This past week I was at Youth Conference. It was the best one yet. We had a fun time laughing, yelling, star gazing, eating– the works. But as we went through the week, I kept having this feeling, something kept knocking on my heart. I didn’t know what it was, but I know now.
The knocking on my heart first occurred at one of the stations we went to throughout the week. The topic at that station was about forgiveness and repentance. As I listened, I thought back on what I had done to make this awful feeling appear. Late that night as I was walking back from the bathrooms, a group of boys ran up to me and scared me. Of course it was all fun and games, but I really considered throwing something at their tent. And then it hit me.
When I was thirteen our ward went up to the mountains for our Youth Conference. As a young Beehive, I was so excited to go. It rained the whole time, but we still had a fun time. The first night I shared a tent with two other Beehives and that night the Young Men threw water balloons at our tent. But I mistakenly thought they threw rocks. I wanted to get them back so I went out of the tent and threw what I thought was a rock at one of the boys tents.
I have to admit that I was satisfied to see the rock hit the tent. But then instead of just hitting it, the rock went through the tent. Well, that night I went to bed feeling really guilty. The next morning I found out whose tent I hit. It was Brother Ence, the Young Men’s president’s tent! And the rock I threw was really a piece of concrete which landed right on his chest! As Brother Ence went around asking if anyone knew who threw the rock, I kept my head down. When he came to me he asked, “Madi, did you throw the rock?”
“No.” I lied.
And worse, I blamed it on my friend because I thought it was easier than telling the truth. As the rest of the week went on, I felt sick to my stomach. Why didn’t I just tell him it was me? The last day of Youth Conference came and I knew I had to tell President Ence what had really happened. I went up to him and told him the truth. I remember him looking in my eye and saying, “Madi, I forgive you. I don’t care about the tent, it can be fixed. But can you be fixed?” I remember crying tears of relief.
This year at Youth Conference as I remembered that experience, I realized that I didn’t clear up my friend’s name. I had told everyone it was her and so of course everyone in our ward thought it was her. I felt awful. Some friend I was. The last day of Youth Conference approached, which of course means testimony meeting. I wasn’t planning on going up in front of the group, but somehow I ended up there. As I stood up there I saw my Young Women leaders, I saw my friends, and most of all I saw Brother Ence, who is now the Stake President. As I told the story, I apologized to everybody I lied to, and told them that I had learned a very important lesson that day.
As I walked back to my seat that sick feeling went away. I felt peaceful; I knew I’d done the right thing. I realize now that everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone lets them get in the way of their life. They repent and move on.
Thinking about this experience, I’ve realized I could have prevented the whole thing just by not lying in the first place. But I think I have a greater understanding of repentance and forgiveness now. And one of the many things I learned out of this experience was never, ever throw rocks at tents!
Have you had an experience like mine?
Have you ever done something and then felt that sick feeling?