Honesty is often difficult, but the consequences for dishonesty can eat right through you. Let me illustrate.
When I was in first grade, we had a show and tell. My friend brought a little package of plastic tri-corner beads. They were so sparkly that I couldn’t take my eyes off them. It was foolish and short-sighted, but I took them.
There was a class-wide search for the missing beads, and I did my best to seem innocent. I was shocked when I fooled everyone. I felt horrible and scared, but I couldn’t give them back because then everyone I had worked so hard to convince would know I had taken them.
So I took them home and for six years, they stayed hidden in the bottom drawer of my dresser. In that time, my family moved twice and I lost track of my friend. But those beads kept burning a hole in my heart. They made me sick every time I saw them.
Make It Right
I didn’t enjoy looking at the sparkly beads like I had the day I stole them. I didn’t feel better till I finally looked up my friend again and mailed them to her. By then, we were in junior high school. I wasted all that time letting a $3 package of plastic beads keep me from feeling peace and confidence before the Lord.
You would think that I learned my lesson from that one experience… But I’m kind of thick in the head sometimes. Soon after the beads found a home in my dresser drawer, I “permanently borrowed” my neighbor’s baseball glove. In all fairness, he had let me borrow it while we played ball, and I had brought it home with me without thinking. My mom made me return it, which was an excellent lesson in itself.
If she had known about the beads, she would have spared me all those years of guilt. But some lessons have to be repeated to be remembered. I think there was also a stolen candy bar incident. My dutiful mother made me return that too, and there were lost privileges along with it. Like I said, I was a slow learner, but I finally got it.
It Takes Effort
Since those days, honesty has become so much more complicated. It’s no longer just about taking toys that aren’t yours. The world is an easier place to be dishonest, and that dishonesty has much bigger words like piracy, insider trading, affairs, and deceit. It takes effort to be honest and to keep yourself clean before the Lord.
I’ve made it a point to even try to be honest in the checkout line. Sometimes it is a real pain, though. Just last week, I realized the cashier missed something and I had to wait for what seemed like forever to get them to fix it. But even though I could have just left, I felt better knowing I had been honest.
There are a thousand ways every day that we can choose honesty. Obeying the speed limit? Yep! That’s being honest. Taking your turn in line at the pharmacy is also being honest. Fairness and good sportsmanship are also forms of honesty in my book. Basically, being a good human being and being true to the truth will keep you honest.
Dishonesty Seems Cool
My husband and I like to joke about the titles of TV shows because the entertainment industry has seemingly forgotten the importance of honesty. It’s like you can name a show and deem it a success as long as you name it with a sin. With words like revenge, scandal, liars, corruption, and betrayal in the titles of these shows, they seek to entice us.
Recently President Nelson challenged women to take a 10-day media fast. I felt prompted to expand that challenge to change my viewing habits. I watched only shows that would be appropriate if my Savior was watching with me. It was during that time that I realized how desensitized I had become to what I had been watching. Afterward I have tried to be more vigilant about what I watch. I pay attention to the spirit in the room as the show plays, and if I am feeling at all “oogie,” I make another choice. It has helped me a lot!
I’ve observed that we seem to think that if it’s the bad guy getting cheated, robbed, or beaten, it’s okay because they are the enemy and somehow they deserve it. Likewise, those who take the law into their own hands become heroes. I think if I were growing up now, I’d have a much harder time telling where the line of honesty is. Teaching our kids has become a much bigger job. Thankfully, the Lord and His standards are unchanging.
Teach the Children
In a booklet published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that is designed to guide the youth, there is a section about honesty. It reads in part:
“Be honest with yourself, others, and God at all times. Being honest means choosing not to lie, steal, cheat, or deceive in any way. When you are honest, you build strength of character that will allow you to be of great service to God and others. You will be blessed with peace of mind and self-respect. You will be trusted by the Lord and will be worthy to enter into His holy temples.
Dishonesty harms you and harms others as well. If you lie, steal, shoplift, or cheat, you damage your spirit and your relationships with others. Being honest will enhance your future opportunities and your ability to be guided by the Holy Ghost. Be honest at school; choose not to cheat in any way. Be honest in your job, giving a full amount of work for your pay. Do not rationalize that being dishonest is acceptable, even though others may think it does not matter.
Closely associated with honesty is integrity. Integrity means thinking and doing what is right at all times, no matter what the consequences. When you have integrity, you are willing to live by your standards and beliefs even when no one is watching. Choose to live so that your thoughts and behavior are always in harmony with the gospel.”
The whole booklet, called For the Strength of Youth, is available online.
You Can Make a Difference
I may have taken a little longer to learn the importance of honesty, but I am glad it finally sank in. I love the feeling of peace and freedom in my heart knowing that I have nothing to hide. I am very grateful I can stand before God without fear or worry about what He will see in me. It takes time to become consistently honest, and I can’t say that I am 100% successful all the time, but I am trying.
And it is worth the effort.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.