Latter-day Saint Life

Are my children modern-day stripling warriors if they don’t even go to church?

A woman ponders the scriptures.

Most of the time, stories from the scriptures bring me peace and strength. But every now and then, I grapple with them and what they mean in my life.

Not long ago, a reminder of a beloved scripture story hit me particularly hard. I was sitting in church in our family’s usual pew, enjoying a beautiful sacrament meeting. We had two missionaries getting ready to serve, and they were sharing their sweet testimonies.

In between the speakers, our ward youth choir got up to sing. They often perform when we have missionaries departing and sing a medley of “As Sisters in Zion” and “We’ll Bring the World His Truth.” With over 100 youth in our ward, it is an impressive and inspiring sight.

But on this particular Sunday, hearing those faithful young men singing the words “We are as the armies of Helaman, we have been taught in our youth,” stung me more than it inspired me. My boys weren’t up there singing. My boys weren’t even at church.

Two of my seven children are currently not interested in the gospel. They are wonderful young men, but they are choosing a different path than the one I had envisioned. No church, no temple attendance, no missionary service. Thinking about the faithful stripling warriors left me feeling like I had failed as a parent.

I have been faithful in teaching the gospel to my children. Not perfect, certainly, but faithful. We have held family prayer and scripture study and family home evenings. We have worked together and played together and have had lots of chances to love and forgive each other. I attend the temple, I serve in my callings, and I genuinely find joy in the gospel. I guess I had subconsciously believed that if I was like the mothers of those Book of Mormon warriors, if I was faithful enough, then my children would be protected and even “spared” in their spiritual battles (see Alma 57:26). I hoped that as long as they “did not doubt that their mother knew it,” they would come through their battles unharmed (see Alma 56:48).

As I sat at church listening to the youth sing, the little voice in my head started to ask where I had gone wrong. How could it be that my boys were somehow not included in this group of valiant, modern-day stripling warriors? Why were my boys “left behind” when I have tried so hard? Weren’t they part of the noble and great ones who were saved for this generation because the Lord had confidence in them (see Abraham 3:22)?

I know better than to listen to that voice in my head that wants me to despair. I know where it comes from, and I know that it speaks lies. But at this moment, it was pretty loud and insistent. I said a silent prayer that the Lord would help me to see my situation with an eye of faith.

Almost instantly, a new thought popped into my head. I remembered a part of the story that I hadn’t really thought about before. I pulled out my phone and re-read those verses, looking for specific details. Alma 57:25 tells us that there was not “one soul among them who had not received many wounds.” In fact, 200 of them had fainted with the loss of blood. Apparently, even among those faithful boys, there were some pretty deep battle wounds.

I imagined my boys in the premortal realm, receiving their earthly assignments. In my heart, I know that they were among the strongest, most faithful of God’s children. They were armed and prepared and sent to earth “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

I realized that my children are currently fighting the exact spiritual battles they were sent here to fight. Yes, they are receiving spiritual wounds. Maybe even some deep ones. That’s what happens in a battle. But the Spirit whispered to me that being wounded does not disqualify them from being counted among the modern-day stripling warriors. Their wounds do not make them lost or left behind. The Lord can still save them. He knew exactly what He was doing when He sent them here at this time, and He will not forsake them when they are wounded.

I believe in miracles. I believe that keeping my covenants will call down the powers of heaven to bless my children. I am the proud mother of seven noble spirits, and I am watching with an eye of faith for the miracles in their lives. The battle is not over, and I trust in the Lord’s power to save.

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