Remember that One Potato, Two Potato game we used to do back in the old days’? It was our way of choosing who would be “it” in a game; or who would be on whose teams.
While the Potato idea works for games, or insignificant decisions, those more important forks in the road require much more than the hands-in-fist position as we pick an option.
What pair of flip flops to wear to a picnic. Which veggie to serve with dinner. Which book to read in our my time.’ It is desirable, when we’re feeling lazy, well, I should speak for myself here, when I feel lazy, I may not want to stir up the energy to make those choices. Or, if I’m ill and weary, I’d rather someone else just choose for me, for Pete’s sake. You know?
For instance – which story should I use to illustrate a point in a gospel doctrine class? Which words should I use, or refrain from using, when I must carefully choose them when dealing with a child or grandchild? If I’m having a bad day, health-wise, why can’t someone else determine … whatever needs to be determined?
Hmm… I think it’s because we need to progress way beyond the One Potato, Two Potato way of living. The art of choosing is – well – an art. A spiritual art. And a gift that offers us spiritual maturity and inspirational strength.
Life is no game. The decision process we used as little ones during recess must be put away. The childish desire that our decisions be easy ones is… just not gonna happen. Our Lord will have a tried, tested, and purified people. Part of that process is the unfolding of a wiser, firmer way of choosing.
Elder W. Craig Zwick said this about making choices:
“It requires courage to make good choices, even when others around us choose differently. As we make righteous choices day by day in little things, the Lord will strengthen us and help us choose the right during more difficult times.
“The teachings and values we cherish the most are not embraced by a secular world. To maintain a firm stance for ourselves and our children, the message of the restored gospel must be firmly planted in our hearts and taught in our homes.” [“We Will Not Yield, We Cannot Yield,” Ensign, May 2008, 98]
For those times when the choice matters, it is no small matter to be able to make the decision with confidence and prayerful gratitude. Not that we always make the right choice. In fact, that seems one of the grand blessings of going through mortal training. We goof, we make the wrong choice, we blow it. But then repentance grants us new energy along with a greater trust in our Savior. We can keep on working at it until we get it right.
If you ever feel like you have no idea which option to choose, or if you’ve felt like you blew it, here’s a story from which you may gain a bit of hope and help:
“If you sometimes get discouraged, consider this fellow. He dropped out of grade school. Ran a country store. Went broke. Took 15 years to pay off his bills. Took a wife. Unhappy marriage. Ran for House. Lost twice. Ran for Senate. Lost twice. Delivered speech that became a classic. Audience indifferent. Attacked daily by the press and despised by half the country.
Despite all this, imagine how many people all over the world have been inspired by this awkward, rumpled, brooding man who signed his name simply, A. Lincoln.” (Wall Street Journal.) [Gordon B. Hinckley, “Strengthening Each Other,” Ensign, Feb. 1985, 3.]
Abraham Lincoln must have had more than a few “One potato, Two potato” moments in his life. Yet, look what he became. It’s inspiring!
Many of us seek for something much more important, and significant, than a place in history books, although there is nothing at all wrong- or insignificant- about being a leader. We, though, want to be Followers of Christ. We want exaltation. We want to clearly learn how to choose righteousness, and overcome wickedness.
The scriptures offer us a view of many men – and a few women – who had to, in their own way, overcome the One potato, Two potato theory of decision making. It just doesn’t work in the Lords’ kingdom.
In the day-to-day interactions we have with those around us, how do we choose to act, to react, to respond? There is so much to be learned in the field of “Choice and Accountability” and no better place to learn it than in the scriptures. I appreciate the example that Elder David A. Bednar shared about how one man, Pahoran, chose to respond at a critical moment:
“”During a perilous period of war, an exchange of letters occurred between Moroni, the captain of the Nephite armies, and Pahoran, the chief judge and governor of the land. Moroni, whose army was suffering because of inadequate support from the government, wrote to Pahoran ‘by the way of condemnation’ (Alma 60:2) and harshly accused him of thoughtlessness, slothfulness, and neglect. Pahoran might easily have resented Moroni and his message, but he chose not to take offense. Pahoran responded compassionately and described a rebellion against the government about which Moroni was not aware. And then he responded, ‘Behold, I say unto you, Moroni, that I do not joy in your great afflictions, yea, it grieves my soul. . . . And now, in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart’ (Alma 61:2, 9).
“One of the greatest indicators of our own spiritual maturity is revealed in how we respond to the weaknesses, the inexperience, and the potentially offensive actions of others. A thing, an event, or an expression may be offensive, but you and I can choose not to be offended–and to say with Pahoran, ‘it mattereth not.’ ” [“And Nothing Shall Offend Them,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, 91.]
The Prodigal Son is a stellar example of turning our back on truth and stability, to wander in a Potato field! Coming to himself, he returned home, having learned a thing or two [actually, much more than a thing or two] about what matters. Once that man’s father threw his arms around him, he knew he was “home.” He knew what mattered. He understood that his poor choices would hinder him no more, because he was safely under his father’s protective and loving pavilion. Just as we, one day, will be back Home and safely under the pavilion and the power of our God.
We, likewise, can find ourselves safely protected under the loving pavilion of our Savior, and making our way Home to a Father who will welcome us wholly. And the art and gift of choice will be crystal clear to us. It mattereth not’ what choices, temptations, or trials we are up against in this mortal journey. What matters is how we choose.
Vickey Pahnke Taylor is a wife, mom, and grandmother who joined the LDS Church as a teenager. She has worked for many years to share her testimony of Jesus Christ with other folks. Please visit her website at <a href="http://www.
<hr class=’system-pagebreak’ />goodnessmatters.com/”>www.goodnessmatters.com. She created this website, her latest venture, as a place to share goodness and offer hope.
Her propensity for being the queen of embarrassing moments notwithstanding, she sums up her journey thus far like this: “It’s a Wonderful Life.” She has taught Church youth & family programs for more than 25 years, has written books, hundreds of columns, & created hundreds of songs all with the intent of growing goodness and pointing people to Christ. She also writes for the website www.nauvootimes.com . Vickey loves the mountains, the ocean, going on drives with her husband, laughter, her kids and grandchildren, and eating brownies. She teaches Gospel Doctrine in their ward and her hubby, Dean, serves on the High Council.