Sticking to Standards
I swim on a winter swim team at the Lexington Aquatic Academy. Our team practices all winter and has weekend meets. Right at the beginning, I told my coach that I could compete in the meets that were held on Saturday but not those held on Sunday.
In March we had the last meet of the season, the Kentucky State Championship. The relay race was scheduled for Sunday. A couple of the team members who usually swim the relay were ruled ineligible. The coach asked my mom if I could swim just that one race on Sunday. Mom told him that it was my decision. When he asked me, I remembered something my dad had told me during a family home evening lesson. He had said that it is easier to decide how to handle a situation before you are actually faced with it. That way, when you have to make a decision, it will be easier to do the right thing. I had made the decision not to swim on Sunday before I joined my team. That made it easier for me to tell the coach that I couldn’t swim the relay.
I thought the coach would be mad at me. But at the end-of-the-year banquet, he presented me with a plaque engraved with the words “Christian Attitude Award—John Netherton 1999.” He told the team how proud he was of me for having standards and then sticking to them even when others tried to convince me to do something “just this once.” A couple of families called my mom to tell her about all the nice things that the coach had said about me. We weren’t at the banquet to hear him because it was on a Sunday! One mom even asked my mom where we went to church.
I am grateful for gospel standards and for the chance we have to be an example when we try to follow the teachings of Jesus.
In the fifth grade this past school year, we have had to memorize the names of the fifty states of the United States and each of their capitals. We started after spring break and took tests every week. Each test included ten to fifteen new states, plus all the states we had studied the week before. The tests got longer and longer.
This was very hard for me. I had to study a lot before every test. Even then, I made mistakes. Sometimes I missed so many that I had to retake the test to pass.
One day, another boy in my class was retaking a test at the same time that I was. He finished, and the teacher told him that he could go out to recess. When he put his book in his desk, he saw that I was struggling with one of the capitals. He whispered the answer to me. I quickly wrote it down and handed the test in. My teacher hadn’t seen or heard anything, so she told me I could go out to recess, too.
I thought I would feel good, because I knew I had passed. Instead, I felt horrible. Recess was not fun. All I could think about was what I had done. I tried to think of a way to tell my teacher.
Later that afternoon, I waited until most of my classmates had left the room to go home. I walked up to my teacher’s desk and told her quietly that I had not been honest and would retake the test again the next day. She thanked me for being honest. Telling my teacher the truth was very hard for me, but I felt so much better after I did.
When my mom was tucking me into bed that night, I told her, too. I thought she would be angry, but she was glad that I had had the courage to admit what I had done and had taken steps to correct my behavior. We talked about how the Holy Ghost helps us to know right from wrong and decided that the Holy Ghost had helped me that day.
The first part of the thirteenth article of faith is “We believe in being honest.” Honesty means always telling the truth, even when it is not easy. If I am going to be a good member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have to do the things I say I believe in. I know that by correcting my mistake and by being honest, I am stronger. I pray we can all be honest when faced with hard choices.
A Modest Choice
One day in my dance class, my teacher told us that we would have to wear bikinis for our costumes in an upcoming performance. I felt very bad inside. My mother and Primary teachers have taught me that Heavenly Father likes us to dress modestly. I asked my dance teacher if I could wear something else instead. She told me that I had to dress like the other girls or I could not be in the dance.
I looked down at my CTR ring that I always wear to remind me to choose the right. I knew what I had to do. I told my teacher that if I had to wear the bikini, I would not be able to be in the dance. She got angry and told me that I couldn’t drop out now because they would have to redo all the formations. I said I was sorry but I had to do what Jesus would want me to do.
It was a very hard decision to make, but I felt good afterward. When I told my mom about it later, she was very proud of me. She talked to the director of my dance studio and they decided that the costumes could be changed. I am very happy that I chose the right.
I have had problems with using bad language around my friends at school. It made me feel guilty whenever my parents would say, “We’re glad you don’t use bad language,” because they didn’t know what I was doing. I felt that the Holy Ghost would leave me because I was not only using bad language, I was also lying about it to my parents.
In Primary, we had a lesson about making right choices. I felt I should tell my parents about what I had been doing. I told my mom. Together we told my dad. They told me to start praying to Heavenly Father for help and for forgiveness. We talked about ways to stop swearing. Every now and then they would ask me how I was doing.
Today I’m still praying to Heavenly Father to help me use good language. I’m doing much better. Whenever I feel like saying something I shouldn’t, I get a hesitant feeling. That’s the Holy Ghost helping me to not swear. I get a warm feeling inside whenever I stop myself. I know that Heavenly Father is helping me to be more like Jesus.