I then went to my psychology class the next day. We were discussing how human beings react when they are in a state of desperation. We try to justify our actions when we know they are wrong. We justify them so that we feel better about the choices we made. He posed the question of "would you steal food if you were hungry?" or "Would you steal food for your starving baby even when you knew it was wrong?" I felt like my brain was doing a tug of war over this concept. Would it be ok to steal food for a starving baby? I have strong morals and I know very clearly what is wrong and what is right. I also think it is easy to say the right answer when you are not in the situation. In times of desperation, we don't think as clearly. We justify our actions and decisions. So what would be our motivating force to steal the food? We value our life. We fear the idea of death.
So then I started to ponder the Gospel and the things that I know. I know there is life after death. I know this is not the end. I put myself back in that situation and I started to feel the fear dissipate. Would the idea of starving to death seem quite as terrifying if you had the knowledge of the Gospel. If you knew what happened after you died, would you be as prone to steal the food?
I listened as the class gave their responses. Everyone seemed to be on board with stealing the food. A part of me agreed. Of course I would steal the food for someone I loved. Then I thought a little more and realized... So if I steal the food, it gets us through perhaps another day or two. Then what? Well... I am right back where I started... in need of more food to survive. It would only solve the problem temporarily. One lady made the comment that she would not steal it because it lacks integrity.
So what is integrity? According to the online dictionary, this is their definition of the word:
I completely agree with that definition. However, I like to sum it up even more than that. My definition is
1. The act of living what you claim to believe.
I started to think about the information I had been taught. "There are some things that are more important than life" and "Would you steal the food?"
While we are here on earth, life seems to be everything to us. The majority of us fear death. We fear the unknown. There are many stories were men become cowards at the face of death. They deny what they know to be true in order to survive. They give up their morals and justify it so that it feels right. In the moment, there is nothing more important than life. They will do anything to live.
So where can I look to find examples of people that understood the concept that there are things more important than life? My mind went immediately to our Savior. He gave up His life for a far greater cause. I am sure the pain he bore and the mental weight of our burdens would have been more than enough to make the ordinary man throw in his towel. He could have given up. He could have justified it. If we were in His shoes we would have understood it. However, the Savior of mankind, our brother, understood in that moment that there are some things more important than life! He understood that if he continued then we would have the opportunity to live with Him and our Heavenly Father again. He understood the necessity of what He was about to do. He did not let desperation rule His actions. He was motivated by love! LOVE FOR US! That was more important to Him than life. He is our ultimate example.
I found this video clip by Elder Holland. I LOVE IT!! It shows us a glimpse of what our Savior went through and how He must have felt.
He conquered death because HE LOVED US more than life itself!!
As I kept pondering this concept, my mind went to Joseph Smith. I thought about the life he lived. He also understood that there are some things more important than life. He had an eternal perspective. He knew his purpose. He knew the importance and value of the Book of Mormon. He understood the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He knew that we needed the Gospel in order to know how to return to live with God again. He was willing to die to bring about the Gospel. So what motivated him to do that? I guarantee it was his love for us and for the Savior. He saw the bigger picture. He knew that this life was not the end, but merely the beginning. He also, did not let desperation rule his actions. He did not try to justify why he couldn't do it. He had courage and he stood for what was right. He did not flinch. He knew what needed to be done, and he DID IT! He let his faith in Christ over rule his need for survival. He put his life in God's hands. He was full of integrity. He did not deny his beliefs in the face of adversity. He stood firm. He knew his place. He knew what was truth, and he would not deny it!