Agency and Accountability: Above the Clouds


Charles W. Dahlquist II
Choose righteousness and happiness, no matter what your circumstances. Take responsibility for the choices you make. Develop your abilities and talents, and use them for good. Avoid idleness and be willing to work hard.

Above the Clouds

Not long ago I had the opportunity to fly in a small plane. As we were preparing to board, one of the passengers asked the pilot at what altitude we would be flying. He indicated that we would be flying at 9,500 feet (2,900 m). He said, “That will get us just above the clouds.” Then he explained, “If we fly below the clouds, the ride will be fairly rocky. However, if we can get through the clouds and up on top, we will have a much smoother ride.”

It was a concept that proved prophetic. For us in that airplane, it took a little bit more effort, a little bit more fuel, and a little turbulence to get through the clouds. However, once we were above the turbulence, the ride was, for the most part, smooth sailing. Although there was some brief turbulence and the need for the pilot to always be mindful of the flight conditions, the flight was much more comfortable.

Later I thought about the pilot’s words: “If we can get through the clouds and up on top, we will have a much smoother ride.” I thought about how much that applies to life itself. As we live in a mortal existence, there is much of the ugly and the base and the evil that we have to move above if we are to live the life of a Latter-day Saint. Then we can have the Spirit with us and feel the peace that is there for us to enjoy. It takes effort, it takes willpower, it takes courage, and it takes making correct choices for us to get above the turbulence around us. That turbulence includes the filth that surrounds us in the media. It includes discouragement, despair, and all the challenges of the “natural man” (Mosiah 3:19).

However, if we exercise our agency appropriately, if we live the standards given to us by the First Presidency in For the Strength of Youth, and if we make conscious efforts day by day to rise above the things of the world, our ride in this life will be much more pleasant. We will be able to feel peace along the way, and we will be able to arrive safely at our journey’s end.

It is not that the ride will be uneventful and completely peaceful. That was never promised, for there will be challenges along the way, and there will be a need for continued vigilance and alertness all along the way. However, by choosing to be on the Lord’s side, we can rise above the temptations of our mortal existence, and that will guarantee us peace and happiness in this life as well as in the life to come.