Upon returning home after a very successful run of the hit musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, my brothers and I were cast in the national tour of You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown. I was cast in the lead role as Charlie Brown. The tour was canceled last minute along with 3 other musicals because 12 new shows came out that very same year and certain venues changed their minds. But . . . as I took acting lessons and started preparing to play the little boy we all grew up with, I learned a very valuable lesson.
I was going to be the very best Charlie Brown the world had ever seen. I purchased a BIG life-size cardboard cut-out of Charlie Brown and put it in my apartment. I bought a yellow shirt with the zig-zagged line through it. I started adding things like, “Good Grief” to my vocabulary and on occasion put a paper bag or two over my head. I was in essence becoming Charlie Brown. I remember working on one particular scene called, “The Doctor Is In” which features both Charlie and Lucy. Charlie is feeling down and so Lucy, “the doctor,” has Charlie Brown start talking about all of the things that are wrong with him. Here are some of the lyrics to that song:
“I’m not very handsome or clever, or lucid,
I’ve always been stupid at spelling and numbers.
I’ve never been much playing football or baseball
Or stick ball, or checkers, or marbles, or ping-pong
I’m usually awful at parties and dances,
I stand like a stick or I cough, or I laugh,
Or I don’t bring a present, or I spill the ice cream
Or I get so depressed that I stand and I scream . . .
Oh, how could there possibly be
One small person as thoroughly, totally, utterly
Blah as me.”
One evening, I found myself feeling very down and depressed and I didn’t know why. There was a dark heavy cloud weighing down on my chest inside. Have you ever felt that way? I couldn’t understand how a positive guy like me, a guy with so many reasons to be happy as I had, could feel so awful inside. I couldn’t stand it any longer and so I decided to take a little drive in my car to try and figure things out. I ended up sitting in my car out side the Provo Temple, the place where my parents were married back in 1974. It has always been a good place for me to go when I just need to get away from the world and find some peace.
As I sat there in my car saying a prayer and trying to figure out the source behind all of these heavy feelings, tears streamed down my face. I sat waiting for an answer, when to my surprise I received one of the clearest responses in my life. It was as if I heard a voice saying to me, “Why don’t you start loving yourself the way that I love you?” I opened my eyes and looked around. “Who said that?” It was a very spiritual moment and one that has changed my life forever! I knew exactly who had said it and then I really wept because of the love that I felt. I understood that God wanted me to know that I was His son and that He loved me and if someone as perfect as God could love me, why couldn’t I love myself? I’m glad there was nobody around because they would’ve been pretty entertained by this young guy bawling his eyes out in his car!
It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was hearing exactly what I needed to hear. I understood in that moment exactly why I had been feeling down and depressed. As I had been preparing to to play Charlie Brown, I had actually started getting inside that little boy’s BIG round head. I started reading the words to that particular song and realized that I had been doing the exact same things Charlie Brown was doing; I was literally beating myself up inside. I was my worst critic.
Let me ask you, the reader, a question . . . Do you ever talk to yourself? I ask this to audiences when I do speaking engagements. I say, “For those of you not raising your hands, you’re saying to yourself, I don’t know . . . Do I talk to myself?” Ha! We all talk to ourselves and let me tell you, some of the most intelligent conversations you will ever have are the ones that you have with yourself. Sometimes the only nice things YOU will hear about YOU are the things that YOU say to YOU, so be good to yourself!
One of my favorite books says, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” How can we love others if we can’t first love ourselves? When was the last time you did something nice for yourself? When was the last time you honestly said to yourself, “Good job!” and meant it? Be careful what you tell yourself, because you might believe it!!! If you go around saying things like, “I’m Stupid!” Congratulations, you just won the stupid award! One of my favorite books says, “As a man thinketh, so is he, or so shall he be.” I like what author John C. Maxwell said: “Your life today is a result of your thinking yesterday. Your life tomorrow will be determined by what you think today.” James Allen, in his amazing book, As A Man Thinketh said, “Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results; bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results.” Romans 12:2 says, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds.” If you are defeated in your mind, the battle is already over. We literally are what we think.
I’ll end by sharing a little poem by Guy Gilchrist called, “Keeper of the Keys”
“You are the Keeper of The Keys.
You are the Guard at The Gate.
Waiting in line to get through that door
Is LOVE And also HATE.
In line to enter is GENTLE PEACE.
And also VIOLENT WAR.
You must choose who may, and who
May not come through the door.
INTOLERANCE tries to sneak on through
On wings of FEAR, or PRIDE.
It hides behind DREAMS of BELONGING,
And tries to sneak inside.
Oh! Be alert! You’re the Guard who decides
Who GOES and may STAY.
You are The Keeper of The Keys to Your Mind.
Who will you let in today?”
Now go out there and show the world who you REALLY are.