A Quarter and Two Big Lies

Friday, I was putting some gas in my truck and something odd happened. The driver that was on the opposite side of the island from me reached into the cab of his truck, pulled out his entire change holder, walked over to the trash bin and slowly dumped it out, making a distinctive noise.

Coins.  The ashtray had been full of coins.

I might not have noticed that they were coins, but a nickel bounced off the edge and rolled across the concrete. The driver got back into his truck and drove away.

I was surprised, and went over to the trash can to make sure of what I thought I saw. I was right: He had dumped am ashtray full of coins into the trash. The can was half empty, so I couldn’t see how many coins there were, but it sounded like a lot. I saw a lot of pennies, so I figured that there was not much value, but then I saw that there were more than pennies.

Sitting on top of the trash was a shiny quarter. It just sat there. I was tempted to reach in and grab it, but thoughts of George Costanza and the infamous eclair raced through my mind. I decided to leave it, but my mind couldn’t leave it alone.

I’m guessing that the change dumped into the trash was worth a few dollars. Why would someone throw that away? Sure, I get sick of collecting pennies too, but quarters and dimes? Who does that?

It seems that at one point in his earlier life – if not earlier that day – the man had valued those coins enough to save them. They were, after all, worth a few bucks to him. That’s the thing about coins – they have am inherent value: A quarter is worth a quarter, etc.

Hoever, something happened and this man decided to de-value the coins in his truck from several dollars to zero. I have no idea what his reasoning would be, but it was obvious that to him, those coins had become of zero worth to him – even though they were still worth several dollars in society. I will never know why, but those coins lost all value to him that afternoon, so he got rid of them.

Which leads me to The Two Big Lies.

These Two Big LIes are obviously twins, and they are only used in the saddest of circumstances. I have heard both of them in my personal life from friends, and well as in my tenure as a bishop. Here they are:

“I don’t think I ever really knew the church was true.”


“I don’t think I ever really loved her/him.”

I’ve heard the first one as people I care about contemplate leaving the church while struggling through a crisis of faith.

I’ve heard the second as people I care about contemplate ending a marriage that has disintegrated.

But in the instances I have experienced, those statements have been untrue. My response has always been sorrowful and a bit skeptical. The skepticism can be expressed this way:

You don’t think you ever really knew the church was true? What about the feelings, the experiences, the promptings you have felt? What about the miracles you have witnessed and performed? What about the lives you have seen transformed by the power of the gospel and the Atonement?  Now you are telling me that none of that really happened?


You don’t think you ever really loved her? Hey my friend – I was there! I witnessed it. I watched you fall head-over-heels in love with that girl. I watched you become a better person. I watched how your eyes would light up when you saw her. I felt what you felt in the temple sealing room that day when you made sacred covenants. Now you are telling me that none of that really happened?

Nonsense. Tragic nonsense.

How does that happen? Just like the man who dumped the change in the trash, my friends had come to the conclusion that something that had once held great value for them had no been re-valued to the point that there was no value to their testimony or marriage.

To follow this path takes a great deal of convincing, if not self deception. It requires us to actually re-write history in our minds and in our hearts. Why the effort to re-write? To provide ourselves with a reason – a justification for our next step: Leaving.

If I can convince myself that I never actually had a testimony, then there would be less pain in leaving it behind. Same for a spouse – If I never actually loved her, then leaving her is not such a big deal.

The Two BIg Lies are easier than the truth:

We allowed our testimonies die, or we proactively killed them.

We allowed our relationships die, or we proactively killed them.

Both scenarios are strikingly similar. A testimony and a marriage both require constant nurturing. (Which would warrant an entirely separate blog post.) The scriptures are full of metaphors comparing faith and love to plants that need water and care. Withhold that constant care, and both will wither and eventually die.

We proactively kill both by breaking covenants. As we sin, the Spirit pulls away from us and we find ourselves doubting what we once knew to be true. Then the re-write begins takes shape.

Love and testimony have a very short shelf life. What is alive and healthy today is not guaranteed to stay that way. We are all vulnerable to losing them if we do not make it a part of our normal, day-to-day focus.  I remember a quote from my youth that seems apropos:

“Doing a good job is like shaving, no matter how well you do it today, you will need to do it again tomorrow.”

