We took our church youth group rappelling Tuesday night. The young men were in charge of the activity and I was glad. It had been a bad day and I really just wanted to go home and pout. But I couldn’t. I had to switch gears and put on my happy face and be excited for the girls. Most were thrilled for the chance at the physical recreation except for one who asked me on the previous Sunday if she had to rappel. “No,” I reassured her, “we won’t make you do anything you don’t want to do.”
When we arrived, I looked at the 30 foot rock the three rappelling ropes were dangling off. I decided I didn’t have the energy to make my way to the top of the cliff – which is a feat in itself. Also, it seemed every choice I made that day had turned out poorly and I didn’t want to tempt fate by dangling on a rope 30 feet off the ground. Besides, this activity was for the youth. I would stay on the bottom and be a cheerleader/photographer of the girls as they descended.
Two hours later, everyone who had wanted to rappel had been able to do so. Some had descended several times. Others got their fill with just once. Our oldest youth, JL, went down once and decided that was enough for her. She sat near the leaders and watched as the younger girls made their way down.
During a lull, we were talking. Someone asked her if she wanted to go down again. “No,” she replied. “Once was enough.” We only get to do this activity once a year so I pressed her to make sure. She smiled and looked at me, “I’ll go if you go.”
I smiled back and said, “Okay.”
My answer surprised her. “Oh man,” she moaned. “I did not think you were going to say that.”
We climbed the hill together. She went down first and I followed. This was only my second time rappelling in my life but I went down a lot quicker than I did a year ago. And it was fun, I was glad I took the opportunity to do so.
Yesterday, we took the young women of the ward to Temple Square in Salt Lake City. It was a good day filled with positive adventures. On the way home, JL was filled with the Spirit and the excitement of the day. “We should bare our testimonies tomorrow!” On the first Sunday of the month we have Testimony meeting in church. It’s a time when members of the congregation are welcomed to bear testimony during Sacrament meeting.
The younger girls in the car didn’t quite agree. Two flat out refused to commit. One needed prodding. Following JL’s example from Tuesday, I looked at her and said, “I’ll go if you go.” Almost immediately I wished I hadn’t said it. I don’t mind public speaking, in fact, I enjoy it. During testimony meeting, testimonies are not asked to be given but are volunteered to be shared. Because of this, I don’t view bearing testimony as public speaking, but more social speaking. I hate social speaking. What if everyone is tired of what I have to say? What if members of the congregation roll their eyes when I stand up to speak?
When I showed up for Sacrament meeting today, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I made it quite the dilemma. Was it okay to not go up if JL backs out or should I go up and set the example? I waited to see what she was going to do. She didn’t stand up. I went back and forth on what to do and the minutes ticked by.
One of the younger girls stood up and bore her first public testimony ever. “Oh man,” I thought, “this just got more complicated.” Time was running out. Finally, in a moment of bravery, I stood up and made my way to the front. I hoped nobody rolled their eyes. I said my testimony and looked at JL. She smiled but her face registered my earlier thoughts of dilemma. I sat down and waited. A warm feeling came over me and I felt peaceful. If nothing else, the younger girl wasn’t the only one from the car to share her testimony.
JL stood up and bore her testimony. It was beautiful and quick. As she sat down, I realized when we have good friends who join us we can accomplish feats we wouldn’t do by ourselves. We don’t have to live life by ourselves. A friend can provide the incentive for us to do better things. I don’t know what JL learned this week, but I was reminded of the power of the “I’ll go if you go” stance.