The beauty of the gospel, in my opinion, is that each of us is allowed to learn lessons at different times. For example; if I had had to learn the 'be mature' lesson before I was allowed to progress in any other area...I would still probably be stuck on the 'be mature' check-off point. Sure I would be working at it, striving to be better, but in the mean time, all of these other teaching opportunities would be wasted on me because I would only be looking and focusing on 'being mature.'
I realized this week that the Lord has been trying to teach me, for a VERY long time, how to make good choices the first time. I won't go into too many details, but there was a point in my life where I would choose what I wanted over what I thought the Lord wanted. (See waiting to turn my mission papers in for 6 months, even though I had gotten some pretty serious revelation that I needed to go, because of a boy...stupid!) The beauty of repentance is that it is always available to those who are willing to seek after it, but wouldn't it be better to just do things right the first time?! Of course it is. But most of us don't learn that way. That is why we have agency, and that is why the atonement was necessary.
I heard a quote when I was younger that has always stuck out to me. It said something along the lines of 'Our lives are made of every day choices that will one day show what we truly believed.' I always thought it was catchy. I think I even wrote it on a piece of paper and put it on my wall so I would remember it. But only now, in my mid twenties, am I seeing how that correlation between the small choices and my happiness really are.
In a talk called Choices by President Faust, he similarly equated our happiness to our ability to choose. He said:
In this life we have to make many choices. Some are very important choices. Some are not. Many of our choices are between good and evil. The choices we make, however, determine to a large extent our happiness or our unhappiness, because we have to live with the consequences of our choices. Making perfect choices all of the time is not possible. It just doesn't happen. But it is possible to make good choices we can live with and grow from. When God's children live worthy of divine guidance they can become 'free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon.'
That is one of my favorite scriptures. So I am choosing to act for myself this week and not be acted upon. I am choosing to run that extra mile even though I know nobody but me will know the difference. I am choosing to not be 'reactional' but rather choose my mood and not let my mood choose me.
Because 60% of the time, it works EVERY time.