26951_000_016I feared I had lost my parents’ trust, but in the process of gaining it back, I learned the value of integrity.
In 1841 the Lord mentioned His love for Hyrum Smith in a revelation given to Hyrum’s brother, the Prophet Joseph. D&C 124:15 says, “Blessed is my servant Hyrum Smith; for I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart” (emphasis added).
This is one of my favorite scriptures because I want to always be trustworthy and to have integrity. Honesty is an important part of integrity. I learned this important truth the hard way when I was about six years old.
At the time, I lived in a little town in Western Canada called Raymond. I had a brother who was five years older than I, and one day he and some of his friends were playing a game in the dining room of our house. I wasn’t part of the game, but I was watching them play, and I noticed that one of his friends, Marilyn, had left her purse by the side of the chair where she was sitting.
Being young, I did something that I shouldn’t have done. While my brother and his friends were distracted, I sneaked over to her purse and looked inside. I noticed some money there, including a dime. I decided she would not miss the dime, so I put it in my pocket. I left everything else in her purse the same, hoping she wouldn’t notice.
Not too long after my theft, I was playing in the other room when I heard a commotion from the dining room. I heard Marilyn say that someone had taken money out of her purse.
My father was home at the time and, being a man who did not tolerate misbehavior in his children, immediately asked, “Who took money out of Marilyn’s purse?” Well, hearing that, and not being very wise, I ran to the bathroom and locked myself in.
Of course, this immediately clarified who had taken the dime. My father knocked on the door and asked me to come out, but I refused to open the door. I stayed inside the bathroom quite a long time. I hoped that if I stayed there long enough, people would calm down and I wouldn’t get in trouble. Unfortunately, this plan backfired, and the longer I stayed locked in the bathroom, the more upset my father became.
When I finally came out of the bathroom, my father said to me, “Do you know what happens to people who steal money?”
“No,” I said.
“Well, they go to jail,” he answered.
My father was a doctor, and because he was also the coroner for our small town, he had a good relationship with a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. We called them “Mounties.” My father telephoned the Mountie and explained what had happened. The Mountie kindly invited my father and me to see the jail.
I remember vividly my father driving me down to city hall and walking me up the steps where the Mountie met us. The Mountie took me back to the jail cell. I still remember looking inside the bars and seeing the little bed and wondering if that was where I was going to be sleeping that night. Of course, by this time, I was crying my eyes out. I was the most repentant kid you’ve ever seen.
My dad then took me aside and said, “If you’re not honest, if you steal people’s money, this is where you’ll end up.” He didn’t have to say anything more. I had learned my lesson. I gave Marilyn her dime back and apologized.
But more frightening than the jail was the fear that I had lost the trust of my mother and father. I resolved that night to never put myself in a situation again where I would lose their trust.
This lesson came full circle a couple of years later, when I was eight or nine years old. My father’s doctor’s office was downtown, and I would occasionally stop by to visit him on my way home from school. One day I stopped by, and my father invited me into his office. He said, “I have something I want you to do for me.”
“Sure,” I said. “What is it?”
My dad took from his desk four crisp twenty-dollar bills and said, “I want you to deposit these in the bank for me.” Now, $80 at that time would be worth about $300 or $400 today. That was a lot of money to a little kid.
My father filled out a deposit slip and gave it to me along with the bills. He then asked me to take the money with the deposit slip down the street to the Raymond branch of the Bank of Montreal. I remember thinking at the time, “This is a lot of money! I could buy anything with this much money!” but I quickly got rid of the idea. I knew my father had trusted me with the money, and I didn’t want to betray his trust.
I went straight to the bank and got in line to make the deposit. I remember being the only little person standing in that line. I received a receipt from the cashier, and when my dad came home that night, I proudly gave it to him. He was very kind and told me how much he trusted me and how proud he was that I’d done what he’d asked me to do.
Those two experiences together taught me the importance of honesty and of being trustworthy. I learned that if you make mistakes, people will usually give you a chance to earn their trust back. Certainly Heavenly Father gives us another chance. It is important, though, that we make sure to put our hearts right, recognize our mistakes, and apologize for them. Then we must strive to do better. If we’re given an opportunity to regain the trust and confidence of those we love, we need to be very careful to always do the right thing. By doing so, we show that the previous incident does not represent the way we really are.
I loved my father and mother, and I wanted their trust more than anything else. Because of the lesson I learned when I stole Marilyn’s dime, I think I succeeded in earning and keeping their trust.
I also want the Lord to trust me. I know from the revelation about Hyrum Smith that, like him, I can gain the Lord’s trust and love if I have integrity in my heart and love that which is right.