A strong, growing testimony will not survive if it is only based on the past. It must be based on today. We need to ask ourselves: “What nourishment did I give my testimony today?” Is it any wonder we have been counseled our entire lives to have daily scripture study?

A strong, vibrant love cannot be based on the memories of the past. It must be based on today. We need to ask ourselves, “What have I done to nourish this relationship today?’ If we don’t do anything today, one day becomes two, two becomes ten, and suddenly, we find yourself explaining to those who will listen, “I don’t think I ever really loved her.”

Tragic, yet avoidable. Strength in testimony and love is not found in the grandiose, it is found in the daily.


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  1. I’m a new reader. This is an excellent thought that will be of value to my own mentoring. Thank you

  2. This is so true and while I loved the way you so perfectly said it, it brings pain to my heart. Pain because I have seen family and friends leave the church, leave their families and tried to help those hurt to pick up the pieces. Thanks for your insight.

  3. When my ex-daughter-in-law decided to bail on my son, she told him that she never really loved him, she just married him because he was “safe”. When I felt myself starting to pull away from the Church and my marriage, I tried to start telling myself that I didn’t think I ever really had a testimony or that I ever really loved her, but thankfully I knew that both of these things was a load of crap. Your analysis is spot on: We tell ourselves all kinds of things to assuage our guilt, the Ex-Mo sites are full of people doing just that. But, as the Book of Mormon teaches us, when we stand before the Savior, unless we have repented, we will condemn ourselves because we will have a bright recollection of our guilt. I think this means that we will see Him very clearly and know who He is, and we will also see ourselves very clearly for who and what we are.

  4. Gaaahhh! Bradley, could you come and remove the two daggers you just put in my heart? Never mind. I’ll have Christ do it. Again. (Can’t see to type, but thanks for writing this article. I could hit you. But then I would hug you.)

  5. Thank you for sharing. I needed to read this – and thanks to my wife who forwarded me this article to read!

  6. Thank you for the reminder. I have seen both of these things happen. We all need to be reminded.

  7. thank you for your insight I will never look at the change I have collected gathered near the radio in my car the same way again. great food for thought and understanding.

  8. Excellent post! I’ve seen this a lot online lately with members of the Church who seem to rewrite their personal history. Some who have left the church have kept blogs and out of curiosity, I went back to through one of these “virtual journals” to see how this could have happened—or where it started. It seemed to stem from blogs from other members of the Church who gradually pulled this family down. First, in the early years, the blog was supportive of the Church and slowly, the posts kept getting more and more negative and critical, with more of the same wording that the other critical bloggers and websites were saying. The more people lean towards these blogs instead of spending time in the scriptures, General Conference and on LDS.org, and focusing on things that build testimonies, the more they seem to slowly turn away from the gospel. As the posts grew more frequent and more negative, they said they never really believed. It was as if the same blog was created by two different people. Anyway … what a timely post for today. Thank you for taking the time to write your thoughts.

  9. As a teen I started putting my loose change in a small jar on my dresser. I always seemed to have just enough if I really needed something, especially gas for school the next week. As a missionary, I did the same thing. Every day I emptied my pockets into that jar. So long as I never counted it, I always had just enough for something that we needed at the end of the month, like food. If I ever counted it, it was gone.
    when I started raising a family, I again did the same thing, a Christmas pistachio jar was where my loose change went. And sometimes it was just enough to buy diapers and formula at the end of the month….so long as I never counted to see how much was there. When we got out of the diaper and formula manufacturing support business, the jar sat there and was occasionally raided for lunch money or a daddy/daughter or mom/daughter date. Usually there was about 2-3 inches of coins piled in the bottom of the jar. A few years ago we read “Christmas Jars” by Jason Wright and decided that we would give our “jar” to someone that we thought needed it. Even though it was going to be anonymous, we didn’t want to appear stingy, so as a family, we determined a minimum amount that we would leave on the door step. We would run to the bank to get additional change to make up the difference and forego some of our own Christmas. We counted it and to our surprise there was double what we had determined would be the minimum. So we gave it to TWO families, and didn’t have to “sacrifice” anything!
    It is amazing how much value is in a couple of inches of coins.
    My analogy to faith and relationships….Add to it everyday and never count it to see “how much” is there. There will always be just enough.

