“Matthew,” sighed Mom, “you promised to clean your room right after school. Now it’s time for your den meeting, and you haven’t done a thing.”
“I’m sorry, Mom. I forgot,” said Matthew contritely. “I promise I’ll do it tomorrow.”
“I hope so,” she replied.
The den meeting was especially good. They made plastic skeletons with bones that actually moved.
“Please pass in your dues now,” said the den mother.
“Oh, no!” declared Matthew. “I’m sorry. I forgot. I’ll bring mine next time.”
“Please do, Matthew,” she said.
Matthew awoke the next morning to the sound of the garbage truck rumbling past his house.
“Matthew,” called Mom, “did you put the garbage out last night?”
“Oh, no!” he groaned. “I’m sorry. I forgot. I’ll do it next week, I promise.”
“But the cans are full now,” said Mom.
The next afternoon, Matthew’s teacher said, “Pass in your math homework, please. This assignment is worth one hundred points.”
“Oh, no!” wailed Matthew, hitting his forehead with his hand. “I forgot.”
“There will be no makeups,” said the teacher firmly.
On Sunday Matthew was startled to hear the Primary president say, “Matthew Lewis will give us a talk now.”
“Oh, no,” he whispered as he walked to the microphone. His face got very red. “I—I,” he stammered, “I’m sorry. I don’t have a talk ready. I forgot.”
He sat down, hunching over so that no one could see his face.
“You can give a talk next month, Matthew,” the Primary president said kindly.
“Hey, Matthew,” said Tom, poking him in the ribs as they entered their classroom, “that was a great talk. Why don’t you give the same one next month?” The boys around Matthew broke out in laughter. During the class, Matthew struggled to hold his tears back. He was the first one out the door after the closing prayer.
At home Matthew quickly changed into jeans and a T-shirt, then went into the backyard. Crawling under the low-hanging branches of a huge bush, he settled himself against the heavy, main stem and let the tears come freely.
What can I do? he wondered, miserable. I forget everything! Other people remember. What’s the matter with me? He tore at a leaf. Maybe I should pray, he thought. It seemed like such a good idea that Matthew immediately bowed his head. “Heavenly Father,” he said earnestly, “I forget everything. I want to stop. Please help me to remember.”
Matthew felt so good after his prayer that he couldn’t sit still another second. Bursting out from under the bush, he somersaulted all the way to the house. “I’m never going to forget another thing!” he bragged at dinner.
“I’m glad to hear that,” said Mom.
On Monday morning, Matthew’s teacher asked for his book order. “Today is the last day,” she said.
Matthew was astonished as the truth sunk in. “I—I forgot,” he stammered. How did I forget? he wondered. I was sure it wouldn’t happen again!
On Tuesday morning Matthew awoke from a deep sleep and sat bolt upright. The garbage truck was rumbling around the corner. He felt cold all over. “I forgot again!” He whispered. “What’s wrong with me?” He felt very ashamed when he saw the empty cans sitting by the curb. Dad must have put them out before he left for work.
On Wednesday his den mother phoned. “We missed you at this week’s meeting, Matthew. Were you sick?”
“Sick?” said Matthew. “No.” But he was beginning to feel sick. “I guess I forgot.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. We passed off our physical fitness requirements. Maybe you can do yours with your dad.”
“OK,” said Matthew.
But Matthew knew that getting his physical fitness badge was only part of his problem. “Dad,” he asked after dinner, “can you help me?”
“I’ll try, Matthew. Let’s talk about it while we do the dishes,” answered Dad. “What’s the matter?”
“I forget everything. I don’t mean to, but it just keeps happening,” explained Matthew, dumping dirty silverware into the sudsy water.
“What have you done to stop forgetting?” asked Dad.
“I prayed,” said Matthew. “I asked Heavenly Father to help me remember.”
“Did He?” asked Dad.
“No,” said Matthew, “and I don’t understand. You always say He answers prayers.”
“He does, Matthew, but in His way. Once Oliver Cowdery had trouble trying to translate. Why don’t you read section nine of the Doctrine and Covenants and find out why he had trouble and decide if something similar is happening to you. Then come back and we’ll work out a plan to help you, OK?”
After the dishes were finished, Matthew went to his room and read about Oliver Cowdery. Matthew looked thoughtful as he finished reading.
On Sunday morning three weeks later Matthew stood behind the microphone in Primary. His hair was neatly combed, his shoes freshly polished, and his face scrubbed and shining. “When Sister Jordan asked me to give a talk last month, I promised that I would,” he began. “You probably remember what happened.”
Several boys on the back row snickered.
“I was pretty embarrassed about forgetting it. I was forgetting a lot of other things too. I wanted to stop, so I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to help me remember.
“What happened really surprised me. We’ve all been taught that Heavenly Father answers prayers. I was sure that He would answer mine, but I just kept right on forgetting everything.
“Then I read in the Doctrine and Covenants about Oliver Cowdery. He wanted to translate some records, but he couldn’t seem to do it. In section nine, verses seven and eight, the Lord told him why: ‘Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
“‘But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind.’ [D&C 9:7–8]
“I knew I had acted just like Oliver Cowdery. I expected the Lord to do all my work for me. Well, Dad helped me ‘study out’ my problem. I got a calendar, and Heavenly Father helped me remember to write my promises on it. I still have to read it and do all the things I promised to do, but I don’t forget very much anymore, and I feel a lot better about myself now.”
Matthew felt happy when he finished his talk. And there were Mom and Dad in the back of the room, smiling proudly.