In today’s episode we are going to hear a story that I like which was told by sister Okazaki. “A few years ago, I was asked to speak at a high school commencement. When the students heard that the Relief Society person was coming, they thought, ‘Oh, do we have to listen to a Relief Society lady? My gosh!’
When I walked in, all of them had their Walkman units with them because there was a Utah Jazz game that night. The parents came in with their Walkmans, too. I thought, ‘I’m going to have a really fun audience!’ Then I thought, ‘I know about kids.’ In our little village, we boys and girls always played together, so I was just as good at marbles or yo-yo tricks as the boys. So I thought, ‘I’m going to tell these kids a thing or two.’
I had brought my yo-yo, and I started out my speech by saying, ‘You know, all you young people here are graduating and going into the world. Sometimes people look at you and think that the only things you’re good for is to just walk the dog.’ And I went across the stage, ‘walking the dog’ with my yo-yo. Or ‘rocking the cradle,’ and I would do that with my yo-yo. ‘But do you know what I think? You’ve got to go “around the world,” and you have to use your “silver bullets” making choices and doing the things that you know best to do, and fighting evil and whatever is happening in your life. That’s what you ought to be doing instead of letting people think that you can only walk the dog.’ And those kids clapped. They clapped and clapped. I didn’t see any more Walkman earbuds. They listened, and five times when I was talking, they burst out clapping; and at the end, they stood up—parents and all—and gave me a standing ovation. So when I walked out with them I said, ‘Who won the game?’ They said, ‘Oh, I don’t know. We didn’t listen.'”
Interviewer: “It wasn’t the message. They had heard the message before. It was how you delivered it!”
Okazaki: “That’s right.”
Dialogue, Spring 2012, pp. 129-130
I want to quickly relate this to our church experiences. Sometimes it can feel as if our meetings are boring and sometimes we feel we do not get a great deal out of it. I would just simply say that I believe that there are things that we can do to help with those experiences and to help it be much more enjoyable. Whether this comes from evaluating our approaches, or whether when we are teaching we seek to authentically reach people in ways that can speak to them, I believe that by doing so we can have much better experiences at times when our expectations may have been holding us back.