I grew up in many towns in the Midwest and back East. They were all different, but they had one thing in common. I was the only one in my grade at school who was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So I was the only one with my set of values. Our Ward (congregation) was usually in another town. So, my neighbors weren’t members either.
I wanted friends who understood me, who shared my values, but I always had to keep my guard up. When you are the only one with the values of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is always something coming up. With the Word of Wisdom particularly, most of the world is very different with their values.
Value your values
Especially in high school it was hard to find friends who shared my values. But I had goals to be married in the temple, and to be someone I could be proud of. I knew my Heavenly Father wanted me to succeed too. So, I leaned on Him often.
I would pray in my heart as I walked the halls of the school. I said silent prayers when I was on a date. Any time I felt like I needed His guidance or strength, I said a prayer. I often prayed to find good friends who would help me keep my values and my covenants. And the Lord guided me to find many of them!
One time I remember being at a party and the kids there wanted to watch a movie. So, we went to rent one and I decided I needed to be part of the decision-making process so maybe I could steer them away from anything rated R.
Despite my best efforts they decided on an NC-17 movie. UGH!! I really liked these kids, but there was no way I could stay and watch that movie. So, I called my mom, and she came and got me.
Even though I was embarrassed I knew I had chosen wisely. The next Monday at school everyone who had been at the party told me how glad I should be that I went home. They said the movie was awful and they didn’t know what they were thinking choosing to watch it.
One gal even told me that she wished she had the courage I did to leave the party. It was at that moment that I learned there are those of other faiths who value our values. And in keeping my values high I was making it easier for them to do the same.
Gaining strength to keep your values strong
And nobody held it against me that I didn’t stick around for the show. It was eye opening! I could be friends and still keep my covenants! Because real friends valued me just for being me.
And each time I kept my promises to myself I gained strength to keep them more easily the next time. The scriptures talk about this in Alma 32: 27-29.
27 But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than adesire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.
28 Now, we will compare the word unto a aseed. Now, if ye give place, that a bseed may be planted in your cheart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your dunbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to eenlighten my funderstanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
29 Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge.
Growing your faith
I love how the Lord assures us that even having a desire to know, or a desire to have faith, is enough to help it grow. And as it grows, and as your strength grows, so does your closeness to God.
I found that visualizing my goals helped me keep my values and stay on the covenant path. I got my endowments in the Washington DC temple when I was 21, with no plans to go on a mission. I wanted to be sealed in the temple when I got married. So, I kept a picture of the temple on my dresser.
Then as I was dating guys more seriously, I found another reminder to keep my values in clear sight. I used my favorite sealing room in the DC temple as inspiration, and made a bracelet out of the colors in the room. They were lavender and cream, and so gorgeous. Looking at it and feeling it on my wrist brought my goals of temple marriage mind. I still love that temple and the strength it gives me.
You can do it
Everyone will face challenges to their resolve in their lives. That is part of the opposition in all things that this earth is particularly good at giving us. But the Lord has not left us to fend for ourselves. He has promised that He will make up the difference. All we need to do is want to succeed, want to have faith, and He will help us with the rest.
We can pray, set reminders around, and even wear reminders. And when the moments of decision come, we must act. It is in those moments we will see what we are made of.
We will gain strength as we keep our promises to ourselves and to the Lord. And as we surround ourselves with others who are trying to stay close to God, and keep on the covenant path, this will be easier. You will never regret keeping your values high.
Abby is capable and caring. She is learning more about Autism and parenthood every day. Having completed training to be an RBT (Registered Behavior Technician) for ABA therapy she is beginning to understand her son. And even though she is the first to admit she makes a lot of mistakes, she is so grateful to be on this journey. She comes from a family with many autistic members. She invites us to join her, as she shares her adventures. She wishes to emphasize that Autism is a difference not a defect. If you or a family member have autism, Abby wants you to know that the challenges can be overcome, and there are blessings in autism. You or your loved one are not sick or broken. Together we will teach the world this new language.