“Wisdom comes in the righteous use of our agency”

By: Bruce Roberts

Beginning in October of 2015 I had one of those trying years that make you sit back and ask, “Why me?” After the challenge has passed and you have time to analyze what has happened to you, you start to realize that there is a learning process in this life that causes us to be humble enough to receive light and knowledge from Heavenly Father and Jesus. It is kind of, as the old saying goes, “When the student is ready the teacher appears.” In this case, I am the student, and the Holy Ghost is the teacher.

My family and I were out camping at East Canyon Resort. My brother Jeff and I decided to go fishing down at the Lake. The fish were jumping like crazy and in my excitement, I forgot to be extra careful. The way down to the lake from the road was quite treacherous, especially for a guy 73 years old. I slipped and fell, shattering my ankle. It took nine men to carry me out strapped to a board. Then the ambulance hauled me to Ogden Regional Hospital, and they performed surgery. The funny part of all this was that while lying on the banks of the reservoir, the thing that I was afraid of most was that the TV Channel 2 helicopter might be coming, and I might end up on the nightly news. While in the ER, my son Monte told me that didn’t matter because I was already all over Facebook. The family in Denmark had even seen me lying on the banks of the Lake and had responded with sympathy. Well so much for privacy.

The next few months were stressful. I wasn’t allowed to drive for three months so I did a lot of reading and not a lot of moving around except for the physical therapy sessions. Whenever we are inactive in anything we seem to go backwards. In a lot of situations in life we become careless. The inactivity and my lack of paying attention to what I was eating, and the amounts I was eating, apparently took its toll. I really bulked up. I look at it now as an experience that set me up for something to come that was life changing in a big way. After coming back from the Pac 12 basketball tournament in Las Vegas in March 2016, I wasn’t feeling well. Yes, I pigged-out at the buffets (to get my $ worth). It does not take long to send caution to the wind, and your life changes.

I had been considering writing a book on the Word of Wisdom for several years and had done a lot of studying and gathering of information, when in April, I came across a book on the internet I hadn’t seen before. It was called, Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Surprising Insights from a Whole Food, Plant-based Perspective by Jane Birch. My interest was immediately peeked! I ordered two copies, one for each of us, because my wife Helen fills hers with sticky notes. We read the book and were astonished. We both had a spiritual witness. It was many of my very thoughts, and I am sure, written and put together better than I would ever have done. I also believe Heavenly Father got tired of waiting for me to get it done, and the message is critical for our happiness and for our time here in the Last Days.

We decided to dedicate one full year to the lifestyle change recommended in the book and see where it would take us. SURPRISE! Five days after we started the change, we were sitting watching April Conference 2016, Saturday afternoon session and I began to have all the signs of a heart attack. People have asked me since then, as they chuckle, “Really – during conference?” I tell them, “I think the talk was on repentance.” I had chest pains, pain down my arms, I started sweating, got nauseous, and Helen said, “Get out in the truck, you are having a heart attack we are going to the ER, it’s 5 min away!” Later the doctors got really firm with us and told us to always call 911. Don’t drive over!

In the ER, the doctors were running around crazy to save my life. When they finally got me on the table in the operating room, my body started to jump all over and I asked the doctor, what was wrong, he replied, “Your heart doesn’t like what we are doing to it,” and at that moment my heart stopped. I flat-lined. I then felt like I was floating off the table to the left and everything was gray, and it seemed like I was out there a long time. I know now it was only seconds. I then felt a jerk of my head and could see a little color and apparatus around me, but I didn’t know where I was, but I heard a voice that seemed a million miles away saying, “Hang in there Bruce, stay with us Bruce, fight it Bruce.”

I woke up in the hospital room sometime later. The nurse came in to see how I was doing and to bring me 6 medications. I told her I was feeling fine, but I would not take the medications. We discussed why, which had a lot to do with the awful side-effects. She talked me into taking them anyway so she wouldn’t get in trouble, and told me to talk to the doctor later, and then said, as she was leaving the room, “Good luck with the doctor!” Please! Do not get me wrong here. I was not trying to be disrespectful to the doctor. Thanks to his training and expertise, he saved my life. Without him I was dead!

It got interesting when the doctor came in later that evening. He told me everything looked very good. He had put a stent in an artery, and I should be fine. He wanted to see me again in three months. Then I said, “Oh, by the way, I am not taking those medications.” He looked firmly at me and replied, “THEN YOU DIE!” I then said, “Will you dicker with me?” He again replied, “I DON’T DICKER!” “Ok,” I said, “When I come back in three months, and I am healthier than I am now, will you take me off the medications?” He gave me a little poke in the stomach and replied, “Get rid of this (referring to my weight) and we will talk.”

We went home and took up the challenge because when he told me I had to take all those medications, and for the rest of my life, that took HOPE away from me. I was determined to not let that happen. Many people are dependent on drugs, and become addicted, and suffer from so many awful side- effects. They just don’t know how to get away from the drugs. They lose HOPE. My goal was to eat healthier, using the new lifestyle, and get my weight down 50 pounds when I walked into his office 3 months later. It worked!! I think a big reason it did was that Helen and I did it together. It’s hard, spiritually and physically, to go it yourself if both partners are not willing to do it together. That is true of a lot of life’s challenges. It is much easier to face challenges if someone is by your side to do it with you. I started losing weight, and we ate well. It was amazing, Helen ate the same food and amounts of food that I did but didn’t lose any weight. She didn’t need to lose weight, but her physical in September, a few months later, showed she was healthier than she has ever been. Her blood tests were great.

