Rob Shallenberger: Welcome back to our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners. This is your host, Rob Shallenberger, and I hope you’re having a great week, wherever you’re at in the world. In Utah, right now – and I know there are people that will listen to this months from when this is recorded – but we are in the middle of the beautiful fall colors. And it is just awesome. You look out the window, the trees have different shades of yellow, orange, red, the temperature in the air is just a perfectly crisp, cool temperature. So, I love this time of year. And I’m grateful that we have a few minutes together.
Well, on this podcast, I want to share a personal experience with you in the hopes that it’ll benefit someone. And I don’t know who may listen to this, or who may benefit from it. But I know that I’ve benefited tremendously just in the last few days by thinking about this and I felt inspired to share my experience here on this podcast. So again, I don’t know who needs to hear this, but I’m confident that someone does. And I felt like I needed to share this. So, maybe this is just for one or two people out there, I don’t know. But nonetheless, I hope that this will be helpful to you to take just a few minutes and learn from my personal experience. And I think this will probably be a pretty short podcast, I’m guessing.
I’ve been reflecting on what I’m about to share here for several weeks. And there are really two existing forces that exist in the world. And it’s difficult for them to coexist in the same place – one will push the other away. And that is faith and fear. And think about this, we’ve all experienced both of these at different points in our lives. Fear is a very powerful emotion. And, like I said, we’ve all experienced this to varying degrees. If you look at the stock market, they say there are two forces that drive the stock market: fear and greed. And the stock market will climb up ever so slowly – sometimes it’s called the ‘wall of worry’ because it eats its way up – it climbs and climbs, and over the course of time, it keeps rising. And then when it falls, it falls fast and usually falls violently. And that’s because fear is a very powerful emotion. When the selling starts, it’s easy to have these quick sell-offs that can in some cases, turn into a market crash. So, there are these really two emotions. And like I said, if you think about this, they can’t really coexist in the same place. There’s going to either be faith or there’s going to be fear. And wouldn’t you agree with that?
And it seems like COVID, all the world challenges that are happening right now, all the divide that exists in the world it has caused fear and anxiety to skyrocket. I mean, I’ve had to be vigilant myself about how often I look at the news because it’s just so negative out there. And we all know exactly what I’m talking about when I say that. And people I know, well-accomplished, well-established people who’ve never dealt with anxiety before are dealing with it for the first time in their lives. So, this fear seems to be palpable and, at least from my perspective, it seems to be at an all-time high with the divide in the vitriol that’s gripped our world. And so, the question for each one of us is, do we let fear wrap its vice-like grip around us? Or do we replace it with faith? And I’m suggesting here that we make a conscious decision to go forward with faith and not let fear be the dictator of our emotions or our decision making.
And let me give you an example of a very personal experience that just happened to me yesterday in fact. And it’s one of the reasons why I felt like I should share this here. And you know me by now. If you’re listening to this podcast, and you’ve heard me share some thoughts in the past, you know that I believe there is a God and I believe that he has a purpose and a plan for every one of us. And my faith is very much intertwined with my business life, my home life, personal life, it intertwines in every aspect of my life and it really is what is on my mind all the time. So, that’s what I’m going to approach this podcast from, is that perspective because I have that strong knowledge and belief.
And so, to that point, I was driving home yesterday, it was about a 30-minute drive from our office through a beautiful Canyon called Provo Canyon. And I’m driving up to our home in a place called Heber city here in Utah. And to put this in context, my son is currently serving a two-year service mission. He’s in Las Vegas, currently, but his original assignment was to Brazil. So, his Las Vegas assignment is just a temporary assignment. Now, having said that, if things stay the same, he may spend his entire mission in Nevada, which is fine, there’s nothing wrong with that. But assuming that the visa and some other things come through, then the plan is for him still to go to Brazil at some point, in the next two years; he’s only three months into his mission. So, that is the context.
I was driving home yesterday and I was thinking about my son. Kids are sometimes the catalyst for becoming great teachers in our lives. And some of you listening may have kids, some of you may not, and that’s fine either way, but I’ll tell you, when you have kids, they sure cause you to think, they cause you to put a lot of emotion into them. And it’s ironic that he’s not even at home, and yet, I’m still investing a lot of emotional energy into him. So, I’m driving up the canyon and as I’m driving, I offered a prayer. And what I asked was a pretty simple ask – I asked if he was going to get his visa to Brazil. And if so, when? And then I just calmly waited for his answer while driving. And in this case, I felt a very clear impression or answer come to my mind. And this is what it said – this is the gist of the words, as I try to express what was in my mind a very clear answer. He said this, “I could tell you the answer, but in this case, that would defeat part of the purpose of being here on this Earth. Rob, you need to walk forward with faith even though you don’t have all the answers.” For me, that was pretty powerful. This clear answer I got was basically saying, “Yeah, Rob, I could tell you the answer. I know all the answers. But if you had all the answers, there would be no need for faith.” And that was such an “aha” for me! I got home yesterday evening, I wrote in my journal – in my thoughts journal, thoughts book, I call it – and I captured this thought because this was a powerful experience for me, it really taught me an important lesson.
How many times could this story repeat itself in our lives, but just replace the scenario? Replace the question, it’s not Robbie anymore, it’s about something else; loved one, a relationship, a financial hardship, anxiety, whatever, starting a new business. Replace the scenario with a different scenario, and answer it the same way. I could give you the answer. He knows all the answers. I know that’s true, I have no doubt about that. Yet, wouldn’t that, in truth, defeat part of the purpose of being here? If we had all the answers, why would there be any requirement for faith? And in my experience, not knowing the answers is part of what allows us to walk forward with faith and put one foot in front of the other and trust in a higher power that there is a plan, that everything will work out in our favor.
