Not many years ago, I took my son Kimball roller skating along with his good friend Daniel. On the ride to the skating rink, Daniel told us it was his first time roller skating. Upon arrival, we each received roller skates and proceeded to put them on as fast as possible so we could start having fun.
An hour or so later, I skated past Daniel expecting to see a big smile indicating his enjoyment. To my surprise, in place of a smile was a painful grimace and a sweat laden face. I asked Daniel if he was a having a good time, and he unconvincingly nodded the affirmative. Later, I caught up to Daniel again, but this time, he was sitting down on the bench alone. I sat by Daniel and asked why he wasn’t skating. He grimaced and pointed to his feet. That is when I noticed Daniel’s skates were fitted incorrectly. Rather than placing his foot into the boot with the tongue up, he had placed his feet into the skate with the tongue down, forcing his foot into place on top of the tongue. It looked terribly uncomfortable.
After a good chuckle and a refitting, Daniel was on his way but this time with a smile and having fun—which is the whole point of roller skating. Without this correction, Daniel would never have known the happiness and joy that only roller skating can bring. Even worse, Daniel may never have skated again, only associating the activity with pain and loneliness.
Like roller skating, the gospel of Jesus Christ should bring us joy and happiness in this life and in the life to come. The gospel can be our roller skates as we travel through experiences of life. Like Daniel, children need parents to show them by word and deed how to properly fit our lives to our faith. Parents of faith must ask, do our children find joy and happiness in living the gospel. Have we given them sufficient instruction and example? Children need purposeful instruction to pray, to read the words of God, to repent, to serve, and to love.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has admonished parents everywhere to demonstrate personal faith and righteous living to their children. He said, “I think some parents may not understand that even when they feel secure in their own minds regarding matters of personal testimony, they can nevertheless make that faith too difficult for their children to detect.”
Children should see parents finding peace, joy, and happiness that comes from putting God first in our lives, in serving and in all aspects of worship, whatever that may be. Without this example, children may never experience the happiness and joy that only the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring—which is the whole point. Rather, they may find themselves like Daniel, sitting on the benches of the life alone, wondering how others find so much joy. Worse yet, they may never “skate” again.
Think of a young person in your life. Is there a member of your family, congregation, or community who seems uncomfortable or unhappy? God knows and loves each of us completely. Pray for him. Talk to her. See if some doubt or confusion is causing a wrinkle in their relationships—with parents, friends, or God. As you apply yourself and seek heavenly help, you will find and share true joy in life.
Tom Wadsworth is a pharmacist, father, and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He resides in Wasilla, and, of course, Tom enjoys roller skating.