59: Decisions Determine Destiny

Mon Nov 02 16:04:18 EST 2020
Episode 59

Stories in this episode: Vinnie’s experience of coming unto Christ is made up of small decisions that end up changing his heart in unexpected ways; Lisa's decisions about which hymns to sing at her son's funeral end up leading to a moment of profound healing.

Show Notes

Vinnie with his wife.
Vinnie with his wife.

Vinnie with his family:
Vinnie with his family.

Vinnie around the time he lived in Chicago.
Vinnie around the time he lived in Chicago.

Lisa's car after the car accident.
Lisa's car after the car accident.

Photo of Lisa.
Photo of Lisa.

Lisa's son, Michael, who passed away in the car accident.
Lisa's son, Michael, who passed away in the car accident.
Lisa's family a week after the accident.
Lisa's family a week after the accident.

KaRyn 0:04

Welcome to This Is the Gospel, an LDS Living podcast where we feature real stories from real people who are practicing and living their faith every day. I'm your host, KaRyn Lay.

Well, here we are barreling toward another election here in the US. And it seems that whether we like it or not, decisions and decision making is in the air and it's on our minds. I, for one, love it. The thinking about the decision making, not the actual making of the decisions that I find desperately difficult sometimes, but the thinking about decision making that intrigues me.

I studied communications in school and the sheer amount of energy that researchers have put into understanding the who, what, where, and why of decision making is amazing. There are theories about the psychology of decisions, the neuroscience of decision making, the economy of decisions, everywhere you look, we human beings are trying to figure out how to make the right choice. Or if I go to my cynical place, we human beings are trying to figure out how to get people to make the decisions that we want them to make.

But there's a reason that we've invested so much effort in trying to figure this out. Decisions can feel weighty and really big. In fact, the origin of the word "decision" actually speaks to that. It comes from a Latin root of a word that I can't pronounce well enough to say it here and embarrass myself, but it means to cut off. When we make a decision, when we choose to go one way or the other, we are literally cutting off another option and all the possibilities that that option represents. If that isn't enough to make you never want to make another decision, I don't know what is. I hate the loss of all that possibility.

But one thing I think most of this research might be getting wrong in that careful analysis of the process is that decision making doesn't have to be so hard. As followers of Christ, we have access to some really powerful tools to help us know what to cut off and what to keep. And whether you are decisive or indecisive or somewhere in between, today's stories about the power of our decisions—both big and small—will get you thinking about what we choose and why we choose it. And how that has everything to do with moving closer to our best selves as disciples.

Our first story comes from Vinnie, who, like most of us, couldn't see the collective power of the decisions he was making until much further down the road. Here's Vinnie.

Vinnie 2:37

Small decisions in our lives can lead to either good or bad consequences later on. And it's the small decisions that sometimes we don't even realize we're making that can affect us in so many different ways.

It all started very young. I grew up in a family just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. I had great parents, my dad's Catholic and my mom was a convert to the Church. We never went without anything we needed, but we definitely weren't rich or well off in anyway.

My parents both divorced when I was one, so pretty young. And they both remarried at some point when I was about two or three. And I don't know if it was the competitiveness between them. I was probably too naive as a young kid. But I was with my dad every other weekend. And we would go to the youth programs for the Catholic Church and see some of the people there or even sometimes there's activities for youth on Sundays or on the weekends that we were there. And when I was with my mom, we would go to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And so I got to have a taste a little bit of both.

My mom didn't go to church a lot. She went often but not regularly. And we weren't a family that had you know, family home evening that had dinner together. And we weren't a family that prayed together. We didn't do regular fasting. I didn't even know what fasting was until I was 18, 19 years old. And so we didn't have a lot of those basic teachings that you see in the Church now.

I think deep down, there was some feelings that there was a difference between the Catholic Church and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I attended. Both churches teach great things. Both have great principles. But I felt more of something when I attended church with my mom, but I never understood what it was, never really knew what it was.

