I feel very strongly about today’s children learning to make decisions early and then sticking to those decisions.
When my father, Elwood Allred, was young, he helped his mother gather eggs. He would crawl under the granary to retrieve some of them—the hens loved to lay their eggs in that dark, tight area. One day after he’d gathered the eggs there and was starting to squeeze out, he heard his mother say, “Elwood, don’t come out the way you went in. Please come out the other side.”
“But Mom,” he protested. “Do I have to?”
“Please do it for me,” his mother replied. “I’ll meet you on the other side.”
My father wasn’t happy about it, but he obediently crawled through the spider webs and dark to the other side of the granary, where his mother swept him in her arms. “Thank you for being obedient,” she said. She took my father’s hand. “I want to show you something.”
Father and his mother walked to the spot where he would have crawled out, and Father was frightened to see a rattlesnake coiled up. Listening to his mother had most likely saved his life!
My father often shared that story with me, and I learned early in life the importance of being obedient! I always tried hard to listen to my parents because I knew that they understood and knew things that I didn’t. I knew, too, that they loved me and wanted only the best for me. I also recognized early that Heavenly Father loved me and wanted only what was best for me.
* * * * *
My family had family prayer and family home evening, and during those times, I learned the importance of communicating with Father in Heaven.
I remember one time when one of our puppies was run over by a car. Heartbroken, I carried the puppy into my mother. “He’s not going to live!” I cried. With her infinite wisdom, she helped me place the tiny body in a box and suggested we say a prayer. We knelt and prayed, then headed to the vet.
When the vet came into the room, he took one look at the puppy and asked why we had come. “There’s nothing wrong with this animal,” he said. But I knew that there had been—I had seen the car run over him. That was a great testimony to me about the power of prayer. I knew then and know today that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers.
* * * * *
The experiences I had in Primary reinforced the things I learned at home. I loved singing the Primary songs, and I sang them with gusto. Even as a young boy, my emotions were near the surface. Sometimes in Primary or sacrament meeting, I would catch my breath and get tears in my eyes when someone said something that touched me. I loved that warm, special feeling in my heart.
At the time, I didn’t know what the feeling was. Now I know that it’s the Holy Ghost and that He was helping me recognize truth and righteousness. What a wonderful blessing it is to feel the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost can help all of us, whether we’re young or old, to make good decisions that will help us return to Heavenly Father. It is very important to make decisions early in life about the things you will do, and about how you will act. If you decide when you are young that there are certain things you will never do and other things you will always do, then you only have to make those decisions once.
If you decide now that you will never smoke or drink alcohol or steal, then when the temptations arise to do those things, you will not have to think twice. Since you will have already made up your mind, you will be able to walk away from temptation.
Another thing you can do now is set goals. Set a goal to always be worthy to enter the temple. Set a goal to serve a mission. Set a goal to earn a good education. These are important goals that will help you be happy throughout your life. Do things now that will help you achieve these goals.
Don’t ever think that you’re too young to do important things! Making these decisions and setting these goals are some of the most important things you’ll do in your whole life! Start working on them now.
I testify that Father in Heaven will help you as you do these important things. He hears and answers your prayers. Be obedient to Heavenly Father and your parents, and you will feel the Holy Ghost guide you in the decisions you make. This is an exciting time in your life! Remember that you are a special child of God. He loves you very much.