I was blessed to be called as the girl’s camp director and was able to accompany the young women of our ward and stake up to Heber Valley Girl’s Camp in July.
This year’s Youth theme is: “Press Forward with a Steadfastness in Christ”. Piggybacking off this youth theme, the stake chose “Be Brave” as our camp theme this year. We decorated in all things Scottish (like the movie Brave) and our stake YW president even spoke with a Scottish rogue.
Girl’s emulated this theme of “Being brave” every single day at camp. I saw girls being brave as they were strapped into harnesses to go tightrope across two tall trees that led to a zip line. Girls faced their fear as we traversed across wilderness on 3 and 5 mile hikes. They were brave in presenting skits to the rest of the stake YW. The bravery continued as they practiced first aid skills in case of an emergency. I was even pretty brave when I had to leave the safety of the cabin at 3 am to go to the restroom. (I was pretty sure a bear was going to eat me). Luckily, all our bravery was met with success. We learned a lot, made friends, and had a fabulous time at camp.
But are the examples I just gave you the true meaning of the word: Brave? Yes, maybe in a worldly way (and that’s not a bad thing). But I think the church leaders and the Lord wanted us to learn a spiritual aspect of being brave. It takes bravery to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ”.
My favorite part of camp was actually our morning ward devotionals, where I feel we were best able to learn about this theme. Each girl prepared a little thought based on scriptures she was supposed to study during camp. Then a leader or SYCA (one of the older girls camp participants), taught about someone from the scriptures/Gen.Conf talks/Church history who was brave and how we could emulate that bravery in our own lives. Finally, we also enjoyed a little personal scripture study and journaling surrounded by the peace of nature. Through out devotionals, we learned about Esther’s bravery as she went before the king to plead for her peoples’ lives. She was armed with faith and with the fasting and prayers of the Jews, but her calling was still a dangerous one. We studied young David, who although taken from his home at a young age, continued to live the commandments of God and was blessed to be able to interpret Nebikinezer’s dream. I studied about the Mormon pioneers who courageously left their homes and families to follow a prophet everyone said was crazy, but who they knew was called of God. They courageously faced terrible and heart wrenching trials on their journey to the Salt Lake valley, and yet many of them stood fast to their faith and dedication to do what they knew the Lord wanted them to do.
With all of these examples, I learned 3 important characteristics about bravery:
1. Bravery more easily comes with preparation.
… In President Uchtdorf’s Priesthood address in the Oct 2015 conference, he expounds on the story of Daniel interpreting Nebikinezer’s dream. He acknowledges how much easier it would have been for Daniel if he had simply gone along “with the ways of Babylon. He could have set aside the restrictive code of conduct God had given the children of Israel. He could have feasted on the rich foods provided by the king and indulged in the worldly pleasures of the natural man. He would have avoided ridicule. He would have been popular. He would have fit in. His path might have been much less complicated. That is, of course, until the day when the king demanded an interpretation of his dream. Then Daniel would have found that he, like the rest of Babylon’s wise me had lost his connection to the true source of light and wisdom.” (end quote) Yes, in our lives there are many times when it seems too difficult to stand up for truth and righteousness, but we will be grateful we kept the commandments, especially when we can count on the blessings of the Lord through the most difficult trials.
I love the idea of seeing this preparation as arming yourself with the armor of the Lord (read D&C 27:15). If we have his whole armor, we are promised that we will be able to withstand ALL the evils that come our way. And so bravery can certainly come more naturally when we are prepared.
2. Bravery in a higher purpose is easier and sacrifice becomes more meaningful.
…In the scripture examples I mentioned before (Esther, David, pioneers, etc.) they were all faced with possible death. Why then were they still willing to do what they did? Why would they be ok with possibly losing their own lives? It was because they knew what their task was and who was supporting them: God. In the Book of Mormon, I’ve always found it interesting the different ways it describes the Lamanites style of fighting compared to the Nephites. At one point, it says that the Lamanites fount like lions. They were fierce, blood thirsty, and they desperately wanted to win so this fueled their passion in war. However, not long after the Nephites are described as fighting like dragons. If you ask me, dragons trump lions every time. So what was the difference that made the Nephites so much more powerful? It was their purpose. The Nephites fought for their families, and their freedoms, and their God. These much more noble purposes helped them have greater bravery and strength.
For us, if we are familiar with the plan of salvation. If we listen to the instructions God gives us through he appointed prophets and apostles. If we know his voice through the scriptures and personal revelation, then when he asks us to do something that seems difficult we can bravely reply as Nephi did “I will go and Do”. Why? Because we it is God’s will and he will lead our paths. Once again, we can be filled with an added measure of bravery.
3. We don’t have to be brave alone.
… The Lord will always support us as we do righteous actions. Even Christ told his disciples that he must leave them, but that he would leave the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, to teach and provide peace. As baptized members of the church, we have been given this gift: The gift of the Holy Ghost.
Not only that, but the Lord has also provided us with other good people to support us. We have friends, family, and church members/leaders who are there to listen to us, bouey us up in times of trial, provide inspired council, and love us. Yes, the Lord is definitely mindful of us. He knows that mortality will require great courage and bravery to live his gospel and one day return to live with Him. But he has not left us to move through our trials alone.
Andrew and Maichael
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