Hold on Loosely, but Don’t Let Go

Hold on loosely, but don’t let go.

Many of you will recognize this as a couple of lines from a great classic rock song by .38 special. If you want to review the lyrics try here. From my understanding of the context of these lyrics they are womanly advice about relationships. I see this type of approach in the proper application of priesthood leadership in D&C 121 when it talks about the proper way to have power and influence in the lives of those around you. I also see some similarities to the thoughts my father posted on Creative Quietude. I feel that I witnessed this approach used successfully with my parents during the period of inactivity in the church of my brother that lasted about 12 years.

My brother and I got along quite well. He is six years younger than I am, but during the growing years the apparent gap was not as large. I was a skinny little kid, and my brother was big, strong and athletic for his age. We were able to play together most of the time more like friends than brothers.

When he was about 16 he decided to stop going to church. I talked with him recently about this and the reason he gave for this was that of feeling he would not live up to the expectations of the church and felt a little guilty about it. He didn’t like the feeling so decided to stop going. There were no doctrinal issues apparently. His feelings were very strong. Many parents in this situation might panic. They may say something like – as long as you live in my house you will go to church. My brother said that if this would have been said to him at the time he would probably have left home. This could have caused a great divide that might make coming back more difficult.

After my brother got married, had a couple of kids, and started thinking about what he wanted his life to be like, he eventually decided it was time to go back to church. So he did. Just like that. No big apologies or explanations necessary, no large amount of pride to swallow. He felt good when he came back, and in a few months was ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood and took his wife and kids to the temple. His return has had a profound impact on me. Don’t give up on people. I am so glad that my parents granted him the space he needed, and had the patience and love to allow this to happen. What for years may have seemed like a failure may very well have been exactly what was intended to happen all along.

So hold on loosely, but don’t let go.

11 Responses to “Hold on Loosely, but Don’t Let Go”

  1. 1 J. Stapley March 1, 2006 at 10:08 pm

    This really is a great lesson. We just had a pilot program launched in our area for the YSA. The US average is 13% activity. With that, the vast majority of members will go inactive for some time. I don’t know if we can understate the ramifications of that trend.

  2. 2 Eric Nielson March 1, 2006 at 10:28 pm


    Let me understand, 13% activity for Young Single Adults in the United States? Is that correct? Sounds quite low.

  3. 3 J. Stapley March 1, 2006 at 11:07 pm

    Yep, strait from Salt Lake City. The Area Authority-70 even gave us a power point show.

  4. 4 Deborah March 1, 2006 at 11:50 pm


    Wow — that’s lower than I had thought. What does this pilot program look like?

  5. 5 J. Stapley March 2, 2006 at 12:06 am

    I should probably post on it, as it is an interesting statistic. It is basically a program to have many YSA activities on a regional basis with open invitation to all YSA regardless of geographic local. The hope is to get them to fellowship.

    I should be more confident, but alas, I worry that this will help a few indaviduals, but there is something alot more fundamental going on here.

  6. 6 harpingheather March 2, 2006 at 8:31 pm

    Could the something larger at work simply be adolescence? This is when kids start analyzing and debating and wondering what they themselves belive.

    How do you measure activity in youth anyway? By how often they come to church or by how many of them attend activities? If activity attendence is low, maybe it’s time to bring the kids in on the decisions and to LISTEN TO THEM. Sorry, my YSA was always begging for combined camping trips and costume balls and the leaders always refused. I can understand their concerns but I wish they’d worked with us to make something happen instead of just vetoing our ideas.

  7. 7 Deborah March 2, 2006 at 9:21 pm

    Heather: While it may not be the best terminology, “Young Single Adults” are actually the 18 to 30 year old demographic (before they kick you out of singles wards 🙂

  8. 8 Sarah March 3, 2006 at 1:17 am

    The 13% activity rate for YSA sounds high to me. We supposedly have hundreds of them in our stake (enough to make two YSA wards — and we’ve only got 9 units total, a third of which are branches,) but less than twenty are showing up often enough for any adult in authority to know who they are. Our stake YSA advisors went to a ward conference to advise the RS presidency and the bishopric that they had 140 YSA on their rolls — and the adults didn’t recognize any of the names at all. A few are probably unofficially going to the student wards in the city, or have gone to BYU or something without having their records moved yet. But even the student wards only have about 300 YSA showing up (or less) and that’s from four stakes.

    (oh, and once you turn 30, or so, they send you to regular Singles’ activities — and at least in Ohio, those seem to be better, or at least better attended, than YSA stuff)

  9. 9 Eric Nielson March 3, 2006 at 11:45 am

    Is this some evidence of inspiration for when we send missionaries out? After High School, before college (more or less), at a time when they are thinking about what to do with the rest of their lives. Putting them in a situation where the can’t help but think about what role the church should play?

    Certainly the YSA age is a critical one.

  10. 10 Naiah Earhart March 3, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    I am dealing with a very simiilar sentiment, oddly, as I develop my homeschooling style. Last year, I tried homeschooling part time, but I was like uberstrict, and Katy had to sit in a chair acing the whiteboard and we did ver traditional, very boring lessons togther. Guess what, a month or two into it she *shut down.* That’s why I ended up putting her in public school this year. It’s become clear again that homeschooling is right o rher, and so I’ve brought her home again, but in the meantime I have read a great deal about various attitudes similar in spirit to what you mention here. I don’t have to be–and, frankly, should NOT be so rigid. (ie “you live in my house not only will you go to church, you’ll pay unerring attention to my homeschool lessons! Grrr!”)

    I have to let her interest ebb and low and find what style and topic works for her in the moment.

    I don’t know, forgive me for interjecting my own life into what you were saying, but the essence of it just resonated with what I’m working through now.

  11. 11 Naiah Earhart March 3, 2006 at 1:51 pm

    Per J’s statistic—!!!

    I had no idea it was so low. The college years/formitive adult years can be tough. Wow, everyone is so in their own world at that age and stage…how to reach them…

    That’s wild.

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