When I walked into the doctor’s office 3 months later he said, “Wow! You are looking good.” I replied, “Thank you, I have lost 50 pounds, now will you take me off the medications?” He smiled, and said, “Let me look at your tests.” He studied the computer and told me my blood looked great and my cholesterol was a combined 84. “We don’t see that very often. What have you been doing?” he asked. I replied, “I have chosen not to eat meat, dairy products, sugar, fats, oils or other refined products. Now will you take me off the medications?” He then had a huge smile and told me that he would take me off most of them but wanted to keep me on one and a half until February, my next appointment so he could be sure it was healed good around the stent, then from that point I could get by with just the baby aspirin. Now, I said, “The golden question. When you came to my room at the hospital you were very blunt about my refusing to take the medications, and you said, ‘THEN YOU WILL DIE!’ Now you seem to have changed your position, Why?” Now pay attention to his response. He said, “Because you were willing to change your ‘LIFE STYLE’. Most people lying in that bed won’t do that so they must take the medications, and I have to be firm about that.”

Just think, if you have a desire to be as healthy as God has intended you to be and promised to be in the Word of Wisdom, just change your “LIFESTYLE.” Learning and understanding that simple concept, even though it is a real challenge, was worth falling down the mountain and having the heart attack. Heavenly Father really does work in simple but mysterious ways in our behalf. There is a special spiritual lifestyle for us, as well as a special physical lifestyle for us if we want to be happy.

When February rolled around I was as “Nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof.” I so wanted my tests to be even better than they were in July, and they were. I was now down about 65 pounds and the doctors first comment was, “Hi skinny.” After reviewing my tests, he smiled and told me he still wanted me to take one of the medications one more month and then only a baby aspirin every day from then on. I have now completed that. As the doctor left the room he turned to me, smiled and said, “You are my model patient.” HOPE returned!

The next day I had set up an appointment with my family doctor for a complete physical. He looked at everything and said, “I see you had a heart attack back in April, what medications are you taking?” I replied,” In one month none.” He looked at me very concerned and said, “That can’t be right.” I said, “Ok, what do you see from all my tests to indicate that I need the medications?” He sat back in his chair, paused, and replied, “ I guess nothing. What have you been doing?” I told him about the past 11 months and the LIFESTYLE and he responded, “Maybe we better have you come and teach some nutrition classes.” I said we would be happy to.

The cardiologist asked me to come back in three months for another blood test and to see how I was doing without the medication. I did and he said the results of the tests were still great.

I believe that the direction which I set out to go several years ago, considering writing about the Word of Wisdom, was on track. The abstaining from coffee, tea, tobacco, and alcohol are very important and help us offer a sacrifice to become members of the Church, gain entrance into the Temple, and have great health benefits. The rest of the Word of Wisdom is the tough part—the use of our agency and choice. Wisdom comes in the righteous use of our agency and our ability to make wise decisions and choices. That is one of the reasons we came to this earth. I don’t think wisdom and understanding regarding our physical bodies comes if we are reluctant to follow God’s counsel (or suggestions), regarding the things we need to do in the Word of Wisdom to receive the full blessings of the Promise. It seems to be easy to just read the “words” and totally miss the “wisdom.” When we get a little lax it is easy to not think about His counsel and just live by our life’s habits.

If we want to enjoy the full and even greater blessings of the promise of good health, it is up to us, it’s our choice. We need to learn to live the complete Word of Wisdom, the DO’s, and the DON’TS. If we don’t, we will never recognize the warning in Section 89:4—

Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation.

How will we ever recognize these “evils and designs” if we only live part of the Word of Wisdom? To receive treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures the promise refers to, we must choose to do more than we now do and understand more than we now understand. I do not believe God hides anything from us, but things stay hidden from us because we choose to not raise our faith and actions to the level that the hidden treasure is opened to us. God says, “Seek and ye shall find.” God loves us more than we can imagine. He wants us, and our families, to be both spiritually and physically healthy and happy. It’s our choice.

Bruce (75) and Helen (72) Roberts, have lived their whole lives in Centerville, Utah. They come from old pioneer stock. Bruce being a great grandson of B.H. Roberts and Celia Ann Dibble Roberts, a daughter of Philo Dibble Jr. Helen is a great, great granddaughter of Anson Call. They both graduated in Elementary Education from Weber State College in Ogden. Bruce then moved on to being a Seminary teacher for 10 years and then a sales rep for the family business for the past 48 years. Helen spent 25 years with a home child care business and now also works in the family business with Bruce. Bruce’s special interests have always been sports, the outdoors. and reading, especially western and historically based novels. He has been a competition soccer coach in the state for over 30 years and is still coaching on that level. Helen’s special interests and talents have been in music, and she accompanies, on the piano, nearly everyone. Together they have spent many years, studying and participating in health pursuits. They have 7 children, 24 grandchildren and soon to be 6 great grandchildren. They love their family and the Gospel that makes it all work.


