Thursday, September 22, 2016

Crazy, It would be Crazy

Life is all about choices.  Every day we make choices,  some really small and others really big.  Sometimes the small little choices have the biggest consequences and the big choices have small ones.  We never know when we make a choice what the consequences will be, large or small, we have no way of knowing the outcome.

At least most of the time we have no way of knowing,  but there are some choices when we make them we are pretty sure the outcome and yet we still make the choice and even when we know the outcome there are so many variables that we cannot even begin to understand or comprehend.

Years ago as a young missionary in the Dominican Republic I made a choice to do something having no idea the outcome.  In fact I never even gave it one moment of thought.   One day I made a choice to buy shoe shine box and go shine the shoes of a family that we were teaching.  I had a pretty good idea what the consequence would be.  They would go to church the next day.  We arrived at the door after a pretty interesting walk through town carrying a shoe shine box on my shoulder.  We were laughed at and jeered at as we carried a shoe shin box down the streets.  I guess it was a pretty unusual sight,  two America boys with a shoe shine box.

We finally arrived at the home of the Mendez family.  We knocked on the door holding our shoe shine box.  Brother Mendez opened the door and looked at us with a questioning face.   "What are you doing here Elders?"  he asked.  "We are here to shine your shoes for church tomorrow."  We exclaimed.

Brother Mendez looked at his daughter and said "we have learned something about the Mormons today."   We entered the house and shined every ones shoes.  The Mendez family came to church the next day and I forgot about that experience for along time.

That was one of those times where the small choice turned out way bigger then I could have thought.
Years later I discovered that Brother Mendez had written that experience down, for him it changed his life,  and mailed the letter to my Mission President.   He in turn shared the story with hundreds of missionaries over the years.  I had no idea that our choice to shine shoes would effect so many.

The really interesting part of that story for me happened 20 years after the experience.  My wife and I traveled to the Dominican Republic for the dedication of the new LDS Temple.  It was a huge event and I had not had contact with anyone there for over 20 years.  Back in those days we didn't have Face book or email.  It was harder to keep in touch.  Anyway,  we arrived in the DR and had a great experience.  One evening we went to an event in the home of a family I had taught 20 years ago in a city I had served in.  Many came to see me and my wife.  Among those in attendance were several missionaries that had served 16 years after me and Brother Mendez was also in attendance.

They were all sharing stories.  Remembering when type of things.  It was wonderful indeed.  At one point Brother Mendez asked,  "Petersen, remember when you came and shined our shoes for church?"  I laughed as I remembered it like it was yesterday.   All of the sudden the missionaries that had served 16 years after me exclaimed loudly,  "Wait, your the shoe shine missionary?"   "Your a legend in this mission".

I have to admit that I cried and laughed.  We all laughed and cried.  It was a joyful moment.  That night I learned a powerful lesson, one that I have never forgotten.  One that has guided my choices and I am sure will continue to guide them the rest of my life.

The lesson was this,  we never know the impact our choices will make and it's often the small and simple things that we do  that have the biggest impact on those around us.  Choices we make that are simple or big, we just never really know exactly how they will impact others.  

One of my favorite music groups has a song out  and I love the lyrics.  Mercy Me is the group and the song is "Crazy".  It talks about choice and how we would be crazy to choose the wisdom of the world over eternity.  I have thought about that a lot lately.  We are surrounded by the wisdom of the world and we are often told that is how it is, that we need to above all, follow the wisdom of the world.  That wisdom often over powers all we hold dear and valuable.  In the process of following the world we make choices that not only effect us here but forever,  eternity.

Recently I went to a wedding of my best friends son.  It was interesting,  it was a gay wedding.  I was overpowered with the consequences of choices that were made that night.  From the parents to the men getting married.   The choice of the parents to support their son, even though it was probably the hardest thing they have ever done, the choice of those attending showing support even though they did not approve of the choice,  the choice of boys getting married, following the wisdom of the world.  I am not judging, just my observations of the event.

For me I felt the impact of so many choices.  Choices that probably at the moment were not really thought about but the impact of so many of those choices have eternal consequences,  and if not eternal, far reaching that will indeed effect so many lives.   Time alone will be the judge of whether or not little or big things come from the choices we make each day in our lives.  

Indeed it would be crazy to follow the wisdom of the world when so much of that wisdom does effect  lives here and after.   It is usually the small and simple things that bring about the largest changes and often, actually more then often we never get to see the consequences of our choices.  Good and bad we cannot avoid what will happen when we make a choice.  And just think, if the small and simple things we do can cause such great things to happen in life,  what happens with the big choices we make in life.  Wow, defiantly food for thought.

Again,  I am not judging anyone for their choices.  I just wanted to offer food for thought.  Often times when I write this blog it is for me and I often learn and grow in the process.

Don't Be Crazy


  1. Amen! Thank you for reminding me about my choices in life!

  2. Agency -- a blessing, but also a potential curse.

  3. Always eloquently spoken, I do so enjoy your posts! ( oh and the cooking thing, too!)