As a young boy growing up in Cardston, Alberta, Canada, I had to travel two miles to get to school. That was quite a distance to walk, so my parents bought me a little Shetland pony named Brown Bess that I could ride.
Over the next two or three years Bess had some offspring. I had a close friend who didn’t have a pony, so my parents suggested that I give one of Bess’s foals to him. I was happy to do that, because then we were able to ride through the river bottoms and explore them together.
Giving the pony away didn’t make much of an impression on me until many years later, after my friend and I had gone our separate ways. He came for a visit, and in a high priest meeting one Sunday, he shared with the other high priests the story of what I had done for him and what it meant to him. I was touched, and I knew more strongly than ever that friendships are much more important than possessions.
One day when I was quite young, I became unhappy with my mother and father and told them that I was going to run away. My wise parents helped me put together a little pack—a handkerchief with some clothes in it—and let me go. I walked down from the hill a little way from the house, feeling very brave. But the farther I got, the slower I walked. We lived out in the country, and it started to get dark and I started to get hungry. I decided home was pretty good. I turned around and went back home.
I’ve always admired my parents for allowing me to learn that lesson by myself. When my mother tells the story, she describes watching me go and crying. But she wanted to let me have that experience. When I got home, there was no punishment, just a loving welcome. I never needed to try that again, and I gained a greater appreciation for my parents and home.
The experience of Nephi in 1 Nephi chapter 4 has meant a great deal to me. The Lord commanded Lehi to send Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi to get the brass plates from Laban. After two unsuccessful tries, Laman and Lemuel became discouraged and wanted to quit and return to their families. But Nephi had faith in the Lord, and he desired to obey the Lord’s command. In verse 6, [1 Ne. 4:6] he said, “And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.”
I think that’s a wonderful thing to remember—that there are many times in our lives when we don’t know how to do the things that are asked of us. We may be asked to do things by our parents or our church leaders that we don’t understand, but if we have faith and if we let the Spirit guide us, then we can be successful and have good experiences.
I know that we can do the things that Heavenly Father wants us to do. The Lord has helped me with my calling as a General Authority, and he will help you with your schooling, your friends, your preparation for a mission, or any other worthwhile thing. If you will do what the Lord has asked of you, with faith in him, he will help you to do it.