Mickey Mantle, the great baseball player, once told of a little five-year-old boy who had grown up with a great fear of the barber. His parents tried to cut his hair at home, but that never seemed to work out well. Even if the boy held still, which he seldom did, their haircuts always looked worse than if his hair were left long and shaggy.
One afternoon the boy’s father said that they were going to the barber to get a haircut. The boy replied, “No, I’m not going to get a haircut!”
“Yes, you are,” his father explained, “but don’t worry about it now.”
The father and the boy went to the shopping center and parked the car. They stopped for a few things that they had to buy, and several times the father reminded his son that they were going to stop for a haircut too. Each time the boy answered, “No, we’re not!”
Suddenly they were in front of the barbershop door, and the boy froze in his tracks. He held onto his father’s hand and stared straight ahead. The father looked down at the boy but didn’t say a word. The boy’s face was solemn and serious as he stared through the glass of the shop. Finally he softly said to himself, “I am going to get my hair cut.”
The father opened the door, and together they walked inside. They had to wait a few minutes, and so they sat down on the chairs along the wall. The boy sat on the edge of his chair without saying a word.
Finally one of the barbers called, “Next please.” Then the boy turned and looked at his father, and his father nodded. The boy got up, walked slowly to the barber chair, and climbed up onto the little seat that barbers put across the arms of their big chairs for children. The boy let the barber put the sheet around him as he sat still as a statute.
No one said a word until the haircut was finished. Then the young boy took a deep breath and climbed down from the chair. His father paid for the haircut and the two of them left the shop.
Outside the boy stopped and looked up at his father. “I got my hair cut!” he said proudly.
This father later told Mickey Mantle that the bravest act he had ever seen was when his little boy stood up to something that had terrified him.
Like the boy in the barbershop, many people have overcome fears to such an extent that they have had happy and successful lives.
One of the greatest baseball players to ever live had a nickname that would have embarrassed most boys. His real name was George H. Ruth, but he was called Babe. Before Babe Ruth came along, his nickname stood for baby. Even though he was little more than a babe when he entered professional athletics, Babe Ruth soon turned his nickname into a symbol of strength and power.
As we grow up, each of us has to overcome fears and barriers. All too often we worry about things like barbershops, nicknames, and other social pressures. But whether it is a frightening experience or just a nickname that bothers us, it can be either a stumbling block or a steppingstone.
The Savior has said “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:10).
I testify that this is a true principle and that by standing up for the things that are right, the Lord will indeed bless our names.
The gospel of Jesus Christ helps us to have confidence in meeting the challenges of everyday life. It teaches us how to live and find true happiness.