Rationalizations get us nowhere. No, actually, that’s wrong. Rationalizations send us spiraling out of control on a path of self-destruction. We can rationalize anything. It is the easy way out—for now—but it always comes back to bite us. There is so much negativity around us, but I am optimistic about the future. I believe in our ability to turn things around to better our lives and seek for good. I think that begins with a hard look at how we see the world around us—beginning with our own actions. We need to stop rationalizing our behavior and be obedient to basic gospel principles.
I was not active in the LDS Church for about 20 years. During that time period, I rationalized a whole lot of things. I was bitter and angry about some things that had been said and done. I told myself that God wouldn’t blame me for not wanting to associate with people who could be cruel and unreasonable. I continued to tell myself that long after my ward had been split several times, I had moved out of the ward, city, stake, and even the state. Even if I had continued to live in the same ward, is that what Heavenly Father really thought? Obviously, the answer is no. We are expected to forgive.
When I married an active LDS man, I rationalized that it didn’t matter to my family if I didn’t go to Church because my children were going to Church with my husband, and we were discussing gospel principles in our home. What message was I really sending to my children? When life gets tough, it is okay to quit? When things don’t go your way, it is perfectly
acceptable to throw a tantrum? Heavenly Father doesn’t care if we go to Church, as long as we think we are living a good life? I never thought about how hard it was on my husband to continue to be a faithful member of the Church year in and year out when I was at home. I didn’t consider how difficult it was for my children to learn about celestial families when their parents were not sealed in the temple for time and all eternity—and they were not sealed to us as a family.
Please understand that no one can change truth. Rationalization, overpowering self-interest, all of the arguments of men, anger, or self-will cannot change truth. Satan knows that, so he tries to create an atmosphere where one unwittingly begins to feel that he can not only choose what to do, but can determine what is right to do. Satan strives to persuade us to live outside truth by rationalizing our actions as the right of choice.
But our Eternal Father defined truth and established what is right and wrong before the creation of this earth. He also fixed the consequences of obedience and disobedience to those truths. He defended our right to choose our path in life so that we would grow, develop, and be happy, but we do not have the right to choose the consequences of our acts. Those who willfully, consistently disobey His commandments will inevitably learn that truth (Elder Richard G. Scott, “Healing Your Damaged Life,” Oct. 1992 General Conference).
I eventually learned that truth. It took a long time. I paid a heavy price. I am very blessed that my children all remained faithful, active members of the Church. So often that is not the case. However, there were so many things I missed as a mom, and many more things my children missed by not having a faithful mom. For instance, my children never heard me bear my testimony. They never had their own testimony strengthened by a mother who stood before the congregation and bore witness of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their mother never heard talks they gave in Primary or in Sacrament meeting. I rationalized that because I helped them prepare those talks, it didn’t matter that I wasn’t there to support them.
Simply put, rationalizing means you are lying to yourself about something. You may be telling yourself a little fib, or a huge whopper, but in the end it is all the same. There are consequences for everything, even the little white lies. We tell ourselves these lies because we feel guilty. Satan has convinced us that rationalizations are acceptable, as well as the behavior behind them. Satan is the father of all lies.
Our children walk out the door for school in the morning, and we expect them to behave in a manner that would make us proud. We want them to tell the truth, be kind, and live an honest life. We expect them to understand there will be consequences for their actions. Picture our Heavenly Parents sending us out the door to go to this great school called earth. Do they expect anything less? Do they expect us to live the kind of life they can be proud of? Haven’t they also taught us that there will be consequences for our actions? We can live our lives rationalizing that it doesn’t make any difference if we cheat a little here, or are disobedient a little there, but somewhere along the line we will pay the piper—if not in this life, in the next.
I challenge us all to analyze our behavior, find the rationalizations, and take steps to turn our lives around. Let us be the kind of children our Heavenly Parents want us to be. Perfect obedience to gospel principles is the goal. Constant repentance for our shortcomings is the method.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.