The Howards' Journal: Choice isn’t to Do What We Want; Choice is to Do What Is Good

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This journal entry was written by Randall and Nicola at the beginning of their second week studying Act in Doctrine, a new book written by Elder David Bednar.

In order to apply some of the principles and teachings, we found that first we needed to spend some time really acknowledging and appreciating blessings in our lives and what covenants and obedience they may be attached to. Not that we were looking for reward for doing what’s right, but rather to put our minds into an appreciative thought pattern that would help us be more specific in offering thanks. As we are exercising that principle in our home, we have taken moments to talk specifically with two of our children. I asked our youngest son Michael (13), “What impact do you feel that your baptismal covenant had made on your life?” He gave what I felt a response worthy of repeating “I made a choice that made many other decisions in my life so much easier.”

Michael’s response brought the paragraph found on page 43 close to home, where Elder Bednar says, “As we enter into, remember, and honour sacred covenants, we... are blessed with increased freedom and capacity to act in accordance with his teachings. What we know increasingly becomes a part of who we are and what we do.” Michael’s answer reminded each of us that we had made covenants and that because of those covenants our choice now was to do good. The option to do otherwise has been removed and, in his words, “that makes it easier.”

One of the areas that we have been working on is to be positive and kind in our thoughts and actions towards everyone. Nicola and our daughter Sarah (18) were sharing time together discussing the benefits of consciously making choices to be kind and realised how “to choose ones attitude” has a profound effect on the person being kind as well as the person receiving the kindness. A conclusion was drawn that we may not be able to alter the circumstances around us, but we can decide how we will act. We don’t know what others are going through but, through our small choice in being kind, we can have a huge impact for good in someone else’s life.

During my experiences as a father and church leader, I have heard the words and seen the actions of “I made a choice once, but now I don’t like the conditions of that choice anymore. I’m over the rules, above the guidelines and looking for the loopholes or escape paths that take me away from the original direction, maybe a testimony hasn’t yet been formed of a principle.” I have found it’s those small choices of what we say, what we wear, what we look at, what we read, and how we treat others that are really the tell tale signs of how well we are bound to the covenants we have made.

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