We are all faced with choices every day. Our choices start first thing in the morning with the decision to get up and face the day or to stay in bed. This decision is sometimes the most difficult choice of the entire day. I am guilty on some mornings of staying in bed longer than I should, and I pay the price by missing the valuable morning hours.
Most of us face challenging choices from time to time, and those most critical decisions are often difficult to make. Whenever my children discuss a difficult decision with me, my first question is, “Did you pray about it?” My best piece of advice is to pray about choices.
This advice is becoming more valuable to me as times passes. Where I once prayed about difficult choices, I find myself asking quick prayers about fairly minor decisions. I will give you a couple of examples of what I consider to be minor choices. They were small decisions in the overall picture, but they were important to me.
The first decision was several years ago when my husband and I were replacing our windows and doors. We opted to have beige windows installed instead of white ones because we were planning to stain the frames. I went to all the paint stores looking for the appropriate stain but could not find it. I decided that I would have to paint the frames and looked at various paints without being able to come to a decision. I gave up and headed home. I was about half a mile from the store when the Holy Ghost prompted me to go back to the store and buy some paint. I still had no idea what color of paint to purchase, but I turned around and went back. As I stood there looking at all the colors, the Spirit prompted me to purchase a certain color. I bought the paint as prompted, but I also took several different paint chip cards home with me. As I looked at all the colors and compared them with the color of the windows, I decided on a certain color. Then I compared the color that I had chosen with the color that I had purchased and found that it was the same color. With the help of the Spirit, I made the right decision!
My second example happened a few weeks ago when I stopped at a local nursery to purchase some plants for a new garden. I have researched plants for this garden for months, so I had a fairly good idea what type of plant I wanted. However, I did not know how many of each plant to buy. Again, I went to the Lord for help. Should I get one of these plants or two? With the Bleeding Heart plants, I was prompted to purchase two plants. With another plant, I was prompted to purchase only one. When it came time to put the plants in the garden, I discovered that I had purchased exactly the number of plants that I needed to fill the spot. When I went to another nursery later to purchase more plants, I had the same experience.
I fully subscribe to the counsel to pray about decisions. When the decision is important, there is a greater need for prayer. Then-Elder Russell M. Nelson spoke on the topic of “Choices” in the October 1990 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and suggested three questions that we should ask ourselves when we have choices to make.
I would suggest three questions you might ask yourself as you consider your options. Whether they are once-in-a-lifetime or routine daily decisions, serious reflection on these three questions will help clarify your thinking. You might wish to review these questions first alone and then with your [spouse].
1. “Who am I?”
2. “Why am I here?”
3. “Where am I going?”
Truthful answers to these three questions will remind you of important anchors and unchanging principles.
As you consider these fundamental questions, it will become clear that decisions you first thought to be purely personal virtually always impact the lives of others. In answering these questions, then, you must be mindful of the broader circle of family and friends who will be affected by the consequences of your choice.
Elder Nelson then proceeds to discuss the three questions and suggests some possible answers. He suggests that the first answer for “Who am I?” is a simple one. We are all children of God. I should be able to say, “I am a daughter of God.” As I remember that I am a daughter of God, I will also remember that I was created in His image and that I have the potential to become as He is. I will also remember that I came to earth to perform a certain mission in preparation to returning to His presence. As I ask this question, I will also remember that I am a wife, mother, and grandmother and carry responsibility to love and support my family.
In answer to “Why am I here?” This question can be asked of many situations. I often ask myself a similar question – What did I come in here for? – when I forget why I went to another room. Elder Nelson is speaking about why we came to earth and gives the following answer.
One of the most important reasons is to receive a mortal body. Another is to be tested – to experience mortality – to determine what you will do with life’s challenging opportunities. Those opportunities require you to make choices, and choices depend on agency. A major reason for your mortal existence, therefore, is to test how you will exercise your agency. (See 2 Nephi 2:15, 25.)
Agency is a divine gift to you. You are free to choose what you will be and what you will do. And you are not without help. Counsel with your parents is a privilege at any age. Prayer provides communication with your Heavenly Father and invites the promptings of personal revelation….
As Elder Nelson explains, we are here on earth for some very important reasons. We are here to gain a mortal body and to be tested. We have the necessity to exercise our agency and the opportunity to make decisions about what we will do and what we will become. Elder Nelson then discusses the third question, “Where am I going?” This is a question that I often ask as I drive around town, but Elder Nelson is asking a much more serious question.
This question reminds us that eventually you (and I) are going to die, be resurrected, be judged, and be awarded a place in eternal realms…. With each passing sunset, you are closer to that inevitable day of judgment. Then you will be asked to account for your faith, your hopes, and your works….
As all will be resurrected, your physical body will then be restored to its proper and perfect frame…. The day of your resurrection will be a day of judgment that will determine the kind of life you shall have hereafter.
That judgment will consider not only your actions, but also your innermost intent and heartfelt desires. Your everyday thoughts have not been lost. Scriptures speak of the “bright recollection” (Alma 11:43) and “perfect remembrance” (Alma 5:18) that your mind will provide in times of divine judgment.
Our everyday choices are important, so we must make every effort to be sure that they are good ones. We can make good choices, even the best ones, if we will remember to pray about our decisions and to ask ourselves the three questions given by Elder Nelson. As we do this, we will find ourselves making choices that will help us return to the presence of our Heavenly Parents. As President Thomas S. Monson said, “Decisions determine destiny.” When we make our decisions in light of who we are, why we are here, and where we are going and then ask Heavenly Father for help, our destiny will be eternal life with God and our loved ones.