Choice! Sometimes it is a bad word around here. No, not really, but there are days around here that force is preferred to choice!
I decided it was high time for me to study choice in the scriptures and in conference talks. I have felt the need to understand choice for a while. I loved the idea when our kids were younger of giving them a choice of whether or not they wanted to wear a blue shirt or a green shirt or if they wanted macaroni and cheese or spaghetti for dinner but when it came to my older kids, teens and adults making choices that impacted their lives eternally, I was not so keen on that choice idea. It really is something I need to understand better and gain a testimony of.
Throughout this process I have studied several talks along with many scriptures. There is much more information out there to find but this is a good start.
Small and Simple Things
The first talk I listened to happened to just be my conference talk for the day and did not, or so I thought, have much to do with choice. It is from April 2018 General Conference Dallin H. Oaks- Small and Simple Things.
I had been thinking about choices for a few days and I guess in doing so, viewed this talk with that perspective. I had heard a day or so earlier that everything on a mission is a choice-getting up on time, studying, working with a good attitude even when you are tired and discouraged. As I listened to this talk, it seemed that President Oaks was saying the same thing. Here are a few things from his talk that really stood out to me.
“Small and simple things, in total and over time, bring about great things.
- consistent, daily scripture study
- consistent personal prayer
- daily kneeling family prayer
- seminary and institute attendance
Though each of these practices may seem to be small and simple, over time they result in powerful spiritual uplift and growth. This occurs because each of these small and simple things invites the companionship of the Holy Ghost…”
He spoke of the ongoing, daily practice of repentance and how that can make a huge difference in our choices as we are humble and more in tune with the Holy Ghost.
Dan Coats, a former Indiana senator was quoted by President Oaks in this talk. “The only preparation for that one profound decision which can change a life, or even a nation, is those hundreds and thousands of half-conscious, self-defining, seemingly insignificant decisions made in private.”
Those choices we make on our own and in private BEFORE we are stuck in an uncomfortable situation can help us create integrity and strength within ourselves.
“Those seemingly insignificant, private decisions include how we use our time, what we view on television and the internet, what we read, the art and music with which we surround ourselves at work and at home, what we seek for entertainment, and how we apply our commitment to be honest and truthful. Another seemingly small and simple thing is being civil and cheerful n our personal interactions.”
I listened to this talk probably four times yesterday. I was so impressed by the simplicity of his subject, “Small and Simple Things.” Realizing that every choice we make may be small but that in time each of those small choices added up become impactful on our lives and shape us into who we become.
Free Forever To Act For Themselves
This talk by D. Todd Christofferson-Free Forever To Act For Themselves brought up some great points that I don’t think I have ever thought of when it comes to choice.
Brigham Young stated: “I do not wish any Latter Day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ,—the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied. I wish them to know for themselves and understand for themselves.”
Yes, this is a concept we have been taught our entire lives, I even taught it on my mission to those investigating the church. For some reason as I have been raising my children, that concept has not been as accepted by my heart. I guess my fear that my children could possibly choose a different path than I want them to, the path I have chosen and one that has brought me hope, comfort and joy, scares me.
I used to think-truly-that if I kept the commandments and did what was right that my life would be a fairytale of sorts. I recently came across this quote by Henry B. Erying. I don’t know that I can say, I love it or it is one of my favorites, but it is real and in some ways reassuring to know that when we choose this more difficult path, we are not alone in our difficulties.
The best, the strongest and the people who I know who are closest to God have all lived an uphill life. It is just how it is. It is how we grow and it is how we are tested. It is how we develop faith and a relationship with God. Without the “uphill” there would be very little development, change, even ownership in our decisions and our learning.
I remember when my parents were facing the most difficult challenge (hopefully) of their lives, they received a phone call from an old friend, who also happened to be an apostle. He called to check in on them. As they met and talked and caught up, one of the things he said that has stayed fresh in my mind is this, “You are not alone in your trials. The best of the best are fighting with the trials of their lives. If you knew what each of the brethren has faced, you may be surprised. Remember this, when life is hard, you are in good company.”
I have never forgotten that. Yet I ask myself, what is it that drives some of us to do hard and others to give up and not want to push through. We make choices every day, almost every minute we are awake. So how do we drive ourselves to see beyond this life and let our choices lead us to eternal things. That is tough for me, and probably most. We live in a society that is driven by immediate satisfaction. I call it a microwave society. We want things and we want them now. We don’t want to wait. When the computer takes a few minutes to pull up, we are frustrated. When we see a cute shirt online, we pop in our CC# and boom!- 2 days later it is on our doorstep. Instant gratification. We often don’t even allow time for a choice, we just do what we want or what feels good without thinking through the outcome or what would be best.
More of my favorite quotes on choice
WE CHOOSE EVERY DAY WHERE WE WANT TO LIVE ETERNALLY BY HOW WE THINK, FEEL, SPEAK, AND ACT. -Russell M. Nelson Family Discovery Day Feb 11, 2017
OF THIS BE SURE: YOU DO NOT FIND THE HAPPY LIFE, YOU MAKE IT. -Thomas S. Monson
A letter to my children
This is pretty personal and I my be putting myself out there more than I want to but I feel like I need to share this. This is a letter I wrote to my kids about 6 weeks ago, when my son was leaving home for the first time on his own. I post it here because I am sure that you, like me have had concerns and worries about our children and what we have taught and in the end, want to make sure that we have taught all we needed to in the time they have had in our home.
CLICK TO SEE OR PRINT LETTER:
The Three R’s of (Free Agency)Choice
A landmark talk of President Monson was this one! Most of us will remember it and I have taught it to my seminary, Sunday School and YW classes every year. This is where the quote “Decisions determine destiny” comes from.
The Three R’s of Choice are:
- The RIGHT of choice- “Next to the bestowal of life itself, the right to direct that life if God’s greatest gift to man.” ~David O. McKay. President Monson says that without choice, none would be wiser, stronger, more compassionate, or more grateful.
- The RESPONSIBILITY to choose- President Monson reminds us that we cannot be neutral- there is no middle ground. Lucifer will never abandon hope of claiming our souls. “Decisions are constantly before us. Tom ake them wisely, courage is needed- the courage to say no, the courage to say yes. Decisions do determine destiny.”
- The RESULTS of choice-“All choices have consequences some of which have little or nothing to do with our eternal salvation and others of which have everything to do with it…whether you wear a green or blue t shirt makes no difference in the long run. However whether you decide to push a key on your computer which will take you to pornography can make all the difference in your life.” ~President Monson
Wishing us all luck and blessings this week as we head into a busy week, with many of us starting back school. Let’s arm our children with the ability and confidence to make correct choices and to understand that agency is what will ultimately bring them back to loving Heavenly Parents as they seek direction and guidance from them and us through the Holy Ghost and Jesus Christ. My prayers are with all of us this week!