The choices we make determine our destiny." --Thomas S. Monson
I've been thinking a lot about this this week. As the mom of teens and young adults, you might imagine it is a frequent topic of conversation at our house--and you'd be right.
There have been a lot of news stories this week about consequences. The anniversary of 9/11 is coming up this week (I already blogged about it here if you're interested). An evil choice made consequences for all of us, some of them life-ending or life-altering.
There was a HUGE power outage in Southern California and beyond yesterday. Apparently, someone decided to remove a piece of equipment he didn't think was working right. That certainly had some consequences. I hope one of them isn't that he has to find a new line of work.
Police here in Colorado found the body of a young woman who has been missing from our city for some months this week. Her seemingly innocent choice to go out one night ended in the most tragic of consequences. That one broke my heart.
The big story here this week, though, was train hopping. I'm sure you've all heard it or read it because it made national news--over and over and over. Four young college students decided to hop a passing freight train, supposedly to get to school one morning, and the young woman fell and had her legs severed by the train. That one made me physically ill. My first thought was, of course, for this poor girl; my second was for her poor mother getting that phone call—the one every mother dreads.
That is the story that prompted another choices-and-consequences discussion at our house this week (no, I did not specifically tell my children to avoid hopping freight trains—I just made them watch the news when they played the 9-1-1 tapes; I don't think it will be an issue). We talk frequently with our kids about how they are free to choose; we can guide them, we can teach them, we can prompt them, we can push them, but in the end, they are the ones who choose their actions. BUT (and it's a BIG but), they don't get to choose the consequences. And, sadly, very often, they don't think about those consequences--at least not the negative ones--before they choose.
I'm pretty that sweet and beautiful 17-year-old girl never imagined for a moment that the result of her decision to hop the train instead of taking the bus (or carpooling or biking or however she normally got to school) would alter her life so profoundly. And I'm sure her friends never imagined it, either. They'll be living with the consequences of that decision for the rest of their lives as well. They may not carry the physical scars, but they will carry the emotional ones.
Have you read this with your kids lately? It might be a good time to pull out their For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. In it we read that freedom of choice is a God-given, eternal principle that carries with it moral responsibilities for the choices made:
“While you are free to choose for yourself, you are not free to choose the consequences of your actions. When you make a choice, you will receive the consequences of that choice. The consequences may not be immediate, but they will always follow, for good or bad.”
Why is this such a hard principle for us to live with? It isn’t going to change, yet we always try. I know my teens aren’t the only ones at my house to have experienced some unforeseen consequences of ales-than-stellar choice, yet we don’t always choose the right.
How is it for you? Is this a principle you find yourself having to remind yourself about more than once? Or are you one of the wise ones who knows better than to test an eternal law just in case it might suddenly change?
And one final thought from Richard G. Scott: "You will have challenges and hard decisions to make throughout your life. Be determined now to always do what is right and let the consequence follow. The consequence will always be for your best good." ("Do What is Right", Liahona, March 2001)