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Hey Gramps,

I have a personal insecurity that I’ve had for time, and that would be my height. I’m around 5’4 or 5’5, however I’m shorter than those around me. Dating has been difficult and my height has taken toll of my happiness. My friends play around about being taller than me, but I pray to be taller with very little hope. I’ve read an earlier statement about height, but it doesn’t help the melancholy I feel. So will everyone be the same height in the spirit world?

Eric

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Answer

 

Eric,

You know, Eric, everyone has a height.  Yours is just a bit below average.  As for heaven?  I have no idea.  But what I do believe is that it won’t matter one bit in the next world.

Being shorter than average is not so bad.  Would you rather be short because your limbs are shorter than average?  Or if you had no limbs at all?  Social interaction will get better as you get older.  I happen to know of a man who is about 5′-4″ (possibly shorter — I haven’t been so rude as to have taken a tape to him.) And his wife is maybe an inch taller.  They are about the sweetest and most capable couple in the ward.  Everyone loves them.  And believe me, they are respected.

There are plenty of women who will date you.  You just need to find them.  In fact, I know of a young woman who is only 5′-3″.  She likes telling people that she is 5′-pi” (because she believes she is 5′-3.1416″).  And I also know of two couples where the wife is significantly taller than the husband.  The truth is that all of us have advantages and disadvantages.  We can bemoan our disadvantages, or we can play up our advantages.  What’s better is to find a way to make your weakness, your strength.

As for the teasing from friends, well, that’s what friends are supposed to do.  Part of being really good friends is to banter about things.  You go banter right back.  And remember that when they tease you, it is because they are your friends.  But if anyone else teases you, they’ll be there to defend you.  That’s what friends do — if they are good friends.  It’s an attitude of “Hey, he’s our friend. Only we get to tease him.  You leave him alone.”  I hope those are the friends you have.

Did you know you’re taller than the Apostle Paul in the New Testament.

On one occasion, the Prophet Joseph Smith described Paul’s physical appearance: “He [the Apostle Paul] is about five feet high; very dark hair; dark complexion; dark skin; large Roman nose; sharp face; small black eyes, penetrating as eternity; round shoulders; a whining voice, except when elevated, and then it almost resembles the roaring of a lion. He was a good orator”

 

— “Extracts from William Clayton’s Private Book,” p. 4, Journals of L. John Nuttall, 1857–1904, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University; copy in Church History Library.

Now, I’d like to introduce you to a concept known as “self-deprecation”.  Basically, it is taking a fun attitude about what you perceive as your weaknesses and insecurities.  I’ll give you an example. President Kimball was known to be a fairly short man.  He was about your height.  Think of that.  A prophet of God was about as tall as you are.  You’re in good company.

Here’s a story of his self-deprecation on glorious display.

… as President Kimball met with Brother Womack and informed him that the Lord had designated him to be the patriarch, there was a protracted silence in the room. Then Brother Womack said: “Brother Kimball, it is my understanding that a patriarch is to place his hands on the head of the person he blesses. As you can see, I have no hands to place on the head of anyone.”

 

Brother Kimball, in his kind and patient manner, invited Brother Womack to stand behind the chair on which Brother Kimball was seated. He then said, “Now, Brother Womack, lean forward and see if the stumps of your arms will reach the top of my head.” To Brother Womack’s joy, they touched Brother Kimball’s head, and the exclamation came forth, “I can reach you! I can reach you!”

 

“Of course you can reach me,” responded Brother Kimball. “And if you can reach me, you can reach any whom you bless. I will probably be the shortest person you will ever have seated before you.

 

President Kimball reported to us that when the name of James Womack was presented to the stake conference, “the hands of the members shot heavenward in an enthusiastic vote of approval.”

 

— They Pray and They Go, Thomas S. Monson, April 2002 General Conference.

If you see your height as a disadvantage, make it into a strength.  Remember that the Lord gives us all weaknesses to make us humble.

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.  Ether 12:27

I’ll tell you a story of a friend of mine.  He was a very successful businessman who owned and managed three small businesses.  He was probably the wealthiest person I associated with on a regular basis.  He was probably 5′-4″ as well, possibly shorter.  And he was teased all his life.  Even as an adult, friends and enemies alike teased him.  But he just took it in stride.

One day, I had an appointment with him, and I was going to meet with him at one of his businesses.  I sat waiting as he was making his rounds to each of his businesses to make the appropriate decisions and directives for the day.  I observed the busy bees working away.  Then he finally arrived.  What a difference!

When he arrived, you could see everyone start to smile a bit more. The stress was almost visibly disappearing upon his arrival.

After he did all he needed and gave the directions for the day, I told him about what I had observed.  How does he get people to react like that to him?  His response was amazing.

Look at me.  I’m not a big guy.  (I wondered what that had to do with anything).  I grew up in the mean streets of Harlem.

 

There were gang-bangers and bullies all over.  There was no way I was going to be able to fight my way through my childhood.  And I just couldn’t spend my life running.  So, I got really good at talking my way out of situations.  I learned to de-escalate emotions by simply talking to people.  I got people to like me.  (And truly, everyone loved him).

 

When I got older, I realized I could use that talent to get people to do things that they wouldn’t do for other people.  It has been a real asset in managing personnel.  I never have to threaten anyone.  I just talk to an employee and they do what I need to get done.  That’s why my businesses run well.

This is how you turn a weakness into a strength.  Find a way to do that yourself and you will find amazing success.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

 

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