At some point, my dad stopped taking us to church. And my mom, she let us make a decision when we were about 14 whether we continue to go to church or what we wanted to do. I have two older brothers, one is four years older, the other one is five years older. They both decided not to go to church anymore. They went a totally different direction. I think for me, personally, this small decision that I was making there was that I wanted to please my mom.

And so I would go on occasion. Sometimes I would skip out or go do something else during church and then come back. And so there was some trouble that I got in, there's mischief that I did. And I was not living in any way that was to the standards of the Church. I would occasionally attend the youth meetings for the Church, got some good friends. I shouldn't say friends. They are friends, but one was a particular leader that really helped me. He was a Scout leader and I remember him even asking me, "When are you going to do this more and put more into this?" And I kept telling him, "No, I'm not going there." And so that was one of those decisions that I was like, "No, I don't want to do this." And I would get mad if people would say something about a mission or something like that because it wasn't in my plan. I had no desire to do that.

It was at this point, when I was just about graduating high school, where I had to make some more decisions. And my brothers, I had watched them get into some serious trouble and some really bad situations. And I made the decision that I wanted to get away, I wanted to do everything I could to be the opposite of what I saw. And it was then I made the decision to go to Chicago, at 18 years old, to get away from everything.

And at that point in my life, I was thinking away from everything. Away from church, away from family, I wanted to go do my own thing. By being the mama's boy that I was, my mom made me promise that I will at least try to go to church. So here I am in Chicago by myself, and I went a couple times to a ward that I found. And I was the individual that sat in the back, that wouldn't take the sacrament. And that as soon as it was over, I would run out the back. And I was the person that would complain to my mom, and one of my friends back East that nobody talks to me. But yet I was the one not making any effort at all to talk to anybody else.

And the last time I had gone to that church, I was walking out, and an individual stopped me and he said, "Hey, I've never met you." And I said, "That's okay." I had the East-Coast attitude. And he says, "Who are you? Where are you from?" And we talked for a moment and I said, "Look, I gotta go." He goes, "Hey, I just want to let you know you're going to the wrong ward." I said, "Come on, how many words are in Chicago?" And he gave me the information of the other ward. And I said, "Okay, thanks. I'll see if I can make it." I walked out the door.

And I shared this experience with my mom, and she goes, "You need to promise me you'll try one more time. You need to at least contact this bishop and try one more time, and then I won't bug you anymore about it." I said, "Okay." Now I've got my way, right? I can go do this one more time. It's been the same every single time. And I can move on and not worry about it. And it was here where I called the bishop and he was nice, but I was short. And he gave me directions and it may have been a week or two before actually went. It wasn't like right away.

And so I get in the car and I follow directions. And I got absolutely lost. Here I am in Chicago, lost, no clue where I am. This was before cell phones. So I didn't have any way to call anyone or look anything up. I didn't have a GPS. So I looked at the directions. And I kind of set a prayer off the cuff and just said, "You know, if you want me to go to church, you're gonna have to find this because I don't want to go anymore. I'm done. I have other things I need to do and I don't want to do this anymore." And I looked down at the note and this thought came to me, and again, there's another decision, right? I said a prayer. Whether it was consciously or subconsciously, I wanted his help. But I didn't want it because of my own pride and natural-man self.

And I looked down at the directions. And I just had this thought come to my mind, "What if it's a left instead of a right?" And it wasn't five minutes later, I was parked in the parking lot of the church and I was kind of dumbfounded. I was like, "You got to be kidding me." Here it was at this point where I went, "Well, I made the promise to my mom. I'll do this one time, and then I'm done."

So I walked in and I sat, again, way in the back away from everyone. And I listened and as I sat there, I don't remember who was speaking, I don't remember the hymns that were played, but I remember being scared to death. Because all of a sudden, I felt something that I had never felt before and certainly never that strong, if I ever had felt it. I literally was like, "I don't know what this is," and it scared me. And as soon as they said, "Amen," I ran for those glass doors to get out of that building. I could not run fast enough.

