I just want to be a good boy

Life is hard.

There’s nothing new or earth-shattering about that statement, but sometimes it’s helpful to remind myself everyone faces adversity and sometimes life gets you down.

I’ve been through a rough patch the last several months, and that’s why I took a brief hiatus from posting. I am in a better place now. I recall a story I heard several years ago that’s been running through my mind a lot lately. It came to mind one day when I was feeling down on myself. It provided the boost I needed but has proven to be instructive and thought-provoking in other ways as well.

The story goes as follows:

There once was a young boy who strived with all his heart to do what was right. He attended church every week with his mom and dad. His mom was a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who taught her son good values. The boy’s dad was a good and decent man who attended church weekly with the family, but he was not a baptized member. He made a living as a tool and die maker, but at one time, considered becoming a Catholic priest.

“As a boy I asked my dad many times each week when he was going to be baptized,” the boy, now an adult, recently said. “He responded lovingly but firmly each time I pestered him: ‘I am not going to join the Church for your mother, for you, or for anyone else. I will join the Church when I know it is the right thing to do.’”

One Sunday as they were coming home from church, he again asked his dad when he was going to be baptized. In response, his dad said,

“You are the one always asking me about being baptized. Today I have a question for you.”

Finally, he was making progress, the boy thought. His dad continued.

“Your church teaches that the priesthood was taken from the earth anciently and has been restored by heavenly messengers to the Prophet Joseph Smith, right?”

The boy replied that his dad was correct.

“Here is my question,” his dad continued. “Each week in priesthood meeting I listen to the bishop and the other priesthood leaders remind, beg, and plead with the men to do their priesthood duties. If your church truly has the restored priesthood of God, why are so many of the men in your church no different about doing their religious duty than the men in my church?”

The boy’s mind went blank. He did not have an answer, but he thought about it often.

“That Sunday afternoon conversation with my dad many years ago produced in me a desire to be a ‘good boy.’ I did not want to be a poor example and a stumbling block to my father’s progress in learning about the restored gospel. I simply wanted to be a good boy.”

Those words describe exactly how I feel in my role as a father. I simply want to be a good boy for my kids. I do not want to be a poor example and a stumbling block to the progress of their journey of gaining a testimony of the restored gospel.

I do my best to teach them good values and help them feel the spirit in my home, but I am not perfect. Raising kids is hard enough when you’re married, and it’s even harder to do it by yourself. I don’t always know what I’m doing, and don’t always feel I’m doing a good enough job.

When there’s no one around and the negative voices in my head start to re-emerge, I start to feel angry. My anger turns to sadness when I realize how lonely I feel.

“I just want to know I’m ‘good,'” I say to myself. “I want to be a good boy.”

The words of a video I’ve watched with my kids many times then come to mind.

“You never know how much good you do.”