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The Ripple Effect

Name Withheld

Every choice we make is like throwing a rock into still water: the ripples keep moving outward.

Scott (name has been changed) had every excuse to stop going to church. His mom never went. When his alcoholic dad wasn’t in prison, he wasn’t around, so he wasn’t going to take Scott to church. Sometimes his two younger sisters went to Young Women, but they weren’t really interested.

The only reason Scott had been going in the first place was because his family was living with his grandma, who would wake him up for church every Sunday. But when he turned 16, Scott’s grandma died, and his family moved away from the only bishop Scott had really connected with.

It would have been easy for him to just not show up anymore.

But Scott kept going to church. Even though it was hard, he chose to be faithful.

“I felt good at church,” Scott says. “I felt the Spirit there. I knew that’s where I was supposed to be, so I kept going.”

“The influence of your personal testimonies is ever so far-reaching. … You can make a difference.” —President Thomas S. Monson, “You Make a Difference,” Ensign, May 1988, 43.

He didn’t realize it at the time, but when Scott decided to keep going to church, even though it seemed he had every reason not to, he changed my life and affected hundreds of others.

Because of this decision, Scott served a mission and invited many people to come unto Christ. Later, he held many different callings, blessing the lives of hundreds of ward members. He married in the temple. He and his wife built their home and family on the teachings of Christ and helped their four children gain testimonies of the gospel. Those children all went on to serve missions and share the gospel with even more people.

Forty years after Scott chose to be faithful, people are still being affected by his decision. I know. He’s my dad.

Scott’s decision was like a rock tossed into still water—the ripples continue to move outward through generations, touching not only the lives of those around him, but the lives of their children and their children’s children.

Those ripples are now moving into the third generation as I look into the eyes of my son.

I have wondered what would have happened if my dad had simply chosen not to go to church anymore. Would I have come to know the Savior? Would I have served a mission? Would I have married in the temple? Would my son be facing a future without the blessings of the gospel? Those are questions I’m glad I don’t have to answer.

What I have learned is this: Youth are changing the world every day, usually without realizing it. When I was a teenager and faced with decisions, I wasn’t thinking about how I was affecting others. But now I understand that every choice I make is like throwing another rock into the water—we never know how far the ripples will spread. Read “What’s Your Chain Reaction?” to find out more about the influence you can have.

Read the full story in the February 2005 New Era.

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