Becoming aware of the “dependent, independent, and interdependent” philosophy, reinforced for each of us the connection between agency and accountability. Although we had the right to choose, we could not choose our consequences. That meant that if one made a choice, he needed to be accountable for the consequences of that choice.
It’s a fact that all choices have consequences. The two go together. They are inseparably connected, as stated in Doctrine & Covenants 130:21-21: “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of the world, upon which all blessings are predicated. And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”
Blessings are good consequences. Good choices bring good consequences. Knowing that made it easy to teach the children as they grew that, if they didn’t like the consequences, they could simply change what they were doing; and the consequences would change.
Some children seem to lose more privileges than others. They don’t particularly enjoy those times, but they can learn from them. We are not the only parents having to revoke privileges. One morning, I was blessed to come across the scriptures relating to the story of how Joseph Smith had approached the Lord repeatedly about letting Martin Harris take the 116 pages of translated manuscript home to show a few family and friends. Although it was against the Lord’s will, after the third time, the Lord allowed it. The manuscript was lost.
In Doctrine & Covenants 3 The Lord reviews with Joseph why he had “...lost [his] privileges for a season.” Key words stuck out to me that morning. Words began to mean something; words like “entrust,” “strict commandments,” “transgress,” “laws of God,” “persuasions of men,” “feared man more than God,” “promises of the Lord,” “believe the gospel,” “rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ,” and “glorified through faith in his name.”
Another great discussion ensued; this one on being grounded, spiritually or physically. During one of our devotionals, we discussed what it meant to be spiritually grounded. To us spiritual grounding had freedom and privileges. The thesaurus used words for grounded that we thought related more to spiritual grounding; words like educated, anchored, established, built on, founded on, taught, and trained.
When we put other words with it, we could see the power of being spiritually grounded. For example: educated in the gospel; anchored in truth; established on faith; built on a sure foundation; founded upon principles; taught and trained in the paths of righteousness. Don’t these phrases give off feelings of security and stability? It sounded to us that being spiritually grounded was a solid thing.
To the children, physical grounding was more like a punishment. Words from the thesaurus that sounded like a physical grounding were beached, confined, deserted, marooned, restricted, shipwrecked, and stranded. We laughed. But, funny as it was, physical grounding didn’t sound as free and empowering as spiritual grounding did.
We used physical grounding to restrain a person that needed help getting in control - physically, spiritually, emotionally, or mentally. When our children were little, often times physical grounding constituted physically holding them on my lap and talking with them about the situation and the different consequences.
As they grew, we sat on the couch or on their beds and talked. If positive communication wasn’t possible at the time, they needed a time-out. I allowed them the right to choose when they could come out. I explained to them that only they knew when they were able to control themselves and when they were ready to talk. It was beautiful. I hardly had to set a time for time out. They chose the time, and when they were in control and ready to talk, they would come out.
It worked 99% of the time. If they weren’t able to control themselves when they came out, they were sent back to time-out and I set the time they could come out, or they would lose some privileges. Time-out was not a punishment; it was time used for those of us who were out of control and needed time to get in control. Believe me, I put myself in time-out a time or two. The effectiveness of timeout was the positive communication that came during and afterwards. Beautiful discussions arose from these challenging times in our lives. Love from parent to child was expressed. They knew we loved them!
Isn’t it logical that we need to be grounded one way or the other? Aren’t the chances of making pour judgements or decisions and reaping pour consequences immense, if we aren’t grounded spiritually? Physical grounding may cause us to lose our “privileges for a season,” and sometimes we would lose our privileges until we became spiritually grounded, but better a season than an eternity!
The Lord told Joseph to “repent” (or change) and if he did he was “still chosen,” and “still called to the work,” but if he did not repent, he would “have no more gift” and would “fall.”
Agency demands self-control; otherwise, personal agency is lost to the control of another. Prisons are filled with people who would not accept self-control, making the law take control over them. In prison, they are told what and when they will eat, when they can leave their cell, and when the lights go out. Truly, they are physically grounded. Wow! Just think about it. We can choose to become spiritually grounded and maintain self-control, or we give our control to someone else.
After discussing these facts, even the children felt the need to be grounded spiritually. Choosing to be spiritually grounded annuls the need to be physically grounded.
One final thought...consider the power of electricity. Electricity looks for the quickest, surest way to be grounded. Shouldn’t we? Hopefully, each of us will choose to be spiritually grounded.