Beating the High Score

“The test for this life is not for knowledge; it is not for intelligence, or for courage, or for anything like that. That would be a huge joke. None of us knows very much, none of us is very brave, none of us is very strong, none of us is very smart. We would flunk those those texts terribly. As Alma said, we are only to be tested on one thing– the desires of our heart.”

–Hugh Nibley

I read this quote, and my chest immediately filled with sweet, light release and, unable to contain myself, I shared it with my brother. He stared at me blankly for a beat and then said, “Yeah… I kind of live life like it’s a video game.”

I have no moral judgment of my brother who is a happy, stand-up guy, but this thought terrifies me because A) I suck at video games and B) I suck even more at real life. 

While the video-game analogy is a creative way to describe life, it’s actually a very common way to live. When the highest ideals you believe in are your own merits, what other way is there? You rack up points for accumulating information, for wining awards, for garnering compliments, trying fruitlessly to win at a game that has no clearly defined end-goal. Again, no judgement; my brother manages to focus on personal fulfillment rather than diving head-first into the rat race, but boy is that not how I personally want to live. I don’t have enough confidence in my wit, looks, or intelligence for that lifestyle to appeal to me. 

And I don’t think I’m meant to. As Nibley so adroitly points out: “…none of us is very brave, none of us is very strong, none of us is very smart.” Each one of us human beings is crafted with precise intent, given particular talents to serve one another and particular shortcomings to rely on each other. 

We are called to one purpose only: to strive to do the right thing. In particular, Nibley continues, “…we can forgive and we can repent. These are the two things the angels envy us for.” 

This soothes any agitation in my soul because it is infinitely more attainable that the world’s idea of success. We do not have to be perfect; we simply have to improve at admitting our imperfections and loving other people through theirs. 

That, I can do. 


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