Most of us want to do the right thing and to keep God’s commandments. However, in the press of everyday life, with rushed schedules, pressure from others, and conflicting desires, it can be difficult to make good choices, or even to remember to do the right thing.
One way to help resolve this problem is to surround ourselves with reminders of who we are and what we stand for. By having our world filled with symbols of our faith, we can stay focused on the eternal goal, even when the immediate demands of life are crowding in.
Mormon children are given a ring to wear on their finger that contains a shield with the letters CTR on it. The letters stand for Choose the Right, and children are taught to look at their ring when they make a decision. If they develop the habit of doing this and remembering what the ring is telling them, in time, it can become a habit, so they’ll make the right choice even without a ring handy. However, even many adults wear CTR rings, because it never hurts to be reminded.
Mormons are counseled to place in their homes items that will remind them of their Savior. Gospel art work is one way to keep minds and hearts focused on God. Having a few inexpensive pictures in your home can help you to contemplate how you use your time when you’re at home. Place the pictures in the places you spend the most time or in the spaces that might create the most temptation. The artwork need not be expensive. I often purchase calendars with religious art, and then frame the pictures I like best when the year ends.
Mormons can also ask the leaders of auxiliary organizations to let them know when they’re planning to throw out old picture packets because too many of the pictures are lost. These often have farmable pictures in them.
LDS.org offers an inexpensive new gospel art book, as well. For only a few dollars, you can receive many colored pictures in a spiral binder. These can be placed on an easel, allowing you to change the picture often.
Keeping the scriptures in easily accessible places can also serve as a reminder to read them and to honor what is contained inside. During times when I expect it to be easy to get distracted, I place my Bible and Book of Mormon on my keyboard before going to bed. Since I am a writer and spend my days at my computer, this served as a clear reminder to me to read before I began my work for the morning.
I also have a framed quote on my desk about how God expects us to use our talents to serve Him. I copied it into a word processing program, and put a light picture behind it. Then I printed it off and framed it. Because it sits right where I work, it reminds me to write appropriately, and not to be tempted by popular culture to write something I should not.
Sometimes the greater challenge comes when we leave our home. This is one reason so many Mormons wear CTR rings. However, any type of religious jewelry can serve the same purpose, but only if you desire to do the right thing anyway. A ring is simply not enough to keep you from doing wrong if you’re determined to do the right thing.
The most important way to remember to do right is to live worthy of help from the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost can’t be in unclean environments, so we must be attempting to do the right thing. When we’re tempted to make a poor choice, the Holy Ghost or Spirit of Christ can remind us of the promises we’ve made to God and give us the courage to carry them out. However, it’s then our responsibility to act on that prompting. If we ignore it and continue the sin, the Holy Ghost must flee and we’re left alone to cope with the results.
“The gift of the Holy Ghost, given to us when we are confirmed, gives us the ability to discern the difference between the giving ways of the kingdom of God and the taking practices of the world. The Holy Ghost gives us the strength and courage to conduct our lives in the ways of the kingdom of God and is the source of our testimony of the Father and the Son. As we obey the will of our Father in Heaven, this priceless gift of the Holy Ghost will be with us continually.
We need the Holy Ghost as our constant companion to help us make better choices in the decisions that confront us daily. Our young men and women are bombarded with ugly things of the world. Companionship with the Spirit will give them the strength to resist evil and, when necessary, repent and return to the strait and narrow path. None of us are immune from the temptations of the adversary. We all need the fortification available through the Holy Ghost. Mothers and fathers should prayerfully invite the Holy Spirit to dwell in their dedicated homes. Having the gift of the Holy Ghost helps family members make wise choices-choices that will help them return with their families to their Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, to live with Them eternally.” (See Robert D. Hales, “The Covenant of Baptism: To Be in the Kingdom and of the Kingdom,” Ensign, Nov 2000, 6-9.)
The most important part of the process is to develop the desire to do right and the faith to know that what God has asked of us is always the best choice. Once that is in place, the other tools will help us to follow through with what we have chosen to do.
In time, obedience becomes easier. If we decide only once, rather than every time we’re in a decision-making setting, we are more likely to make the right choice. For instance, when I’m offered alcohol, I don’t have to stop and decide what to do. I made my choice when I was ten years old, long before I was LDS. It’s not a temptation, and it’s no longer a decision-it’s an automatic reaction. I simply say no without any thought at all. This takes time, but the more our faith grows, the more decisions will begin to be automatic for us.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.