Archive for the ‘free agency’ Tag

Sum Up of 2 Nephi 2

Reading: 2 Nephi 2

Yesterday I finished my survey of 2 Nephi Chapter 2, so today I thought I would sum up the thing I learned and talked about.

Here are some of the important themes of 2 Nephi 2:

  • God will consecrate our afflictions for our good
  • God has a plan for this Earth
  • The fall of Adam and Eve was an important part of that plan
  • Without our agency, or ability to choose, we would be nothing but mindless animals
  • With agency we have the ability to choose good or evil
  • Adam and Eve had to choose to break a law in order to fall, God could not do it to them
  • If Adam and Eve hadn’t fallen they would not be happy or sad, but mindless without choice
  • If Adam and Eve hadn’t fallen they would not have had any children
  • Through the Atonement the Savior saves us from the affects of the fall which are:
  • The affects of the fall are mortality and a separation from the presence of God
  • Through the Atonement everyone is resurrected, but only those who repent will return to live with God
  • Satan wants us to be miserable like him, and so entices us to sin through lies
  • It is up to us to choose liberty and Eternal life through obeying the commandments of God or misery and condemnation through disobeying the commandments of God.

I’m glad that I went through this chapter because it is so full of important concepts that we must know to have a firm testimony of the Gospel.  I also now have a deeper knowledge, and this knowledge has already helped me in several situations. I also would like to think that maybe somebody looking through the interwebs might find here an answer to a question they might have about the plan of salvation.

Today I am going to go to bed earlier and then have a more meaningful scripture study.  Lately I’ve been staying up too late so that by the time I get to my scripture study I’m rushing to get to bed instead of reading more thoroughly.

Do you have a favorite chapter in the scriptures that seems packed full of great doctrine?  Or, maybe a special story that has helped you in your life?

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I Have Chosen the Good Part

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:30, Omni 1:2

As Lehi ends his blessing for Jacob he tells Jacob that he has made good choices in his life.  He says:

I have spoken these few words unto you all, my sons, in the last days of my probation; and I have chosen the good part, according to the words of the prophet.

This is a great contrast to Omni’s words found in Omni 1:2:

But behold, I of myself am a wicked man, and I have not kept the statutes and the commandments of the Lord as I ought to have done.

At this point in my life I feel that I have chosen the good part.  While I am far from perfect, I was married in the temple, we have a strong family, and we are starting on the path of raising children.  However, there is still so far to go!  There are the challenges I know I will face, such as raising children and growing older, and challenges I cannot anticipate that I still have to get through.  I hope that when all is said and done I can continue to say, with Lehi, that I have chosen the good part.

Today I am going to take some time to play outside with our daughter.  Yesterday she wanted so bad to play outside, but I had so much to do I didn’t have time.  As President Monson has often said, though, it is important to take time to play with and enjoy our children.  So, today I will make time.

Have you chosen the good part?  What choices have you made that affect where you are today? What choices will you make for tomorrow?

Agency and Parenting

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:28

Recently our daughter (who just turned one) has started manifesting her personality a lot more.  Sometimes this means she throws tantrums or fights with me to get her own way.  As a new mom, I am still learning how to deal with this very common parenting problem.

Recently, though, I realized something that helped calm my anxiety about my daughter’s immediate and long-term future.  While parenting is the most important thing I will ever do, and as such I should put my greatest effort into being the best parent I can, I will never be able to make her choices for her.

Lehi also seems to realize this in the way he entreats his own children to make their own good choices in 2 Nephi 2:28-29:

And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit; And not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom.

God, the ultimate Father, has already given us, and our children, agency.  My job as a parent is not to make my child do the right thing, and thus take away her agency, but rather to focus on doing everything in my power to convince her to make her own right choices. I have already learned through many experiences in my life that I am much, much happier when I focus on things I can control (like how I parent) instead of things I can’t control (like my daughter’s choices).

Today I am going to write down several good things I can do when my daughter is doing something I don’t want her to do.  While I will do all I can to help her make right choices, the things I write down will be things that I will do, not things that I will try to force my daugther to do.

Have you had an experience where you learned to respect someone else’s agency?  When are others most able to help you improve, and how can you apply that to your own efforts to help others?

Freedom: The True Meaning

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:26-27

Everybody wants to be free.  Many people throughout history have gone to great lengths to procure their freedom, fighting wars, leading rebellions, enduring persecutions, and much more.  Freedom indeed is a great thing to have.

The problem that some people get to when they think about freedom is the idea that freedom means you get to do whatever you want, and also be free from the consequences of those choices.  Freedom just doesn’t work like that.

Lehi says much the same in 2 Nephi 2:27:

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

I can choose to disobey the commandments of God if I want, but then I have to deal with the consequences.

Another quote from my favorite fiction book ever written also illustrates this logical fallacy.  In Going Postal by Terry Pratchett, pages 15-16, you find this conversation:

“The prospect of freedom?” he said.

“Exactly,” said Lord Vetinari.  “There is always a choice.”

“You mean… I could choose certain death?”

