My Dad was born the oldest son of Stanley A. Tanner and Alcie Jeanette Wilson. They had a very young, contentious, and fast marriage. My Dad was born with malformation of his left arm. (dysmelia). He grew up in the small Mormon town of Kirtland New Mexico. It had been founded by his ancestors when they were forced off of what become the Navajo reservation.
His father, Stan, was the oldest son of a large family of Indian traders. This family had 9 children and because of the failed 1st marriage of Stan, his son Ron was taken in as a part of his fathers family and treated much more like a younger brother then a nephew by his Uncles and Aunt.
His deformed arm was often hidden in photographs like the one featured in this post with his mother. To this day if you see a photo of my dad, you’ll notice he prefers to hide his left arm.
One might think of this as embarrasment, but there is also another way to look at it.
Instead, if you were to see his arm in a photo, you would probably miss the real man because you might concentrate more on his arm than him. You see my Dad is one of the most innovative, inventive, perservering, ambitious, strong, and talented people I know.
He had to learn from an early age to compensate for his arm. In a family of mostly boys he had to learn to fight, play ball, and work hard. There was no time or resources to “baby” someone.
He never let his arm get in the way. He played sports and was a gifted athlete. He served in leadership postitions. His dancing skills were the first thing my Mother noticed about him. He has served an honorable LDS mission and served in Priesthood leadership throughout his life. Indeed he has touched countless lives with his amazing service and strong handshake. He raised a family of 7 children and has owned and managed several businesses. He has invented products and services, many that came from his need to find a way to do things differently.
My brothers and I have marvelled how he used to run 12 miles every day and then at the end of his run, he would use a shovel to move a pile of dirt from one place to another and then back. That was his workout regimen.
He isn’t perfect. He had a temper, but like so many things in life this might have been a blessing in disguise because it gave him fuel to push through hard times.
The point is that no matter who you are and what challenge you face your percieved weaknesses can be made into strengths. If you will humble yourself, the Lord can change your lemons into lemonade as it were. My Grandmother (Nani, my Dad’s step mother) told me the other day that she is sure that before this life the Lord needed people to take on bodies, minds, and circumstances that were very difficult in order to help us all learn lessons we couldn’t otherwise learn. She is convinced my father volunteered for this service knowing it was to be mind blowingly hard. Of course this isn’t doctrine, but it is an interesting thought.
Surely in the macro sense, The Plan of Salvation tests all of us the same. But in the micro sense each of us have a unique challenge or set of challenges that are designed to either make or break us. Our reaction to these challenges will be the difference. We can soften and humble our hearts and have faith in Christ, or we can harden our hearts and turn away from the nourishment we so desparetely need.
“If you take away the gift of reading, you create the gift of listening. If you bomb a city, you leave behind death and destruction. But you create a community of remote misses (people unafraid of bombing). If you take away a mother or a father, you cause suffering and despair. But one time in ten, out of that despair rises an indomitable force. You see the giant and the shepard in the Valley of Elah and your eye is drawn to the man with the sword and sheild and the glittering armor. But so much of what is beautiful and valuable in the world comes from the shepard, who has more strength and purpose than we ever imagine.” - Malcolm Gladwell “David and Goliath page 275.
Years after the death of Andre Trocme’s son he said…
“Even today I carry a death within myself, the death of my son, and I am like a decapitated pine. Pine trees do not regenerate their tops. They stay twisted, crippled.
They grow in thickness, perhaps, and that is what I am doing.” – Andre Trocme.
“Only the Master knows the depths of our trials, our pain, and our suffering. He alone offers us eternal peace in times of adversity. He alone touches our tortured souls” - Thomas S. Monson
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.