5 Ways My Skateboarding Bulldog Strengthened My Faith in God

1973
Stig the skateboarding bulldog

1 – Ride with a Zest for Life

Stig the skateboarding bulldog

If the skateboard ride symbolizes life, then our bulldog Stig exudes unlimited passion for it.

He jiggles with excitement the moment the skateboard’s in our hands and we’re heading out the door. He jumps on the board at the first opportunity and his complete delight doesn’t stop until we’re back at home and the skateboard is put away.

Do we enjoy life that much! Do we relish life as a gift to thank God for daily?

“Men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). Having faith in God provides hope and purpose to enhance the joy of this life! I believe we’re all children of a loving Heavenly Father on earth with a purpose to our lives. Our covenant relationships can last after death—forever.

“Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom” (D&C 29:5).

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said:

The path of Christian discipleship…is a strait path, and it is a narrow path without a great deal of latitude at some points, but it can be thrillingly and successfully traveled, “with … steadfastness in Christ, … a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.” In courageously pursuing such a course, you will forge unshakable faith, you will find safety against ill winds that blow, even shafts in the whirlwind, and you will feel the rock-like strength of our Redeemer, upon whom if you build your unflagging discipleship, you cannot fall.

2 – The Skateboard Is Provided by Loving Parents

Bulldog riding a skateboard

Anthony bought Stig the skateboard a month ago. He put it on the floor in the living room and Stig became accustomed to it and stood on it occasionally. Finally, the time seemed right (aka the weather warmed up) to let Stig discover the joy of skateboarding. Even though we couldn’t adequately describe our hopes to him, we hoped he would follow our lead and learn to love the skateboard as much as we knew he could.

This life, the earth, and our bodies are gifts from God. Before born into this life, we lived as spirit children of our loving Heavenly Father and in His presence. He taught us about mortality and explained the opportunities and pitfalls of this life.  He created this world for our benefit, knowing the amazing experiences and how we could progress with a mortal body. But, we couldn’t truly understand the gift of life until we lived it.

“In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; In the  image of his own body, male and female, created he them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created and became living souls in the land” (Moses 6:8-9).

President Thomas S. Monson said:

Beyond comprehension, my brothers and sisters, is the love of God for us. Because of this love, He sent His Son, who loved us enough to give His life for us, that we might have eternal life. As we come to understand this incomparable gift, our hearts will be filled with love for our Eternal Father, for our Savior, and for all mankind.

3 – Stop to Take a Breather and Get a Drink

Stig the skateboarding bulldog drinking from a water bottle

It doesn’t take long for Stig to get hot and breathe heavily while riding the skateboard. When we stop Stig and remind him to get a drink he always does, but he is so engrossed in the ride that he never indicates that he wants a drink on his own.

Sometimes riding is so engrossing that we forget to stop and refuel ourselves. It’s important to not be so busy doing things, even important things, that we forget to make sure we’re hydrated. Daily prayer and scripture study, weekly family home evening and attending church refuel our spirits.  Spending quality time with family and friends recharges our important relationships and helps us feel connected.

“And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things” (1 Corinthians 9:25).

Sister Linda S. Reeves said:

Some of you have heard me tell how overwhelmed my husband, Mel, and I felt as the parents of four young children. As we faced the challenges of parenting and keeping up with the demands of life, we were desperate for help. We prayed and pleaded to know what to do. The answer that came was clear: “It is OK if the house is a mess and the children are still in their pajamas and some responsibilities are left undone. The only things that really need to be accomplished in the home are daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening.”

We were trying to do these things, but they were not always the priority and, amidst the chaos, were sometimes neglected. We changed our focus and tried not to worry about the less-important things. Our focus became to talk, rejoice, preach, and testify of Christ by striving to daily pray and study the scriptures and have weekly family home evening. …

[Because] I know from my own experiences, and those of my husband, I must testify of the blessings of daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening. These are the very practices that help take away stress, give direction to our lives, and add protection to our homes.

4 – Forward Momentum Stops in the Grass

Stig the skateboarding bulldog stopped on the grass

Initially when Stig sailed across the pavement and onto the grass, he looked around, apparently wondering what stopped his momentum. He came to realize that as soon as he crossed that little line from pavement to grass he would stop.  After that, when he got close to the grass, he would jump off before hitting the grass and catch the skateboard with his paws or teeth and turn around. Other times, he acted like he just didn’t care and would sail onto the grass, and then flip the board over and start to bite it or rip out the grass with his teeth, to teach both a lesson and vent his frustration, I guess.

