I loved the comradery. And I loved football. I had always dreamed of playing football at the university level, and during my freshman, sophomore, and junior years, I wore a crimson uniform and played running back. At that time, the world tottered on the brink of chaos. Opposing political forces roiled and ground against each other. Tension mushroomed. Nations chafed against each other. It was as though the entire world groaned in a burgeoning rumble, a volcano that had to erupt, that ultimately would erupt.
Before it was over, every nation, every people felt the effects of those dark days. I remember the day my father came to me. It was just after the football season had ended. I wanted to pursue my dream of continuing to play football and to graduate from the university. If I were to accept a mission call, I would have to give up everything. But I also knew what my father had said was true. My bishop was Marion G. Romney — , who later became a member of the First Presidency of the Church. He had spoken with me before about serving a mission, and I went to tell him that now was the time.
A few months later I stepped aboard the SS Manhattan and began a long voyage that would take me into the heart of the world crisis. My mission call was to the German-Austrian Mission. My first field of labor was in Salzburg, Austria. The mission was shorthanded, and not long after I arrived, my companion was transferred to another district in the mission.
Soon I found myself alone in Salzburg, a young missionary in a strange, new country. Everywhere you went you could sense a mounting tension in the air. No one knew if tomorrow would be the day the panzer tanks would flood across the border. I remember those days well.
Law of Success
The mission was a difficult one; no one seemed to have time for me or the message I brought. I wondered if there would ever be enough members in that city to make a ward. Six weeks I was alone. Six weeks I waited for a companion. Even though the days and nights seemed at the time to be never ending, they eventually passed.
Law of Success by Napoleon Hill
A senior companion arrived, and we did the best we could under the circumstances to serve the Lord. That year as Christmas Day approached, my companion and I decided we would walk to Oberndorf, a little village nestled in the beautiful Bavarian Alps. On Christmas Eve we walked to the village and sat quietly for a while in a small, humble church, listening to the beautiful organ music. A crisp, clear winter night enveloped us as we began our return trip.
We walked under a canopy of stars and across the smooth stillness of new-fallen snow. Perhaps it was a night not unlike the one that inspired an assistant priest to write the lyrics to one of the most beloved hymns in all of Christendom more than a hundred years earlier. As we walked, my companion and I talked of our hopes and dreams. We talked of our goals and what we wanted to have happen in our lives. The more we talked, the more serious we became about achieving the things we talked about.
As we walked under the light of a full moon, we both made serious resolutions.
I committed that night that I would not waste my time. I would renew my efforts to serve the Lord. That was also the evening I made up my mind about whom I would marry. Sister Wirthlin fits all of the description that I made of her at that time without knowing her. And so that night was important to me. Two and one-half years passed, and before I knew it, I was home again. I remember hearing someone mention a name: Elisa Rogers, a young woman who was in charge of a university dance at the Hotel Utah.
God Is Our Loving Heavenly Father
There was something special about that name. I decided I ought to meet her. I remember the first time I saw her. As a favor for a friend of mine, I had gone to her home to pick up her sister. Elisa opened the door, and I stared. There she was, beautiful, five foot five, blue eyes, blonde hair. She quickly realized she had made a grammatical error.
To fully appreciate that, you have to remember that she was an English major. Even after all of these years, she has remembered the embarrassment of that moment. Six decades have intervened since that Christmas Eve in Oberndorf when I made those resolutions. Much has happened in the intervening years. My premonitions about playing football were right; I never played again. But I did graduate from the university.
By doing so, my life has been filled with adventure, spiritual experiences, and joy that surpasses understanding. Many of you may be at a time in your lives when perhaps you are feeling a little discouraged or alone. Perhaps you feel a little lost, maybe even a little afraid. Everyone has felt this way at one time or another.
Everyone has wondered if his or her life will ultimately be a happy one. More than two millennia ago, Aristotle suggested that everyone who lives has the same basic objective: to be happy see Nicomachean Ethics, bk. First, have faith in your Heavenly Father. He knows who you are.
He listens to you when you pray. He loves you. He is mindful of you. He wants the best for you. He was a professional genealogist, and he told me he had seen quite a few Wirthlin names in his work. He offered to research my family lines. I wrote home, and my father thought it was a wonderful opportunity, so we hired him to begin. A year later he handed me a book. It was filled with nearly 6, names of my ancestors.
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I saw others carry a negative attitude wherever they went, like a ball and chain slowing them down. And then I saw an upperclassman play his senior year with a broken hand and enjoy every minute of it. All I can do is strap up and play the next play. We take pride in what the decal on our helmet stands for. By playing football, we learn what it means to make an unwavering commitment to something.
Each brought his own style and workout preferences. Each brought better technique and more effective training. There are better ways of doing things, but there are no shortcuts. I knew being benched was merely an obstacle I had to overcome — no different than an opponent taking the lead in the fourth quarter. Some are blessed with speed, some agility, others with strength. The list goes on. I was a smart player who knew how to play multiple positions. Because of this, I was able to move around when other players were injured.
Had I chosen to be selfish, I could've hurt the team. Here are 15 things football taught me that I use every day: 1.