When I was growing up in Florida, USA, temptations to break the commandments and Church standards were everywhere. My Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) class was no exception. Foul language was used a lot, and there were many parties outside of school with alcohol and drugs. I was invited to many of these parties, but I never went, so people eventually stopped inviting me. By not attending these parties, I started to lose popularity, but I thought, “So what?” That didn’t really matter to me.
At the end of my third year, our instructors were deciding who would be the senior cadet command for the next year. I was in the running for one of the three spots, but it was given to someone else because the instructors knew him better because he went to those parties.
At the end of my senior year our senior instructor approached me and told me that if he had known how the year would turn out, he would have made me senior cadet command instead. He said it was because of my hard work, obedience, and dedication. This gave me great confidence to keep doing what was right, and it helped me to face what lay ahead.
I’d thought getting made fun of in JROTC for being a Mormon was hard, but that was child’s play compared to basic training. The temptation to swear was always present. Three or four times a day, day after day, the drill sergeant would get in my face and swear at me. And my fellow cadets would try to get me to swear. Then, half of the cadets at basic training ended up attending the same military school I did. It wasn’t long before the other members of my ROTC group also found out I was a Mormon and started making fun of me and trying to get me to swear. I wasn’t sure if I could keep this up for another 10 months. Basic training had been rough enough.
To my surprise, help came. My fellow basic training buddies from JROTC stepped up and defended my beliefs. They told the others, “Stop bothering him. Give up. Trust us, he won’t budge. We tried.”
After a while, people stopped making fun of me and started to support me. They even supported me in my decision to serve a mission, even though some of our instructors didn’t. My greatest opposition and tempters became some of my closest and greatest allies. I’m grateful that I stood up for my beliefs. I often wonder what would have happened if I had not chosen to keep the standards and commandments of God.