24948_000_012It hung in a spot where we read it every day, and it changed one life forever.
“Choose your friends wisely, for you will tend to be like them.” I had seen this little sign a million times and never thought anything of it. It was only one of many strategically placed thoughts and quotes that dotted the walls of our home. This one happened to be in the best location of all—right above the kitchen table.
When friends came over, we naturally congregated in the kitchen. Dates, late night movies, and quick lunches almost all involved the kitchen. Mom knew this and planned her attack accordingly. Years later I realized what a direct hit Mom had scored.
I was blessed with a lot of friends who are also members of the Church. We went to church and school together, and most of us went on missions at about the same time. However, there was one who was not exactly like the rest of us. His parents were divorced, and he was shuffled between their homes and the homes of friends. As a result, I think he always felt a little isolated and alone. He wore his hair long and always had at least one earring. Regardless, we loved him, and he was one of us.
During high school we witnessed him change; it was great. A short time after his 19th birthday he submitted his mission papers and received a call. A couple of months later we really understood the significance of this event.
The realization came on a cold, crisp Sunday in January. My friends and I had gathered to hear this young man speak in sacrament meeting. I had been invited to perform a musical number, so I sat on the stand. As I gazed over the crowd, I saw all of our friends, as well as my family; it was a wonderful sight. As my friend ventured to the pulpit, his eyes were a little red.
His talk opened with a question: “Do any of you know why I am here? Well, it is really very simple. I am here because of the many meals eaten at a friend’s table, a table with a sign above it that reads, ‘Choose your friends wisely, for you will tend to be like them.’ I want my friends to know that without their influence and love I wouldn’t be here today.”
As I looked down into the crowd, I saw my mother with teary eyes and a smile.
From that day on, I have also thought about the effects my friends have had on my life. I don’t know if I would have served a mission without their example. I don’t know what kind of a person I would be today if it hadn’t been for the strength and love I received from such wonderful people. For that, I will be forever grateful, both to them and to my Heavenly Father.
I know that no one has forgotten the message shared from that pulpit. I also know that that sign, to this day, still hangs above our kitchen table.