Friend to Friend


John B. Dickson
Faith, if it hath not works, is dead (James 2:17).

I love the Savior. I was taught as a little boy who He was and to trust Him and to try to obey His commandments. I wanted to do what was right.

In the sixth grade, I had unknowingly picked up a couple of bad words. One day I was playing with some friends behind my home in Enumclaw, Washington. When I used one of these words, a nonmember neighbor boy who went to Primary with us each Thursday said, “Jack Dickson, you swore.” I felt awful. That very day I decided that for as long as I lived that would never happen again, and it hasn’t.

At stake conference I heard a General Authority speak about being committed to making the right decisions. Afterward, I remember getting on my knees and saying to Heavenly Father, “This is what I plan to do. Wouldst thou help me?” I vowed that I would keep the Word of Wisdom throughout my life, that some day I would tell my grandchildren truthfully that I had never touched tobacco, tea, coffee, or a drop of liquor. I decided then how I was going to act so that decision never had to be made again.

When I was about sixteen years old, some friends asked me if I would go with them to drink beer. Although they pressured me to do so, I carried through with the decision I had already made. I simply told them, “No, thank you.” They are still my friends.

We can make the same type of commitment regarding tithing, moral cleanliness, attending our meetings, or any other gospel principle. If we decide now what we are going to do when we are tempted, we only have to carry through on the decision that we have already made.

As a young person I also learned that it was easier to follow the Savior if I had a good attitude. My father set the example for me. From as early as I can remember, I knew that my father trusted me and had confidence in me. He was a road builder and timberman. I started to run large construction equipment for him when I was a teenager. Once I happened to turn one of his trucks upside down. When my father saw it, instead of scolding me, he said, “Jack, since you’ve got it upside down, you might as well get it greased.” He used a little humor to put me at ease and then, over time, taught me how to keep better control of the equipment. What could have been a bad experience turned into a good one because he loved me and wanted to teach me.

When it was time for me to go on a mission, I was very excited to serve the Lord. Just before I was to leave, however, I found out that I had bone cancer. The chance of living long enough to serve a mission wasn’t very high. I had faith that the Lord would provide a way if He wanted me to go. My father gave me a blessing in which I was told that I would serve my mission in Mexico, serve in the Church all my life, and have a family. My right arm had to be amputated above the elbow, but my life was spared, and the promises I was given have all been fulfilled.

Some would think that losing an arm would be a terrible burden, but it has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. I learned that it is very important to have challenges and to face up to them.

Before I had bone cancer, I was quite impatient. When I came home from the hospital, I suddenly needed a lot of patience. I had been right-handed, and now I had to learn to do everything left-handed.

One Sunday morning when I was in my bedroom with my tie in my hand, I thought, How am I going to tie this? I thought about getting a clip-on tie. I thought about asking Mom to help me. But I couldn’t take her with me on my mission just to tie my ties. So I decided I had to learn how to do it myself. I finally figured it out by using my teeth. I still do it that way, even after having tied it thousands of times. I have learned that with a positive attitude and the Lord’s help, I can do what I have to do.

It doesn’t really matter what the challenge is—tying a tie, losing a loved one, overcoming economic problems, or facing a thousand different problems—if we have faith, work hard, and have a positive attitude, then Heavenly Father will help us.

[photo] With his father and his older brother, Lynn

[photo] Doris, John, and Lynn Dickson

[photo] John (right) and his brother, Lynn, display their catch

[photo] At age 16 with his father

[photo] On his mission in Mexico

[photo] Brother and Sister Dickson

[photo] The Dickson Family