Instant Messages

By D. J. Bentley


Mormons Do Dance

I wandered through the crowd at my California high school. I’d just finished taking my geometry final, and I was trying to clear my head of angles and parallelograms to get ready for the Spanish final that was coming up next. My overtaxed brain was just starting to conjugate a particularly tough verb when three students I didn’t recognize walked up beside me.

“If you’re going to be a Mormon, why not be a good one?” one girl spat out.

“What?” I answered timidly.

“We saw you at the dance on Friday!” the girl retorted.

I quickly scanned my memory trying to figure out what I had done to convince them I wasn’t a good Mormon. I had been at the school dance last Friday. I had worn a dress that was stylish but modest. I was with a group of friends, and we had danced and had a nice time and gone home.

“So?” I asked in bewilderment.

“Mormons don’t dance!” another student accused.

I had to chuckle as my mind’s eye surveyed my bedroom at home. At that very moment my bed was piled high with yards and yards of pink taffeta fabric. I was in the midst of sewing my ball gown for a dance festival in Salt Lake City. Ten thousand youth from all over the country would be gathering for the event. Of course Mormons dance!

I happily told them of the event and also told them about the great stake dances that were held every month at the church with up-to-date music, and no smoking, alcohol, or drugs to interfere with the fun. I even told them how Brigham Young instructed the pioneers to pull out their fiddles and organize dances from time to time when the wagons were pulled into a circle at night while crossing the plains. I told them that members of the Church like to enjoy life and that dancing can be a natural part of that.

Three stunned accusers now stood with their mouths open. I invited them to the next stake dance and told them how to get there. One pulled out his notebook and took down directions.

The anger on their faces had been replaced by understanding smiles. As they walked away, my mind went back to my seminary lesson from that morning. It was from Matthew 5:16—“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Wow, it was true! I realized that for good or bad, I am an example to the world around me of what members of the Church say and do. My experience proved that people were watching me and judging the Church by my actions. Before I headed to my Spanish final, I said a silent prayer of thanks to Heavenly Father for His help in that discussion and asked for the strength and conviction to always be a good representative of His Church.

[illustration] Illustration by Sam Lawlor

My Personal Progress

During my first few years in Young Women, I was at a stage in my life where everything seemed confusing and hard to deal with. I had lost hope in the dreams and goals I had for my future. My vision became clouded by the many temptations and pressures of the world. While I was going through these trials I knew that my best source of strength was the Lord.

Knowing this, I decided to make Personal Progress a top priority in my life. In doing so I have received many wonderful blessings and have come to understand that only through helping and serving others can we find true happiness.

I completed the Personal Progress program at age 14. I’m so grateful for the experiences I gained from putting Personal Progress first in my life. I encourage Young Women all over the world to work on Personal Progress. It is an inspired program from God.

The Personal Progress program has brought me closer to the Spirit, and I have received great comfort, peace, and assurance in times of need. I have gained a greater love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and my testimony has grown stronger.

[photo] Photograph by Jed A. Clark

Faith in His Plan

Over the past year my best friend has been struggling with leukemia. He had to stay in the hospital for many months and had to undergo chemotherapy. I have prayed for him every night and have been able to see him make progress. Throughout this difficult time, I have grown to know that Heavenly Father is there for us, and He loves all his children. I know that He wants us all to return to live with Him someday and that He wants us all to be happy.

When I think about my friend’s illness too much, I start to worry about the future. But when I think of Heavenly Father’s love for all of us, the pain goes away. I have come to know that I can always turn to Heavenly Father in prayer and that He will be there.

When my friend had a relapse and his cancer returned, I wondered if all of our faith and prayers were in vain. But I soon turned to the Lord for comfort and realized that no matter what happens, Heavenly Father loves my friend and will look after him. I just have to have faith in His plan.

[illustration] Illustration by Sam Lawlor

Hum the Right

My favorite hymn is “Choose the Right” (Hymns, 239). Whenever I feel tempted to do something wrong, or I’m in a bad mood and feel alone, I simply hum this song to myself and think about what God would want me to do.

I love music. It relaxes my soul whenever I am tense or stressed. I know that our Father in Heaven has inspired good music. I feel that everyone should have an uplifting song that they can use when life gets tough. I know that a righteous song is a prayer to God, and He will bless us (see D&C 25:12).