Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee (Deut. 31:6).
When I was young, one of my passions was playing football. For many years, I looked forward to high school so that I could try out for the team. Finally the day came, and I made it! During a practice not long before our first game, someone blocked me from the side. I hit the ground, and a few boys landed on me. I felt something in my shoulder snap. When I got up, my left arm hung like a wet noodle.
At the hospital, a doctor told me that my arm was broken. He wrapped it in a heavy, three-inch-thick cast, saying that the weight of the cast would pull the bone into place. It really did feel like someone was pulling on my arm! He prescribed some pain pills, told me to sleep in a chair for a few nights, and sent me home.
My shoulder kept hurting, and after a few days, my parents became worried. They asked another doctor to look at my X rays, and he thought that maybe the ball of my shoulder had been broken instead of the bone below it. When he took me into the operating room, he said, “If you wake up with your arm raised above your head in a cast, you’ll know that we were able to properly set the bone. If your arm is lying down, you’ll know that we had to operate.”
Eight hours later, I woke up with my arm at my side. My shoulder had been broken through the growth center. It was a good thing that I was nearly full-grown at age fourteen! My left arm is now an inch and a half (about 4 cm) shorter than my right arm. The doctors had had to break the bone again because it had healed in the wrong place. They also had to insert two metal screws to hold the bones together. Those screws are still in my shoulder today.
The doctors told me I should never play football again. If I were to get injured, the metal pins could splinter my bones and I could lose my arm. I was disappointed that I could no longer play the sport I loved so much.
After a few days of thinking about it, I accepted my limitation and decided I could switch to basketball. While my left arm was still in the cast, I found that I could shoot baskets with my right hand. I worked hard to compensate for this injury, and after three successful years on the high school team, I accepted a basketball scholarship to Brigham Young University.
This experience taught me to always keep a positive attitude, to never lose hope. Even when bad things happen, have the courage to alter your course and find new things to do.
When I was a little older, I went with my dad on a business trip for his manufacturing company. We were to meet with a purchasing (buying) agent from a large company. My dad had always wanted to do business with them, but he had never been offered the opportunity.
When we met with the agent, he told us that we could have the project they were offering—if we increased the price and secretly sent him the extra money. My father said that we would call him later with our decision, and we left.
“What do you think we should do?” Dad asked me. He pointed out how much this project could benefit our company. He said that we could give more people jobs and accomplish much good.
Then he taught me something I have never forgotten. He said that if we were to be dishonest in even this one business dealing, we could seriously damage a reputation for honesty that took years to build. He turned the offer down. I am happy that he showed the courage to be honest at all times, even when the temptation was great.
Another experience that taught me courage happened in Sun Valley, Idaho. Some friends and I were doing construction work for the summer to earn money for college. In the evenings, we liked to walk around and see the shops, restaurants, and other tourist attractions. We often saw a certain girl, and I told my friends that I’d like to meet her. After three weeks of hearing me say this, my friends were getting annoyed.
One day, my friends and I happened to be walking into a lodge just as she was walking out. One friend called to her, “This guy has been talking about you for three weeks. He doesn’t have the nerve to ask you out. Will you go out with him?”
She looked embarrassed and startled. “I don’t know.”
My friend told her that we were going for a jeep ride in the mountains the following day and that she was welcome to come. Since it was a group outing, she agreed. I finally had my first date with Nancy without having said a word to her!
During our day in the mountains, I found out that she wasn’t a member of the Church. That evening, I gave her a Book of Mormon and invited her to read it. Before my friends and I returned to BYU, I baptized Nancy into the Church. Later, she was offered a job in Salt Lake City and moved to Utah. We continued dating, and the day after I graduated from BYU (a year from the time Nancy was baptized), we were married in the Manti Temple.
President Gordon B. Hinckley counsels us to have courage. He means that we need to have the courage to change our plans if we need to when things do not go as we had planned. He means that it takes courage to choose honesty, no matter what the cost. And he means that we should open our mouths and share the truths of the gospel with those around us. Heavenly Father blesses us with good things when we have the courage to do what is right.