Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Personal Stories Mean the Most

I meant to tell you this story right after my husband's singles ward had their ward conference, but I forgot until this Sunday, when our stake president told it once again in my home ward's Relief Society meeting. The story is his own, a true and powerful life lesson.

One morning, his father instructed him to take a defective hedge trimmer back to Sears. It would be his responsibility to convince the sales clerk that an exchange was appropriate, then come home and trim the very tall hedges on both sides and in back of his house. This seemed like a pretty big job to him at the time; he was 11 years old and would have to make the trip, hedge trimmer and all, on his bike. Making the task even less desirable was the fact that it was a hot summer day and that cutting the hedges would require a step ladder and a full day's effort. What's more, Sears was a five-mile bike ride, one way, and his buddies looked like they were doing some pretty fun stuff.

Needless to say, the job didn't get done. At 11, the lure of friends and freedom was a little too strong for him to resist. When his father came home to find that the work had not been completed, he did not say a word. There were no scoldings, no punishments, no expressions of disappointment. Still, the young man was painfully aware that his father was not pleased; his son had let him down. That son, now a grown man who is admired and respected by his entire stake, recalled being filled with remorse, a feeling that was probably enhanced by the fact that his father chose not to reprimand him.

The next morning, this younger version of our stake president jumped out of bed early, eager to make amends by completing his neglected yard duty. Unfortunately, when he stepped outside, it was immediately clear that his father had gotten up even earlier and already started the trimming. In fact, the job was pretty far along. The thwarted young man barely had time to heave a guilty sigh before his remorse turned to something more dire. As long as he lives, he will never forget two sounds...the screen door slamming as he headed outside in preparation to do what he should have done the day before...and the sound of the trimmer shorting out in his father's hands. Sparks flew everywhere, and in what seemed like an instant, the hedge was engulfed in flames. His father was caught between the chain link fence and the tall, impenetrable hedge. Frantically, he ran over, dropped to his knees, and tried to scratch a tunnel underneath the thick brush to rescue his dad. But time was short and the sun-baked ground surprisingly hard. As terror turned to shock, something miraculous happened. He woke up.

It had been a dream! The terrible consequences of his negligence were not a reality. At this point in the narration, this faithful man smiled as he shared with us the fact that his young and incredibly relieved self not only got up and got that job done in a hurry, but that he went the extra mile...even raking the dirt underneath the hedges after he cut them and cleaning and oiling the hedge trimmer. He had learned a valuable lesson, one he never forgot.

There are many morals that could be taken from this story, not the least of which is President Kimball's old motto...DO IT! But the one our wonderful stake president stressed yesterday was equally valid. He wanted to talk about the tender mercy of second chances, and the importance of not only taking but making the most of them.

Aren't we fortunate that the Lord gives second chances?

It was a highly inspirational ward conference, even though I had already heard it in my husband's ward. Naturally, I'm grateful for this "second chance" to tell you about it.



jen said...

I love that story. I wish my boys could learn that lesson. Someday.
And thank heavens for second chances for all of us.

Jill said...

Great story. Second chances, yes. But I also thought once again, how "punishments" often can do more harm than good. I didn't parent much with punishing. Often talking about it, and their guilt, were sufficient for change. And I thought when I read this story, that just as we are often given second chances, we need to give those chances to succeed to our children, too.

You're a great second hand story teller Sue.

karen said...

Good story. I'm a great believer in second chances, as I've been the beneficiary of a few of them. The older I get (and hopefully wiser), the more I try to really improve on my first effort. One thing I've noticed, however: the second attempt is usually so much more difficult than the first one might have been. We might be wise to fight hard and not give up on the first attempt. Just saying.

KC Mom said...

Wow. That is such a great story. Sometimes I have dreams like that. I wish I would wake up and do the right thing.
I think I've been given my fair share of second chances.

VK said...

Very well told. Sometimes when this Sk Pres is relating a story, I want to jump up and add my two cents. I've heard it before, (because I'm married to him) and there is usually something I want to give an addendum to, or point that I have taken to the story. We all need second chances don't we?

Nikki Nichols said...

Okay I love love love that story! I have not been good about catching up on your blog but felt like clicking on it tonight and seriously needed to hear that. I am going to share that for Family home evening next week! Thanks so so much!

Em said...

i love love love a good story. thanks sue!!

Karen said...

Great story! How lucky you are to get to hear it twice. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Darlene said...

It's the strangest thing, we just finished watching a movie about second chances. It is about a young boy who was given a second chance, with Sidney Portier called "The Last Brick Layer in America." It was such a good movie . If you haven't seen it, rent it, for goodness sake. He is such a great actor. The boy's parents also got a second chance.

I hate to think where I would be if I hadn't been given a second chance.

Amy said...

Great story. Lots of food for thought. Thanks.

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