The Elders Rowley, Preston, England

Early last Sunday morning I found myself sitting before our stake’s high council. Noticeably the only one dressed in a skirt, I was there to witness the reporting of two recently returned missionaries. One was my own son, just back from the England Manchester Mission; the other was a stranger to me. Both young–so young, barely 21–men had been asked to, by promptings of the spirit, share an experience from their respective missions that had changed lives. They were also asked to bear their respective testimonies.

The stranger went first. I can’t recall his words or even the experience he chose to share. The details are not as relevant here as the spirit that was present.

I was blown away.

Then it was my son’s turn. In some respects, the man who rose to speak before that room was as much of a stranger to me as the first, whom I had never before met. Luke boldly bore witness of the truths he knows–not just believes, but actually knows. He has questioned. His testimony has been tried and tested. (It will continue to be tried and tested–that is part of our earthly experience.) But he knows. The spirit spoke along side Luke and confirmed that what he witnessed of is true.

Again, I was blown away.

This mother had no doubt that these two stripling warriors knew it.

The very next day I received an e-mail from my second-born. Currently serving in Newcastle upon Tyne, he is bravely enduring the almost universal struggles of a new missionary just out in the field. After letting us know that things are still hard, but that he is still seeking to learn from the difficulties he is experiencing, he shared with us a deeply personal and sacred experience he had had that week. Something I cannot share here.

Yet again, I was blown away.

Shall the youth of Zion falter?

I believe the answer is “No!”

Some will struggle. Some will take other paths. And some may wander those paths far further and far longer than we can comfortably stand. But I believe–I hope with all my heart–they will come home. They will come back to that iron rod and grasp even more firmly this time.

They were certainly two different paths that brought my boys to stand together at the entrance of the Preston England Temple.

And a good number of them will simply go and do and be better and stronger than I or my generation could have dreamed of being. They are not just worlds ahead of where we were as youth, but in some respects, they seem worlds ahead of where I am even now.

They have to be.

While we know the pow’rs of darkness
Seek to thwart the work of God,
Shall the children of the promise
Cease to grasp the iron rod? No!
True to the faith that our parents have cherished,
True to the truth for which martyrs have perished,
To God’s command,
Soul, heart, and hand,
Faithful and true we will ever stand.

I see examples of the strength of the youth around me almost every day. I see this even in the kids whose steps are, at the moment, far less sure than those of the two young men who boldly stood before the high council and bore witness.

There is goodness.

There is kindness.

There is love.

We, as adults, need to call them out for it. We need to catch them being good.

What examples of goodness and faith and standing for truth and righteousness do you witness in the youth around you?

September 1, 2010

29 Comments

  1. Geo

    August 29, 2010

    This summer I’ve had the joy of watching one of my former YW, who’s been home from USU all summer, shepherding and mentoring a couple new girls in our ward, young teens from a hard-luck family. She’s always been so strong and straight and fun-loving, and over and over I’ve seen girls flock to her and want to be like her. She’s beautifully pure and plain and grounded. For her it’s all about virtue, and she is living proof that virtue is power. She amazes me.

    As I continue to wait for children to come to our home, my anxious thoughts about how old we are begin to melt into wonderment over the caliber of people who will eventually arrive. I am beginning to anticipate that part of the experience with an excitement that rocks me to my shoes.

    I am so glad for you, Dalene!

  2. Kalli

    August 29, 2010

    Geo you will be INCREDIBLE when that time comes for you… you and Dalene are cut from the same cloth in that respect, I know it.

    The girls next door to me have helped so much to keep an eye on the 2 year old when they’re all outside playing or jumping on the trampoline, while I waddle around and try to clean up. It’s so refreshing to see them care about him and play with him when they have far better things to be doing I’m sure.

    Having worked with youth at risk extensively in the last decade I can say that yes, there are many that struggle, but there are many more that come out victorious and you’re right, we do need to recognize that.

  3. QueenScarlett

    August 29, 2010

    Goose bumps. I love the theme they have this year in YM/YW.

    “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:9; italics added).

  4. Angie f

    August 29, 2010

    when my oldest was in fourth grade, her class was assigned to bring something to school that was of great personal value to present before the class. She chose, on her own with no prodding, to bring her Book of Mormon. And she stood, completely at ease, telling her classmates and their parents her testimony of the Book of Mormon. We don’t live in Utah. She had 2 classmates who were LDS and most of her classmates chose to bring a toy or expensive gift to talk about and nearly all spoke of how much the item cost. And my sweet baby talked of eternity and real value.