And all of a sudden, this man stops me. He said, "You must be Vinnie." And I looked at him and I said, "What?"And he said, "I'm Bishop Coleman." I mean, here's a bishop that has this whole ward, he knew that I was there and what my name was because he knew every member of his ward. And he knew that he had to run off of that stage to get to me. And he grabbed me and he said, "Come talk to me for a few minutes." And it wasn't long, it was just brief. We sat down in his office and talked for a few minutes. And again, I'm scared to death. I'd never felt this feeling. But I'm looking at this man going, "How on earth did you do this?" And then that's where a series of decisions and choices in my life changed everything.

He introduced me to a sweet, sweet lady. She was over the young single adults at that time. And she said, "Come be with us. We have these great single adults here, come upstairs to the classroom." And I said, "No, I cannot do that." And she got my information, I got hers, and I left. And I was like, "I'm not doing this. I can't do this anymore." And I ran away, not wanting to go back, but also deep down realizing something just happened. She was so sweet to reach out to me. And I couldn't say no, because I knew deep down there was something there. And she was a convert from Brazil. And she loves the gospel, absolutely loves the gospel and loves people. And all of her kids were away at college. And she took me in as one of her own boys and taught me and changed my life forever.

So as I was developing a testimony here. I was working in Chicago and also going to school. And in between work and school, I had about an hour of time and I would sit there and I would read the Book of Mormon as I would eat lunch. Here I was going to church and reading the Book of Mormon for the first time ever in my life. And I hung out a lot with these young single adults, they were so much fun.

And I remember one weekend, we were all together, we were playing games, and there were some returning sisters and some return elders that we were with. And they were talking about their mission. They were talking about experiences that they had people that they taught. And I don't know if they'd planned this for me or what, but it worked. Because they didn't pressure me. They didn't ask me about whether or not I was going to serve a mission. They were just being friends. But all of a sudden, it started to stir within me because during this year of being in Chicago by myself, I had began to understand what the Atonement really meant, and what changing your life really meant. And it was here, as I was listening to my friends talk about their mission. And I had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to share what I learned.

And that next day was fast Sunday. I had not born my testimony since probably when I was a young kid. And I got up and I poured my testimony about a desire to serve a mission. It was then that the bishop grabbed me right after again and said, "Oh, we're gonna plan this." Next thing I know, I've got my papers turned in.

When I made that decision to serve a mission, I actually called my dad and told him that I was going to serve. And he had already helped me line up a job that I would have after graduating from college. And he was really disappointed at me. He wanted me to take that job and wanted me to help take care of my mom. And our conversations didn't end the greatest. And I didn't say much to him afterwards. I don't think we talked for over a month. And when I called my mom to tell her it was an interesting conversation too.

When I called my mom and I said, "Mom, I've made a decision." She said, "You're not getting married." I said, "No Mom, I'm not getting married." And she goes, "Well you're not coming home." And I said, "Well, you already knew that." And I said, "But I'm going to go serve a mission." And the phone just went silent. And it felt like it was forever. And then after however long, she said, "Are you sure?" And I had to stand up to my sweet mom and say, "Yeah, I'm sure." And she just couldn't believe it. All those little decisions that I had made along the way, even from a little kid, just wanting to follow my mom and please my mom made a huge difference in my life.

You know, I made that decision that I wanted to leave home and never go back and have something different than what my brothers had and what my brothers' decisions were. My brothers are good guys. And they're trying to do what they feel is right. And I still look up to them in many ways. But I wanted to do something different to do it my way.

Little did I know that my way would turn into the Lord's way and how thankful I am because now I've got the most beautiful wife in the world. I've kept six amazing children that are building testimonies. And we're doing our best to live the gospel.

I think we need to create our own way. And if you truly give your heart to Jesus Christ, and you want to make Christ happy because you've built that relationship with Him, then you make the choices necessary, big or small.

