My dog loves chicken bones. At least, she thinks she does. Every time we have chicken for dinner, she will sit quietly at the side of the table, waiting for a handout. We tell her that chicken bones aren’t good for her, that they splinter and she could choke. But there she stays, persistent, hoping for chicken bones.
When I was in the 10th grade, I had a similar problem. I saw a group of people I thought were pretty interesting and decided I wanted to be friends with them. I began talking to them and spending time with them. I ignored the warnings of my friends and parents to stay away from this particular group.
Soon I began dressing like them, listening to the same music, going to the same places. Gradually my attitude began to change, my language became increasingly vulgar, and I made choices I would never have considered a few years earlier. I lost many of my old friends, my parents no longer trusted me, and I lost my good reputation. At the time, I pretended I was happy.
The time came when I realized I wasn’t happy at all. I had gained everything I thought was important and lost everything that really was: my family relationships, my true friends, my reputation, my self-respect, and my faith in God. I had choked on a chicken bone.
It has taken a long time to repair the damage done by that chicken bone. I still struggle with its influence at times. I realize now that my parents’ and friends’ warnings were given to me out of love. They weren’t trying to restrict me; they were trying to help me.
Everyone will have their own chicken bones to deal with. But we are blessed to have the scriptures, the prophets, our leaders, teachers, friends, and parents to point out where those chicken bones are and what to do about them. We just have to choose to listen and obey.