Paul, I love the way you expressed yourself in that long status about “How many people…” It is obvious that your spirit is both tough as nails and very sensitive to what’s going on in your life. That can be a tough combination to handle.
Let me ask you this: When you stand before our Maker at the Last Judgment, and all of your sins and triumphs are laid bare before His Eyes, who, of all the people you will have known during your mortal tour will stand by you? That’s right. Not a one of them. We will all stand alone to answer for our own sins and work out our own salvation. No one can accept the atonement of Christ for you. No one can speak for you, or say you were a great guy.
Now think about this: If you have many friends and companions in mortality, and yet are totally alone as you stand before God on that day, doesn’t it make sense that you ought to live your life according to you own goals and values? I’m sure you know that charity and service to others is a commandment, and that few virtues are greater, but even so, those you have served and helped will not stand by you; they have their own judgment to deal with.
If you seek validation for your life in the opinions or actions of others, you are going down the wrong road. You must live for yourself and your own values, because that is the way God made you. He made Paul Black unique in all of creation because He needed Paul Black to follow His commandments, repent of his own sins, and claim his own part of Christ’s Atonement. He already has someone to live for Joe Blow, and live by Joe Blow’s standards. That person is Joe Blow.
Now be careful, here. This does not mean you should be cruel or uncaring toward others, or refuse them charity if it is in your power to give it. It means that you need to live for yourself. Your decisions on charity and service need to be yours, and no one else’s. You will one day choose an eternal companion, and that choice should be made according to your values, with the counsel of The Holy Ghost. You will think that woman more precious to you than life, itself, and you will be willing to lay down your life for her. But that must be YOUR choice!
If you ever get into a firefight, it may be that you will choose to lay down your own life for the safety of your fellow Marines. To do so is the very highest expression of nobility, but it must be YOUR decision, according to YOUR values!
If you live entirely for others, as your status update kind of suggested you might be doing, you will be disappointed, maybe even betrayed. This is the answer to all of your questions about how many: One, and it must be Paul Black. God gave you everything you need to get through this, because He never gives us a trial without also giving us the means of getting through it.
You know, It’s pretty ironic. On the night of the 14th of March, 1967, I decided that my life was a burden and I couldn’t bear it. I slipped into the kitchen, got down my mom’s .38, and went out to the car. I sat in that car and stared down that gun barrel for three hours, trying to get up the guts to pull the trigger. I never did. So I went to bed, and when I woke up on the morning of the 15th, I went downtown and enlisted in the Marines. I enlisted out of a death wish, because I thought I didn’t have the guts to pull that trigger. However, I understand now that My Father in Heaven needed me to do some things – to raise some kids, to teach other kids, and maybe, just maybe, to write a note in the dead of night to a young man I've never met who is related to me by … what the hell relation are we, anyway? Not cousins. Not…. Oh, yeah. We’re Marines.
So there it is, Lad. Be your own man, and do your best to understand what God wants you to be. And remember that if you punch your own ticket, you’re gonna screw up His plan for you, and that’s gonna go real hard for you at the final judgment.