In this life we have many trials, we also have many gifts. Often as LDS people we talk of the gift of agency, freedom of choice. But how do we use this choice? We talk of the choice between good and evil, the choice to follow God or not, to obey commandments or not, but what about the more everyday choices?
I took care of my mother for years before she died. It was a very contentious relationship, she hated me and blamed all the things that went wrong in her life on me. It was tough growing up under a burden I couldn’t understand. It was tough being a young adult and raising my own kids under the burden of wanting and needing my mom to love and accept me and knowing it probably wasn’t going to happen in this life.
Still I served her, I cleaned her, I fed her, I paid her bills, I cooked her meals and I cleaned her house, I served her til the day she died. I knew that she was a hypochondriac, I knew that she had chosen to go to bed one day and lay there for 7 years until she died. I knew that she was missing out on seeing her grandkids grow up. I also knew that I could not change her choices, I had no control over what she desired to do with her life. I could choose to walk away and not be a part of her life at all, but what would Christ have me do? So although I felt that I really couldn’t choose my circumstances in staying in her life and serving her, I couldn’t change her attitude toward me, I could choose my own attitude. I still had a choice.
I took a long time to reach that decision. I struggled long and often. it was difficult to realize that choosing my attitude was the only real choice I thought I had. I railed against it at times, was fatalistic about it other times, but slowly I realized that through this particular refiners fire I had to make this choice. So I stayed, I served. I realize now after all these long years of her being gone that although nothing I did healed our relationship I was left with no regrets for my actions. That’s not nothing!
So I was thinking about this time in my life the other day and I began to wonder……how many other things do we choose that will effect our attitudes, our blessings, our abilities, our lives for years to come.
What about choosing whether or not to anger? Do we really give ourselves the option to not be angry? Can we place ourselves in time-out and give it a minute? How many things have we ruined or hurt or given up because we got angry instead of thinking it out and deciding not to anger?
What about choosing how we live our lives? Do we bounce around from thing to thing or person to person or place to place instead of making conscience choices? Do we pause long enough to think about the things we will or will not allow into our lives? Do we choose our path or do we let it happen to us? Will we be obedient? Will we allow the gospel to work in our lives? Often it’s hard because as humans we think that blessings or making right choices should come with a guarantee that bad things won’t happen or that when we correct ourselves the blessings will flow deep and wide instantly. What if we took the time to make goals, to make choices, to live with the knowledge and consciousness' that we are sons and daughters of God? Would that affect how we live our lives?
President Monson said “Choose the one you love, Love the one you choose.” When we first get married or fall in love it never crosses our minds that we will have to make a choice to love this person, perhaps many times. Life is full of tests, trials, temptations, sometimes we just get caught up in the daily grind. All of these things are what keeps us away from the people we love, makes it possible for us to forget why we love this person or even that we do love this person. But what I know is that if we make a choice to love, to be loyal, to be true it will happen again. We can fall in love over and over, no matter what, if we choose to. Sometimes we even have to choose to love our children, to put them before us, to love them in spite of themselves. Make a choice, do it with the Lords help, loving is never wrong.
Think about all the choices in your life, are you making them? Or are you allowing someone else to make them for you? Choice or agency is a gift from our Father in Heaven. Choose to use it wisely.