I remember while I was in the service a story circulating among the LDS service-men about the courage of a newly inducted serviceman who had just returned from his mission. The first night he was in a large barracks lined with beds of servicemen in bunks, top and bottom. He wanted to kneel down to offer his prayers because that was his practice. He looked at the long rows of beds and wondered if he had the courage to do it. He decided that he needed the protection of the Lord more then than he had at any other time in his life, so he would continue the practice. As the lights went out, he got out of his bunk and knelt in prayer. Soon there was a great uproar. A shoe was tossed at him, among other things. There were remarks ridiculing him for being in that position. Suddenly, the strongest, tallest, and largest man there jumped from his upper bunk into the middle of the barracks. He had been a football player, and muscles bulged from every part of his body. In a loud voice he cried, “The next one who causes any difficulty for this young man praying, I will personally see that he is thrown headfirst through the bulkhead wall.”
Suddenly, everything became quiet, and the young man concluded his prayer. Every night this football player would call down to the returned missionary, “Are you ready for your prayers?” Then the missionary would get out of his bed and onto his knees. The football player would stand in the middle of the aisle so that everyone would be quiet. It wasn’t long until the example of this young man was felt by many others in the barracks, and they, too, would kneel and offer their prayers.
Elder L. Tom Perry, "And Jesus Increased in Wisdom and Stature, and in Favour with God and Man", BYU Speeches, February 11, 1992
How many of us have the courage to do things that bring us closer to Christ if someone else is watching? Then, how many of us have courage to do those things when being teased for doing those things, and even mocked and ridiculed for doing them?
I often ask myself if I truly disregard what others think of me and only focus on what Heavenly Father thinks of me. Truth is, I want to be liked and accepted by others. I don't like conflict. So, it is difficult for me to completely disregard what others think of me. But.....I do not and will not sacrifice or change my beliefs at the expense of acceptance by someone else. I just won't. I just don't outwardly express my beliefs sometimes and that's what I need to work on. I wonder what I would do if I was in Peter's shoes when he denied the Christ 3 times. Do I do that sometimes by not speaking up? Or by not doing the things He asks me? Am I denying Him by not learning of Him?
So I pray for courage. Courage to do what is necessary despite what others think. Courage to do what is necessary despite whether someone is watching or not (but, remember, someone IS always watching). I pray for courage to live up to my beliefs even if someone else is ridiculing me, or worse.
"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." - Matthew 16:25