“A choice nevertheless,” said Vetinari.  “Or perhaps, an alternative.  You see I believe in freedom, Mr. Lipwig.  No many people do, although they will, of course, protest otherwise.  And no practical definition of freedom would be complete without the freedom to take the consequences. Indeed, it is the freedom upon which all the others are based.”

In my life I have seen many claim their freedom by doing things with their lives that are destructive, disobedient, and ultimately painful.  It makes me sad that they did not understand that they always had the freedom to do whatever they wanted, but that freedom also meant they would suffer the consequences of every action. Although it may have been that their parents or church leaders were trying to control them in a misguided attempt to help them, God would never try to control us.  He has already given us our freedom and is now working hard as he can to convince us to use that freedom in a way that will bring us happiness instead of sorrow.

Today I am going to follow through on several promptings I felt I received lately.  Just like commandments, promptings come as suggestions, but I have the freedom to follow through on them or not.  I will choose to follow through.

What choices in your life have brought you the most happiness?  What choices have brought you sorrow?  What will be the consequences of the choices you are making now?

Adam and Eve Chose to Fall

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:15-16, LDS.org – Fall of Adam

We (Mormons) have some very different beliefs about the fall of Adam than other religions.  While many blame Adam for our fallen state, we believe that fall of Adam was a necessary part of the plan because if Adam did not fall from grace we would never have the opportunity to be born on the Earth, or to learn the differences between choosing good and evil.  You can read the following in the Gospel Topics section on the fall on LDS.org:

The Fall is an integral part of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation (see 2 Nephi 2:15–16; 9:6). It has a twofold direction—downward yet forward. In addition to introducing physical and spiritual death, it gave us the opportunity to be born on the earth and to learn and progress.

It is important to understand the fall was part of the plan before you can understand 2 Nephi 2:15-16, which says:

And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter. Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.

This scripture is saying that in order to fall Adam and Eve had to choose for themselves to break a commandment.  God could not simply cause them to fall because to do so would be unjust, and God is perfectly just.  So, God gave them a choice between the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Eve (and Adam) partook of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil of their own free will, thus bringing about the fall and plan of God.

Adam and Eve also later came to realize that it was necessary for them to fall in order to bring to pass the purposes of God and the happiness and exaltation of men.  In Moses 5:11-12 it says:

And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient. And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.

In my life it would be impossible for me to make any choices for myself unless I have more than one option to choose from.  For example, if I only had bread in my cupboard I could not choose to have chili for lunch.  God gives us options because he knows that we can only grow and be happy if we are able to choose for ourselves.  Sometimes he gives us bad options and tells us they are bad, but we are still free to choose for ourselves the right or the wrong so that we can know the joy of choosing right over wrong (or the pain of choosing wrong, which would also help us to learn).

I have a tendency to be extremely independent.  When I feel that I am being forced to do even simple things my instinct is to rebel, even if I would have made the same choice for myself anyway.  However, I rarely feel the need to rebel against God because I know that he has given me the ability to choose, and that he truly wants what is best for me.  I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who is willing to let us make bad choices so that he can preserve our right to choose.

Today I am going to choose to set up a babysitter so that my husband and I can go to the temple.  I’ll try for tomorrow (which is Saturday) but if not tomorrow then sometime later this month.

What choices did you/will you make today?

Why A Punishment Is Necessary

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:11-13, 2 Nephi 

One question that some people have is that if God loves us, and wants us to be happy, then why doesn’t he just make us happy?  Or, why, specifically, does he have to punish us for doing wrong?  (There’s also the question of why there is pain at all, since some things just happen no matter what we do, but for today I’m just going to focus on why there has to be a punishment for things done wrong.)

The answer is that in order for us to enjoy the happiness that comes from doing good things, we also have to have a punishment for doing wrong.  In 2 Nephi 2:11-13 it says:

And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.

The misconception is that if there was no punishment for sin, then we would all just be happy.  What Lehi is saying is that if there was no punishment for sin then we would not be happy or sad, we just wouldn’t even be.  Without the ability to choose right or wrong, and then reap the consequences, we would be mindless automatons without any life at all.  He says that happiness does not come from the mere absence of sin or punishment, but from choosing the right when we have the opporunity to choose wrong.  In order for all of this to work then punishment must come to those who choose wrong.

In my life I feel the most happiness and self-fulfillment when I am reaping the consequences of some right action.  That might be in my family when I choose to love and sacrifice for them, or in my career when I work hard to excel, or in my personal life when I work to achieve a goal.  The things that do not require me to choose, or to work, do not bring me much happiness.

It looks like this concept is discussed quite a bit more in 2 Nephi 2, so you can look forward to future posts on this topic.

Today my baby is sick and I have been running around a lot and feeling rather overwhelmed.  For the rest of the day today, though, I am going to remember that I am free to choose actions that will make me happy (such as taking a little bit of time to relax and being happy doing what I can) or things that will make me unhappy (such as worrying about the baby and wasting time doing nothing or fluttering about trying to do too much), and then choose to do things that will make me happy.

What in your life has brought you the most happiness? How would you choose differently if you never had to face a bad consequence for a bad choice?