I look forward to that day when I can see Christ and he opens his arms. I know in the scriptures that says he'll say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." I don't want him to say a word. I just want to fall down and hug him because he made it possible for me to be forgiven. And he made it possible for me to change everything in my life. And now I have a better way of life.

KaRyn 17:15

That was Vinnie.

You know, what I love about Vinnie story is that at the outset, it might seem like it's too small to matter. At least that fear is one of the things that Vinnie said initially kept him from deciding to call the pitch line when he first felt the stirring. But friends, do you know what an epic story is? It's nothing more than a collection of tiny moments of decision that build and build and build upon one another until something has to break, something has to transform. And the transformation is only possible because of all those small moments that led up to it.

In the case of Vinnie's story, the transformation is a testament to the Atonement—from reluctant people pleaser and mama's boy to a willing servant— all in the span of a half a lifetime. That is epic and inspiring in its scope.

And what's coming next is worth noting too. Generations starting from those decisions that Vinnie made, will walk toward their own epic story of building and deciding and building and transforming. And that's big, that's really big.

Our final story of decisions that make all the difference comes from Lisa. A quick note, Lisa's story involves an accident that might be difficult for sensitive listeners to hear.

Here's Lisa.

Lisa 18:37

I was aware of three things as I struggled back to consciousness. The first of those was there was a significant amount of pain. The second was I was pretty sure that my son Michael had passed away. And I didn't know why I thought that. And the third thing was I was enveloped in an overwhelming, palpable peace.

I opened my eyes and I was in a hospital room and my husband, Dean, and his brother Philip were sitting there in the room with me. And the first thing I asked was, "Did Michael pass away?" I asked my husband and he said that yes, Michael passed away. And my next question was, "Why do I feel such peace?" I was very confused because losing Michael would make sense with me feel, you know, if I felt devastated and, you know, crushed. But peace didn't make any sense to me.

Earlier that day, we had gone to see a melodrama that my sister was in. And the night of the first performance, no one else in my family could go but I went and I came home and just raved about it. She was so cute. And she sold the show and it was hilarious. And so after I told my family about it, my daughter Abby, who was 14 said, "Well, I want to go." And so I said, "Sure. We can go."

Before it was time to go, my son Michael, who had turned, just turned 23, was there and I said, "Michael, you want to come with us?" And he decided he would go with us. So the three of us went to the melodrama. And it was just a nice evening, then it was time to go.

We walked out of the church house. And as we walk to the car, my son said, and this is a line from a Brian Regan sketch, that comedian Brian Regan. He said, "Backseat middle, my feet on the hump." And that was Michael's way of telling Abby that she could sit in the front seat because he knew that she loved it.

So he sat in the back, and we all got in. And our family has always worn seatbelts. Michael did not put on his seatbelt that night. And, you know, I didn't check. He's 23. We just drove off. And we were about a mile away from the church house when I entered an intersection. This is in a residential, it's 25-miles-an-hour. And we were hit by a pickup truck that was being driven by a man who was intoxicated.

The onboard computer said he was going more than 80 miles an hour. He did not tap his brakes and it hit right behind my door. So the door right behind the driver's side door and spun us around. Our car hit a parked truck hard enough that it broke its axle.

And during that, Michael was thrown from the car. He was killed instantly. My last memory is about two blocks before the accident. And then my next memory is five hours later, when I woke up in the hospital. I was in one room in the emergency room. My daughter was in the other. My husband got there and he was like, I don't like, he didn't know where which room he should go in. And he was told that I was unconscious. And that there was a nurse with me. But Abby was awake. So he went in there because that's where he was needed. After a while, he came into my room and I was unconscious. And there was a nurse who was holding my hand and crying. And that is just so tender to me. I don't know who she is. I don't worry about how do not I have any memories of the emergency room.

