What Is the Truth?


(Based on an experience of the author’s son)
Be thou an example of the believers (1 Tim. 4:12).

“Hey, do you see what I see?” Jonathan whispered to his three buddies. “I sure do,” Brian answered. “Looks like trouble to me. Let’s get out of here!”

Jonathan and his friends were at a band competition at a school across the city. Their band had already performed, and now Jonathan and his friends were walking through the school because they were tired of sitting around. They had walked down a hall between the school’s gymnasium and empty classrooms. They had turned a corner and found themselves in the gym entrance. At the far end of the huge room, a bunch of boys appeared to be writing or spraying something on the walls.

Jonathan and his friends turned abruptly and headed back around the corner, but not before they were noticed.

“Hey, you! Come back here!” someone yelled.

Jonathan and Brian took off running with Todd and Jackson in hot pursuit.

“Let’s get them!” someone yelled, and the sound of running feet drumming across the gym floor spurred the friends on faster still.

As he ran, Jonathan noticed a boys’ bathroom door.

“Quick! Let’s hide in here!” he yelled, sliding to a stop and pushing open the door.

All four boys crowded in, pushed the door shut, and stood silently in a small entry room. The only noise for a few moments was their heavy breathing.

Suddenly there was a commotion outside, and someone tried to push the door open. Jonathan and Brian pushed it shut again.

“Hey! They’re in here!” someone yelled.

There was a burst of energy from those outside trying to shove the door open. There was an equal burst inside trying to keep it shut. Jonathan and Brian slumped down on the floor, leaning their shoulders against the wall and pushing against the door with their feet. Todd pushed a trash can against the door, and braced himself between the can and the wall. Jackson braced his feet against the wall and pushed against the door with his back.

The commotion outside the bathroom got louder. The door would burst open an inch or two each time someone’s body slammed into it. Someone else was banging on the door with a hard object. Jonathan could not believe what was happening. He had looked forward to the excitement of this day for weeks, but he hadn’t wanted this kind of excitement.

As quickly as the whole thing had started, it ended. The yelling stopped. There was no more shoving or pounding on the door. Something must have frightened the attackers away. Jonathan and his friends waited a long time before they dared crack open the door to take a look around. No one was in sight. They slowly emerged from the restroom and found that the door was scratched and gouged.

“Let’s get out of here!” Todd said, looking around nervously.

The boys took off for the school cafeteria where the bands were performing. As they took a shortcut through the gym, a couple of older girls walked by them and said hi.

Jonathan and his friends sat at the back of the cafeteria and tried to make sense out of what had happened. They listened to another band play and debated what to do. Jonathan and Brian thought they should find their band teacher and tell him everything. Todd and Jackson insisted they shouldn’t tell anyone, because they might get accused of the damage. They didn’t have to argue for long. Mr. Jolstead, their bandleader, was striding toward them with a serious look on his face.

“Boys, I want to talk to you. Follow me outside.”

Before Mr. Jolstead had a chance to say another word, Brian jumped in and told him the whole story exactly as it had happened. Mr. Jolstead shook his head and frowned. “That’s not the story I’m hearing from the principal of this school. A couple of girls saw you boys come out of the gymnasium right after all the damage was done. They pointed you out to the principal. No one else was seen around there, and the principal is blaming you. He wants restitution for the damages, and I want to know—what is the truth?”

All four boys started to talk at once.

“Stop right there!” Mr. Jolstead put his hands up to indicate silence. He took a deep breath and looked at each boy slowly, eye to eye.

After what seemed like a long time, he turned to Jonathan. Mr. Jolstead was not a member of the Church, but his son was a member of Jonathan’s Scout troop. “Jonathan,” he said. “I know you are a Boy Scout and a Mormon. I want you to tell me the truth. What happened in there?”

A lot of questions flashed through Jonathan’s mind before he answered. Why didn’t Mr. Jolstead say that Brian’s family were important business people in the community and he wanted Brian to tell him the truth? Why didn’t he say that Todd’s parents were well-known teachers at their school and he wanted Todd to tell him the truth? Why didn’t he say that Jackson was an honor student and he wanted Jackson to tell him the truth? Why did he single out Jonathan? “Does he really trust me just because I’m a Boy Scout and a member of the Church?” he wondered.

Jonathan looked straight into Mr. Jolstead’s eyes. “It happened just like Brian told you,” he said. “And that is the truth.”

Mr. Jolstead finally smiled. “All right. I believe you,” he replied. “Let’s go talk to the principal.”

Jonathan’s band didn’t win that day, but, in a way, Jonathan did. He realized how much people respect members of the Church. He realized how closely people watch what members say and do. He knew one thing for sure—he would follow the Savior’s teachings more carefully than ever.

[Set an Example]

President James E. Faust

“We have the responsibility to set the example of righteousness to all of the world.” President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, “Choices,” Ensign, May 2004, 54.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Brad Teare

Vicki H. Budge is a member of the Mountain View Ward, Bend Oregon Stake.