I try my best to avoid trials and tribulation. I do not like hard times, sadness, loneliness or failure. I do my best to avoid these things because I really do not enjoy the experience. I do not enjoy watching others experience hard times either.
As a boy, I had a very happy childhood. I had excellent parents and a good family. I don’t remember having a care in the world until the summer of 1988.
One evening, my dad broke the news to our little family that the company he worked for went bankrupt and he would no longer have a job. The job was a good job; it paid well and had given our family financial security for the entire 11 years that I had been alive.
Determined to keep the family ship afloat, my dad had to resort to driving a mail truck at night, pulling weeds and recycling freight pallets during the day. He worked close to 20 hours per day to put food on the table and shelter over our heads. For him, it was incredibly important that my mother be able to stay home and raise his four boys.
My dad didn't believe in handouts so he worked hard, and unfortunately this meant that he was gone a lot.
My poor mother was taxed with possibly a harder responsibility of keeping the peace of four boys who liked roughhousing with each other.
There were quiet nights. I remember lying under the covers in my little twin bed worrying about more things than a boy should worry about. Would my dad be able to stay awake while driving at night? Would we be able to afford to keep our house? Would my mother be able to withstand the torture that four adolescent boys were capable of putting a mother through? Those late nights, I would find myself slipping out of bed, kneeling down and pleading with my Heavenly Father to help our little family.
One day during this period of uneasiness, my older brother and I pulled together some money that totaled close to 75 cents. That day, we decided to walk to a convenience store close to our house to buy a treat. We laughed and played as we walked to the convenience store.
As we walked in, we were greeted by a familiar smell of a mixture of nachos and soda pop.
After walking the isles and giving careful contemplation, we decided to buy two pixie sticks and a flavored club soda to share. This was our first experience with club soda.
We purchased the treats and headed for home, all the while laughing and having a good time. We stopped at the irrigation ditch behind our house to share the club soda and to our disappointment it tasted like Alka-Seltzer with a hint of raspberry. It was not near as refreshing and delicious as it looked in the convenience store cooler.
As we passed the bitter club soda back and forth, reality hit and we both realized that we had wasted 75 cents of needed money.
My brother and I talked about how we really shouldn't be wasting money while our dad was working so hard for it. We both felt horrible over wasting such a precious resource.
We played the rest of the day, but my thoughtlessness weighed heavy on my mind until later that night our family gathered together for family home evening. This was a time that our family set aside every Monday night to talk, play games, sing songs and pray together.
As family home evening came to a close, my older brother had the responsibility of choosing and playing the closing song. We were all terrible singers but it was always fun and always brought smiles to our faces. We gathered around the piano and my brother introduced us to “The Money Song.” He was only a few months into piano lessons so the playing had a few rough edges.
Upon his queue, he played, and we, in our best out-of-tune voices sang:
Money can't buy everything
Money will not make you a king
Money will not bring success
Money can’t buy happiness.
But one thing that I am sure
Money cannot make you poor
Money will not make you sad
Money can’t be all that bad.
We laughed as we sang the simple tune over and over.
Later that night we knelt together as a family and prayed. I don't remember the prayer, or even who said it, but I will never forget the feeling of peace that came over me. This feeling told me that everything was going to be OK.
It was then that I realized that money was not our family’s source of happiness and it never would be.
To this day, I look back on that experience and it contains some of my most precious memories. Things worked out, we all grew tremendously. My father eventually found a better job, and to my relief, he never did fall asleep at the wheel of his work truck.
This experience helped me learn at a very young age that God listened to my prayers and that hard times can be our best times if we know where to turn.
Dave Riddle is a graduate of Southern Utah University and is a professional engineer at Jones and DeMille Engineering, a civil engineering firm in Richfield, Utah EMAIL: [email protected]