Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Day I Met D. Todd, Who Has Been to Utah

The other day, I got to meet D. Todd Christofferson.

Saturday was Stake Conference for the Kingsland, GA Stake. Two General Authorities came to visit because the Stake Presidency got reorganized. They were Elder Larry S. Catcher of the Seventy and Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. To Mormons, as some of you may know, meeting an apostle is a big deal. We see these amazing men speak to us twice a year from on high (Salt Lake City) with talks that inspire and enlighten us. Imagine getting to walk up to Bartholomew and shake his hand. They are celebrities to us.

Waiting in the hallway, I eavesdropped on a woman talking to some sister missionaries. She told them how she saw a light around Elder Christofferson as he spoke during the Saturday session, and she knew he was truly an Apostle called by God. This being her only opportunity probably for many years, she made sure to give him a hug. Well, if she could hug him, I thought, I could totally shake his hand. So I grabbed my companion and we went back to the chapel to get in line to shake his hand.

The line couldn't go fast enough. I felt my heart racing and I went as giddy as a schoolgirl, checking my hair, checking my clothes, checking my teeth. But soon enough, and in less than thirty minutes, I stood before him. He smiled, shook my hand, and said, "Sister Johnson. Where are you from?"

"Salt Lake City."

"I've been there before," he said a bit wryly.

And then he turned to my companion to move on to the next person. He asked her the same thing, and she being from Utah, he had a similar remark. I guess that's what happens when we both come from The Factory. In less than a minute, our opportunity to meet an Apostle had finished.

No special light. No incredible spiritual experience. Just a normal handshake from a patient man who was probably not looking forward to shaking everyone else's hand but who loved them enough to do so. 

My revelation of the night was that Elder Christofferson is a normal human being. In the grand scheme of things, he is no better or worse than you or me. Now don't get me wrong, I will be bragging about shaking his hand from now to the end of eternity.

I had the same revelation while I worked for Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake. As part of the Concessions Staff, I had the chance to meet several of the actors, which was just awesome to me. I mean, they're actors! They were something other than human. It took me a few years and a chat with the actor who played the rebellious boyfriend in Next to Normal to change my perspective. We talked about the play and how sometimes it is hard for parents who have lost a child to watch. It's a play that hits a lot of hearts close to home. I may have made a friend for a minute too.

When God commanded us to not have any gods before him or to worship false idols, he may have wanted us to recognize that us humans are no better than one another too. We don't need to put other people up on pedestals and make each other unreachable. We don't need to compare; we just need to love.

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