VIDEO: Why Putting God First Changes Everything | Actor Mason Branning | Skylight Spiritual Wellness

VIDEO: Why Putting God First Changes Everything | Actor Mason Branning | Skylight Spiritual Wellness


One of my favorite quotes, You put God first in your life. Everything else falls into its proper place or drops out of your life entirely.


It’s so true. The more he is just sitting there at the top and you think of him with everything and you take everything by him, the more and more you will find that the useless junk that’s just filling up your rooms of whatever you want to look at your mind as, you can get.

Rid of it. You can.

It’s beautiful.

Okay, Mason Branding.

What’s up?

Thanks for coming to my studio.

So happy to be here.

You live 10.

Minutes away. I do. This is a long trek. I’m really, really exhausted.

Professionally, you are a host of a TV show, but that’s not all you’ve done. You’ve done a lot of stuff in the creative realm. I have. My question is, you’re working on this show every day where you’re thinking of ways to improve people’s lives. I mean, that’s got to affect your daily life. That’s got to be such a change from someone not focusing on anyone or just making a paycheck. I mean, how does this affect you? You’re very full of light and very cheerful and very loving. I’ll say that to you, and I think it’s because you’re spending your days thinking of other people. I mean, talk on that.

It can’t not affect you.

Because I think it’s the truth of actual service, of actual kindness. A lot of people always end up coming to me and saying or even I’ll think it myself where it’s just like, well, you don’t exactly work in an industry that’s vital to survival. You don’t exactly work and I just am always like… And that used to bum me out. And then I realized, well, there’s a lot of things that aren’t vital to my survival that God allows to happen. They smell like fresh cut grass. Just think about that. It’s amazing. It didn’t have to be. Beautiful color flowers. Didn’t have to be. Just beautiful or the fact that I can enjoy a rainy day, the fact that somebody else may not enjoy that, but I do, that’s a kindness to me. I 100 % see that. And so it is this idea where I go, well, then it sounds to me like making art, things that are positive for people. Yeah, maybe it’s not like, oh, vital. I’m not a doctor. But I’m allowing God to work through me to say here’s a bit more kindness. We have stories to share. Whether it’s through music, through pictures, through movies, whatever it is.

There are stories that allow life to become a bit more bearable because of God’s kindness. Because he has allowed these art forms. He has said, Oh, no, I love them. Please do them.


Encourages them. Exactly.

I don’t think that… Okay, so maybe on the Pablov’s hierarchy of survival, maybe art. But I think that without storytelling and propagation of good ideas, that literally changes the world. I mean, that’s revolution. I’m understating it, but I’m pretty sure that has made the world better and worse in a lot of cases is the storytelling, right? Yes. Right? It builds and breaks cultures. And so shame on them for.

Saying that to you. Yes. I 100 % reject this idea because I get to the point where I go, but I enjoy so many things that if I didn’t have them, even though it’s not sustenance, it’s not whatever, it’s not air, but if I didn’t have them, my life would be much less.

Right. If you didn’t have movies or if we didn’t have the stories of Christ’s life, if we didn’t have these things- If they weren’t documented- If they weren’t.

Documented and- And retold.

Hundreds of times. -and distributed. Yeah, exactly. I mean, I think it’s essential to the happiness of the.

Human race. So to me, that’s God’s. I love thinking of His kindnesses in that way where it’s a, Yeah, I could have sent you down here and you just have to trudge your way.

Through it.

To just hunt. Yeah, exactly. But instead he goes, hey, here’s this really enjoyable feeling of mist coming off a waterfall. And you just go, I really like that feeling for some reason. Didn’t have to.

You didn’t.

Have to do that. We could have just had flat bodies of water all around the world.

What’s the quote from Einstein. He says you can live two ways. One, where nothing is a miracle or everything is a miracle. Everything is a miracle. Man, how much better is life and everything else.

That’s why I love talking about how kind he is because he is. I just became a new father the first time ever. Congrats. He’s six weeks old.

Oh, seriously? Oh, my gosh. Your life changed.

