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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Act for Ourselves

What stood out to you in this last General Conference? I was deeply touched by President Uchdorf's talk about simplifying and going a little slower during the turbulent times. I also loved his counsel to establish meaningful relationships with God, family members, our fellowmen, and ourselves. I could certainly relate to His words: "Some people simply cannot get along with themselves." His was probably one of my favorite talks, but after the first session and onto the remaining ones, I started to notice a theme. Maybe I'm the only one who saw it. . .

I heard the phrase: "act for ourselves and not be acted upon," at least three times in different talks. The scriptural advice stuck in my mind like glue and several weeks later, I'm still pondering the meaning of this simple admonition. What does it mean? And more importantly, how does this seemingly important, repeated phrase fit in my life?

I started thinking about agency. We are always free to choose our own actions. In fact, this precious agency, our own will, is the only gift that we possess that is 100% ours. (Everything else somehow belongs to our Heavenly Father.) Knowing that, we are placed here on earth to prove our faithfulness and determination to make correct choices. Will we choose the right? Will we truly glorify God in all that we do, wherever we may go? In short, we "act for ourselves."

So what does it mean: "be acted upon"? I think that this part of the equation refers to the inevitable consequences of our actions. When we choose righteously, we receive blessings and guidance. Conversely, when we choose sin, we are often subject to pain and sorrow.

Having a basic understanding of the principle, I started thinking specifically. I have two examples from my own life's experiences:

1. I struggle with my weight. Though at times, I try to imagine that eating unwholesome foods (sometimes in large amounts) will not matter, I cannot avoid the probability that my waistline will expand and my energy and health will diminish. If I can learn to curb my cravings and eat healthier options, I will undoubtedly benefit from that decision.

2. As a teenager, I was careful to follow the prophets' counsels regarding dating, modesty, and moral cleanliness. As a result, I was prompted by the Spirit as to whom I should marry and when. When the time came, I was worthy to be sealed in the temple for all eternity. I was blessed for the choice.

Long story, short. . . we can be productive, and progressive, striving to better our individual situations, holding to the rod and be blessed. Or, we can "be acted upon," letting our personal situations fall victim to chance or fate. In my book, I'd rather have the promised blessings of the gospel, wouldn't you?