There’s an old story about a man throwing his white glove into the mud, then picking it up and realizing that it’s not the mud that gets glovey. Rather, anytime you brush up against dirt, you can expect to get some of it on you.

And yet, generation after generation, people take that risk. They hang out with friends who disobey the Word of Wisdom. “But I was just trying to be a good influence,” they later lament, after the painful realization that the strongest influence was not theirs.

It’s the same with Sabbath Day observance, church attendance, respect for our leaders, control of our own social media, honesty in the workplace, moral standards-every time we justify a small crack in the wall, it soon leads to a gushing torrent of regret.

Another story is told of a man who wanted to hire a new driver for his stagecoach company. He asked each applicant how close they could get to the edge of the cliff without going over. Driver after driver bragged about his unflinching bravery and maneuvering skills. Each one seemed able to come within an inch of going over, yet still control the coach and steer it back onto the road. Finally, one man said he’d stay as far away from that edge as possible-and guess who got the job.

I remember, as a youth in Mutual, kids asking how closely we could dance to our partners. How short could our skirts be? How long could the boys’ hair be? How much kissing was allowed? It was as if we wanted to know right where that line was drawn, so we could cozy up to it as closely as possible. Our immaturity and foolishness was undeniable. Instead, we should have been listening to the Holy Ghost and asking, “What’s a good, modest dress length?” “What’s proper dance behavior?” and “What would please the Lord?”

Imagine you’re standing at a shooting range-only you’re in the target zone. Would you really want to ask the marksman how close he could get, without actually shooting you? Suddenly the danger of the risk becomes clearer, doesn’t it?

If we plant ourselves square in the middle of the safe zone, we don’t have to worry about cliffs, hemlines, or muddy gloves. We have peace of mind, the confidence that comes with obedience, and a warm sense of God’s approval. His laws were not given so we could have a contest amongst ourselves to see who could flirt with disaster the longest. They were given so we could see the edge of the cliff, and then stay as far away as possible.

Hilton’s LDS Nursery Rhymes is hot off the presses and can be purchased at the BYU Store, or at this link.

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She is also “Your YouTube Mom” and shares short videos that teach easy household tips and life skills. And be sure to read her blog.