But she knew what had happened. She was holding my hand and crying with me. And that's just very, that's sacred to me that this good woman, this good nurse—it wasn't all about just the medical, you know, medical procedures. There was some real caring and loving there for these people who had been through this.

I was released later that morning. I had a bad concussion. And most of my injuries had to do with wherever the seat belt was holding me holding me back. But things weren't life threatening. I did have a vertebrae that was broken in my neck, but nothing that impacted my spine. You know, that was all fine.

Abigail was released the night before. That morning as it got to be morning, my husband started calling our child or other children and my parents and letting them know what had happened. And our children started gathering and that was a real gift to be together to have them there. You know, of course, emotionally, we're pretty fragile. Physically, I was it was months before I didn't have a great deal of pain every day.

At that point, I was walking but not before. Most nights, I'd fall asleep for a while and the pain would wake me up and it was some nerve pain and there isn't good pain medications that help with nerve pain. It was so painful, it was just an agony. So I would just kind of pace the floor and, you know, try to get through it.

And one night in the middle of that, I had the thought, "He did this to you." And it was true. The drunk driver is the one that had caused this pain. You know the pain, the physical pain, but also the emotional pain. And that was immediately followed by, immediately afterwards, the words came into my mind, "There is nothing worthy about that thought." And I knew that dwelling on that thought would take me farther from God. And I desperately needed God.

So I just turned away from that thought. And I didn't ever have another thought along those lines. And every few years, the Lord teaches me more about gratitude. And it's a principle that I've really come to love for the blessings that it gives us. And I just kept feeling, I just kept having the recurring thought that during this saddest, most difficult time, you know, that the hardest thing that our family had been through, that I needed to find a way to be grateful, to still praise God and thank him for his blessings.

And, of course, I was continually grateful for the peace. I am well aware that there have been many good, faithful people who have lost a loved one that didn't have immediate peace like that. I don't know why we had that immediate piece. Everyone's path is different. But that was such a gift.

I mean, of course, we're very sad. And, but you, I couldn't, to say we were devastated, is taking it too far. Because that peace didn't allow for devastation. You know, sadness, yes. A great deal of sadness. But we weren't devastated. So of course, I was grateful for that.

I was also grateful to have my family around. I was also very grateful because our ward and neighbors and extended family just rallied around us, you could feel that their prayers were helping you. There was more food here then we could eat, you know, just people were so kind. So of course, it was, I was grateful for those things.

And, but I still kept having the feeling that we needed to find a way to be grateful. And I have always loved hymns. From the time I was a little girl. I remember having spiritual experiences in sacrament meeting as we sing hymns. So it was very natural for me to, you know, as I'm trying to decide, "So how do we do that?" my thought turned to the hymns.

And we're planning a funeral. And try to find some hymns that were praising the Lord. That's, that, that was the thought that I had, so that we should sing hymns of praise during the funeral. We started with, "I Love to See the Temple" because we always sing that song to our family. And Michael loved the temple. So we started with that, that was the opening hymn, was a congregational hymn. And then partway through we sing, "Sing Praise to Him." And because it was my thought that we should sing hymns of praise, I tried to do that while we sang. Um, because I knew it was Michael's time, that his work on the earth was finished, I could sing and mean it. Well, maybe I shouldn't say mean it. Have faith that it was true, even if I didn't know it. "That within the kingdom of his might lo,. all is just, and all is right".

So that's what I tried to do when we, as we sang. I tried to, to praise the Lord, because he had grown to be overwhelming peace and acknowledge that my son's work was done on the earth. And I wasn't worried about where Michael was. I knew where he was.

We sang as a closing hymn, "Press Forward Saints." And I chose that for a couple reasons. It felt like it's the message Michael would want those that he loved to hear, that all of us might press forward with steadfast faith in Christ. And then at the end, it has those three beautiful alleluias at the end of every verse, so we also got to praise the Lord. And it was interesting. Both my family and my husband's family, we all sing. I wish we sang with more gusto in the Church. In that funeral, we did. It was, it was loud. And during that closing hymn, there just came such a feeling of joy into the room. As I thought back on it, I actually think because every death is actually also a homecoming, I think it's my belief that the Lord allowed us to feel some of the joy of his homecoming.

