Standing as a Witness
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“Standing as a Witness,” New Era, May 2008, 44–45

Standing as a Witness

It was the day before my football team’s first practice of the season. That night I was so excited I couldn’t sleep. I had saved up my money over the summer so I could pay all the fees myself. And now, at the age of 14, I was finally going to fulfill my dream.

During practice the next day, something really surprised me. It wasn’t how hard my coaches pushed us—I was expecting that. No, I was shocked at the filthy, vulgar language all the players and coaches were using. At first I tried to ignore it and not let it bother me, but after awhile it started to take its toll.

I found myself thinking those words, and even worse, repeating them when I was stressed. I prayed to my Heavenly Father and asked Him to help me be strong. Then, I made a promise to myself and to the Lord that I wouldn’t swear.

Later in the season we played a game against our biggest rivals. Right before the game started, our coach gathered us together to say a cheer. He told us the cheer that he wanted us to say, and unfortunately it required us to say a swear word. I remembered the promise that I made to myself and to Heavenly Father. I decided to say the cheer except for the swear word. I would just replace it with a more appropriate word.

When the cheer was over, the player next to me noticed what I had said and started to make fun of me. He went up to the coach and said, “Harsh is Mormon, and he’s not man enough to swear. He’s too churchy!”

I thought the coach would get mad at me or start to make fun of me as well, but instead he stood up for me and told my teammate, “Hey, leave Harsh alone. He has a lot of heart and can show you up on the football field any time!”

I was surprised. I thought my coach would respect me if I swore like everyone else. But actually, he respected me more because I was true to my standards.

I don’t know how big of an impact my example had on my teammates and coaches, but I realized later how strong that experience made me. Now, a few years later, it is easier for me to stand up for what I believe. I also realize that when we make a decision to obey the commandments, we are not alone. The Holy Ghost will help and support us through our trials.