Big time. I love him. And I have this sense of wonder about him. And because of that, I understand that God has that sense of wonder about us. When we do anything, when we do the smallest little thing, I know he’s going, Oh, my goodness. Just look at you. You’re so good. Because again, my son, he’s six weeks old, he does the same 15 things every day. I have celebrated them every single day where it’s like, oh, he did that yesterday, but I’m like, You got to get a picture of it. If we do the same things like pray, if we do the same things like reading from inspired texts, the scriptures, He’s great. He’s so proud of us. Even though we just did it yesterday, even though we’ve been doing it all, he’s so proud. And then the greatest thing in the world is so now my son is starting to consciously smile. And I just think about how when we do the same things over and over again, and then one day we decide to up it just a little bit. That is God’s just, Oh, you’re amazing. How wonderful that is that you’re doing this.

I’ve been to work in kindness, to be kind. Your kindness is put to the test when you have a baby in your charge because you see how much they need. Kindness is often like, I didn’t have to do that, but I did. Now you’re going, Well, I have to do this. I have to help. I remember it was pretty devastating. By week three, I got frustrated because he wouldn’t stop crying. I remember handing him off to my wife and stepping away for a second going, That’s not okay. Because I can get frustrated. That’s fine. But I remember just thinking, He’s not doing anything on purpose to me to frustrate me. My thoughts were I was in the middle of something, and now I have to do this, and it’s been like 30 minutes, and I just thought. I remember turning back because he still wasn’t settling down. I remember just saying, I’ll take him back. I want to put him down. I’ve learned so much about God because of that. Again, I feel my life is very, very blessed, and I don’t want that to ever come off as more blessed than whatever. I never want to be caught without my gratitude pants on where it’s just I’m fully aware that I have lived something that most people when they talk to me, there’s a certain level of wish I could have that.

Not a day goes by. Again, sometimes we’ve had openings where I know friends who are like, oh, I’d love to work on that show, and I’ll call them up and say, We have an opening. Come and PA for us if you want to be a part of this. They jump at the opportunity. It is funny because some of them show up and they’re like, This is amazing. Some of them go, They’re a little disillusioned because they thought it was just all sunshine, rainbows, happiness where we’re just… It’s hard work sometimes. It’s very hard work. It is. -and it’s funny that even in there like, This would be the dream, they still found… They still have to work.

For that. Yeah, it is a decision. Life, how he approaches the decision. But I mean, so people could be listening to you and be like, Oh, this guy’s just all sunshine and he has it so easy. You have a lot of trials still. I do. You’ve had some problems in your family.

Yeah. This year has been just a roller coaster. We’re coming up on… My mother was diagnosed with some… Even now, so much has happened in that time that I can’t remember all of this stuff, but my mother had a problem with one of the valves in her heart. And she found out that just one day it was just, Oh, something doesn’t feel good. And they run the test, they look inside and the doctor is like, you have a birth defect that I’m surprised you’re still standing here today. He said, One of your valves is so closed, like just pinch tight that I couldn’t even get a hair through it. It’s a miracle you’re alive. So this is October of 2022. We’re coming up on October 2023 now. My mom then runs into this world of, okay, what are we going to do? You have to have open heart surgery. We have to replace the valve. Again, she’s had family members who’ve had open heart surgery. Her mother did, her sister did, and everybody immediately starts, okay, well, here’s what you can expect. She gets all this ready to go and by January of this year, end of January, she has the open heart surgery.

Up to that point, she’s just been taking it so easy, just hardly exerting herself. She goes and has the surgery. It’s a success. I want to fly in to just help out, help with the rehab. I spend, I think, two and a half, maybe three weeks there just sleeping on the couch next to her, waking up when she’s got to get up, take her to the bathroom, whatever. Again, it’s one of those where even now I hadn’t had my son then, but I’ve had him now, and I’m just like, Oh, man, I would have done so much more now that I realize how much she did for me, stuff that she needed to do, and then how much she didn’t have to do what she did. And so being there, I was very grateful I could be there to help her. And my mother’s just we’d love to laugh. We love to all sorts of stuff. And I remember just like, oh, this new Napergatsy stand-up is on Amazon Prime, and we start watching and laughing together. This is just a side story of my mom. She’s like, we’re going to have to stop because I’m laughing too hard.

