Music and the Spoken Word: Our past doesn’t always determine our future — and that’s a good thing

Editor's note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given Jan. 13, 2019.

Not long ago, a man ran into an old high school friend, one he had not seen for many decades. He remembered his classmate as a reckless teenager, but he was now well into his 60s, and he was noticeably different: certainly more responsible and mature, but also kinder and more caring. What a pleasure it was to get reacquainted with this new version of his long-lost friend. He couldn’t help but ponder what experiences must have influenced him over those many years. What heartache and happiness, what successes and sorrows had shaped him and made him into the person he had become?

Then he had a more sobering thought: Have I changed too? How have my experiences shaped and molded me? Do my friends see in me a gentler, more compassionate person? Or do they see the same immature youth I once was?

Life is all about growth. Our physical growth is most obvious, but we also grow in other ways that are more meaningful. And yet we sometimes struggle to let other people grow too. For some reason, we hold fast to our first impressions of them. It’s as if we have already written their life stories — in permanent ink! Maybe it’s our way of simplifying our complex world. But can’t people change? If someone was wild and wayward years ago, can he mature and straighten out his life? If someone was careless and conceited in the past, can her heart be humbled and softened?

We had better hope the answer is yes, because each of us has something to change. And if we hope others will allow us to grow and improve, we must allow them to do the same. Life is not about holding on tightly to what we’re familiar with, to what we think we know. It’s about learning and progressing and becoming better versions of ourselves with every passing day.

So the next time you meet someone you haven’t seen in a while — or even someone you see every day — open your heart to a new narrative, a new memory in the making. Allow others, and yourself, to become the people we were meant to become.

Tuning in …

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM,, KSL X-stream, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, BYU-TV International, CBS Radio Network, Dish Network, DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143) and on the Tabernacle Choir's website and YouTube channel. The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at