  10. This is spot on. We had a similar discussion the other night during family scripture study where we had read about Amalickiah poisoned Lehonti “by degrees” and how that’s how Satan tempts us as well. D&C 93 talks about Satan taking away light and truth through our disobedience. That’s how someone whose testimony once shine brightly, becomes dim – because light was actually taken away.
    Thankfully, our light can grow by degrees too, by daily obedience, service, prayer, scripture study. Same principles apply to building a strong marriage.
    Sorry, I know I’m repeating your post. I agree wholeheartedly.

  11. For some reason this made me think of the Widow’s mite.Now many ridiculed her contribution,and/ or scoffed at the meagerness of it..but to her,it represented all she had,and a lot of sacrifice.

    Now, if those coins were all the truck driver had..he wouldn’t be so quick to cast them off as worthless.I know there have been times I have been thankful to even have a dollar.It’s too bad he didn’t dump them out on the island where someone who had need of them could have used them instead.Just because the coins no longer had value to him,that did not decrease their value.

    When we get lazy about our testimony or marriage or whatever, and think we have other things that are greater or more valuable,(or let Satan deceive us as to their true value).. then like the coins, they in turn become devalued. But like the widow’s mite..if we put in all we have..then it suddenly has great meaning,and you would think twice before casting it aside.

    When we look at our testimony or marriage,etc as the thing we possess of the greatest value,we tend to it more carefully.As you brought out..cumulatively, pennies, nickels, dimes etc..can add up to great wealth over time.
    Look at how the Lord viewed what was done with the talents His servants were given.He expects us to take small things and add value.

    Kind words, loving gestures,total fidelity, and so on,add up in keeping love alive.

    And as you mentioned, doing the simple laundry list we are always given to keep a testimony vital—prayer, scripture study, following the prophet, church attendance,etc,can go a long way towards adding value to our testimony.

    Even if sometimes we feel our efforts or contributions are small,or don’t matter, like the Widow’s mite,or the discarded coins.. in the overall scheme of things,they are sufficient and have worth, and shouldn’t be discounted or rejected.It is by small things, that things can become great things.

  12. What a great post today!
    I’m still thinking about how you walked away not picking up the money, though. It would’ve bugged me all day.

    1. Same here! If I couldn’t bring myself to rummage through the can, I might have told the cashier about it in case someone came in needing a hand-out. At least they would have to work for it a little!

  13. Thank you. Again you write something I need to hear, today especially. This is my something good that has happened today. Thanks MMM

  14. Wow, I heard both of those within a short period of time from my ex. It came from a combination of losing the spirit and justifying actions he knew in his heart to be wrong: If I don’t believe in the church any more and the church has taught me all these things are wrong, then maybe they really aren’t wrong, that it was just the church brainwashing me. And: I didn’t ever really love her, and now I’m unhappy with her–and I deserve to be happy, so I deserve someone better. I’ve never seen someone so brilliant become so dumb so quickly. It’s amazing how Satan jumps in with those little doubts and concerns that allow his foot in the door to open it up to much more significant transgressions.

  15. Okay, I thought I might add my take on this, however insignificant it might be. I think your opinions are spot on with people’s testimony and also with relationships. I work at a local high school and after each lunch line we have to clean up the cafeteria getting it ready for the next lunch line–we have 3, each about 350 students. We find change all. the. time. and yes, we pick it up. We put it in the back section of our register and when a student comes though and happens to be a little bit of change short of their lunch amount, we get that out and they get through the line with their lunch. I tell the kids, bring it to us and we will put it on your account, no matter how small. It adds up. So there is a point to this. I believe that the reason people don’t value change is they don’t see the potential value with a little work and patience. Work at putting the change in your pocket, ashtray, whatever until it accumulates to be able to use it for something of value. It is the same with our testimony and relationships. Some people are so quick to cut ties or efforts when it becomes too much or anything that requires too much effort. Anything worth having is worth working for. Thank you for sharing your observations. It helps me observe things in a different way too.

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