  5. mom o' boys

    August 29, 2010

    Thank you for your words.

    My 12-year old son inspires me with his scripture reading. On his own, he decided a few years ago to start reading them every day and has read the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and New Testament once through and is now starting on a second reading of the Book of Mormon. Each morning at 6:30 I hear the familiar unzipping of his scripture cover, and if that is not enough to prick my conscience, I don’t know what is. I struggle to remain consistent in my own personal scripture study, but I keep trying and re-committing myself to it….I can’t give up. Thanks to everyone for sharing your stories.

  6. jendoop

    August 29, 2010

    There are amazing examples of strong youth everywhere!

    My daughter only missed 5 days of early morning seminary and attends a school where she is the only member of the church. She polices her own modesty, I never have to say a word.

    This week I attended an Eagle Court of Honor for an amazing young man. He has a congenital deformity that makes his right arm inoperable. A story was told about him – when it was time to pass off his swimming badge the scout leader didn’t like that he swam in circles (because of his arm), so he failed the badge. His scoutmaster talked about getting an exception, he declined. A year later he passed by swimming in a straight line. (I don’t know how he did it!)

    This year at Girls Camp no one went home and there was very little drama!

    Like I said, I could go on and on…

  7. LeAnn Williams

    August 29, 2010

    I just found your blog and find it very interesting. I loved your thoughts on the missionary reporting. I remember well when our four children reported to the Stake High Council. I had one son who at times did not feel he would even serve a mission. He didn’t do very well in High School and we had some problems with him. When he reported his mission I was in awe. He bore one of the most beautiful testimonies and the spirit was incredible that day. These thoughts of your brought back some memories.
    I would love to follow your blog and I hope you will check in on mine too.

  8. handsfullmom

    August 29, 2010

    What a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing.

  9. Stephanie2

    August 29, 2010

    Great post!

  10. Allison

    August 29, 2010

    A close family member, a teenage boy, made some mistakes but went to talk to his bishop on his own, is working so hard to be worthy again, and enthusiastically talks about submitting his mission papers soon. He had the courage and humility required for repentance, and I think he’ll be a better missionary as a result.

  11. Snakerivermama

    August 29, 2010

    My twelve year old daughter has been reading the book of Mormon nightly since she was nine, because she wanted to. She is sweetness, goodness, purity, obedience beyond me at her age. She looks for opportunities to serve. Her testimony is sincere and compelling. Yes, she’s good. Better than her mama.

  12. elizabeth-w

    August 29, 2010

    My daughter turned 10 yesterday and her birthday card from me was a thank-you for being an example to me in a multitude of ways.
    Lovely, lovely post, Dalene.

  13. michelle

    August 30, 2010

    This just makes me want to stand up and cheer.

    The power of strong youth really can blow one away.

    Thank you for this post.

  14. Selwyn aka Kellie

    August 30, 2010

    Tonight, my nearly 13 year old organised Family Home Evening, all on his own, all by his own initiative. In amongst the lesson (“Heavenly Father wants us to love each other”) was his idea on how we can get our family scripture study back on track.

    He believes. I do not doubt it.

    Great post!

  15. Melody

    August 30, 2010

    Love this post and the comments. I love being a mom of two return missionaries (one son, one daughter) and two amazing son-in-laws, one of whom is a convert of two years – both are men of honor and nobility.

    My two-year-old granddaughter woke up the other morning and her tummy hurt. She was very likely just plain hungry. But she went to her mother and said, “Say a prayer for my tummy, Mommy. My tummy hurts.” TWO YEARS OLD! She and her mommy prayed over the tummy and ate breakfast together.

    No. They shall not falter. Aren’t we a blessed bunch of parents?

  16. Kay

    August 30, 2010

    We have lived in our ward for 12 years and just over a week ago one of our young men left for the Preston MTC. He is only the second to stay active and serve a mission in 12 years. He was a monkey when I had him back in primary. Now he is out serving the Lord with a strong testimony. We have lost so many over the years but it feels like we are turning a corner with our youth. I love that it sets an example for my own son. We often have good missionaries here, but it makes a difference for our chldren to see people they know going and doing what is right.

  17. Kate

    August 30, 2010

    This gave me the chills! Thanks for writing it. I needed to read this today.

  18. Laurel C.

    August 30, 2010

    I loved reading your post… something hopeful and positive today. The news from Visalia, CA has really gotten me down. This was perfectly powerful today. Thank you!

