I’m a strong believer that the Lord places important people in our lives. These people deeply influence us, teach us, and provide us with the resources we need to develop strong testimonies and learn correct principles. These people can be our parents, other family members, Church teachers, friends, or neighbors. They are often prompted by the Spirit to do and say things that are exactly what we need at certain times in our lives.
In my life, there have been many of these people. Most important, of course, was my mother. My father died when I was about six years old, and my mother raised my three brothers and sisters and me by herself. She raised us under the guidance of the Spirit and taught us the importance of kindness, obedience, and righteousness.
I learned early in my life to listen closely to my mother. One time when I was heading to a nearby swimming hole with my friends, my mother advised me to not go. “I just don’t feel good about you going,” she said.
Despite her warning, I chose to go anyway. I nearly drowned that day. Thankfully, a friend pulled me out and saved my life. That experience taught me to pay close attention to my mother’s feelings, and it also taught me the importance of living worthy of the Spirit and its promptings.
In addition to my mother, more than one Primary teacher influenced my upbringing. One day in Primary, a teacher shared with us the story of the Restoration. She explained that there were many different religions in the world. I was surprised to hear that. I lived in a small Utah town where practically everyone was a member of the Church, so I assumed that everyone believed the same things I did.
My teacher continued by telling us the story of fourteen-year-old Joseph Smith and his deep desire to find the truth. She told us how he read the scriptures that talked about asking the Lord for guidance. Then she talked about the special day when he went into a beautiful grove of trees near his home and knelt to ask Heavenly Father for help.
I had actually heard the Joseph Smith story several times before, but for some reason this time was different. I was only about seven years old, but I began to understand some of the great importance of having the restored gospel in my life.
Through the years, I grew to love and appreciate my Primary teachers and other Church leaders. They played an important role in teaching me the gospel and helping me develop my testimony and learn how to live like Heavenly Father wanted me to live.
Over and over, I have been reminded that people play important roles in our lives. One cold January day when I was in high school, I stayed after school for wrestling practice. My home was ten miles from the high school, so I usually caught a ride home after practice.
On this particular night, I didn’t feel very well. The only ride I could get was in the back of a pickup, and when the driver dropped me off, I was still at least a mile from home. I felt frozen, and I remember not being able to think straight. There were no cars in sight as I stumbled down the road toward home.
Before long, a car appeared in the distance. As it grew closer, I weakly waved my arm, hoping the driver would stop. He did. It was my brother-in-law, who had felt a strong prompting to come looking for me. The next day, I was diagnosed with pneumonia. I was very sick for several weeks. I’m not sure what would have happened to me if my brother-in-law hadn’t showed up, but I’m certain that he was following the Spirit when he went out looking for me that night.
Because I grew up in a single-parent home, I’ve always felt a great closeness to young children who have only one parent. Certainly there can be difficulties, but one parent who is led by the Spirit can do a great job of raising a family. My childhood memories are happy, fun ones. I gained a strong testimony of the gospel, and I grew up to be responsible and obedient.
The Lord loves every one of His children. He does all He can to help us be happy and return to live with Him. One of the greatest things He does is provide each of us with people in our lives who love us, teach us, and help us become the people we need to be. We should pay special attention to those people. We need to listen to them, follow them, and respect them. As we try to live like these righteous and inspired people, we will be blessed.