‘Arise, shake off the chains’ of growth-impeding habits

Speaking in the October 1986 general conference, Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve said he was impressed with the counsel father Lehi gave his family shortly before his death. Lehi pleaded:

" Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust.' (2 Ne. 1:23.)"Those words apply to us today. Who among us hasn't felt the chains of bad habits? These habits may have impeded our progress, may have made us forget who we are, may have destroyed our self-image, may have put our family life in jeopardy, and may have hindered our ability to serve our fellowmen and our God. So many of us tend to say,This is the way I am. I can't change. I can't throw off the chains of habit.'

"Lehi warned his sons to shake off the chains' because he knew that chains restrict our mobility, growth, and happiness. They cause us to become confused and less able to be guided by God's Spirit. Lehi also reminded his sons that their new land shouldbe a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity.' (2 Ne. 1:7.) He could have said, `If so, it shall be because ye have been bound into captivity by the chains of unrighteous living.' . . .

"Righteous living is a shield, a protector, an insulation, a strength, a power, a joy, a Christlike trait. Yes, living a life of righteousness is a chain-breaker.

"Many of us today are shackled by the restrictive chains of poor habits. We are bound by inferior self-images created by misconduct and indifference. We are chained by an unwillingness to change for the better. Is it any wonder, in our day as it was in Nephi's, that God's pleas are awake,'listen,' procrastinate no longer,'believe me,' come back,' andseek the straight course'?

"Shaking off restrictive chains requires action. They cannot be wished away. A declaration will never break chains. It requires commitment, self-discipline, and work."

Further, Elder Ashton said: "One may ask, `What must I do to break the chains that bind me and lead me away from the path our Savior would have us follow?' These chains cannot be broken by those who live in lust and self-deceit. They can only be broken by people who are willing to change. We must face up to the hard reality of life that damaging chains are broken only by people of courage and commitment who are willing to struggle and weather the pain.

"It is true some people do not want to change, even though they may say they do. Only you can supply the motivation, and only you can decide to change. The Church, the home, the family, friends, and those professionally trained can aid, support, encourage, empathize, and guide, but the work of change belongs to the person. Most often, it is plain hard work.

"To change or break some of our chains even in a small way means to give up some behavior or habits that have been very important to us in the past."