This is Ellie and her friend Jenna. Last week these two girls were invited to represent their middle school at a swim meet in Maputo, Mozambique. A few days before the meet, after the girls had agreed to go and we had paid all their expenses, the swimmers were told that the meet would run Friday, Saturday and Sunday and that the swimmers would be expected to compete each of the three days.
Both Jenna and Ellie come from Mormon families. As Mormons, we believe in taking the Ten Commandments literally, and that includes the fifth commandment to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
As soon as the girls were told that they would be expected to swim on Sunday, they agreed together (without consulting their parents) that they wouldn’t participate in the swim meet on Sunday (remember Chariots of Fire?). And they immediately let their coaches know of their decision. That evening was the first we parents heard that the meet would include Sunday competitions and that our girls had decided not to compete.
Ironically, when Jenna’s mom and I later talked about the situation, we both agreed that, had we been told earlier, we would not have forbidden the girls from competing on Sunday; rather, we would have let the girls make their own decisions and then honor those decisions.
The day before we left for Mozambique, the coaches put added pressure on Ellie and Jenna to compete on Sunday, but the girls held their ground and maintained their morals. And on the final day of competition, the two girls sat, bone dry, on the benches and cheered on their teammates.
As a mom, I’m proud of my daughter’s decision. I believe that if our kids learn to be obedient in the little things, like keeping the Sabbath day holy, then hopefully they can also be obedient in the big things.
Last week, Russell M. Nelson was called as the new prophet and leader of the Mormon church. Back in 2015, as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Nelson said this: “Faith in God engenders a love for the Sabbath; faith in the Sabbath engenders a love for God. A sacred Sabbath truly is a delight.”
I believe that keeping the Sabbath day holy is one way we can show our love for God.