Let me give you a different example. And if you’ve listened to our podcast consistently, then you’ve heard this one. We’ve only gone into detail on it a couple of times, but we skirted around it numerous times. And that is that my mom has and was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. And if anyone has this in your family, you know how devastating this particular disease can be, and how hard it is to watch this key person or whoever it is in your life just slowly whittle away and they just aren’t them anymore. Then, in the context of my mom – my mom is one of the several heroes in my life: my mom, my dad, my grandfather, a couple of other people like that – she was valedictorian in high school, she has track records that she set in high school that are still there. I mean, she was pretty much exemplary in everything she did. I’ve only met one person in my life who didn’t like her. Everyone else says she’s a saint, they just loved her. She treated people so kindly, she loved them. And that’s just what she exemplified throughout her entire life. Well, at age 55, she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, that was 10 years ago. So, at this point, she’s 65 years old and this past Christmas, so about 10 months ago, we all gathered together as a family, we’d already decided that that was the time to put her in a care center and so we made this shift. On December 27th, we celebrated Christmas together and that was our last Christmas with her here at home, and then we moved her to the care facility. Well, things have gone downhill fast for her in the care facility over the last 10 months – and at this point, she no longer can recognize any of us – which has been the case for a while. She doesn’t recognize my father, she can’t form a sentence. At best, maybe you’re lucky if you get one word from her. My dad who’s a saint and one of my heroes, he’s down there every night to change her, she can’t take care of herself in any way. She can feed herself, she’s having a hard time swallowing, incontinence, can’t shower, just nothing. There’s nothing that she can do for herself. She needs to be tucked in bed and is 100% dependent on other people.
Well, that’s a pretty tough situation, and for my dad, I’ve watched him go through this and I’ve watched him learn so much from this experience. I’ve watched him care for her in a way that I’ve never seen him do that in my life. And he’s always been loving and caring, but this has taken it to a whole another level. And so, we could ask the question, why? Why did my mom have to go through that and experience that? She’s a total saint? Why would she have to go through that particular experience? And at this point, she probably has weeks left to live, we just started hospice and things are definitely towards the end at this point. But rather than asking why – because that why can take us down a bunny trail, if you want to call that a rabbit hole – that there’s just nothing good that often usually comes from that particular question. When asking ourselves why about life circumstances, instead of asking that, we focus on what we can control. This is where faith comes back into the equation.
And you’ve heard us talk about having a vision and roles and goals and doing pre-week planning. My dad’s vision shifted. This is never what he expected in his “golden years of life”, they had all these plans of travel and things they would do together. Well, that all completely changed, went out the window. Obviously, things dramatically shifted with this diagnosis. So, my dad’s new vision in the role of the husband for my mom is to help her finish her life with dignity. As part of his pre-week planning, every day he’s adjusted his flight schedules, his travels, he’s down there with her nearly every day, spending about three hours a night – he helps her get ready for bed, changes her, reads the same picture book over and over and over again, that they’ve read like 100 times. But I guess that’s one of the benefits of Alzheimer’s: you can read it five minutes after you read it before and it’s a whole new book. But this is what he does every day with her. We don’t know the beginning from the end. We don’t know why she’s going through this experience, what are the lessons to be learned, but I’ll tell you one thing we do know is that there is a God and that there is a plan. And so, we walk forward in faith.
And it doesn’t matter what the challenge is that comes our way. If we see it through that lens, faith can be the governing emotion rather than fear. Fear, when we make decisions based on fear, they’re almost always the wrong decisions. And so, what I would invite us to do is consider where do faith and fear, where’s this pushing in this poll happening of this Yin and this Yang in our lives? And how can we replace fear with faith? And where can we have a belief that “You know what? There is a God, and He has a plan for every one of us.” If we will go forward in faith, it will change our entire paradigm. When we actually believe and have that faith, that everything indeed will work out for our good, it truly does not matter what comes our way or happens around us. Negativity can bombard us from every side of the world, yet we go forward in faith. And that’s okay. We don’t have to let fear sneak into our lives and let that become the governing emotion.
And so, this has been only 12 minutes, a short podcast. And I hope that sharing these personal insights has been beneficial for someone. I’m confident that there’s someone who needed to hear some of the thoughts that were on my mind, because that’s what I felt like I should share on this podcast, and I try to listen to those feelings. So, with my son, driving yesterday, it was such a powerful lesson. “Rob, I could tell you all the answers, I know all the answers. But that would defeat the purpose. You need to learn to walk forward with faith, even though you don’t have all of the answers.”. What a great insight for me to learn. And I hope that all of us can think about and ponder those words and how they might apply to your life. Because I’m confident that just like I needed to hear that, there are others that could benefit from that same thought process. So yeah. Could He tell us all the answers? Of course. Does He know them all? Of course, he does. But we need to learn to walk forward not knowing all the answers. And that’s part of the reason why we’re here.
So, this is a few minutes, just me sharing some personal insights with you. I hope that’s been beneficial. Sometimes in our culture, we don’t really open up or get vulnerable with other people. But I think there’s a lot to be learned by doing that. We all have different challenges. My mom with Alzheimer’s, going through that, that’s something I would never wish on anyone. But what we’ve learned together as a family has really transformed our relationships. And so, we each have these different things and I hope that this short discussion has helped someone or all of us to evaluate our own lives and where we’re letting faith become the governing emotion rather than fear. And so, I hope this has given us something to think about. If you have stories, I’d love to hear them. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Share your insights, share your thoughts. We have different stories, and I thrive on hearing other people’s stories. So, with that being said, I hope you have a wonderful day and a great rest of your week!