I have lived long enough to have traveled down life’s road, to be able to look back and say, “I know how to avoid the dead ends, the dangerous detours and the shortcuts that turn into superhighways to nowhere.”

I have seen enough of the potholes and washouts to know not to go down roads like that again. I have seen cars careen into deep canyons to crash and burn with no easy escape. I know better than to travel at breakneck speed and to disobey traffic warning signs.

You could say I stand almost at the top of a winding canyon highway and can see the dangers facing the cars traveling far below. I have my cellphone and they have theirs, but somehow there’s a disconnect, especially with the younger drivers.

They turn off their phones, wave and smile. “This is my journey. You are too old to understand what I am facing. Roads are different now. Rules of the white-haired generation don’t apply today.” So, merrily they speed toward the same catastrophes I faced.

My situation makes me acutely aware of the gifts my parents gave me when I was growing up. I made mistakes – lots of them – but I was never one of those cars that crashed and burned because my parents helped me make decisions before I got behind the wheel of my own car. They took me down many imaginary roads and taught me the consequences of each ending.


I could see the tragedy and triumph of choices others made. I didn’t have to travel those roads in real life, and their examples made it easy to follow. They taught me the eternal road signs and traffic safety rules contained in the scriptures. There came a point that I had no desire to make bad choices. I wanted to listen to the cellphone calls from the top of the mountain, and it has saved me much sorrow and heartache.

My parents never really sat me down in a formal conversation about the value and blessings of virtue, but I knew from their example what they believed. My mother was a young bride of 15-and-a-half. She was raised on a ranch miles from nowhere.

Going to the movie in the thriving metropolis of Holbrook was a treat that happened only once in a while. Once she asked her dad if she could go to a movie. It would be just two fellows and herself. The answer was a flat “No.” If there was another girl, that would be fine, but a girl should not be alone with two men. It was clear that her father valued her virtue.

When Mother married, it was only a few months before Daddy was called into the military. He went voluntarily, not waiting to be drafted. Mother was to spend three years without him. She was pregnant with their first child when he went into the military, and after the baby was born, she was still a young attractive woman and could have fallen prey to the whims of any lonesome cowboy, but her commitment to marriage and my dad was impeccable.

Virtue was not just a good idea before marriage; it was the lifeblood of the marriage covenant. She shut the door to any other prospect. She was true to her virtue in the face of years of uncertainty. She didn’t know if he would ever come back.

Many soldiers didn’t. No one knew how long the war would last. When virtue is involved, it doesn’t matter. You are true no matter what. My father, in far-away England, could have made excuses, but he too valued virtue. He returned never having broken his marriage vows.

My parents’ commitment gave me the courage to be true to my future spouse for 38 years before I married him. I didn’t know who he was for all of those years. In fact, it was only a few months in a whirlwind courtship that I was able to put a face on the person on whom I had chosen to bestow my gift of fidelity, but it was worth the wait. What about him? Was he faithful? Yes.

It was wonderful to know that my chosen mate was a man of virtue also. He had been married for 18 years to one woman, and both of them had saved themselves for the marriage bed to consummate their love.

The modern world would scoff at the idea of waiting until marriage. The world would say, “You need to check out your future spouse. You need to make sure you are compatible before you take the eternal leap. Divorce is costly; just try it out a while before you buy.” In other words, “You need to ignore the ‘Detour’ signs and the ‘Dead End’ signs and go in on your own.”

Sadly, the philosophy of the world is a “smokescreen” to hide the real truth. The world doesn’t tell you about the shattered lives, the children growing up without fathers or the rampant diseases that last a lifetime. The world doesn’t tell you that commitment is the key to a successful marriage. It is not a matter of making a choice at the supermarket tasting table.

On the other hand, the fruits of virtue are an unending path of gifts that keep giving. The paramount fruit of virtue is the gift of trust. I didn’t worry about my husband cheating on me. He had been true to his first wife with unending devotion.

At one point, she was riddled with cancer. Her hair was gone, and she was an emaciated shell of a woman. She said, “You just need to divorce me and find another wife who can take care of you.” He said, “It is enough to have you here. Even if you can’t do anything, I want you here with me.” He was true to the very end.

That is the man I married. I didn’t have to worry about him, and he didn’t have to worry about me cheating on him. I had lived 38 years married to that one day when I would meet him and give myself wholly and completely to our marriage; that day when I could tell him with complete integrity that he is “my one and only” for eternity. Trust is the very fiber and substance of our marriage. It would not have been that way without the gift of virtue.

I am so glad that my parents gave me gifts on a “silver platter” so to speak. I am glad God gave me the strength to follow the teachings of my parents. It has saved me years of heartache.

Another gift that was given to me by my parents is the gift of knowing that even “Dead End” roads don’t have to be the end. Through God’s grace, you can turn around and get back on the road to safety. What if you have already been to the tasting table? What if you have already been hit by a train? Is there any way back?

Yes, God in His infinite mercy gave us the gift of His son, who died on the cross to atone for our sins. Turn to Him. Pray to Him. Read His word. He will help you pick up the pieces of your shattered life. He will help you right every wrong. He can help you gain back the virtue you have lost because virtue is not just a physical attribute, it is a condition of the heart and mind.

God can change your heart and give you a new mind. He can take away sorrow and turn it into joy. I know because of the mistakes I have made. My life has had detours and dead ends. But God is faithful and has kept His promise, “... though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) PD