They were a young couple, looking for a new home, and had a vaguely formed idea of what they wanted. But they started with the price they could afford and began looking in a general location. They narrowed their search to several locales and drove around. Some homes they liked, but others they passed over for a variety of reasons, not all of them really sound.
Then the wife said, "Let's turn up this street," and they found a house they liked. Soon it was theirs and the bank's.That was years ago. The house became a home, the street a neighborhood, and the town a community. Their children grew up in the home, made close friends with other children in their neighborhood and ward, attended nearby schools where they made even more friends, and eventually chose vocations and spouses - all traceable back to where they lived.
Just like that, a simple decision made on a warm spring afternoon became a turning point in all their lives. And so it is with all of us. Who cannot put their finger on the precise moment when everything changed because we said "yes" or "no"? Even if we did not realize it at the time, and even if it was not always for our happiness, either. (For our deepest regrets are as easily traceable to one decision as are our highest joys.)
But as for happiness, we revel in those moments of decision. We seek them out. If only the consequences of our decisions could be as clear in the moment as they are in the memory. But that's the way it is with people. Consider Phineas Young, who bought a Book of Mormon out of curiosity, read it and gave it to his father, who then gave it to Brigham Young. When the future prophet later met missionaries of the Church, he was already convinced of the book's truthfulness. A decision of the moment changed the destiny of thousands of people and of the Church itself.
Our lives are built upon elaborate structures of interlaced decisions, much like the genetic codes that determine the very color of our eyes. Only we build these structures ourselves, stacking decision upon decision until we reach the present.
And if that's the case and we are the creators of these intricate structures, then why shouldn't we follow a blueprint? For there is a blueprint, drawn by those much wiser than we. It's defined by the gospel, traced carefully from the scriptures, teachings of the prophets, and lives of the those we admire.
A model even exists in the life of Christ, of whom Paul said, "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him." (Heb. 5:8-9.)
Think of it: For all the things that matter in our lives, we're offered hard-won counsel. Our families are important to us, so we're advised on how to keep them close through love and communication. Our friends influence us, and so we're counseled to seek the association of good people. Knowledge is important, and we're told to seek wisdom; our communities matter, and we're given opportunities to serve.
There's always a decision to make as long as we live, for that is the core of the Lord's plan for us. President David O. McKay said: "Next to the bestowal of life itself, the right to direct our lives is God's greatest gift to man. Freedom of choice is more to be treasured than any possession earth can give. . . ." (Conference Report, October, 1965.)
Life itself is quite capable of inflicting a fair amount of random choices upon us. And sometimes we are buffeted - or blessed - by the actions of others upon whom we have no control. It's at those moments that the blueprint of the gospel shows its value to us. We don't need to be without direction when we have the core values of the gospel to guide us, whatever the circumstances.
The difference in our lives may well come from not following the guidelines put there by the gospel. It makes no sense to seek trouble by disregarding the warning signs on those paths over which we have a measure of control. As a father told his son, "You can choose what you do, but you can't choose the consequences of your acts."
The poet Robert Frost, in his famous poem, "The Road Not Taken," told of coming across two paths, either one of which was attractive, and then said,
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.