Thursday, May 21, 2015

To Act and Not Be Acted Upon

One of the most important things I feel like I've learned about recently is the difference between acting for myself, rather than being acted upon. In the Book of Mormon, Lehi talks about this in 2 Nephi 2:26.

And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem 
the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from 
the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil;
to act for themselves and not to be acted upon,
save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, 
according to the commandments which God hath given.

So... Christ came to help us get over the effects of the fall. And because He did that for us, we are free and we know the difference between good and evil. And also, we have the ability to act, and it sounds like God doesn't really want us to be acted upon. So what does it mean to be acted upon?

I think that we sometimes give away our agency, and in some cases we accept and even embrace the fact that we are acted upon. If you put a warm, soft, chocolate chip cookie in front of me, I will eat it. It's gonna happen, and there is nothing anybody can do about it. No worries though, it's cool, I've totally accepted this about myself. But. Where is the agency in that? There is none! I think the power of an addiction is just this- it takes away your agency and leaves you as an object to be acted upon. How many times have you found yourself viewing pornography, and you really didn't make a choice to be there. It just sort of happened. For me, this has happened a lot. So what can be done? How can we reclaim our agency? How can we go from being objects that are acted upon to agents who act?

Well when everything you're doing doesn't seem to work, maybe it's time to try something different. I recently tried something different, and so far it has actually helped. Hear me out on this one... If God values our agency enough to lose a third part of His children, and He sent Christ to die for us so that we could act and not be acted upon, do you think God would rather us be agents or objects? Agents, right? So God wants us to use the precious gift of agency and to act. Ok, got it. But what if we aren't good agents? What if we choose the wrong? Do you still think God would rather us be bad agents than acted upon objects?

I think He does! I think He really wants us to choose to act, even if we choose wrong. So I tried it out. Sometimes when I feel like there is no way for me to avoid pornography like I know I should, I chose to do it. That's right, I chose to view pornography. What??? I chose to view pornography?? I'm crazy, right? Probably so, because who in their right mind would choose to view pornography, especially when that is exactly what they are trying to avoid? Well I did. And the outcome surprised me.

I found that by choosing, I started to become an agent again. I started acting. And doing so helped me start to reclaim some of that agency that I lost. And agents who act have more power than objects who are acted upon because agents who act can choose to become better. Objects can't really progress. They just get acted upon, and thrown around wherever. Choosing to act opens the door for the Atonement of Christ. It allows the Atonement to strengthen us, and to enable us to become better, It allows for the Atonement to begin to heal our souls. So that's my challenge for all of us. It's probably going to look different for all of us, but let's try to find something we can do to, to reclaim our agency, and to stop being tossed around.


  1. We have to pray for God's help to change the desires of our heart. However long it takes and however many prayers we will either stamp out our addictions or we will die trying. And as we grow in faith and just keep trying we will be cradled in the atonement.

    1. Yes! I love your words! The heart is a huge key. Sometimes difficult to change, but worth every effort. And with the Atonement, that change of heart is definitely a real possibility!