Agency. This is a word that's been on my mind a lot lately. There have been several experiences that have made me think about it off and on.
First off, mentally, today was a difficult day.
I'm starting to dread Sunday's more and more because Kennedy is really difficult at church. She generally doesn't throw too many tantrums but she is extremely busy and after 2:00 when it's time for another nap, her patience wears very thin. She is constantly moving. She won't sit down and relax, she has to explore every crevice of the building which means I have to follow her and keep her out of things she shouldn't be in. Today she tried to make off with the attendance folder of the previous wards' primary class that had been slipped under a door.
Yes, I know this is normal for kids her age. I'm not trying to make it seem like she's worst than most. But whether she is or not, it's still very hard on me. I feel like church has no purpose anymore. We take time to get dressed up and look our best so we can wander the halls and rearrange furniture and nod to people I know as they pass me chasing her down the hall with a handful of food scraps she found on the floor. I don't get to sit and listen and chances to feel the spirit are very slim. It's been wearing on me and I'm starting to notice a difference in my attitude towards church and even my scripture study has been taking a hit because of it. I hate feeling this way and I hate not wanting to go to church. I need spiritual nourishment in my life so it's been hard to handle. She won't stop being an issue for 5 more months.
I felt really bad today when I found myself thinking that if it wasn't for teaching Sunday School, I probably wouldn't even go anymore. How bad is that?? It's not because my testimony is lacking or because I have a beef with God, I just don't feel like it's worth it to go chase her around when I can do that at home. However, I realized the danger in this type of thinking and quickly gave my brain a mental smack down because all it takes is the idea to stop going to church before I actually carry out the action, and I don't want to do that. I don't ever want to downplay the importance of attending church.
Anyway, I realized that it is up to me to keep this going and that I need to have faith that it will all be ok. No one is going to make me go but me. I need to suck it up and go because it's the right thing to do. The choice is mine. The Lord gave us agency for a reason.
Agency. There's that word again.
We all have choices to make here on earth. That is our God-given right. We can choose what kind of bread to buy, who to be friends with, what to wear, what religion we wish to follow, and we can even choose to break into a theatre and murder a dozen innocent people. We can choose how to feel about people, situations, or experiences. Agency is a gift but it can also be dangerous. It's up to us to make the right choices and choose the good over the bad. Sometimes making choices is easy and sometimes it's very difficult.
I think agency is most difficult (and difficult to understand) when our choices involve others. Cory and I had to make the choice together to have children. Now that Kennedy is here, our choices affect her life as well. It's also difficult when it comes to choosing who to marry. The hard part is, both people have to make the choice to get married. It has to be right for both of them.
I've been thinking about a past experience I had with this exact issue this past week and how much I learned from it. It's been a while since I've dug up this chapter in my life but due to a similar situation with a friend, it's brought back a lot of memories.
Cory wasn't the only guy I wanted to marry, nor is he the only guy I was "supposed" to marry. Countless general authorities have counseled that there isn't one person out there for everyone. There is no such thing as a soul mate. There isn't just one person, but there is one kind of person. We meet certain people for a reason and each person touches our life for a purpose. I never understood how this was possible until I had this experience with this guy.
We met at Utah State and dated for a while and discussed marriage. I know I loved him to an extent. It wasn't even close to how much I love Cory now, but I know it could have been had it been right. I prayed fervently about marrying him and it always felt right to me. He didn't always have the same feeling. I don't know what was really going on in his mind, but he kept telling me that sometimes he felt good about it and sometimes he didn't, That seriously confused me. If it always felt right to me, why didn't it always feel right to him? Weren't we made for each other? I could picture our life together and it made me so happy. Why couldn't he see that?
I made up excuse after excuse for why he wasn't getting the same revelation I was. But no matter what I told myself at the time, the true lesson I was learning was agency. I had made the choice to marry him and to me that choice was a good one. I know we could have worked out well together. But he chose something different. He exercised his agency and chose to keep looking and date other people. I was very confused and angry because I felt like I had been lied to. I felt good about him, so why was I now crying myself to sleep and feeling intense pain as a result of our breaking up? How did my good feeling turn into something so terrible? Why would the Lord tell me something was right and then have it not work out?
It's for the same reason the pioneers had to keep moving from city to city. They'd be guided to one place, thinking they would have refuge, and because of the choices and agency of others, they were driven out. I know many became angry with God and were beginning to doubt that the revelations of Zion were true. Why would He tell them to take all their belongings to one area just to be violently chased off?
Agency. Agency is the answer. We can choose to follow promptings or ignore them. We can choose to find the good in experiences or the bad. We can choose to be angry when things don't go well. We can choose to doubt our faith when there are things we don't understand. We can choose to keep going and trust in the Lord or abandon all belief. It took me a long time to realize that the reason I was now single and hurting was because the guy I had loved had used his agency and chose a different path. Had he chosen to marry me, I know things would have worked out and we would have been happy. But he didn't. Looking back now, I'm very grateful that didn't happen. Cory is the best thing to happen to me and I can't imagine my life without him. Although at the time it was the most painful and difficult thing I had gone through, I had also learned many valuable and important lessons through that experience that I don't think I would have learned otherwise.
Many of the pioneers chose to keep moving around and kept having faith. Think of all the experiences they had and the things they learned as a result! It's really quite amazing.
So how does this all tie in? What is my point? My point is we each have to make our own choices for what's best for us. Often times those choices impact others in profound ways. Sure, I could choose to stay home every Sunday. But what am I teaching Kennedy? What will she learn from my choices? What will I gain from sitting at home? What will I miss out on? How will I feel? What are the long term affects? I could have chosen to sever my relationship with God because of a failed relationship. But I didn't. I chose to learn from it. I chose to keep going and found Cory.
We hear all the time that we can't control how people treat us or what they do, but we can choose how it affects us. We can choose how to react to people and our environment. I believe this is a skill that takes a lifetime to master, but every step is worth taking. No one can make anything happen in our lives but us. Sure, there will be things we can't control. But we can control how we react and what we will learn from it. It hard. Especially when we want to make those choices for others or when loved ones make choices we don't agree with. But, we all have our agency and we each have things to learn from the choices we make. That's why we're here. That's the point of this life, to decide which side we're going to choose. Will our agency lead us closer to the Lord or away from Him? How will we handle this great responsibility? How will we react when things go wrong or don't work out how we thought they should? Which Master are we serving? Who's side will we be standing on when the Savior comes again the great battle commences? What will we do with the choices that face us each day? No one knows but us. We must use our agency. The choice is ours. I just hope I can learn to keep making the right ones that bring the most happiness to myself and those I love.
I choose my Savior and Redeemer.
I choose to go to church even though it's hard.
I choose to raise Kennedy righteously.
I choose to learn from my experiences.
I choose to trust the Lord.
I choose to fight with the Lord.
I choose my destiny.