While there is solace in accepting things we cannot control, we also need to feel that there are some things we can control — that we determine, at least to some degree, the direction of our lives.
Editor's note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast.
Do you ever feel as if the world is spinning out of control? Hearing about tragedies and perils near and far can cause us to worry about how things will turn out. While there is solace in accepting things we cannot control, we also need to feel that there are some things we can control — that we determine, at least to some degree, the direction of our lives.
An unknown author wrote: “The greatest battle of life is fought out within the silent chambers of the soul. A victory on the inside of a (person's) heart is worth a hundred conquests on the battlefields of life. To be master of yourself is the best guarantee that you will be master of the situation. Know thyself. The crown of character is self-control” (see "The Miracle of Forgiveness," by Spencer W. Kimball, p. 235).
In the end, self-control is the only real control in life. Efforts to control others or even to control our circumstances usually don't succeed. But we can become the master of our self.
We begin by controlling our thoughts, then our words, and ultimately our actions. We gain more self-control when we daily strive to choose goodness and kindheartedness, to be honest and trustworthy, to care for our mind, body, and soul. Our self-control deepens as we set worthy goals and achieve them, as we make promises and keep them, and as we simply do our best to live with integrity.
This striving for self-control is rightly called a “battle,” for we all have tendencies we must fight to overcome. But those tendencies don't represent our real selves. As we begin to take control of our lives, we come to understand who we truly are. We find that our true identity has less to do with the mistakes we've made in the past and more to do with our potential for future growth. We aren't defined so much by where we've been as by where we are going.
There are many battles that need fighting in this world — many wrongs to be righted, many changes to be made. But to win any of them, we must first win the greatest battle of life, the battle most worth fighting: the battle for self-control.