It’s hurting my chest. Andand my parents are both from Georgia. So when my mom tries to be real cute, she turns the accent on me. She’s like, it hurts. Anyway, so she’s just wonderful. My wife comes down later and we both spend time there. We’re just helping things get back to normal. And we leave. The rest will take its course. And around April, that’s February. Around April, we start hearing that she gets fevers at night. I don’t know what’s going on. Long story short, it ended up being an infection, endocarditis, which was not good because her heart’s not very in a great place right now. She ends up on May fourth. She has a heart attack. My sister found her in the dining room and she said, Just not feeling well. You need to call 911. And they rush her. The paramedics come and start monitoring her and this doesn’t look good. We got to take you to the hospital. I’m at a performance. We were with some friends whose their daughters were performing. They do Irish dance. Again, it’s like Irish and Scottish stuff. So I’m connecting with my heritage. I’m sitting there in the audience.

They’re playing the bagpipes. I’m like, this is so cool. And I just get this text from… I get a call from my sister. I’m like, oh, that’s probably a mistake. She never calls. She lives in Michigan. And then I see a text from her saying… So she had set up the ring doorbell for my parents, so she was still connected to it. I just get this text saying, paramedics just showed up at the house. Mom was just taken.


I run out of this theater and I give my dad a call, and it’s like a 30-second call, and he just… We are headed to the hospital right now. Talk to the family. The very first thought that goes through your head is, I got to pray, or at least it went through my head was, I have to pray. I have to do something. I’d start calling my siblings and they’re calling me and we all get on a chat and we’re just trying to figure out what’s going on. Because again, nobody really knows at this point what has happened. We just know she’s gone to the hospital. So this is Thursday. We’re on that phone call and we all pray. It is a powerful thing to pray on behalf of your mother. It takes you out of who you are because it’s like you have your life flashed before your eyes when your own death could be imminent. When it’s someone you’ve known for your entire life and who has nurtured you, cared for you, you don’t just see your life and their life. You see this elevated version of their life. You see who they are to you.

And to pray for her, I remember saying, I know I don’t have to tell you to God. I remember saying, I know I don’t have to tell you this, but I want to. I love my mother. Please take care of her. And then to say, Tell me what I can do, what we can do. And then in your own prayers, I remember it was later that night, I could not sleep. I just couldn’t get a bed. I told my wife, I have to pray and I have to do it vocally. You want me to step out? She said, No, you stay here. I did it outside of the bed and same thing. I had to say it again. I love her, and I remember it was this probably 20-minute long prayer and you state all of the things you want. Just please, please, please, please. Then you get to the very last part where you inevitably have to say or you should say, but not my will. It’s yours. That’s a humbling thing. You become so aware again, you become ground to this little tiny nothing because I’m so aware of just it doesn’t matter that I’m a host of a TV show.

It doesn’t matter that I’ve worked my way up. It doesn’t matter how much money, whoever, whatever it is. All you become in that moment is a son. And not just a son to your mother, but a son to your father in heaven. To realize you’re nothing but a little boy again sitting on the side of your bed pleading. Then saying, But if you want me to be tough and you’re going to take her from me, I’ll try my best to be tough. I’m going to need you to help me be tough. You finished the prayer, and I remember going, Okay, I think I can go to bed now. I just had to get this out of me. Anyway, a few days later, Sunday morning, I’m getting up. I’m getting dressed. I’m getting dressed to go to my church meetings. My wife’s not awake yet. I get another call. It’s from my dad. Is she had been sent back home after that. They’re like, Oh, no, she was still there. Sorry. She was still there just being monitored. And so this Sunday morning I get a call from my dad. He’s driving in the car with a neighbor who’s taking him to the hospital.

