People have wondered why I do what I do—and why I don’t do what I don’t do.
A wise man has recently said that an opinion can never compare with an experience.
I had an experience.
Just like I can feel the warm sun heat up my skin right through to my bones in my Arizona summer desert, I had an experience every bit that real as a teenager, and it has influenced every decision every moment of my life.
I Was Well-Hugged
I grew up a well-hugged child. When I felt happy, my mother hugged me. When I felt sad, my mother hugged me. I always knew I would find love, safety and peace wrapped tightly in my mother’s arms, safe in the cavity of her hug.
When I was 14, I went to music camp at BYU. I took the 12 hour drive with friends, and then found myself in a very strange place compared to my home in the Arizona desert. And I knew no one.
I played the violin, and I was a dedicated music student. I was excited to have this opportunity to learn, and at first everything was wonderful: Large, shady trees, running water in the gutters and streams. I started music camp with enthusiasm and determination. I took many classes, started early each morning, and worked hard all day taking classes and practicing. There were also stressful things like auditions, and finding out what you’re not good at.
At the end of the second day, I found myself quite overwhelmed and very alone. I went to my dorm room and sat on my bed. I felt desperate for something familiar. I wanted a hug from my mother, along with her gentle, consoling words and bits of advice. There was no phone in my dorm, and I wouldn’t have dreamed of calling home “collect” from the lobby phone—that would be too expensive. So I sat on my bed, overwhelmed.
In my complete desperation, I could think of only one place to go: I knelt down to pray, as I had been taught to do all my life.
This was the most sincere prayer of my life. My need was great. I told Heavenly Father how I was feeling. I cried to Him. I asked Him what I should do, as I would have asked my mother if she were there.
And then, there in that lonely place on my knees, I felt my Heavenly Father hug me. It was warm and loving. It encompassed me just as my mother’s hugs did, only a hundred thousand times more sweet. I knew at that moment that my Heavenly Father knew me, and that He loved me. He knew my life, and He cared about such a simple thing as music camp. I knew He was real. I knew He was my Father.
In addition to giving me love, He also gave me advice. I had a clear thought in my mind: “Drop the quartet.”
I had signed up for an extra-curricular quartet that was to meet in the evenings.
I followed my Heavenly Father’s advice and dropped the quartet. That evening I found some new friends from music camp, and we played miniature golf and went to the ice cream parlor. I laughed harder than I ever had in my life. Some of these people have been dear friends for many years.
I learned by experience that Heavenly Father is absolutely real. I learned that He knows me, and that He loves me.
And that is why I do what I do.
Because I know what I know.