I have a brother in law who is a great example to me. Whenever we get together as a family at some point there is always a call that will go out along the lines of “Will someone set the table?” or “Will someone grab that for me?” Greg, the great guy that he is, will often be the one to stand up and accomplish the task, and trust me, it’s a sacrifice for him when a BYU football game is on.
I’ve been trying to follow that example in my own small way. Since I’m not running for time or speed anymore (not because I don’t want to, but because my body doesn’t seem to agree with my mind on this subject) I have a lot more freedom in my runs. I’ve made an effort over the last few months to notice when there are garbage cans along my route and as I approach them I pick up some of the litter I see and deposit it in the garbage can as I pass. Don’t worry, whenever I do it I always immediately wash my hands when I get home. No one ever sees me, I just do it because I recognize that at some point someone is going to have to pick up the garbage, and it might as well be me.
In church we always say that if you want to find yourself you should lose yourself in the service of others. But today as I played my gross garbage game I was reminded of one of the reasons that is true. When I do something that “somebody” has to do I am saying “I am somebody! And not just anybody, I am somebody that can make a difference!” What a powerful statement! The more I respond to the call to be somebody, the more I confirm to myself that I am real, I have an identity, and I am capable of doing good.
Every day I am bombarded with opportunities to be somebody. I get e-mails from the school asking for volunteers. The Relief Society binder always has at least one list of service opportunities to sign up for. It’s easier to say yes when they ask for you by name, but these general calls for “somebody” to serve are so easy to dodge. “If you consider yourself a nobody and do nothing to improve yourself to become a somebody, you truly will end up being a nobody.” (Becoming Somebody, John H. Vandenberg, Conference Address 1972)
Please note: Having the courage to stand up and be somebody also means that sometimes we need to be strong enough to be somebody to ourselves. We need to do things to sustain, strengthen, and refresh ourselves. Sometimes saying that you are somebody is letting others know that your needs matter too. The tough part is deciding when being somebody is saying yes, and when being somebody is saying no. I have found that if I ask to the Spirit to be my guide he will let me know which things are the distractions and which things I should engage in.
I can see the strength of character in those people who repeatedly and consistently respond to the call to be somebody. They don’t need to hear their name called to matter, they already know they do. Responding to the call to be somebody “will lift an individual out of oblivion and, in so doing, will give a feeling of satisfaction and happiness not to be found elsewhere.” (Ibid) Consciously recognizing that I am somebody will give me strength and power to act in ways I did not have the courage to do before. That feeling comes not from exterior recognition, but from individual and personal increased worthiness to feel the Spirit and using personal agency to actively move closer to Jesus Christ, and never are our own identities so clear as when we see who we are reflected in the love of our Savior.
I am somebody.