“Rejoice in the Choice,” New Era, Feb. 2020, 8–10.
On the day of my baptism, I felt clean, pure, and truly perfect. I loved the feeling so much that I made a goal to stay perfect forever. I will never sin again, I told myself.
Fast-forward one day.
I wanted to play with my big sister’s new Barbie doll, but she wouldn’t let me, no matter how hard I tried to convince her. So, in a rage that made me forget my goal to remain sin-free, I grabbed a pair of scissors while she wasn’t looking and cut off all her doll’s hair.
Admittedly, I was somehow under the impression that the doll’s hair would grow back. But as I sat looking at all the synthetic hairs piled in my lap, I felt the sting of having ruined my newly perfected life.
When my sister found out, she was furious. My parents explained to me that the doll’s hair would not grow back. Guilt and regret overwhelmed me as I watched my sister cry at the sight of her forever-bald doll.
With a little time and a lot of apologizing on my part, my sister forgave me. But I still never forgot how disappointed I felt for having given up my perfect life all too quickly.
Just like I felt when I cut off the doll’s hair, sometimes we get frustrated when we make bad choices. Because we have the freedom to choose, we commit sins that can make perfection seem far from reach. We may even feel like having agency makes life harder because of all the mistakes we are bound to make.
But the truth is, Heavenly Father knew we would make mistakes. That’s why, along with the gift of agency, He’s given us the gift of repentance. Sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins was not a backup plan—it is the plan.
Without agency, we wouldn’t be able to make any choices at all, good or bad, and we wouldn’t feel any joy or pain (see 2 Nephi 2:11). We would never make mistakes, but we would also never improve. There would be no need for a Savior to suffer for our sins.
That’s one reason Satan’s rebellion against God—which sought to destroy our agency—was so offensive to Heavenly Father (see Moses 4:3). God knew the only way we would improve and become like Him is if we could make our own choices and be healed from our mistakes through Jesus Christ and His Atonement.
It’s true that having agency means we may mess up and experience regret. But agency also gives us the ability to make good choices.
The prophet Jacob said, “Cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves” (2 Nephi 10:23). We can rejoice because even though we aren’t perfect, we are always free to repent and make decisions that bring us happiness, such as going to church each week, studying our scriptures, and forgiving one another.
In fact, not only does the Lord promise that when we repent of our sins, He will “remember them no more” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:42), but we also know that our good works “are had in remembrance in the sight of God” (Acts 10:31). In other words, if we repent, the Lord is willing to forget all our bad choices, and He remembers all our good ones. That’s a pretty good reason to rejoice in our agency!
As painful as it was as an eight-year-old to realize I made a mistake the day after my baptism, Heavenly Father provided a way for me to repent. Through the Savior’s perfect example and sacrifice, we can overcome our sins and make good choices that bring us blessings.
I am grateful I chose to be baptized so I can repent and recommit myself to the Savior each week as I partake of the sacrament. Choices like these help me feel a great sense of happiness and self-worth.
So the next time you feel bogged down by your mistakes, remember to rejoice in the choice—the choice you have to repent, turn to Heavenly Father and the Savior, and live righteously. In the end, one of the greatest joys we can feel is knowing that—as imperfect as we are—we, by our own free will, choose to follow Jesus Christ.