Remember that people doing unrighteous things aren’t more in control of their lives—you’re always better off living the gospel standards.
Prayer is the greatest tool in exercising your moral agency wisely.
If you and your parents disagree on an important decision, find nonconfrontational ways to talk to them about it.
When you are ready, get a patriarchal blessing.
The commandments are designed to make us happy, not to confine us.
If you’re a typical LDS teenager, your day probably begins early in the morning with a seminary class. The rest of your day is likely filled with school and all of its attendant tests, assignments, and lectures. After school there are jobs, sports, clubs, and chores. When all is said and done, the hours you have to do as you please are probably limited, especially during the school year.
You might at times feel that someone else has decided every move you’ll make, every path you’ll choose. That feeling of having little or no say in how you live can be very discouraging.
As members of the Church, one of the most basic principles we all learn from a very young age is that we have our moral agency. In other words, we can choose our actions. We also learn that in order to be happy we need to follow God’s plan, that if we live according to the commandments we can live the “great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8).
To feel more in control, you should first make the decision that you want to live the commandments, which are the framework of God’s plan. Within that framework, there are many options open to you for areas to study in school, talents to develop, and hobbies and extracurricular activities to pursue. You really do have some choices to make, some say over the direction of your life. For instance, maybe your parents have always assumed you enjoy being on an athletic team but you feel you would rather have an after-school job or participate in the stake play. All are good choices, but some are probably better for you than others. If you feel it’s time to make a change, do it. As long as your choices are in keeping with gospel principles, feel free to try new things. If they don’t work out, try something else.
Another way to exercise your right to choose is to choose the kind of attitude you’ll have about living your life. Do you read your scriptures and attend seminary because your parents insist? Or do you go because you want to gain a testimony and learn more about the gospel? If you’re going to seminary every day anyway, wouldn’t you feel better if you were there for the right reasons? Do you do your chores because you know you’ll get in trouble if you don’t, or do you do them because you love your family and you want to serve them? Do you do your homework because you know you’ll flunk if you don’t, or do you seek to gain the knowledge that will enrich your life? Once you decide you’re doing the right things because you want to and not because you have to, you will immediately feel more in control.
Finally, always remember that the fact that there is a plan for us to follow is a great help, not a hindrance. Although we must exercise our agency by working hard on our own and making good decisions in this life, the more closely we align ourselves with Heavenly Father and His plan for us, the happier we’ll be.
Sometimes I feel this way when life gets routine and boring. I find ways to make a difference in my life and the lives of others by doing things like volunteering for school or city programs. Remember, only you can make yourself bored, so stay busy.
Vanessa Lambson, 14
In a sense, your life is planned out for you. I find great joy in being a member of the Church and having things like scriptures, my patriarchal blessing, the Holy Ghost, my parents, various leaders, and the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet to help me plan my life. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Annie Villalobos, 16
Everyone is born with things that are unique about them and the plan Heavenly Father has for them. If you live righteously and serve God with your talents, your life will be blessed with many joyous surprises.
Janelle Rose, 16
You can be the one who plans your life. Obeying the Lord’s commandments and living righteously is a great basis in planning your own life.
Steven Foulkes, 15
In a way, your life is planned out for you. But Heavenly Father gave you the right to choose, and most of your life will be full of choices. You can help plan your life, too.
Brittan Smith, 12