Agency: The ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for ourselves.
So what is it about this agency that makes it such a big deal? Well, for one, Agency is the ability to make choices, whether good or bad. We are all endowed with this at the time we were created. Even in the pre-existence God did not get in the way of our agency. We chose to turn right, or to turn left. Being that He is a God of Laws, ultimately, it’s the consequences that we had and still have no choice in.
Then there’s the “free” in “free agency.” Here’s how I see it; Free agency is what we get for choosing in the pre-existence to side with God and agree to come to this earth to be tried, tested, and proved. It is in the act of giving up the “free” part that “Agency” that defines which direction where heading. In other words, we replace freely making choices by our own accord to following and letting someone else make the choices for us. Thus, we give the “free” to someone else.
It is no secret that the war in heaven is still raging here on earth. Who wins is a foregone conclusion, which side we’ll be on is a different matter. When a person falls into addiction, they have given their “free” part of their agency to the Adversary. The struggle with our agency is that the Adversary is not reticent to give it up. His main goal is to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to come to God’s side.
Adversary you ask? Well, what is addiction? In its simplest term: The compulsive need for something. To get past addiction one must turn control over to God. If that’s the case, then the converse is true; that with addiction, we have turned control over to the Adversary. So with addiction we have given our “free” portion away to that one person whose goal it is to destroy God and his children. So let’s talk about giving our “free” to someone whose goal it is to not tear us down, but to build us up to our ultimate potential.
As a reminder:
Step 3: Decide to turn your will and your life over the care of God the Eternal Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.
The last post spoke about how we need to give up control to improve our behavior. Now we’re going to talk about turning over the “free” part of our “free agency” to God. Boyd K. Packer described his decision to yield his agency to God and what the consequences were:
Perhaps the greatest discovery of my life, without question the greatest commitment, came when finally I had the confidence in God that I would loan or yield my agency to him—without compulsion or pressure, without any duress, as a single individual alone, by myself, no counterfeiting, nothing expected other than the privilege. In a sense, speaking figuratively, to take one’s agency, that precious gift which the scriptures make plain is essential to life itself, and say, “I will do as you direct,” is afterward to learn that in so doing you possess it all the more.
(Obedience, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Dec. 7, 1971],4)
If there’s one thing about rehabilitation, recovery and even the gospel is that it is filled with counter-intuitiveness. If I were to tell you that if you gave me a dollar, I would give you a thousand dollars, for free! The concept of “if it sounds too good to be true, then it is” comes to mind. But in parsing his comment, there are a couple of factors we need to keep in mind.
First, it’s not an “all at once” experience. Give me a person who said that overnight they changed their way and I’ll give you a person who, in one way or another, was preparing for years to get to that point. Packer’s comment of when he “finally” had the confidence really speaks volumes, and should be kept in mind by anyone who is seeking to better their life. The word “finally” denotes that he was working at it for a period of time. Why would it be any different for us?
I’m under the belief that we are all spiritual infants to our Father in heaven. He does not expect us to all too suddenly be perfect in this life. In reality, I believe this earth life was designed for us to make mistakes in. I believe another word for it is “school.” This is why I am skeptical of people who smile too much and are always praised by others. There’s something that’s being hidden. And by not confronting that hidden something, that person is being held back. So with addicts, confronting their compulsions is part of being in the school of life, which lessons extend far beyond this mortal realm.
So I know that if I slip up, I quickly repent and move on. I do my best not to dwell on past mistakes other than to learn from them. It’s pointless to beat ourselves over something that was designed to teach us and help us progress. But then the question, what are we progressing to?
This is where the counter-intuitiveness comes in. His last sentence, “In a sense, speaking figuratively, to take one’s agency, that precious gift which the scriptures make plain is essential to life itself, and say, “I will do as you direct,” is afterward to learn that in so doing you possess it all the more.” really is the kicker. We give up our agency, we let God take control, we exercise trust and faith and what do we get for it – more freedom. Huh?
I’ve met so many addicts who pray, saying “thy will be done, oh Lord” and then get up and white-knuckle it. Ultimately, that is what we’re trying to get past. Giving our agency to God is allowing Him to give us a portion of His power, so long as we stay, waits for it;
And that is the key word. To give up our free agency is to give to one side or another our ultimate obedience. I know what some have said, “giving up thinking and deciding for ourselves and we give up who we are” or “giving up thinking and deciding for ourselves and we give up all control of our lives” or even “giving up thinking and deciding for ourselves is insane talk!” There are many who will not think of this as anything but bad. Thus, all the hate talk against organized religion. But wait, who are we giving this up to, the minister, the prophet, the Bishop, the Sponsor, the Church? No, that would be giving control over to someone who is fallible. How about giving it up and being obedient to a person who can see the beginning from the end, who created all life, who created us, who is all knowing and counts us a his children?
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7: 7-11).
And thus the key to Step 3, through obedience to the words and commandments of God, we turn the care of our life and will over to the persons whom have loved us from the very, very beginning and will love us throughout all eternity; God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
If someone tells you otherwise, they’re hiding from something within themselves.
Tomorrow, the last part; my own experience with Step 3: now it’s personal.