Grant’s mother, Laura, said to him, “I notice when you have your shirt on, you seem happier.” Grant pondered, “I think I feel, well, um, I think I feel BRAVE!”
“What do you mean?” his mother asked. “Sometimes I am quiet,” answered Grant. “But when I put my shirt on, I feel accepted by my friends, more outgoing, and I think I actually like talking to adults.”
Sister Becky Craven, Second Counselor in the Young Women’s General Presidency, recently said, “When you know who you are, you act differently. You have to have a vision. If you don’t have a vision, you don’t know where you’re going and you don’t know what to do to get there.”
For 8-year-old Grant, Cub Scouts is that vision. It gives him a glimpse of what possibilities are out there. With his “brave shirt” on, Grant knows what it feels like to be a part of something bigger than himself. He is able to feel a camaraderie with the neighborhood children. He experiences fun, wholesome activities. He sees the benefit of working together with his den. For the first time, Grant is learning what it feels like to set goals and accomplish them. But most importantly, Cub Scouts is helping Grant define who he is.
Fast-forward five, six, or even ten years. Where will Grant be? What will help Grant draw closer to his Heavenly Father, who has perfect vision? According to a religious study, between the ages of 14-24 is called “The Dangerous Decade.” During these years, most youth decide where they will stand on spiritual matters and what spiritual path they will take. (see “House of Glory,” by S. Michael Wilcox)
In Ephesians 6:10 -11 and 13, the Apostle Paul petitions us to “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
What is the first step for Grant in putting on the “armour of God” to help him through the “dangerous decade?” It is exactly what Cub Scouts is teaching: to move forward step-by-step, requirement-by-requirement, and to embrace gospel principles along with Scout laws such as:
Learning to be trustworthy in keeping covenants
Being loyal to God and country
Being kind to others
Being obedient to God’s commandments
Staying morally clean
Being reverent towards God and faithful in religious duties
Why is it important for Grant to focus on day-to-day, step–by-step spiritual accomplishments? President M. Russell Ballard explains, “I like to think of this spiritual armor not as a solid piece of metal molded to fit the body but more like chain mail. Chain mail consists of dozens of tiny pieces of steel fastened together to allow the user greater flexibility without losing protection. I say that because it has been my experience that there is not one great and grand thing we can do to arm ourselves spiritually. True spiritual power lies in numerous smaller acts woven together in a fabric of spiritual fortification that protects and shields from all evil.” (“Be Strong in the Lord,” Ensign, July 2004, 8).
The vision Sister Craven is talking about is not our own vision, but it is learning to have faith in the vision Heavenly Father has for each of us. We get there by putting our “brave shirt” on under our “armour of God” and trusting in the Savior. May we all get to know what our Heavenly Father’s personal vision is for each of us and have the courage to stand with our Savior against the “fiery darts” of adversity. (see Ephesians 6:16)
Grant H. pointing to his favorite patch, the American Flag