BETTER THAN HAPPY – Episode 216
I want to do some thoughtwork this week surrounding the question: What do you want? What do I want in my marriage. What do I want for my family that I am raising? What do I want for the next 10 years of my life? What do I want for my life?
And there is a reason I am starting my study on What Do You Want with a podcast entitled Agency.
Get this. As far as I can tell from what we’ve been taught about the Lord’s plan for our eternal progression, the only relationship, the only person I should say, that we continue to progress with through eternity is the only person we are sealed to that we chose. Does that make sense? I am sealed to my mom and my dad. But I didn’t choose them. I am sealed to my children, who I adore. But I didn’t really choose them either. The only person I am sealed to that I myself chose is Bryant, my husband. And that marriage relationship is the relationship that I will continue to progress with through the eternities. Fascinating, right? That says something to me about the Lord’s respect for my agency!
“Agency means that we are the creator of our life experience.”
That is true of choosing who it is we want to marry. That is also true of how we show up in that marriage relationship and how we think of our spouse, long after that day that we are married.
That is within our control. We create that relationship.
“Your relationship is how you think about someone else. That’s all it is.
A relationship isn’t a tangible thing. We can’t measure it. We can’t see it. We can’t all agree on what it is, even.
Even you, if we’re talking about your relationship with one other person, you may think the relationship is one way and that other person may think it’s a totally different way, because a relationship just exists in your mind. It’s the story you tell yourself.”https://livingandtravelingwithkids.com/2020/01/day-69-your-relationship-with-your-life/
We cannot control what the other person in the relationship says or does or even thinks about the relationship. That is the C line in the model, right? But we can control our thoughts about their words or their actions, and thus our feelings. And we can control our boundaries and what we will and won’t do if that boundary is crossed. This is all review, right?
We have the agency to create that relationship with our spouse. We have the agency to create whatever relationship it is that we want with our children. They don’t have to change for the relationship to change or improve.
And, my friends, we have the agency to create whatever relationship it is that we want with our lives. Did you know that?
What do you want? You get to choose whatever it is that you want to choose. And then you get to choose it again the next day. Or not. It is up to you. And, furthermore, you get to choose to think what it is that you want to think about what you chose.
And I’m not saying it doesn’t matter what we choose. But I am putting some of the responsibility back where it belongs – you and me.
“Desire … relates so directly to our moral agency and our individuality. Whether in their conception or expression, our desires profoundly affect the use of our moral agency…
Desires are much more than passive preferences or fleeting feelings. Of course our genes, circumstances, and environments matter very much, and they shape us significantly. Yet there remains an inner zone in which we are sovereign, unless we abdicate. In this zone lies the essence of our individuality and our personal accountability. Therefore, what we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity.”https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1996/10/according-to-the-desire-of-our-hearts?lang=eng
We – you and I – are both responsible and accountable for our desires, for creating the life that we want.
Now, we must be careful. Sometimes we don’t do the work to find out and to honor what our higher brain really wants, but we look to the louder, more insistent, lower brain: “I want that chocolate cookie” or “I want to stay in bed all day” or how about this one “I want to be right at all cost”.
“Mostly, brothers and sisters, we become the victims of our own wrong desires.”https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1996/10/according-to-the-desire-of-our-hearts?lang=eng
FIRST POINT, I want to make today: We are responsible for the use of our agency. Every single day.
SECOND POINT: There are some wrong choices and there are some right choices, but I think there are less of those than we think.
Example. When my brother was trying to decide where to accept his first job out of college, I expressed to him some of my concern in an effort to empathize with him. I said something like, “Oh my goodness! This is a HUGE decision!! What if you are supposed to move to one city and take a certain way to work every day and you are supposed to meet a certain person on your way to work, and change that person and their posterity’s lives … forever! What if that is supposed to happen, but you move to another city instead, and you never meet that person and you never change their lives and their posterity is lost … forever! Yeah, this is a HUGE decision, Ben!!!”
And he said something like, “Whoa. That’s pretty intense there, Rach….”
That is extreme right/wrong black/white thinking, right? And I now see a lot of problems with that, but two that fit in with my two points today: First, thinking that he is “supposed” to be somewhere specific, puts the responsibility on someone outside of himself for creating his life. Second, by thinking in such right/wrong terms, we can get paralyzed with fear that we will make a “wrong” decision – we will move to the “wrong” city. And we will be going forward from a place of fear and anxiety, rather than a place of anticipation and creation. Does that make sense? I think we can misunderstand why it is that Christ came to earth. He didn’t come to separate the “right” people from the “wrong” people, but to pay the price for us all, so that we can make decisions and we can make mistakes and we can make judgement calls that sometimes don’t lead us or others where we thought we wanted to be, and that it’s okay. He has essentially given us a safe “place” to learn from experience. Over and over again.
Let’s use Adam and Eve as an example:
“Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden were (told) not to eat of the fruit of the tree of good and evil. And so we could say they shouldn’t be eating of that fruit. And yet they did eat the fruit, and then what we know is they were supposed to eat the fruit and they needed to eat the fruit, even though eating the fruit was choosing the wrong and there were consequences, which was being kicked out of the Garden of Eden, and then having this awareness – this human experience.
And that was necessary for the plan to progress. That was necessary for the rest of us to end up here and for Heavenly Father’s plan to progress the way it has. So yes, they went against Heavenly Father’s commandments, AND they were totally supposed to do it.”
What about our children? What about our spouse? Or our parents? Could it be possible that our parents’ mistakes were necessary for our own plan to progress? And that our mistakes are necessary for our progression and for others’ progression as well? Maybe we are not supposed to do everything “right”? Maybe we are supposed to use our agency, make a judgement call or a decision, act on it, and then learn from the experience.
How does that change how I perceive others’ “mistakes”?
How does that change how I perceive my own “mistakes”? Or guilt surrounding decisions I’ve made it the past? Remember the scientist? (Side note … that is such a good post, about the scientist. Listen to that podcast again, if you get a chance. It is a game changer, my friends!)
How does that change where I put my energy in asking myself, What do you want?
What feeling do I want to have for getting whatever it is that I want? What thoughts do I need to think to have that feeling now? Is that possible? Can I get what I want, now?
“Agency is what makes us the creators of our own life experience. It is not happening to you. You are shaping it all along the way with your agency. What an amazing gift.”