Again, very big kindness, wonderful people. He says she just had another major event. Come to find out, she went to full cardiac rest and flatlined for about 45 seconds. My oldest sister was there. She witnessed the whole thing, and I prayed for her because that is a massive thing to deal with. My oldest sister has… You want to talk about kind people? You should have talked to my sister. But I remember hopping off the phone because that’s all he said, and he just start talking to people. Come to find out the doctor then tells my sister and my dad it’s time to call the family. So I then tell my wife, and it’s a I think I have to fly home. I think I have to fly to Houston. I got dressed and went to the first meeting. I went to the bishopric and to explain that he’s basically the pastor of my church, my ward. I got to explain to him what was happening, what was going to happen. He just straight away said, You go home. Buy a ticket, get home. But we all prayed together. He asked if he could. He said, Can we get on our knees in my office and can we pray?

He prayed. One of his counselors prayed, and then I prayed. And then went just wonderful blessings, wonderful, wonderful words. And then I went home and my wife had already bought a ticket and I got changed back to bag and I was on a flight in the next two hours. I went home and just thing after thing, just, Oh, my gosh, what’s going to happen? We had the opportunity, me, my brother, and my dad to give my mom a blessing to help her to recuperate. But there’s so much that happened. Again, there’s just so much I could. Igain, I could talk about this for eight episodes, but we saw many miracles. We saw many things happen where it was just, oh, we need to be at this hospital. Oh, guess what? You’re going to be able to go to that hospital. Oh, we need this. Oh, you’re going to get that doctor. But still so slow going, slow moving. My mom’s out of it for the first while I’m there and she can’t recollect most of the things even now. But she’s home now.

Like today.

She’s home. She’s home. In fact, she got home maybe, I think, at this point. It’s probably been two months.

Oh, wow.

It’s amazing what happens because she was in the hospital for seven weeks just straight. While I was there, I felt I should definitely talk about this because you’re there for so long and you’re interrupted. She’s interrupted every two hours. Somebody comes in, changes the sheet or switches out an IV or whatever, pokes her, prods her, How are you doing? Are you okay? Let’s check this. Let’s check that. Her days are just wild. You get very disheartened by the whole thing. One day, a doctor, I just so happen to be in there, a doctor came in, and I’m sitting there expecting the same thing. They’re going to come talk to her about whatever vitals, what things need to change. She walked in and said, Robin, that’s my mother’s name, she says, Robin, I know it’s very difficult here. I know it’s very hard to be doing what you’re doing. As long as you’ve been doing it, it seems like it’s just never ending. And she said something that touched me and it’s still to this day I go, I don’t know if she was more trying to teach me this lesson or something, but I knew this.

It was a message from God. She first was like, You need to surround yourself with things that will inspire you, motivate you. So get pictures of family, vacations, places you want to go, foods you want to eat. Just get these pictures up everywhere. You must surround yourself with the best of your life. And then she said, because, Robin, right now, your ability to get better is way up here. Your confidence to achieve improvement is way down here. We need to get those levels to meet. I just floored.

That’s a pretty cool statement.

Wow. Because it was this idea of how many of us are limiting ourselves because we’re surrounded by garbage. Because we’re pumping into our brains, our environments, whatever. Just stuff that we can get away. We can actually get away from and actually improve our confidence to actually contribute to that stuff. And so for me, that was this huge message. Again, it’s still slow-moving, but I saw that day. I remember the doctor left and I sat down by my mom’s side and I said, Tell me what pictures you want. I’m going to get you these pictures. And I did it. I printed out a whole bunch of pictures. That’s a Disney World, up in Canyons or whatever. I just had to do it. I did it for myself where I started looking at my entire life and going, In what ways am I seeing… Is my life becoming more like just a sad, mopey hospital room because I’m filling it with junk. Because I’m filling it with, oh, another piece of bad news or a person said and I didn’t agree with it or when I could literally just fill my life with nothing but good. Acknowledge the bad.

Help the bad. Become better. But don’t just don’t be acted upon by it. Don’t just let it go. Hey, Eric, I’m here to just bog you down. I’m here to affect your work, the way you’re going to be a father, the way you’re going to be a husband, the way you’re going to be a friend, the way you’re going to contribute to your community. I’m going to make you a cynic. How about that? Is that okay if I just sit over here and make you feel a little bit like you’re not going to do anything because you can’t? Because I told you you can’t. Yeah. It’s terrible. Dude, it’s our choice.