God provides distinct demarcation points for us in life’s journey. Like hitting the grass, sin stops life’s forward momentum.  Commandments help us stay on the pavement and aid our journey’s progression. Most commandments are clearly defined: “Thou shalt not kill,” attend church every Sunday, pay 10% of your income to the Lord as tithing, and avoid tobacco, tea, coffee, alcohol, and harmful drugs. Others seem more subjective: “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” keep the Sabbath day holy, but always God provides the standard, through His Son, Jesus Christ’s life.

God provides repentance to help us redirect our course in life. On life’s journey, if we’re heading towards the grass, we have several options: Stop and turn back before hitting the grass—repent quickly and correct course; or if our momentum is too fast and we hit the grass, we can stand there and frustratingly bite and blame the grass—continue in sin and feel frustrated and angry about our situation; or after we hit the grass we can move ourselves back on track to the pavement—repent and redirect ourselves on a positive pathway.

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Ne 3:7).

Elder Claudio D. Zivic said:

We started off on our pathway with great enthusiasm, but after walking a short stretch, the others needed to rest. Because of my desire to get there, I decided to continue on alone. Without paying attention to the path I ought to take, I followed a man in front of me who seemed to be moving forward with great surety. The pathway became more and more difficult, and I had to jump from one rock to another. Because of the difficulty, I was sure the women in my group would never make it. Suddenly I saw Delicate Arch, but to my great surprise, I saw that it was in an area inaccessible to me.

With great frustration, I decided to go back. I waited impatiently until we met up again. My immediate question was “Did you reach Delicate Arch?” They happily told me that they had. They explained that they had followed the signs showing the way, and with care and effort, they had reached their destination.

Unfortunately, I had taken the wrong way. … How often do we make a mistake about the right way, letting ourselves be led along by the trends of the world?

There are some mistakes that may be serious, and if we do not correct them in time, they can permanently lead us off the right path. If we repent and accept correction, these experiences will allow us to humble ourselves, change our actions, and once again draw closer to our Heavenly Father… May we have the capacity to grasp, give heed to, comprehend, and correctly interpret the message of “that God who made [us]” so as not to stray from His way.

5 – Help Will Come When You Get Stuck

 Stig the skateboarding bulldog stuck on his skateboard

Even with an amazingly low center of gravity and remarkable balance, Stig flips the board sideways, high centering himself, and gets stuck. He stands there frustrated until we come and right the skateboard.  Sometimes it’s at such an angle that we know he can do it himself, which he does when we wait and let him. We’ve gently showed him how he can fix his stuckness himself, but he hasn’t caught on to that skill, so for now, we set the skateboard down so he can get on his merry way.

Sometimes even when we are doing our best to keep God’s commandments, and haven’t done anything really “wrong,” something happens—or doesn’t happen—and we feel stuck. When we feel stuck, or burdened, or loaded down, God does provides help. Sometimes that help comes in answer to prayer through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost letting us know what to do, or reminding or teaching us what will help us get free. Sometimes, help comes through the kind acts of service of friends, family, or strangers.

Most of my really stuck moments, caused by grief, internal conflicts, and weaknesses have required me to apply the enabling power of the Atonement.  Jesus Christ redeemed my soul and knows me perfectly. His enabling power helps me right my skateboard and joyfully continue on life’s journey. He heals all wounds and rights all wrongs—not that the inflictor of the wound or wrong is changed—but because I am changed.

“And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord. And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage” (Mosiah 24:15-16).

Elder David A. Bednar said:

The unique burdens in each of our lives help us to rely upon the merits, mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah. I testify and promise the Savior will help us to bear up our burdens with ease. As we are yoked with Him through sacred covenants and receive the enabling power of His Atonement in our lives, we increasingly will seek to understand and live according to His will. We also will pray for the strength to learn from, change, or accept our circumstances rather than praying relentlessly for God to change our circumstances according to our will. We will become agents who act rather than objects that are acted upon. We will be blessed with spiritual traction.

Stig the skateboarding bulldog crash

Opportunities to see God’s hand in our lives and strengthen faith are all around us. He truly is in the details of our lives. Stig’s final lesson to me is that, when you crash, as you certainly will, brush yourself off, and get back on the board again. Our mistakes and failures are stepping stones to more sure footing. Our wobbly knees will become strong and steady through practice and consistency. We can succeed on life’s journey!

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

 

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love exploring the world, experiencing nature, assimilating truth, and hanging out with my husband & bulldog. One of my life goals is to visit every LDS temple in the world. I've been to 91.