On Moral Agency and Assertiveness

For some reason, I’ve hesitated to write about anything spiritual on my Blog, the biggest reason being my personal development. I find that sometimes I have a hard time expressing my emotions or opinions in writing. I like to hide myself, my take, on a subject through humor or memoirs. It hasn’t been easy comparing myself against other writers who seem to take charge and say “THIS is how I feel, and I want you to know why.”

But now I am finally ready to get real for once and talk about something dear to my heart, without comparing myself to anyone else.

I speak of moral agency in terms of my being a Latter-Day Saint (Mormon). The quotes I have included come from teachings of the church doctrine, which I support. I’ve been a member all my life and have discovered the church’s truthfulness for myself. That being said, I hope I can enlighten you and share my own experiences on the topic.

Moral agency is really two things in one. It is our freedom to make decisions, and it is the power we have to choose good over evil. Let me break it down further.

Many of life’s decisions are simple. For example, last night I planned to wake up early this morning so I could be productive today. I ended up waking to the alarm and going back to sleep, and did not get moving until around 11 AM. Thus, I faced consequences beyond my control which led me to run errands late in the day and feel like I had wasted valuable time. There are, of course, larger decisions we can make. I try to live my life as Christlike as possible, and it means that I make some sacrifices. I do not drink, smoke or participate in activities that would drive away the spirit. I am not saying that I haven’t been tempted or that the high standards I set for myself are a terrible burden on me. Living this way is, in fact, a blessing because I know if I were to give in and break my trust with God that I would not be nearly as happy.

Along with agency, we are also given trials in this life. They are for our benefit. The trials test our agency. I especially like this quote, given by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more. He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion, which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain…. to exercise faith is the trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with you and that He can accomplish it for your eternal good.

–Richard G. Scott

Once again I see that we weren’t sent here as perfect beings. Instead, it is up to us to work on our perfection so that we can live and become like Him. Both Elder Todd D. Christofferson and Robert D. Hales’ talks go into detail about the greatest example of moral agency: Jesus Christ.

I believe that much of the Lord’s power is attributable to the fact that He never wavered in that determination. He had a clear, consistent direction. Whatever the Father desired, Jesus chose to do.

–Elder Todd D. Christofferson

I have seen many blessings come from moral agency. I am responsible for my actions and if I mess up I can fix it. I also don’t worry about disappointing anyone but myself. Real power and accomplishment come from making wise choices. If we persevere and choose the right, all things are possible.