Before I launch into my post, I just wanted to let you know that I had the opportunity to be a guest on the terrific podcast”Conference Talk.” (I’ve been on it a couple of times before and really enjoyed the experience.) The hosts are Matthew Watkins and Shelbi Stanfill – terrific people. In the episode we discuss Elder Dale Renlund’s recent talk, “A Framework for Personal Revelation.” This episode, S4E05, dropped yesterday.
Here is a link to their website, because the podcast is available on a zillion different platforms. Click here to visit ConferenceTalk.org. And thanks to Matthew and Shelbi for having me.
Now, on to this week’s post:
For those of you who might have missed it, last month during General Conference, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf announced that the For the Strength of Youth (FSOY) program has been updated. (link) Since then I have read the new booklet repeatedly and visited with friends and family about it.
You might say, “Wait a sec, Brad. Your kids are grown. Why do you care?” It is true, my days of parenting youth happened 5-20 years ago, but I am currently serving in the Teachers Quorum in my ward, so it never really ends.
It follows that the FSOY has evolved, because today is so completely different than when I raised kids. It is so different that you could make a case for the whole Spiderman Multiverse. Times change. Counsel changes. The Lord knows how to upgrade.
However, I thought I could write a super-long post about my perception of the changes and their nuances…or I could tell a story. Shall we vote?
Story it is.
Back when my oldest son, Taylor, was 15.5 years-old he was thrilled to get his learner’s permit. He was looking forward to the freedom that having a drivers license brings. We were happy for him to get his license as well, so as to not have to drive him everywhere.
The spring before he would get his actual license, we were on our annual Fathers & Sons campout up in the mountains. If you know Arizona, let’s just say it was up past Strawberry, near Clint’s Well.
On the drive home we would be going from Payson (AZ) to Mesa on what is called the Beeline Highway, but there is nothing “beeline” about it. Those who have driven it know that it is a crazy fast and very curvy road that drops in altitude very quickly from the mountains to the Phoenix valley. It can be a lot of fun to drive – except on a Saturday afternoon when there’s a lot of traffic.
After we left Payson, I pulled over to the side of the highway and asked Taylor, “Do you wanna give it a shot?” and offered him the keys.
“Seriously?” He was rightfully incredulous. (Yes, I was nervous. Even though Taylor had been a responsible driver-in-training so far, there was always the possibility that he could take the keys and promptly drive us off a cliff to a fiery death.)
“Why not?” I said, “You need to learn to drive on the open road and at high speed.”
So he got in behind the wheel and I climbed into the passenger seat. We definitely buckled up.
Taylor pulled onto the highway and started driving. 40, 50, 60 and still cars were whizzing by us. I could tell he was nervous. So was I.
Occasionally I would suggest to him that he should speed up, slow down, change lanes or watch our for something that he didn’t notice. I did this calmly, trying not to let him see the abject terror I was experiencing. But mostly, I just watched and waited for him to ask questions. I did my very best to not be a backseat driver and micro-manage his every move.
Occasionally he would ask me if he should merge, if he should slow down, what he should do in a specific situation, or ask if he how he was doing. I would try and help without seeming bossy.
Eventually, he got more comfortable behind the wheel at higher speeds and I had to guide him less and answer fewer questions. I was even able to relax a tiny bit. (He had no idea how tense I was!)
By the time he reached the Valley, where the highway flattened out and straightened out, he was feeling pretty good about what he had accomplished. So was I. In those 80 miles he had gained a great deal of confidence in his ability to navigate a truck on curvy roads and higher speeds than he had experienced to that point.
My confidence grew in him. The experience showed me that he had a good skill set and would be a fine driver. I wasn’t going to have to worry every time he left the house in one of our vehicles.
It was anxiety-inducing to be with him as he took on that challenge.
It was fulfilling to help him and guide him.
It was exhilarating sitting by his side as he learned.
It was thrilling to see him develop and learn a new skill.
It was an adventure for both of us.
….and that’s what I see in the new FSOY.