Thump! went the backpack on the living room end table. “Put your bag in your room, Petey!” Mother said as she rounded the corner, wiping her hands on a kitchen towel. Her smile faded as she noticed Peter’s somber face. “Are you OK?”
“I guess so.” Peter shrugged as he hung his coat on a hook by the door.
“Then why the glum face? Did you have a fight with Justin?”
“Well, no … It’s just that whenever I ask him to come to Primary with me, he says he’s too busy or has stuff to do or something. Why can’t I make him come? Primary is so cool!”
“Let’s sit down a minute,” Mother said, heading for the couch. She tossed the towel onto the end table next to Peter’s backpack. “Do you remember the eleventh article of faith?” she asked when they were seated. “I think that’s one you’ve already learned.”
“Hmmm, let me think.”
“‘We claim the privilege …’” she started him off.
“Oh, yeah! I remember now. That’s the one that says ‘how, where, or what they may.’”
“That’s right! It says, ‘We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship …’”
“‘how, where, or what they may!’” Peter finished proudly.
“That’s very good, Petey. But do you know what it means?”
Peter began to fidget on the couch.
Mother smiled thoughtfully. “Let me see if I can help. Remember last week, when Dad was out of town and we had that snowstorm?”
“Do I ever! We had to shovel the walks and driveway before school. It was a lot of work. And then the neighbor kids wanted to walk through the snow, so they tromped across our lawn, instead! What a waste of time!” Peter shook his head, remembering the footprints across the front lawn.
“Well, no it wasn’t,” Mother corrected gently. “Because our walks were clear, it was easy to get the car out to take you to school.”
“OK, OK.” Peter’s nose wrinkled slightly. “I still don’t get what that has to do with the eleventh article of faith—or Justin.”
“Well, we worked hard to clear a path in the snow—that’s what we wanted to do. It was important to us. But the neighborhood children chose to walk in the snow, instead—because that’s what was important to them. Right?”
“Right,” Peter said. “So what?”
“Well, you want Justin to go to Primary on Sunday because it’s important to you, right?”
“Oh. I think I get it,” Peter said slowly. “Even though I choose to go to Primary, that doesn’t mean that Justin has to, right?”
Mother smiled. “That’s right. Heavenly Father has given us a very precious gift called agency. It is the right to choose and act for ourselves. We can’t force someone to follow the same path we choose to follow. However, while you need to let Justin have his agency, it’s also very good for you to love him and be his friend. You can keep showing Justin the ‘clear path’ that’s important to you. And maybe—just maybe—he’ll want to follow it one day.”
As Peter grabbed his backpack and headed up the stairs, he turned and smiled. “I’m glad I have my agency so I can choose to go to Primary.”