Choices, Mormonism and Consequences

I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints when I was conveniently 8. In the ‘Mormon’ church, children aren’t baptized until they reach the age of accountability. That phrase, age of accountability, means eight years old to us. Children are taught all about Jesus and Heavenly Father from birth on, and when they turn 8, they’re old enough to decide if they want to keep on that path. So I was 8 when my family started talking to the missionaries, and my parents let me decide, and I decided Yes.

One of the basic tenets of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the concept of Agency. As in, free agents. As in, we have a gift from God that no one can take away: it is the gift of Choice. We can choose to believe in God or not. We can choose the way we think about life. We can choose to live a moral life or not. Part of this process is realizing that there is another entity out there who wants to take our agency away from us. Satan has some effective tools at his disposal for doing just that.

Consider, if a person chooses to use a highly addictive illegal drug, he has just limited his freedom of choice. The body will now make it a necessity for that person to use the drug indefinitely, unless he is able to break the habit or dies. He had that first choice, but then became unable to choose afterwards.

Same concept with any addicting behavior, even seemingly innocuous items such as coffee and cigarettes. Once you make that initial choice, then your subsequent choices are limited. Same thing with pornography, or in some cases, Twinkies.

Many youthful lessons at home or church talk about choices and consequences, because it is such a basic principle. I’ve seen child-class teachers use a stick to represent the concept. They tape the word ‘choice’ on one end and the word ‘consequence’ on the other end. Then they ask kids to come up and pick up the stick. You can’t pick up the choice without picking up the consequence. Further lessons teach that not all choices are bad. They’re just choices, and every choice has an end result.

Why all this talk about choices and consequences? Well, my long dearth of no treadmill walking led to the consequence I mentioned on Thursday. I felt like I was 100…joint pain, aching back and so on. I was choosing not to walk because it was ‘too hard’ , ‘I didn’t feel like it’, ‘I didn’t want to spend that time exercising’ and so on. I was making my choice and feeling stubborn about it. But that choice led to the consequence of feeling horrible and frankly, my freedom to enjoy simple things, like getting up from a sitting position, was taken away. So, as I’ve written many times before on this blog, I don’t have the choice of not exercising and then feeling great. The consequence doesn’t go with that particular choice.

Today I was sweating and hurting and feeling grumpy and panting because I have this stupid cold or allergy, but dang it, I was walking. And I really do feel better after I have had this exercise. As I got my good shoes on I was pondering what I would write about in my blog this morning, and the concept of choices came to mind. Maybe tomorrow I’ll write about food…

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