It’s totally our choice. It’s completely. One of the coolest lessons I’ve learned is I talked about this on a podcast before, but some of the best ways to change your life is not to add things, but to drop unnecessary stuff. Drop it out. Make room for the good.

One of my favorite quotes by the Prophet, Ezratath Benson, so he’s a prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Tanks back in the ’80s, ’90s. One of my favorite quotes is from him, which is, and I’m going to paraphrase it well enough, like it’s again not an exact quote.

I’m not going to.

Hold you to that. But it’s one of my favorites, which is he says you put God first in your life. Everything else falls into its proper place or drops out of your life entirely.


It’s so true. The more he is just sitting there at the top and you think of him with everything and you take everything by him, the more and more you will find that the useless junk that’s just filling up your rooms of whatever you want to look at your mind as, you can get.

Rid of it. You can. It’s beautiful. I want to wrap because this has been amazing. I love how this conversation took on kindness, and that is the theme, and I think that’s a great theme. What is your advice to our listeners out there on how they can implement more kindness in their life? Something practical, something they can do today?

I’ll start by saying the benefits of being kind or just doing service. It is actually good for your physical health. It really is. I agree. It releases chemicals. You view things differently. In a physical, mental way. If you’re feeling bogged down by anything, if you take an hour out of your day to go make something, cook something, bake something, whatever it is, for someone else to spend time or to just go looking for something, drive down your street and see somebody working in the yard and say, Can I help? Stuff like that. It will benefit you just completely. Spiritually, emotionally, temporarily, everything. But to do so more, stop thinking it’s so hard. That is, I think, the biggest thing.

You’re saying stop thinking that it’s so hard to be kind?

Yeah. Don’t think it’s hard at all. It’s the smallest. You can do. I was listening to a previous episode of yours with Joel Pielcher.

Yeah, he’s awesome. Stud.

Say in somebody’s name. This world, we give a lot of compliments, but it’s always like, hey, that’s a nice shirt. I like that shirt. When was the last time you did something a little… Like take that and plus it and say, I think you have great taste in clothes that you buy. That’s about you, not the thing you have.

Oh, good point. Okay.

I love that.

You personalized it.

And you spent no money. You did nothing other than just look at them and say, I see them the way God sees that baby, the way I am. He sees his child, and he’s not going to go, Hey, you messed up your shoes. Hey, why aren’t you doing this right? He’s going to say, You’re a very smart, intelligent person. And I’ve done that. I’ve spoken a couple of times on kindness to youth groups and stuff, and I always make everybody turn to each other and state something that’s not something that they have, something genuine about themselves. I mean, about that person, excuse me. And so being here in this setting, you’ve paid me several compliments, but I feel like just because it’s right, and because it connects you and me, I can honestly say you are genuine. I love genuine people. It’s not all sunshine, happy to to to to and all that stuff. No, no, no. It doesn’t have to be. It’s like adding salt to a cookie recipe. It does not displace any of the sweetness. In fact, it makes it sweeter, weirdly enough. Weirdly enough. So I will say that for you.

I genuinely am so impressed by the type of person you are, the type of I’m full of light and everything that you say I feel like I’m in the sunshine right now. I’ve done a lot of talking. You’ve done perfect listening. That’s what I think is so amazing about this, is you give people that space to talk. So there’s my compliment to you, but I want to say to everybody listening is this, that’s not hard. It takes just a little bit more vulnerability. As men, I think, we’re probably told like, You can’t really… It’s weird if you come up to another friend of yours and you say, hey, I appreciate how good of a friend you are to me. That shouldn’t be hard at all. Push through that. Push through that garbage and make your life better.


I appreciate you 100 %.

Thank you for having me. We love you, brother. Thank you for coming on. This has been awesome. Thank you. I hope you enjoyed this episode. More importantly, I hope you feel closer to your creator. If you find yourself wanting to strengthen your relationship with God. I’m a huge fan of the Skylight app. It’s full of beautiful, high-quality daily spiritual practices. Finally, never forget, in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him.


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