For several months, people have been trying to convince me that they know what my conscience is telling me to do. I suppose to some degree this happens prior to any major election in the United States, but never in my lifetime have I seen it quite like this. I wonder if people really understand the meaning of conscience. If they did, they would not presume to know the conscience of another person.
My tired out and well-worn dictionary spreads a little light on the word conscience, with the help of a little spiritual understanding.
Conscience 1a: the sense of consciousness of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one’s own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good b: a faculty, power, or principle enjoining good acts c: the part of the superego in psychoanalysis that transmits commands and admonitions to the ego 2 obs : CONSCIOUSNESS 3: Conformity to the dictates of conscience (Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Company (1971), p. 177).
Of course, gospel understanding clarifies this transmitting of commands and admonitions as the light of Christ, i.e., power from God through Jesus Christ. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to presume to know what God transmits to anyone other than me. I have an obligation and moral duty to follow my own conscience/the light of Christ/the Holy Ghost, and sometimes a little moral courage is required.
We all have a conscience, and a conscience is the root of moral courage. A truly brave person will always obey his conscience. To know what is right and not do it is cowardice (Elder Marion G. Romney, “We Need Men of Courage,” Apr. 1975 General Conference).
At this particular time in my life, I feel a lot of pressure from others to think a certain way, act a certain way, and even to vote a certain way. After many months of thinking, studying, and praying, I know that when I walk into the polling booth in a couple of weeks I will not only be exercising my right to vote as an American citizen, but I will also be following my conscience. I also know, as usual, my candidate will not win—but that is okay—because I will be voting for a person who is honorable and deserves my vote.
This is not going to make me very popular in some circles. I don’t care. I will not be bullied and succumb to peer pressure. I know what God wants me personally to do. It is up to each person in my circle of friends and family to figure out what God personally wants them to do. What God wants me to do, may or may not have anything to do with what He wants you to do.
Being true to the way of life the Lord has given us does not always make us public heroes. Having the courage of our convictions has its own rewards, however (Elder Dean L. Larsen, “Faith, Courage, and Making Choices,” Oct. 1978 General Conference).
I have always walked to the beat of a different drummer, so I don’t know diddly about being a public hero. It occurs to me, however, that when I die no one will ever be able to accuse me of being a wimp. I don’t think I’m all that courageous, but I do adhere to my own moral standards. Making choices in 2016 often seems like I’m wallowing in the mud, but I just keep grabbing that bar of soap and scrubbing for all it’s worth. If I keep myself morally clean, stand up for my standards, adhere to gospel principles, and have faith and patience, I know there is somewhere at the end of this life that is devoid of mud and yuck.
Following your conscience gives you peace. You may not be the most popular person on your block, but you’ll have peace of mind and spirit. Popularity is highly overrated. Peace is like a silver nugget from the great Nevada Comstock mines—highly favored and valued. Seeking to become a person of high moral character will give you peace like you have never felt before. The Lord rewards us for every effort made. The blessing of peace and contentment is fulfilled by obedience to gospel principles. Stand by your moral values. Be firm and immoveable in standing for truth.
I live in California, USA, which is known as earthquake country. When the addition was built to our house, I watched the contractors pour the foundation. California building standards require rebar (reinforcing steel) to be cemented into the foundation and then attached to the house. This is done to secure the house to the foundation in case of earthquake.
Unlike the older part of our home which was built prior to modern earthquake codes, the addition to the home is steadfast and immoveable. My children were always taught that if there was an earthquake they should to try to make their way to the addition, if possible, and stay in that part of the house and wait for the aftershocks. We knew that if they did that, they would find peace in knowing that part of the house was safe. It was steadfast and immovable.
As we make decisions in these difficult times, let us study things out in our minds and hearts. Let us remember what a conscience really is—the light of Christ.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.