What does the Sabbath day mean to you?
In some ways, it’s a very simple question with some simple answers. In other ways, however, it can be a difficult and highly personal question, especially if your team is counting on you.
Lindsey Walch and Carson Evers, two 17-year-olds from the Santa Cruz California Stake, had to decide what the Sabbath meant to them. When challenges came, they made their decision and found greater understanding and peace.
Lindsey has played competitive soccer since she was nine years old. She enjoyed playing at a high level of competition, but at one point she felt she needed a break, so she entered a lower-level league. Eventually, however, she began craving a challenge again, so she tried out for a team at a higher level that played on Sunday.
“While I was trying out, my dad told me, ‘You really have to think about this right now,’” she says. “So I was thinking about it.” She recognized how the decision to play on Sunday could affect her spirituality. “I knew that I wanted the Church to come first. So I decided that it was really the best thing for me to not play on Sundays.”
The decision was difficult because she loves her sport, and like most good athletes, she loves to play with the best in order to stretch herself. In addition, the higher the level you play at, the more likely you are to play in college.
“I was talking to the coach,” she says, “and he said that I would have to play on Sundays. I told him that I couldn’t play on the team, and it was really hard for me because I wanted to play at that higher level. And I just felt really bad.”
A few weeks later one of Lindsey’s friends told her about a high-level team she played on whose coach was more flexible. “I went and talked to him about it,” she says, “and he said that I could just play on Saturdays.”
Lindsey says that keeping the Sabbath day holy makes a huge difference in her life. “This is a day that Heavenly Father wants us to keep separate, to keep for Him,” she says. “I think it calms you down. If I have one day just to rest, it really helps me out.”
And there are other blessings. “It’s nice just to think,” she says, “because sometimes you don’t have time to really think about what’s going on in your life and what all the stress is and everything. You don’t really have time to think about Jesus Christ because you’re so worried about other things that are going on right now. I think Sunday really helps me with that.”
When she was 15, she used her time on Sunday to work on goals for her Personal Progress. “Every Sunday I would do two or three of the goals,” she says. “I was able to get done with it a lot faster, and it actually worked out really well.” In this way, she met her goal of receiving her Young Womanhood Recognition medallion.
Now that she has earned her award, she continues to use her Sabbath day to draw closer to Heavenly Father by attending church, reading scriptures, being with her family, and resting from school, soccer, and stress.
Carson’s game is basketball, and he loves to play in tournaments. The problem, of course, is that many tournaments include Sunday in their schedules.
“At this one particular tournament we had a chance in the finals, which were on a Sunday,” he says. “I was thinking about going because it was the final big tournament. I said to myself, ‘I don’t want to give up. I don’t think it’s right.’”
When he talked to his coach, he felt even more pressure. “He was kind of pushing me to go because we were in the finals of the big tournament.”
What made it even more difficult were his own prior choices. “Before then I was kind of used to making exceptions,” he says. “I used to go play some on Sunday every once in a while for tournaments. I always played my worst game then. It just never worked out.”
But this time he made a decision about what the Sabbath meant to him. “I talked about it with my parents,” he says. “They said, ‘Whatever you decide.’ I always hate that when they make you choose.”
Carson also received support for his decision from a friend and teammate, who is also LDS and chooses not to play on Sunday. “It’s kind of easy for me, because he is a member,” says Carson. “He’s like my best friend, and we always play sports together. And it’s easier for me because we both don’t do that stuff on Sundays. It’s just good having another person there. I’m not the only one.”
When Carson made his decision not to play, it had quite an effect on him. “I had this good feeling about it when I went to church that Sunday,” he says. “I knew I needed to be there and not at my tournament. That whole day, I just knew—that nice little chill up the spine feeling, you know?”
Attending church is an important part of the Sabbath for Carson, particularly renewing his covenants and remembering the Savior through the sacrament. “It makes me keep the Sabbath day a little more holy,” he says. “It helps me think of the Sabbath as a holy day and not just a day of rest.”
So what does the Sabbath mean to Carson?
“For me, it’s about showing respect for Heavenly Father and what He commanded,” he says. “It’s resting, taking a day off, just getting back in the groove. By the end of the week I’m burned out; I’m done. I always need a rest.”
One of his favorite things about Sunday is spending time with his family. “It’s just good to have one day just with my family to get to know them better,” he says. “During the week I don’t have the time to be with my family as much as I’d like. So Sunday’s a pretty good day to be with them.”
Lindsey and Carson have come to understand the principle taught by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “My behavior on the Sabbath constitutes my sign to the Lord of my regard for him and for my covenants with him. … Our activities on the Sabbath will be appropriate when we honestly consider them to be our personal sign of our commitment to the Lord” (“Reflection and Resolution,” in Brigham Young University 1989–90 Speeches , 6).
For these teens, committing to make the Sabbath a personal priority has made all the difference.