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But it is possible to make good choices we can live with and grow from. Sometimes we make poor choices when we yield to peer pressure. Kieth Merrill had such an experience when he was a young man.
It inevitably turned into a teenage contest when one young man climbed up to the top of the dam and dived 50 feet into the deep water of the reservoir. The rest of the young men all went to the top of the dam and made the same high dive. Not wanting to be outdone, Kieth climbed up beside him. After the other boy had dived into the water and seemed to be all right, Kieth took courage and made his dive. The contest was now down to these two boys. He came up from the water laughing, rubbing his shoulders and his eyes. So Kieth swam back to the shore and climbed up the rocks.
He knew if he jumped from the same height of 70 feet that his friend would want to go higher, so he scrambled up 80 feet to the very top of the cliff. No one could go any higher than the top. As Kieth looked down, he was terrified to see the water so very far away. He had made a rash decision.
It was not what he wanted to do nor what he felt was right. Instead he had based his decision on the prodding and dares of a half dozen young men whose names he cannot now even remember. He backed up and ran as hard as he could toward the edge. He found the mark he had carefully laid at the edge of the rock and sprang out into space. On the way down he remembered his parents teaching him to be careful when making decisions, because a wrong one could kill him. How grateful he was when his head finally popped above water. Why did he jump?
What was he trying to prove? But Kieth realized afterward that he had made what could easily have been a fatal decision. He knew better. I was not making decisions about my own life. The world made the decisions for me, … and [I] had barely avoided being in the world about six feet deep.
It takes a certain kind of courage to stand back rather than leaping forward, foolishly allowing someone else to make our choices for us. We can more readily take firm stands when we have a clear idea of our identity as sons of God and bearers of the holy priesthood, having a bright potential for a meaningful future.
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Unfortunately, some of our poor choices are irreversible, but many are not. Often we can change course and get back on the right track. Getting back on the right track may involve the principles of repentance: first, recognizing the error of our ways; second, forsaking the wrongful conduct; third, never repeating it; and, fourth, confessing 3 and making restitution where possible. Progression comes faster and easier by learning from our parents, those who love us, and our teachers. We can also learn from the mistakes of others, observing the consequences of their wrong choices.
I know one bright and able young man who wanted to become a doctor, but the opportunity did not open up for him; so he chose to follow the law. He has become a very successful lawyer, but I am satisfied he would have been equally successful as a doctor. Some of our important choices have a time line.
If we delay a decision, the opportunity is gone forever. Sometimes our doubts keep us from making a choice that involves change. Thus an opportunity may be missed.
Some people find it hard to make a decision. Some choices have greater consequences than others. We make no greater voluntary choice in this life than the selection of a marriage partner.
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