In one stupid move, I’d dented the car next to me. Now I had to decide if dishonesty would also dent my soul.
It was the first time I’d been able to drive my family’s car to work in weeks. When I pulled into the parking lot, I failed to notice how inappropriately fast I was driving. I thought a one-handed parking job would be rather impressive.
I was wrong.
The car next to me jolted from the impact.
“You just hit that car!” I yelled at myself.
My forehead sunk to the dashboard in despair. I felt like such an idiot.
Had anyone seen? I looked around but didn’t spot anybody. My heart was thumping in my chest. I threw open the door and ran around the front of my car to survey the damage. I examined the front bumper and right panel carefully but saw no sign anything had happened.
Then I turned and looked at the new Toyota Camry I had hit. On the left, back panel there was a small dent where some of the shiny green paint had come off.
I scanned the parking lot again. No one was around. I’d heard kids at school talking about dinging cars and just taking off. It happens to everyone.
“I could just leave, and no one would ever know,” I thought. “If it ends up costing very much I won’t have enough money to take my vacation to Europe in a couple of months. These people probably have tons of money anyway, and I’ve been waiting my whole life for this trip.”
I clutched my wad of keys and gave my predicament a little more thought. I could see my forehead wrinkled with indecision in the reflection of the car window. I took a deep breath and knew it didn’t matter that no one would know. I would know. I could take off and avoid having to pay for the damage I had caused, but I wouldn’t be able to escape denting my soul.
I took out my planner and a pen and wrote a note to stick on the car’s windshield.
“I’m sorry I hit your car. Here’s my name, number, and e-mail address. Please contact me so I can pay for the damage.”
I walked into work feeling sick to my stomach. If I’d done the right thing, why did I feel so awful?
The owners of the car called me that night. I felt embarrassed and angry at myself and almost choked when they told me it was going to cost $800 to get the panel replaced. How was that possible? It took me months to make that much money at my part-time job. I knew I could kiss my vacation plans good-bye.
Even though I felt horrible about what had happened, I never regretted my decision. It felt good to know my integrity was worth more to me than $800 and a little embarrassment.
I learned that honesty is sometimes just between Heavenly Father and me. Honesty is about doing the right thing when nobody is watching and then facing the uncomfortable consequences afterward. I could have escaped the monetary consequences of my mistake but not without cheapening my integrity. I know Heavenly Father is proud of me for keeping my soul dent-free.
By Allyson Taylor
I just started the Young Women program in September. My teacher and I picked a few goals in my Personal Progress book to accomplish by the end of the month, one of which was honesty. The goal is to be honest in all I do. That includes not exaggerating, distorting the truth, telling half-truths, or remaining silent if doing so will lead others to believe something that is not true. I have really struggled to do that when friends aggravate me. I don’t want to talk to them, but that would mean failing my goal.
President James E. Faust stated, “Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving” (Ensign, Nov. 1996, 41). That means a lot to me and helps me understand that honesty is important, and our Heavenly Father will bless us if we tell the truth.