One snowy night in January when I was in high school, I was at a friend’s birthday party. Giggling girls were sprawled all over the living room, chatting and eating cake. I sat in the middle of the group with my back against the couch.
“My sister moved out of the side house this week,” one girl remarked with a grin. “From now on it’s going to be the perfect spot for the weekend! I think our class would become so much closer if we all partied together. Like Jeremy Roberts. He is so much fun to be around when he’s drunk.”
I stared at the girl, shocked to hear those words come out of her mouth. To my great surprise, everyone else joined in, offering names of other people it would be fun to party with. I looked around in disbelief. An icy feeling crept into my heart. Already? My friends? Drinking? I had known that some in my group of friends drank, but all of a sudden everyone seemed to be in on it. I lowered my head, feeling isolated among my best friends.
“Of course I’ll be there,” said a friend between bites of cake. “But I think I’ll just be the designated driver. I don’t really want to drink.” She smiled at me. “Gillian, you can come too. We’ll keep each other company!”
I relaxed a little. That sounded OK. “I could go,” I thought. “I could make sure all of my friends got home safely. I could just be there and not drink or do anything wrong. I could still be included.”
“Sounds great!” I heard myself say. “Sure! I’ll be there. We’ll get everyone home safe and sound.” Everyone nodded enthusiastically, and the conversation shifted to other subjects.
The next evening I attended a stake youth fireside. The stake president spoke. “My young brothers and sisters,” he began, “you are at a stage in your life where you are under tremendous pressure to succumb to temptation. My best advice to you is this: Don’t even come close to the edge. Don’t go to the party and say you won’t drink. Don’t go to the party as a designated driver. Don’t even put yourself in that situation. Once you walk in the door, you are vulnerable. I have never counseled with someone who suddenly became an alcoholic or suddenly had a huge morality problem. It comes bit by bit, step by step. Don’t take the first step. I guarantee that you will never have a problem with the Word of Wisdom if you never put yourself in a situation where you might be tempted to take your first drink.”
I sat stunned by his words. He had spoken directly to my problem. Then I knew that it was not enough to go to a party and say I wouldn’t drink. That evening I decided I would never set foot in a party where alcohol was being served.
Through this experience, I learned that the Lord understands our problems and that one of the ways He guides us is through our leaders. Perhaps if I had gone to parties without partaking of alcohol, I still would have made it through high school OK. But I know the Lord blesses us when we keep His commandments, and I was able to follow His guidelines by staying away from the edge.
“Part of the spirit of the Word of Wisdom is moderation in all things, except those things specifically forbidden by the Lord. …
“When I was a young man, my friends and I went to an amusement park, where we rode the flying saucer. It was shaped something like an upside-down plate that went round and round. Most of us tried to get to the middle so we wouldn’t be thrown off by the centrifugal force as the saucer picked up speed. Sometimes those on the edge would grab a friend who was closer to the middle, but that would pull them both completely off the saucer. I soon recognized that the centrifugal force was far less powerful in the middle. I was quite safe in the center even though the saucer was still spinning. But it was risky when someone on the fringe latched on to me. I learned that safety comes from staying close to the center.”
President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, “The Virtues of Righteous Daughters of God,” Liahona, May 2003, 109–10.