Example Speaks Loudest

by Annette Antonelli

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    How I changed the script and got rave reviews.

    I’m an average 16-year-old high school junior. I’m on the pom squad, I work in the mall, and I am on the Bishopric Youth Committee. I keep the Word of Wisdom, attend church regularly, and have a strong testimony. But there are some things I’ve never put a whole lot of emphasis on—like not swearing. I was always careful never to use the Lord’s name in vain, and I didn’t by any means swear as a regular course of conversation. But if I occasionally said a “bad” word, I never really stressed over it.

    That was until this past summer when I became close friends with someone who was very careful never to swear. By just spending so much time with her I got in the habit of not swearing, which presented an interesting problem when school started again. My drama teacher gave a friend and me dialogue to learn for a forensics competition, dialogue that contained some profanity. So whenever my friend and I ran through it together, I modified my lines to avoid having to swear.

    A few weeks later, we had to perform this dialogue in a school assembly. When we did, I modified my lines as I always had, and my friend delivered hers as they were printed. I didn’t think twice about it until I was talking to another nonmember friend later that day who told me something very interesting. After about the third word I had obviously changed, this person commented about how my church must mean a lot to me if I was going to go out of my way not to use profanity.

    When she told me that, I was taken by surprise. I know everyone knows I’m LDS, and I know they watch to see how I live my life. But I didn’t think something like altering a few lines to eliminate bad language could have so much importance. My friend said what I had done really made an impression.

    It also taught me that everything counts. Each commandment has a purpose and is important. I’d hate to think that someone’s connection or indirect introduction to the gospel of Jesus Christ was a negative one because of something I did. I now know more than ever that leading by example is a great way to share the precious truths I’ve been given.

    Photography by John Luke