Lillie couldn’t wait for the lunch bell to ring. She watched the clock as the hands slowly moved to 12:00. She was supposed to be reading quietly, but she was too excited to concentrate. Lunch was her favorite part of the day—a time to be with her new friends, talking, laughing, and making plans for after school.
Lillie had moved a few months ago, and at first she had felt alone and afraid. The first week in Primary, she met one other girl in her class, but she lived far across town and went to another school. Luckily, on Lillie’s first day of school, she was placed in the same sixth-grade class as Teresa. Teresa was very friendly, and now Lillie was part of a fun group. It was hard being the new girl in school, but Teresa and her friends made Lillie feel welcome.
Finally the bell clanged, and Lillie grabbed her sack lunch from inside her desk. Teresa called, “Wait for me by the door. I have to grab my backpack.”
Lillie saw Jackie coming from a classroom down the hall and waved. “Hey, Lillie,” Jackie called over the noisy chatter. “Are you ready for lunch?”
“I am now,” she said as Teresa came up beside her and linked arms with her. Together they followed Jackie to the lunchroom and found a table where everyone could sit. Lillie sat between Jackie and a boy named Brad and quickly unwrapped her lunch. Brad asked if she had seen the game on TV the night before. Jackie discussed her birthday party coming up the next month. Lillie ate her lunch happily.
After lunch most of the others scattered, but Lillie and her friends pushed back their chairs and continued talking. Brad told funny jokes that made everyone laugh. Jackie described something funny her little sister had done. Lillie wished she had something witty and wonderful to say, too, but nothing came to her mind.
Lunch was almost over. The cafeteria workers began cleaning the tables. Teresa imitated a popular movie star, and everyone laughed. Lillie took a deep breath and decided to do something she had never done before. She took the Lord’s name in vain, giggled, then said, “That was so funny, Teresa!”
Suddenly, the lunchroom fell silent. Lillie felt her face grow red with embarrassment as everyone looked at her. Brad shook his head slowly. “Lillie,” he asked softly, “aren’t you a Mormon?”
“Yeah,” Jackie said, “I thought Mormons didn’t swear.”
Lillie felt sick. She couldn’t say anything. The bell rang, and everyone shuffled back to class. Teresa walked beside Lillie, but she didn’t say a word.
All afternoon Lillie wondered why she had said such a thing. She knew it was wrong. She had never said it before. Her teacher asked her several questions about the day’s lesson, but she shook her head and said she didn’t know. She couldn’t wait for school to end so she could go home and hide under her bed.
After school Lillie told Teresa she had to hurry home. She ran from the building, tears in her eyes and a big lump in her throat. When her mother asked about her day, she was too ashamed to answer and hurried to her room.
How had it happened? She had been eager to impress the others, but she had hurt her spirit instead. She knew she had to ask for forgiveness. If her actions had disappointed her new friends, how much more must they have disappointed Heavenly Father?
That night Lillie couldn’t eat her dinner, and it was hard to look at her parents. Finally her father gently asked what was troubling her. The story spilled out, mixed with bitter tears. “Dad, I am so sorry. I feel terrible,” Lillie cried.
Her father put his arm around her shoulders. “That’s an important part of repentance, Lillie. You truly have to be sorry for what you do—or say.”
Lillie wiped her eyes. “Oh, I am, Dad. I’ll never swear again. Never!”
Her father nodded. “Good. Now go tell Heavenly Father what you just told me, and I’m sure you’ll feel better soon.”
As Lillie knelt beside her bed and prayed, she felt her heart would break. She thought of other mistakes she had made and wondered how Heavenly Father and Jesus could continue to love and forgive her. But as she whispered, “I am so sorry,” she felt the peaceful warmth of the Holy Ghost. Finishing her prayer, she was filled with the strength to do one more thing she needed to do.
Lillie shakily dialed Teresa’s phone number. She could barely speak, but she managed to say she was sorry for what she had said at lunch. Then she called Jackie and Brad.
“Do I have to go to school today?” she asked her mother the next morning. She didn’t want to face her friends. What must they think of her?
Her mother hugged her. “Yes. If you don’t, it will be harder tomorrow.”
Teresa found Lillie before school and gave her a quick hug. “I can’t believe you called everyone and said you were sorry. I never could have done that!”
Jackie called from the doorway of her classroom. “Lillie! I have to talk to you about my birthday party, OK? See you at lunch.”
Lillie gave a small sigh of relief and slid into her chair. She never wanted to feel the hurt of a wrong choice again. Even if her friends hadn’t known she was a member of the Church, she would have felt the sting all the same. She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and from now on she intended to act like it.
“We cannot indulge in swearing. We cannot be guilty of profanity; we cannot indulge in impure thoughts, words, and acts and have the Spirit of the Lord with us.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Converts and Young Men,” Ensign, May 1997, 49.