The song ended, we had the closing prayer. And as we walked out, there was just so much joy in the room, I was actually self-consciousness. We walked out behind the casket, everyone's standing, you know, obviously watching the family as they walk out, and I could not wipe the smile off my face. And I was a little self-conscious, they're gonna think I didn't even love him for smiliing as I walk up my son's casket, but there was real joy in that room. I've never felt anything like that, if you know, before, it was just very sweet.

The pain of losing Michael that had been, it had felt like a raw, open wound. which I'd never experienced peace and sorrow like that. At the same time, I thought being at peace meant you're happy, you know, your content. And I learned that wasn't true. But that raw, open wound, it had been very skillfully stitched closed.The pain wasn't over. But real healing had begun. And I know that the Great Physician did stitch that wound closed.

Um, we've continued to mourn. You know, we still miss him. I cried I think pretty much every day for the first year. You know, I miss his smile. He had amazing hugs. And I just want to fill his arms around me, you know,

Michael was the happiest baby I have ever had. And Michael has always been very laid back. He loves everyone. He's always loved everyone. And he was also the kind of kid that, as a parent, if I needed him to actually hear what I was saying, I had to grab his face. And say, "Michael, I'm going to ask you to repeat." Now, as an adult. I didn't say that anymore. But you know, growing up, I'm going to ask you to repeat what I tell you. And he, when he was about 14, or 15, I asked him one day I said, "Michael, where are you when I think you're listening to me, but you're not." And he looked really sheepish and he said, "On a medieval battlefield," which was fantastic. I love that.

Before we lost Michael, I would have assumed that when you were mourning someone that you lost that petty much all of your crying and mourning would have been in the privacy of your own home. Um, that was my assumption and that is not how it's turned out. It hits you. Sometimes in the middle of Walmart, you know. There have been times when I really struggled to get out the door because something just made me think of Michael. So I'd just really quickly get out the door and go cry in my car.

But I have found the majority of my crying and mourning for Michael. Well, the majority of crying about Michael has happened during sacrament meeting and I didn't want to do it during Sacrament meeting. I wanted to be home where it was private. But I'll be honest, some of the tears are just about missing him. But most of the tears have been gratitude for the Savior's Atoning sacrifice, and that he has overcome both physical and spiritual death.

I have all, I've understood intellectually, that our plight would be desperate without the Savior sacrifice for us. But losing Michael has made it very real to me, how desperately hopeless everything would be if it weren't for the Savior, Jesus Christ. The fact that the Savior overcomes death and sin is very concrete and real to me now. I do believe that the small thing I did, of just finding hymns and then trying to express real gratitude as I sang them, I believe that that small thing resulted in a huge amount of healing.

KaRyn 34:58

That was Lisa.

Every time I hear her story, I'm struck with the gift that she received from the Spirit to let her move past blame into peace. I've never lost a child or even a close loved one at the hand of someone else, but I imagine that is not the way it plays out for everyone in a similar situation. Our hearts are drawn in love and sustaining for those who are struggling right now to make peace with that particular wound.

And I think I learned something powerful about decisions from Lisa's experience. Making the right decision for us, even one guided by the Spirit, does not exempt us from the experiences of the mortal condition. Lisa chose to follow the prompting to let those feelings of blame go and that offered her peace of mind. But it couldn't protect her from her grief. And isn't that exactly why we chose to follow Christ in the first place? It's why we were so desperate to come to earth and have agency, we wanted to experience life. We wanted to experience all of it. And sometimes I think I put too much weight on my decisions, and I turn them into something more than what they actually are.