  1. This is a wonderful and miraculous story. Thanks so much for sharing. It’s amazing the way our bodies are designed to heal if we follow the Word of God; isn’t it. Have a fabulous time at your 100th birthday party. Maybe I’ll come.

  2. WOW!, great acronym right, You took all of the words right out of my mouth, I’ve been trying to say just what you said here when I talk to people about WFPB eating. Thank you very much for sharing your story, my health improvements haven’t been as dramatic as yours but I recognize the same feelings in myself that you describe here. I am so grateful to Jane for writing her book and sharing her inspirations with us so we could also share in the blessings inherent in the full W.O.W. I’m just turning 84 and wish I had known ten or more years ago what I now know. What I am amazed about now is how uninterested so many people are in learning anything at all about how to eat and be healthier. As you pointed out you have to be ready to learn before you can learn how to eat right and get these blessings for yourself.

  3. What a great story, Bruce! It is so true that, sometimes it takes a ‘calamity’ — special attention note from God — before one sits up and takes account of the way they’ve been living. I had cancer of the kidneys and bladder that was my ‘special gift from God’ before I smartened up as to my dietary lifestyle. Unfortunately, I think this is true for so many people: they need a wakeup call before they see that they are mistreating their bodies, and that our bodies are really the most important Temple in our life–a special gift–that is our responsibility to take care of. Doctors must be extremely frustrated when they see patients coming into their office with ailments that, if the patient would only change their lifestyle, it would relieve the problem.

  4. Bruce, thank you for sharing your story. You are an inspiration; your actions and results witness the truth of the benefits and promises of keeping the Word of Wisdom.

  5. Bruce, the word, Courage jumped right into my mind as I read all that you submitted to my dear daughter, Jane. Your courage really changed your life because you decided to begin eating the “Word of Wisdom Way.”

    Just as I was getting ready for my 80th birth day my dear oldest child, Jane Birch drove all the way from her home in Provo to my wife’s home in Murray, Utah where we still live. Jane, spent several hours teaching me to eat “the Word of Wisdom Way.

    when I was growing up I never realized the “Word of Wisdom” even dealt with what we should eat and that which we should not eat.

    In retrospect I now see that Jane right then and there in this house where I am typing this Reply, actually taught me to eat” the Whole Food Plant Based Way.” She convinced me that eating that way is what I must do.to stop having serious medical problems which were being somewhat but very very gradually lessened by highly trained (and very expensive physicians!

    That event took place almost six years ago. Jane taught me just what I needed to know and do to no longer need to continually go from specialist doctor to specialist doctor and paying the Specialist;’s fee to to find the excellent health I enjoyed as a boy growing up in Rosevilel, California. Although in many ways I enjoyed excellent health as a young boy at age six I contracted Tuberculosis in my left knee. My doctor was convinced that my T.B. came from the milk I was drinking that we had delivered to our home. I believe that dairy was closed down because of my having contracted T.B. from drinking their milk!

    I went through the great challenge of living 700 miles from my dear family for a little over one year as a patient in the Primary Children’s Hospital when it was located on North Temple Street in Salt Lake City Utah which was very close to being right across street from that magnificent Sacred and Holy Building, the Salt Lake Temple of the Church, However, my mother visited me once each month during the time I was a patient there. I was there long enough to attend the first grade class that was held right there in the hospital and actually excelled because my dear mother had very effectively taught me many of the basics I would be learning in the first grade.

    I never believed when I Was still a school boy that I would be telling anyone in a letter after I had already celebrated my eighty fifth birthday telling them very honestly, I never am sick and haven’t been since I was getting ready to celebrate my eightieth birthday and began eating the Whole Food Plant Based Way. I was amazed when Jane showed me that way of eating is part of what we are taught in the 89th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants!.

    I hope that each of you will be blessed with health as good as mine because you, like me, eat as the Lord has taught us to eat in Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants! May the Lord’s blessings be enjoyed by each one of us as we faithfully eat as He has instructed as in Section 89.

  6. Bruce,
    I was so thrilled to hear your story. Mostly in part because we are related! I was looking on FamilySearch and found that our paths cross. I cannot tell you how thrilled it makes me to see that another family member reads the word of wisdom as I do. It is not a popular thing in the world we live in today. It is one thing to have friends that follow a WFPB diet but to have family is a totally different thing. Thank you for sharing your story.. I don’t live that far from you and your lovely wife. Maybe we could get together sometime talk about the word of wisdom and swap a recipe or two. 😊

  7. Bruce and Helen,
    It was so nice to meet you at the Plant-Based Utah event yesterday. Your story is amazing and inspiring. Keep up the good work (we will too) and we will hope to see each other at many more events. Debi Reynolds

  8. Bruce was a dear friend and associate over forty years ago in the Church School System. I am thrilled for you and pray for your well being. Tamara Roberts is our daughter.We have read Jane Birches Book and love it.

Leave a Reply