Being Smart

“Being Smart,” Friend, Feb. 2007, 34–36

Being Smart

(Based on a true story)

The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost … shall teach you all things (John 14:26).

Olivia smiled as she uprooted a reluctant weed. The sun was warm, and it felt good to be weeding the vegetable garden with her family. It felt even better to be finished with school for the day. As they worked, Olivia’s older brother, Jake, started talking about President Hinckley’s six “B’s” that he was studying in seminary.

“Six bees? Like bumblebees?” Olivia asked, pointing to a fuzzy bee busily gathering pollen from a bright purple flower.

“No,” Jake said. “They’re things that we should try to be. They are be grateful, be clean, be true, be humble, be prayerful, and be smart.”

Be smart! Olivia’s eyes opened wide with dismay, and her heart seemed to drop into her tennis shoes. “President Hinckley says we should be smart?” At her baptism recently she had promised to keep the commandments, and that surely included following the prophet. But if there was one thing she could never be, it was smart.

Olivia dreaded school. Mr. Blaine, her third-grade teacher, was nice, but he made the class do multiplication tables, which tangled up in Olivia’s brain like barbed wire. She felt dumb when she got bad scores on her tests and worksheets. She tried hard, but her best just didn’t seem to be good enough. The rest of the evening Olivia worried that her grades were a terrible disappointment to Heavenly Father.

The next day at school, she felt even worse about “be smart” when she missed five words on her spelling test and couldn’t find Madagascar on the globe. She was relieved when recess came.

As Olivia ran across the grass with her friends, she noticed a group of fifth graders looking at something. Forgetting her problems for a moment, she went over to investigate.

“What are you looking at?” she asked a tall girl.

“Oh, we found a needle, like the ones doctors give you shots with.” One of the older boys bent to pick up the needle. A sick feeling came over Olivia, and she knew somehow that this was not a thing they should be playing with. “Wait!” she yelled. “Don’t touch it!”

The boy stopped short, staring at Olivia with raised eyebrows.

“Well, it’s, uh, way bad to t-touch stuff like th-that,” she stammered, feeling stupid for telling an older boy what to do.

But then a recent family home evening lesson came back clearly to her mind. “If we listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, He will help us know when something is wrong,” Mom had said.

Olivia looked the boy in the eye. “We should probably tell a teacher to come get it instead.”

One of the other third-graders ran quickly across the grass and brought back Mr. Blaine. “Olivia told us not to touch it,” the older boy said as Mr. Blaine bent over the sharp needle.

“Smart thinking, Olivia!” Mr. Blaine exclaimed.

Smart thinking? A warm glow replaced the sick feeling that had filled Olivia moments before. Wow! She had remembered her mom’s counsel about listening to the Holy Ghost, and she had followed His promptings. That was something a smart person would do!

Running across the playground, Olivia felt much better about trying to be smart.

[Gift of the Holy Ghost]

President James E. Faust

“I would rather have every person enjoy the Spirit of the Holy Ghost than any other association, for they will be led by that Spirit to light and truth and pure intelligence.”
President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, “The Gift of the Holy Ghost—A Sure Compass,” Ensign, May 1989, 33.

Illustrations by Brad Teare