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January 5, 2015
Life on Planet Kathy
The Making of Diamonds
by Kathryn H. Kidd

Fluffy and I went to a wedding last week, and as we sat in the temple I couldnít help but remember our own wedding ceremony a little more than 38 years ago. We were so young. We were so innocent. We were so ó well, we were so stupid. We only thought we knew everything, when in fact we knew so little.

I could see that Fluffy was a diamond in the rough. He had jagged edges that would trip an elephant. I thought it would be no trouble to grind those edges off, once we were living in wedded bliss. I naively assumed that Fluffy would calmly sit there while I used the grinder on him to get rid of those nasty imperfections.

What a dolt I was! Fluffy will not even submit to a haircut unless heís in the mood! He kept a mustache for more than thirty years, fully knowing that I hate facial hair in any form. If he wouldnít even shave a mustache for me, why in the world did I think he was going to sit still long enough for me to mold him and shape him into the person I thought he should be?

It just wasnít going to happen.

Weíre just not even going to mention the little detail about what right I thought I had to change him, anyway. Iím not the first woman who went into a marriage thinking she was going to tame the savage beast ó to civilize him, if you will.

As author John Grisham says, women go into a marriage thinking they can change their husbands and men go into a marriage thinking their wives wonít change ó and both of them are wrong.

John Grisham is right. You canít change a man. There isnít a hammer big enough to knock off those rough edges. And the harder you try, the more determined the husband is to keep whatever quality it is youíre trying to get rid of.

I spent a lot of years trying. I would ask something of Fluffy, but Fluffy considered excessive asking to be nagging. If I mentioned something once, that was okay. The second time I mentioned it ó even if it was a week after the first time ó I had crossed the line into nag-dom, and Fluffy was less likely to do whatever it was I had asked than if I had never asked him at all.

If I hadnít gotten the hint the second time and dared to ask him about the same thing on a third occasion, heaven help me. It was never in this lifetime going to happen ó not even if Fluffy had been intending to do it in the first place.

Take mustaches. Please take them. Take all of them, far from me. Gee, do I hate those slithery little things! I donít know why I have an aversion to them. It is totally irrational. I completely admit that some men look a lot better with them than without them. I donít like them for the same reason I donít like peanut butter or the Tabernacle Organ. I just donít.

But the moment that Fluffy knew how much I hated mustaches, keeping his mustache became a matter of principle with him. His mustache was a part of him, and if I loved him, why was I trying so hard to change him? He never exactly said that, mind you, but thatís what his big, sad eyes were always asking me. I didnít have an answer for that, so I always backed off.

So the mustache stayed until the moment he was given a choice of keeping the mustache or keeping his status as a temple worker. Then he shaved. It took me a year to get used to the clean-shaven Fluffy, and I had to admit that the mustache-less Fluffy looked a bit strange. But thatís a different topic for a different day. The point is, for the purposes of this column, he did not get rid of the mustache for me.

As I sat in the temple last week, looking at the dewy-eyed bride, I wondered what in the world possessed me, back when I was twenty-six and dewy-eyed myself, to think that Fluffy had all those rough edges and that I didnít have any rough edges of my own. It never occurred to me that I, too, might need a little bit of fixing ó or maybe a whole lot of fixing.

It never dawned on me that my rough edges might be even bigger than his were, and that instead of Kathy being given the task of polishing Fluffy up into a fine gem, God had instead thrown two rough stones into the same rock tumbler. Instead of him needing all the fixing, I needed to be fixed right along with him. We needed to grow, or be shaved off, or to be groomed, together.

Oh boy, am I mixing my metaphors!

In retrospect, I see that my vision for Fluffy was a lot punier than Godís has been. How do I know this? Because right now, today, Fluffy is a diamond that shines brighter than I ever imagined he could shine. I couldnít have turned Fluffy into the person he is now. My imagination isnít good enough. God is a better gem polisher than I ever dreamed of being.

Perhaps instead of trying to mold our mate (or children) into our image of what we want them to be, it would be better to encourage them to be the kind of people that will cause their best selves to appear. †In other words, we should be the master of the garden, but we don't select the seeds.

You canít change someone to be what you want, but you can put them into an environment that will foster positive change. If you surround them with love and acceptance and happy experiences, sometimes the rough edges fall off without any effort on your own, and people become the diamonds they were supposed to be from the very beginning.

And usually you will find that the same process has removed most of your rough edges as well.

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