Posters on the Walls

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Brad Wilcox

I once attended a youth conference and stayed as a guest in the home of one of the adult leaders. This good brother and his wife made arrangements for their teenage son to stay over with friends so I could sleep in his room. As they led me upstairs, they apologized because their son, a priest, had chosen to cover the walls of his room with pictures of models and actresses wearing not much more than smiles. The father said, "I've talked to him, but he says I'm making a big deal out of nothing, that all his school friends do the same thing and the pictures are really not that bad."

The words brought to my mind some questions Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asked during a talk at BYU: "Do you thirst after righteousness? Or are there times when the allure of stimulating images is allowed to temporarily fill your mind because, after all, they are really not that bad? Do your actions focus on entertainment, immediate satisfaction, self-interests, or personal gratification even though your goals are elsewhere?" ("Finding Happiness" in 1996-97 Speeches, p. 360).

I left my bags in the room and went to the youth conference. Later that night when I returned to my host family's home and entered the young man's bedroom, I was immediately confronted by all the supposedly not-so-bad images and decided to take matters into my own hands. I found some paper and scissors and cut out a lot of circles like the ones you see coming from the mouths of cartoon characters in the comics. I then taped the paper bubbles next to the mouths of all the ladies and wrote comments like, "I'm going to marry only a returned missionary," "I want to be married in the temple," and "I am a daughter of my Father in Heaven, who loves me, and I love him."

The next day when the boy saw the pictures, he got quite a kick out of my creativity. I apologized for redecorating his room, and we parted friends. I didn't realize the impact my practical joke would have until later when the boy wrote me the following: "At first I took what you did in my room as a big joke. I even invited a bunch of kids from youth conference to come see your masterpieces. Everyone thought they were pretty funny. But then I started to really think about what you had written on those papers. It's true. Those girls are daughters of Heavenly Father, and I certainly haven't been looking at them that way. To see words about temple marriage on those kind of posters seemed so inconsistent. Suddenly it hit me that by having those pictures up on my walls, I was being inconsistent too. Needless to say, the posters came down."

Brad Wilcox shares this experience in the EFY book, Season of Courage, 1999, p. 35-36