  19. Sue

    August 30, 2010

    I don’t know if it’s universal, but the youth in our ward seem to be getting stronger with every passing year. When I was YW president in 1995 or thereabouts, we had far more youth floundering. These days, most seem to be rising above the fray and pushing through high school in rare form. Oddly, the ones we lose now seem to be young adults, often home from their missions.

    I sometimes think the reason our adolescents are faring so well is because of the different and way-more-doctrinally-oriented Primary program we have now. Whatever it is, our youth are benefiting, and that’s good.

    I do think the YA are at risk, though, because some of them seem to have a hard time with the transition into becoming independent members in their own right once they are fully “out on their own.”

    =)

  20. Stephen M (Ethesis)

    August 30, 2010

    I’m glad to hear your experiences and that they went so well.

  21. Human Bean

    August 30, 2010

    Dalene, I just LOVE the picture of your two boys shoulder to shoulder! It makes my heart swell- I can’t imagine the joy it must bring you!

    My oldest son was asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting last Sunday. He’s 12 years old. Brand new Priesthood holder. He has stuttered severely since first grade. He has been teased and ridiculed mercilessly by his peers since Kindergarten. And yet, there he stood, like a pillar of strength and purity. He wrote the talk himself and with a lovely unwavering voice spoke of stripling warriors and faith and leadership- without a single stutter. This boy shines brightly with the spirit and I’m not sure he even realizes it.

    After our meetings that day as we were passing other ward members in the hall the same boy, my boy, warmly greeted one of the boys who has bullied him all these years. The other boy passed him by dismissively. My boy held his head up and smiled. What an example he is to me. He is *my* teacher.

  22. Stephanie2

    August 31, 2010

    Human Bean, I am so proud of your son for you. What a heart-warming story.

  23. dalene

    August 31, 2010

    Thank you all for sharing your stories–they warm and lift my heart. Human Bean–what a sweet and brave boy. I am so sorry for his suffering, but so inspired by the way your son rises above it. And I hear you. My children are often my teachers as well. My oldest spoke in church Sunday and everyone kept asking if I was “so proud?” To tell the truth, I was humbled, really.

  24. Cissy

    September 2, 2010

    Loved this post and the comments. I am often surprised by the goodness of my children…that doesn’t sound quite right, does it? You know what I mean…that sometimes the complaining or arguing or pouting is pushed away and light simply shines through their little personalities.

  25. Paradox

    September 2, 2010

    My best friend’s little brother is 14. Their father has decided that blitzkrieg on his own testimony is the way to go, and when they had a family meeting to “discuss” it, her brother looked at their father and said, “Dad, I don’t know if you’re going to hell for this, but if you do I’m not coming with you.”

    I’ve met her brother. He seems like a pretty unassuming kid. But he has no idea how strong, how fearless he already is. That, to me, is heroism. A fearlessness born entirely of faith.

    I was a YW not all that long ago, but these kids are already better than we were. I hope we remember that when we stand in their presence, we stand among giants.

  26. dalene

    September 7, 2010

    Exactly. I feel it.

  27. Kristen

    September 9, 2010

    I’ve never commented here before. I feel a bit silly.

    I paused to take a break this morning and started reading this post. I looked at my two year old son and teared up a little, wondering just how strong he would have to be.

    As I was sitting there just thinking about the sunject, my son did something he had never done before. He ran out of the room and came back with my husband’s scriptures in his hand. Then he climbed on my lap and pointed, wanting me to read him the scriptures. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never sat down and ever even tried to read the scriptures to my son, he’s only two years old and usually pretty squirmy. But today we did, thumbing through wherever he picked and reading various scriptures.

    It was a pretty neat thing to have happen. Thank you for writing what you did to put me in the right frame of mind.

  28. dalene

    September 9, 2010

    Kristen–thank you for reading and for your comment. I love what you shared about your son. What a sweet moment you shared together with the scriptures.

  29. Susan

    September 16, 2010

    A few weeks ago my oldest son returned from his mission. A boy went to serve the Lord and the Lord returned him a man. He is valiant and strong and stands fearless to declare that he knows the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. I saw him interact with the people he served and witnessed first hand the great bond that is shared by those who have been deeply touched by the Spirit. No one can deny the greatness of God’s wisdom. While I trusted enough in the Lord to know that it was the right thing to raise my children to be missionaries, I had no idea of how his life would be transformed…..forever.

    I see youth each day who stand for truth and righteousness. They are an example to me. This is truly a chosen generation….those sent to earth to prepare the way for the Savior’s return. Carry On!

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