Monday, September 19, 2011

Making Choices

"When you have a choice to make, how do you tell the difference between promptings of the Spirit and your own thoughts?" This is a question Pat was asked yesterday in an email from one of our students.

It's a good question, and with Pat's permission I'd like to share her response. She wrote: You have a question that most people face at one time or another. It is hard to discern the difference sometimes, even when you've had some practice. I've found a couple of things to be helpful. The most important thing to me is whether I am feeling increasingly calm or concerned. The Spirit brings a feeling of peace. Usually, when I have a decision to make, I pray about it, then go forward and make the best decision I can, based on what I think I am feeling from the Spirit. Then I give it a couple of days to settle. During that time, if I still feel calm and peace, I continue in the direction I have started. I've learned that this is walking by faith. If, however, during that settling time I begin to feel more anxious or troubled or worried, I come to understand that something is not right with the decision. Either the timing isn't right yet, or the decision needs to be revisited. Over a period of a few days - or longer, when possible - the promptings become more clear.

There's a lot more that could be said about making choices and discerning the promptings of the Spirit. Maybe we'll blog about that again sometime. For now, let me just say that the students we teach have a lot on their minds, particularly with choices to make about careers, where to live, and who to marry. It's a tough and sometimes lonely time of life for many of them. In truth, life is a series of choices for all of us. It's through making choices that we learn and grow - an important part of God's plan for us.

We all need help in making wise choices. The ongoing message of our Institute classes is that if we study things out in our minds, pray with faith, and put our lives in tune with the Spirit, we can find personal revelation and answers to prayer, often through the words of ancient and living prophets. Then we have to have the faith to act, walking one step at a time, sometimes into the unknown, based on the principles we understand and promptings we receive from the Spirit.

This week in class we will discuss one of the biggest decisions most of our students will face - choosing someone to marry. Last April, President Monson spoke to the Young Single Adult men: Brethren, there is a point at which it's time to think seriously about marriage and to seek a companion with whom you want to spend eternity. If you choose wisely and if you are committed to the success of your marriage, there is nothing in this life which will bring you greater happiness. Exercise faith. Find someone with whom you can be compatible. Realize that you will not be able to anticipate every challenge which may arise, but be assured that almost anything can be worked out if you are resourceful and if you are committed to making your marriage work.

Discerning the promptings of the Spirit. Seeking counsel from the scriptures and modern prophets. Making choices based on true principles. Having the faith to move forward with your decisions. Honoring commitments. These are all part of the tried and true formula for
lasting happiness.

How thankful I am for the choice I made more than 44 years ago to marry Pat. It was a decision made with much thought, prayer, and faith, but also because I was deeply in love. It's been the best decision I ever made, and I am thankful every day that she accepted.

This morning UPS delivered certified copies of our marriage certificate, which we need to obtain visas for our next mission assignment in January. As I looked over the document, I saw that it was signed by Pat and me, her father, and my father. Most importantly, it was also signed by James L. Varney from the Los Angeles Temple Presidency, who sealed us for eternity. Today I feel very blessed and very lucky. I can scarcely take in how fortunate and grateful I feel. ~Don~

1 comment:

  1. Awwwwww. We are very lucky to have happily married parents.

    But I have to ask-you stopped the UPS guy for a picture? What did you tell him about why?

    You are one in a million Dad :)