A few years before my parents joined the church they were going for a Sunday drive and came upon a farmer in his field. They noticed he had spare wood on his property, and because they were in the process of building something, they pulled over and asked him if they could purchase a piece of wood from him.
He responded, “I will not sell you a piece of wood on the Sabbath, but I will give it to you.”
My mom had never heard of such a thing, but she was deeply impressed with this man’s level of commitment. She didn’t know what religion he belonged to, but she admired that he had a belief that he endorsed and was committed to.
Soon thereafter my parents joined the LDS Church.
My mom was busy teaching swimming lessons during the summer, and a family traveled several hours to spend a week in our hometown so their child could learn to swim.
On Friday, it was assessed that this child could use one more lesson before the family returned to their home the following Monday. The mother of this child told my mom that there was no way they could make it to a lesson on Saturday but asked if she would mind giving her child a lesson on Sunday.
My mom felt like she was in a quandary. She had since learned that it wasn’t in keeping with the Sabbath, but she also knew that this child could really use just one more lesson before they headed home, so my mom justified it and gave the lesson.
After the swimming lesson, the mother of this child couldn’t thank my mom enough, telling her that since they were Seventh-day Adventists they were not able to have lessons on Saturday and appreciated her for accommodating them on Sunday.
My mom was speechless. She had just been baptized and knew the gospel was true, yet she dismissed her new belief to accommodate this lady. In reality this lady was more committed to her principles than my mom was to hers.
My mom learned a powerful lesson that day: Lowering our standards, rationalizing or moving the line defeats the purpose of having the belief in the first place. That was the first and last time she ever gave a swimming lesson on Sunday, but more importantly, it has served as a reminder that our beliefs are of little value to us or others unless we live them.
She realized that though she knew the gospel was true, the power was actually in living it. These experiences combined had an incredible impact on my mom. It was not enough just to believe. Rationalizing would not help her progress in the gospel, and to say she believed but not follow would make her words meaningless to herself and her family.
As a daughter, I appreciate the man who would not sell his wood on the Sabbath and the Seventh-day Adventist who would not compromise her beliefs. I appreciate the heart of a mother, who aspired for similar character and commitment, and was willing to make the changes necessary.
Recently, I listened to Larry Gelwix, the famous Rugby coach for Highland High School in Salt Lake City, whose story you find in the movie “Forever Strong.” When asked by reporters the secret behind his amazing and unmatched success he answered, “It is in living the principles of Jesus Christ.”
Success was not found in only believing in them but in living them. Regardless of the religion of each team member, he knew that if they would live the principles of Jesus Christ, they would be their best self — on and off the field. This translated in to 404 wins and 10 losses!
That is not a coincidence.
Each of us face moments on a daily basis when our beliefs are put to the test. We believe in being kind, but are we kind? We believe in being forgiving, but do we forgive? We believe obedience is a higher road, but do we choose obedience? We believe that everyone is of infinite worth, but do we discriminate in our love toward others? We believe in honesty, but are we honest in our dealings with others?
May we all remember that our values and beliefs are of little value unless we live them. Then, and only then, will they begin to benefit us, our families and others.