A few weeks ago I was thinking about how people have influenced me. I decided to write my former Young Men's leader an email. I'll share what happened in that conversation.
This is Ryan Johnson. I’m not sure if you still check this email, but I thought I’d try.
The other day I was reading Chad’s weekly email and at the very end of the email he said, “PS. I was reading an ensign from 1990 the other day and read something by Joe Walker, kinda cool huh?” So, today while I’ve been at work I decided to go find some things you’ve wrote and I wanted to tell you something I was thinking about as I read; thank you for the life saver.
I had a hard time when I was growing up with just trying to “fit in” (whatever that means). Being a teenager in a ward where you’re the only boy your age was tough, but reflecting back I’m grateful for leaders that magnified their callings, like yourself, Kenny Nay, and Ryan Mansfield. Having been an EFY counselor for a couple of summers, I know that a lot of times with teens those efforts to plant the seed of faith may be like drilling for a root canal with no pain killer, but I see the Lord does not let that pass Him by.
You held out the life saver of a testimony for me. I’ll always be grateful for the powerful lesson you taught on the Atonement using Matt Rowley as an object lesson asking him to do pushups. That opened my eyes to the reality of the Atonement and that even a skinny little 14 year old kid can become a better person than he was.
You showed me the life saver of genuine kindness and love. Every time I came to home teach or went to a young men’s activity, you were always there with a smile and a hug. You may not have known this at the time, but that genuine kindness began to shape me into the who I am and continue to strive to be.
Lastly, you showed me the life saver of the Spirit. I never knew I was feeling the spirit when I was younger, I always thought it was just a good feeling you get at church. I remember talking with you a few days after my mission and I remember you telling me, “Do all you can to keep the spirit with you the way you had on your mission, pay attention to what you do, you set your own rules now.”
So, once again, thank you for the life saver.
I hope all is well.
I can't even begin to find the words to tell you how much this extraordinarily kind and thoughtful e-mail meant to me. This is a treasure, especially since it comes from someone who I love and admire as much as I do you. You have always been a pleasure to know and to be around. You know, no matter how hard you work at being a good leader or teacher, it can be heard when the kids refuse to listen, or to give you a chance to help them. You always gave me a chance. You listened, with a good attitude. You accepted my efforts and tried the things I suggested. You accepted my efforts to reach out to you, and allowed me to be a friend to you. As you get callings and work with young people, you'll understand how important that is. You made it easy to serve and to give, because you accepted my feeble efforts. So many times you reach out to young people who won't reach back. You did, and that made it joyful for both of us.
You were a great kid, Ryan, and you have become an even greater man. I pray you have the opportunity to serve a Ryan Johnson or two in your life, and you'll know what a delight and joy you have always been to me.
God bless you! And thank you again for taking the time to write!
I was glad I took the time to write him. You never know what a random letter may do for someone's day, week or month.
I'm grateful to all the people that have been a life saver to me.