For some reason today I was the remembering the baptism of a young friend of Ben's. Many years and a few wards ago, this young man reached the age of 8 and chose to be baptized. We were excited to go and support him. We listened to the talks and sang the songs and waited for the divider to be drawn aside so we could see the baptism. We waited and we waited and we waited and we waited. And then we waited some more. After that, we waited a bit longer. It was clear something was wrong. Eventually the young man's mother came out and told us she was very sorry but the baptism would not be going ahead that day. We all felt an outpouring of love, support, and sympathy for the young man. When he was younger he had almost drowned and he was deathly afraid of water. I felt such a respect for him that despite all the pressure of us waiting and the pressure of expectation, he refused to do something he was uncomfortable doing. I heard a few weeks later that he was baptized in his bathtub. He was much more comfortable with just his family there and, I'm presuming, in a place where he felt safer in the water.
Which led my thoughts to another young man. He'd just been made a priest and was blessing the sacrament. For several weeks in a row he would get the prayer wrong and have to say it again, sometimes three or four times. When he started praying I would bow mine and plead with the Lord to help him relax and remember the words. One time I peeked and saw the Bishop standing behind the young man, hands gently on his shoulders. He seemed to be whispering gentle words of encouragement to him. Or maybe he was just lending physical comfort and support. I felt such deep respect for this young man. In the face of all that pressure - praying in front of the whole ward and consistently needing to say the prayer several times - he never gave up. He never said, "No, I'm not doing this anymore." He persevered. If I remember correctly (and I may not be) I think he had to say the prayer at least twice each week until we moved away from the ward. Gosh I loved that kid. I loved him every single week. What an example he is!
Funnily enough a few years later I read a little paragraph on the front page of the Children's Friend. A mother wrote in describing how her son would have difficulty saying the prayer, and how every week the ward would bow their heads and she knew they were praying for her son, and how one time the Bishop got up and stood behind her son, gently encouraging him, and how she thought that no-one else had seen that sweet act of service, and how grateful she was for what the Bishop had done. I smiled because although the paragraph was submitted anonymously, I knew who it was that wrote it, and I knew who it was about. I was grateful that she recognized how the members of the ward were praying for her son, and grateful that I, too, had seen the Bishop's act of sweet encouragement.
I pondered on these two stories. I thought about how both of these young men may have been, and probably were, humiliated and/or embarrassed by these experiences. Maybe they look back on them as painful memories. However, I look at these experiences and feel a deep respect and love for the young men. They showed an incredible strength of character, faith, and perseverance. They are examples to me, and I am grateful for them.