Making the next best decision matters, but not because it's going to guarantee me some protection from pain or embarrassment or helped me maintain my pride. I mean, I love to be right as much as the next guy, but if I'm making my decisions with the goal of being right, I think I'm skirting a sacred opportunity to get it right instead.

If you're a longtime listener to the podcast, then you probably remember our episode "The Paths We Choose" from season one. It had a really moving story from Chris and Eric, whose decisions had led them down some wandering paths. Their story reminded us that Jesus Christ is the restorer of paths, especially wandering ones, and that through the Atonement, all roads lead us back to him the minute that we turn our hearts in his direction. It's a miracle really. And maybe knowing that makes us wonder why we even try. If Christ can make up the difference of our failures and fix all of our poor choices, why should I spend my energy like so many researchers trying to figure out how to make the best choice? Well, I think the answer to this is in the realization that our decisions matter because they are a tool for proving where our hearts lie and with whom our hearts align.

In the October General Conference, Elder Bednar reminded us that, quote:

"Tests in the school of mortality are a vital element of our eternal progression. Interestingly, however, the word 'test' is not found even one time and the scriptural text of the standard works in English. Rather, such words as 'prove,' 'examine,' and 'try' are used to describe various patterns of demonstrating appropriately our spiritual knowledge about understanding of and devotion to our Heavenly Father's eternal plan of happiness, and our capacity to seek for the blessings of the Savior's Atonement. He who authored the plan of salvation described the very purpose of our mortal probation using the words 'prove,' 'examine' and 'try' in ancient and modern scripture. 'And we will prove them herewith to see if they will do all things whatsoever the LORD their God shall command to them." End quote.

Making decisions, having a choice to make, that's all part of this glorious plan of salvation that we signed up for. We chose it. It's an opportunity to show God here on this imperfect and flawed earth with our imperfect and flawed brains and wills, that we choose him again, and again, and again. And while our decisions don't determine our divinity, they do determine our eternal destiny, which is to find ourselves on the right hand of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

So we pour our hearts into the work of making the next best decision, to say that prayer and try one more time to find the church in Chicago even though it would be easier to just go home. Or to hand over our feelings of anger and blame to the Savior instead of letting them fester in our hearts. We pour over those decisions because they have the power to move us one step closer to that destiny, and we're going to mess up. We'll allow those good decisions to build us up in pride sometimes, and maybe we'll unrighteously judge another person for the decisions that they're laboring with. But ultimately, if we choose to recognize that our decisions are a proving ground, think of it like a series of teeny tiny pop quizzes that will lead to our epic transformation through Christ. We can worry less, and love more, and try again tomorrow.

That's it for this episode of "This Is the Gospel." Thank you to our storytellers Vinnie and Lisa for sharing their stories and their decisions with us. We'll have a link to Elder Bednar's talk, as well as more information about both of our storytellers in our show notes at ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel. You can also get more good stuff throughout the week by following us on Instagram or Facebook @thisisthegospel_podcast.

All of the stories on this podcast are true and accurate, as affirmed by our storytellers. And of course, if you have a story to share about living the Gospel of Jesus Christ and deciding to follow Him, please call our pitch line and leave us a story pitch. The best pitches are going to be short and sweet and have a clear sense of the focus of your story. Call 515-519-6179 to leave us a message.

If today's stories have touched you or made you think about your discipleship just a little more deeply, will you share that with us? You can leave a review of the podcast on Apple, Stitcher, or whatever platform you listen on. And if you can't figure out how to leave a review, which I totally get, you can go to our Instagram page in the highlights for some tips. Every review of this podcast helps us to show up for more people who are looking for good things to listen to.

This episode was produced by me, KaRyn Lay, with editing and story production help from Erika Free. It was scored, mixed and mastered by Mix at Six Studios. Our executive producer is as always Erin Hallstrom. You can find past episodes of this podcast, including that episode from season one that we mentioned, "The Paths We Choose," and other LDS Living podcasts at ldsliving.com/podcasts.

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