In the Book of Mormon we read how 2060 stripling [young like a new stripling tree] warriors were strengthened spiritually and emotionally for years on the inside of themselves, before they went into physical battle:
“They were exceedingly valiant for courage and also for strength and activity but behold this is not all, they were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted.‘
“Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.‘
“Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.” Alma 53:20, 21, Alma 56:47
The stripling warriors were taught to be valiant, courageous, strong and also “true at all times in whatever thing they were entrusted”. “True at all times” would be a great discussion at our dinner tables—true at all times even when the stripling warriors were tired? Or angry? Or scared?
This ancient story from the Book of Mormon has fascinated many Latter-Day Saint children for generations because the young men did have to go into a real, live, physical battle. Their fathers had buried their weapons because they took an oath to never fight again. Their fathers were Lamanites, tired of fighting and killing. Peace came for a while but then again their families were threatened. Their young sons stepped in because they wanted their fathers to honor their oaths–true at all times–and so they fought in their fathers’ places. Some were injured in the battle, but they were delivered. No one died! Not one of the 2060 young men.
One of the most caring and thoughtful things we can do is to teach our children what good and bad character is. It is one of the best ways to help them work on their inner, foundational traits. It will give them a map of human interaction—like who they can trust, how to act in times of danger and what to do when something is really, really hard. Our children can learn to look to us as someone who is trying to have a great character-great inner resilience for when things get difficult– and how it’s one of the most important jobs we can do for ourselves, for our own happiness.