Sunday, May 25, 2014


During the harrowing and sometimes despondent final days of struggling toward the defense of my Dissertation and oral exams which preceded the bestowal of my Doctorate degree, I had an occasion to counsel with a dear friend who had passed though those fiery pits and dens a few years prior.

I queried him on the wisdom or lack thereof, of a person who would deliberately put themselves through such an ordeal, especially in light of all the studies which had been done that overwhelmingly indicated the modest retention rate remaining in a punished mind which had so laboriously languished over memorizing material, after only a short period of time had elapsed.

What, if any, was to be the long-lasting good which would be birthed by having gone through this laborious pain and persistent ordeal?

Didn't we all know that the hard bound volume which once having been conceived and carried forth to its full term and finally seen the light of day, was destined to join the other dust collectors on the endless shelves of the massive library?

(Yes, mothers I do realize that my pains in no way came close to those which attend the actual birthing of a child, but for some reason this is the analogy which seemed fitting as I was writing this Thought.)

Likewise, during that era we had no idea of the momentary shelf life that the evolving E books would bring about. Hardbound books would come to have nary a scant ‘15 minutes’ to collect sunlight carried specks of dust.

As proof that this conversation with my friend was one of those very impactful teaching moments in my life, I can unreservedly report I have retained his response and it has been recalled during many lesser trials of my life.

His feeling was that even with the dwindling retention of the names, dates and ideas, I would always remember that I had been able to jump all the hurdles, go over all the obstacles and negotiate all the tests and had successfully finished the race. This would be one of those self-victories which I would always be able to know I had accomplished. It would soon come to pass, that the pains would be little remembered and scars would be mostly unnoticeable, but I would always retain the knowledge of having surmounted a monumental task.

This special teaching moment has often vividly played on my consciousness as I studied and taught about:

Adam and Eve leaving Paradise and making their way in a harsh and unknown environment providing a way for Heavenly Fathers children to come to mortality

Noah building an ark on dry land in order to become a physical savior

Abraham raising the sacrificial knife over his son Isaac on his way to becoming the father of nations

Moses ascending Mt. Sinai and descending as the prophet of the Lord’s Law

David slaying Goliath on his way to becoming Israel’s most revered king

Esther paying the ultimate price of beauty for the survival of her people

Joan of Arc passing her test of fire so that a better nation could rise from the ashes

Washington crossing the Delaware as a new nation was being born

Joseph Smith suffering persecution so that gospel restoration could take place

Lincoln moving from a log cabin to the White House

Gandhi suffering the pangs of starvation so that his people could be fed from the bounties of freedom

Rosa Parks moving to the front of a bus so that a people could move forward

The list of those who have overcome in order to bring advancement and societal change goes on endlessly. I suspect if we truly understood the process of building great character in any individual, the overcoming of great obstacles would probably rank high in the curriculum of life’s secrets to success.

There are few exceptions to the rule, as we examine the lives of the history of mankind, that meaningful changes are brought about by those who became notable because they braved the hurdles of adversity and made life better for many as they grew and became greater themselves through self-victories.

For me the ultimate example will always be:

We behold a cross and worship the Savior of the world.

Jesus the Christ who stated, “suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed from every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” (Doctrine and Covenants 19: 18, 19)

Through His mission and Atonement He not only became the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind, but He took upon Himself the characteristics, attributes and perfections of His Father and rose to stand by His Father’s side.

If it is by overcoming great challenges we develop greater character and better serve one another, perhaps the world as well as ourselves would be better served if we stopped ignoring and skirting the difficulties in our lives and sought with greater determination to go forth victoriously.


  1. Thank you for your thoughts, Bro. Riley. Hope you and your family are doing well.
    I'm still availing myself of now, both Bro. Greiner and Bro. Fuller's weekly classes.
    You were awesome as well.

    Sharon Riley(maiden name) Carlin

  2. Thank you, Bill, for your THOUGHTS for Sunday, May 25, 2014! I especially appreciated reading through your list of people that you have "studied and taught about" ~~ now THAT was some list!!! As I read through it, it made me stop and think of the contribution that each of these people have made on the lives of millions/billions of people still today! Aren't we indebted to them!!!



  3. Good morning bill. Glad we didn't miss this 1! It is so timely as we prepare to go on a mission this september. We go to micronesia and the people in the islands. I think it's not going to be easy but we're excited!

    Thanks again for your words and thoughts.

    Patricia Profitt

  4. This is the most important Thought I have read to date! It is so central to the many trials & tribulations I'm watching my children go through, each in their own way. I marvel at the Wisdom of our HF, in allowing us to go through the Refiner's Fire, to complete our individual journeys home! Just as Jesus had to go to the depths, for us, & for His own progression, we must also master our own progression! Thankful always for Jesus' role as the Christ, we still have to become the keeper of our own stewardships. If we do not, we can not win the Prize! I wish there was a way to help our children learn this without the hardships! But I also know that we hurt their progression if we don't allow it, just as HF has with each of us, & did with His Only Begotten! I wish I could open my brain & impart the things I have learned! I admire all who have been able to guide their children back to the Fold, once they have strayed! I take solace that even HF couldn't do it for His Children! That they have to do it themselves, in their own way, & in their own time! Not giving up, ever, as I love the Prodigal Son! Doors always open! The World has not been an easy place for Bob Walters' children or wife! The wife is fine...the son will be, the girls are struggling with demons of their own, & I call for blessings for each, many times each day! So...thank you for the Blessing of the Thoughts of a GREAT MAN, who teaches so well, with the help of a great helpmeet!

