We baptized a woman in Australia, then realized she was addicted to alcohol. How could we help? Inexperienced, I didn’t really know. She was looking for help when she came to us, but we didn’t know what to do. What became of her? Another man, John Duffy, managed a former heroin addiction using government-supplied methadone, which is arguably even more addictive. How do you help someone overcome something like that?
- A friend once asked about the judgment day. Could it be a day of all mercy instead of punishment? How could a merciful God punish? It was a good question deserving a full, thorough answer which I couldn’t give then.
- I wrote an essay on “Faith” in college that got a decent grade, but it felt empty. Something was definitely missing. Unsatisfied, I began to sense that I really didn’t understand the “first principle of the gospel” in spite of my studies to that point.
I wouldn’t let go of these missed opportunities and shortalls. I analyzed them and studied and prayed. The answers always came. Always. Sometimes it took decades, but I learned, sometimes in literally miraculous ways, that the Lord honors his word: “Ask, and ye shall receive.”
Big Mistakes, Big Lessons
The most painful experiences were the most effective teachers; some from my own life and some from others’. From time to time this blog will let me visit or relive and then amend, like a personal “Groundhog Day” on the Web.
Private details won’t always be shared, but the lessons and principles certainly will. Brigham Young said: “Do not tell about your nonsensical conduct that nobody knows of but yourselves. Tell to the public that which belongs to the public. If you have sinned against the people, confess to them…. I do not want to know anything about it.” (JD Vol. 8, p. 362.)
A Talk Every Week??
When I was about 13 or 14 years old, I attended a stake conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Newport Beach, California. (I’m a “Mormon.”) A visiting General Authority told us about a woman who felt hurt because she had never been called on to speak in a meeting. This wasn’t a trivial concern. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an unpaid clergy, so speakers are chosen from the congregation, and almost anyone who wants to speak is called on sooner or later. Why hadn’t they ask3ed her?
His reply surprised me: he challenged her to prepare a talk every week, whether or not she was assigned by the bishop, so she would always be prepared and benefit regardless of who spoke.
But then came the real surprise. He asked us all—over a thousand of us—if we would accept that same challenge! Would we prepare a talk every week? “If you will, raise your hands.” I raised my hand. Since that time, it bothered me that I didn’t do it faithfully every week—at first. Preparing a talk was hard! It could take ten hours or more. But as I worked towards that goal I discovered that I could prepare a talk in an hour, then 30 minutes, and now in just 3 minutes by following simple principles that I now teach to my seminary students. Amazingly, the simpler the talk, the more memorable and likely to inspire change in the listeners. I never would have learned this if I hadn’t been diligent in keeping my word.
Obedience means finding ways to obey. The simpler the better.
So now I’m making up for lost time. Most weeks at church I outline two or three talks as I listen to speakers. Some of those will appear here.
So my purposes are to share lessons learned; work through and answer questions from long ago; share light and truth given to me so other truth-seekers can benefit; smooth the path for my children and grandchildren and anyone else tuning in; and share the light I’ve been given so others can do even better and pass it along themselves.
“And that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” (DC 50:24.)