While celebrating a sealing with my family in Utah last year, I heard stories about my nephews Brady and Bryce, both juniors in high school at the time, and how they chose Christ. They both inspired me, and I’ve thought a lot about how they chose to follow Christ.
I heard about Brady’s experience first.
Brady picked up an interest in lacrosse as a freshman. He became the JV goalie and was really, really good. The coaches often had him play JV & varsity games. I watched him play in the freeeeeezzzziiiiinnnnnggggg cold one January night. His consistent performance stunned me. He continued to improve his game and became the varsity goalie when the previous goalie graduated. The team traveled a lot to games.
Though many of the boys on his team belonged to the same church and faith as Brady, he somehow stood out. While passing a temple, the boys would yell out, “There’s Brady’s house!” When I first heard that, I took it as a compliment for him. But apparently, his teammates didn’t mean it as a compliment.
Brady had befriended several really strong, faithful members of the team. But they all graduated and left on missions. Suddenly Brady found himself standing for his standards alone. On the bus, the guys shared stories or topics or clips of things that weren’t Brady’s jam. He wound up sitting at the front of the bus chatting with the bus driver.
On the field, Brady was noticed! People were talking about scholarships and playing in college. He had a bright future in lacrosse.
However, one evening Brady approached his parents, telling them of his decision to quit the team. Shocked, they asked how Brady came to that decision. Brady described his experience and said the environment wasn’t one where he wanted to spend his time. He’d made covenants and planned to live them. He’d decided long ago to serve a mission and wanted to be as prepared as possible when that time came. He didn’t feel that being on the team helped him reach that goal.
Brady shocked his coaches, too. They resisted his decision but had to agree with his conclusions about the tenor of the team and ultimately supported his decision.
Brady walked away from scholarships and accolades and, in his newly freed-up time, found a job to earn money for his mission.
Brady’s mom told me this story. When I asked Brady about his experience, he shrugged it off as a decision made far in the past. Without the fanfare of look-at-me super righteousness or anything other than trying to follow the Lord’s will, Brady quietly continued his discipleship, because he truly is a disciple of Jesus Christ.
The night after I heard Brady’s story, the family gathered at our parents’ house for the evening. People, chatter, and laughter filled the space. I moved over to talk to Bryce. He is a super-talented musician, is on his band’s drumline, and has won awards with his band every year of high school.
His dad’s always been a hard rock fan and has instilled that love in his boys. They formed their own band and covered Metallica and other favorites in a backyard concert (which they streamed for those of us not able to attend in person.) It really was epic.
When I stepped into it, his group’s chat was about an anticipated concert and songs my brothers loved. I knew the songs because of Anthony, but it’s not my scene. But I love that they’re so happy about it. As that conversation died down, I asked Bryce about band (I played percussion in marching band a long time ago) and like having that in common with him. I asked Bryce about his band with friends. Then for some reason, I asked what music he listened to on the way to school.
Bryce said that he’d stopped listening to the radio on the way to school so he listened to Church music for the youth. Somewhat surprised, I asked why he made the change.
Bryce said that in seminary, his teacher spoke of how vital it is to have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion in our lives. Bryce felt the power of those words and evaluated his life to see how he could have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion. He decided to make a change in what music he listened to on the way to school.
I flashed to the time when I made that very same choice. I’d known the words of every single song on my radio channels of choice. As time went on, I was less excited about the lyrics and eventually chose something different, too.
I asked Bryce if he’d sensed a change. Did he feel the Holy Ghost in his life more?
In typical Bryce fashion, he grinned, nodded, and said, “Yeah.”
Bryce only brought it up because I’d asked a direct question. No egotistical, self-righteous explanations were given. No comparison to what other people do. Just a personal conviction to change himself to receive a promised blessing, which he received.
Aren’t their stories amazing? These two cousins, good friends, born a month apart, are fully engaged in their senior year of high school, both excelling in what they’ve decided to pursue and are looking forward to their missions after graduation.
Their commitment to their standards with opportunities for introspective self-assessments will continue to strengthen their faith and relationship with Jesus Christ.
But even now, without any future triumphs, they can join with Helaman’s 2,000 courageous young army in declaring