    Blessings to you both for a safe Memorial Day Week-end!


  5. Thank you Bishop Riley for such inspirational insights.

    Jay Lawrence

  6. Me encanto !!! Excelente !!! Muchas Graciassss !!! Bendiciones!!!

    Mercedes Castillo

  7. gracias muy bueno presidente

    Victor Manuel Holguin Montaño

  8. Gracias, hermosas palabras de aliento. Abrazos!

    Vanessa González Vega


  9. You poor tortured lad; I had pain enough just getting a bachelors degree in electrical engineering; with orals and a thesis; a magnetic fluid brake, that was acutally installed and used in the machinery lab. Looking back He was always there; but it took a good number of years for me to discover just how good an EE he really is.

    As always I enjoyed your thoughts.

    Paul Hansen

  10. Exegesis: (scholarly ;-) (wink, wink) analysis and commentary which may enhance but inescapably distorts another's THOUGHTS)) ;-)

    "However, in the game of life, which is, when all is said and done, the only game which matters, every fish is in an individual pond, mysteriously mingling with all other fish, none of which are used to measure the advancement of each individual fish."
    or "This above all, to thine own self be true."

    To be true to oneself has become the north star for many who would transfer wisdom to their scions. I wonder. Can the focus be off just a little? A lot?

    " I know this practice has become non-politically correct, but we were just a bunch of kids having fun and the last person chosen was just as much a friend in the group as the first."

    Does a child's heart glow with a feeling of acceptance, or shrink in secret discomfort and pain from condescending acceptance of his peers here intrinsically his superiors?
    That another's self-image was diminished was as water off a duck's back to me as that process elevated and reinforced my own self esteem. (happy, happy the memory of those warm times for us all.)

    "As in all things where Heavenly Father is involved, the judgment of our mortal probationary period can be totally perfect because of the individual standard by which each of us will be judged."
    And we being imperfect should tremble before that judgement; little comfort position or honor, whether social or ecclesiastical, achieved and accorded to us here during this brief sojourn.

    So what can all my gobbledygook mean?

    "When I was a child I thought as a child. "

    My world was flat, and the center of the universe.
    I was the center of my world. I could know only that information, process that data that came to me. That which I saw , heard, smelled, etc.. I had a sort of semi-solipsistic perspective, though I dwelled among other solipsists.

  11. As I grew a little older, I discovered that the sun did not go around my world, but my world went around the sun. A startling revelation. Not my world, but the sun was the center of the universe. A huge universe indeed. There were other planets, and many stars, what shall we say, the sidereal heavens { :-) McConkie} to grace our stay.
    Time passed and my age progressed with it. What of these sidereal heavens? What? Our little universe was only one little solar system among many in a vast universe with thousands, perhaps even millions of such solar systems.
    Finally, but by now shouldn't I realize, not finally, this great universe of so many suns and solar systems is but one of many such universes.
    "When will it ever end, when will it ever end?"

    "When I became a man I put away childish things."

    In the end I have come to realize (shaken by the doubt of acknowledged inadequacy) that I was indeed never the center of any universe, but one insignificant spec in a much greater whole. Any significance that I have is, can only be, as part of something much greater than I can see, than I can know from others, than I or others can imagine.
    So every fish, know it or not, is not in a little pond of his own, and if so, that pond is part of a vast ocean beyond cognition.
    And each individual is as complex on the inside as all the universes which we know. Feelings; emotional, behavioral and mental responses to each of the conditions we experience affect us to shape us each in individual ways, variable beyond apprehension.
    Does that mean we need to tiptoe always around each other? Of course not. That reticence would be it's own cause generating it's own beneficial or negative results.
    But what I am, perhaps vainly, trying to get across in this little story is that we are never the center of anything. To have meaning, and even to be judged if that be one's self absorbed goal, one must look outward, see beyond and seek to be a part and participate as a part of That Entity which subsumes him. For realize it, accept it or reject it, apart from the Greater Whole there is nothing at all. If that be so, it has profound significance for anyone who would hope to realize her own worth.
    To wit, I have a recommendation:
    "Strive to eliminate doing or saying those things which would cause others misery and pain.
    Learn through constant [repetitive effort], those skills which make the road of all the players around us more easily traveled.
    Practice and practice at becoming good and honorable people." (quote slightly exegeted for the misery of the author ;-)

    "Words count for little, acts alone are great,
    All things give way before them, soon or late." (corrupted verse from author unknown)

    I am in desperate need of more practice, and so little time, so little time,

    Paul Maddox

  12. muy hermoso este mensaje, es el que más me ha gustado de todos.