Our agency is an amazing gift, and a scary gift all at the same time. Having the ability to make your own choices in life is so empowering and exciting. At the same time, it opens you up to make dumb choices, bad decisions, and even gives you the ability to hurt others by your own actions – all of which are a dangerous and destructive thing.
I think one of the most important things we can ever do is to learn to take command of our agency. In this life we are in control of our own choices and ultimately our own destiny and if we don’t remember that fact it is way too easy to find ourselves straying off course from where we should be.
Taking command of our agency begins by first recognizing that you do have agency and you are responsible for it. You are responsible for every decision you make, good or bad. Next I think you have to be honest with yourself about what boundaries keep you safe from making stupid choices and then be willing to absolutely live inside of those boundaries. Not on the edge of them – I am talking a good long distance inside those lines. The further from the line the safer! One of the most dangerous games to play with your agency is to walk the line of your boundaries, trying to inch as close as you can to danger without crossing over the line. The moment you start doing that you are already over the line, even if you don’t realize it yet.
Every mistake I EVER made in my life came because I either:
1. Didn’t set the boundaries for myself to begin with
2. Lied to myself about how broad my boundaries could be without getting burned
3. Tried to live my life too close to those boundaries thinking I could go up to the line without crossing.
Had I figured those three reasons up front I could have saved myself a world of heartache over the growing up years. I think that is why I have tried so hard to teach my two children that if they can avoid those three things above then they will be in command of their agency. And I have to tell you that I have two of the most AMAZING kids (now 17 and 19 years old). They are smarter than I was, have more wisdom than I did, and are truly in command of their agency. I wish every kid in the world could know those three things that will lead to all of their mistakes and heartache and then avoid them completely. As adults, even once we have figured out to avoid those three things it takes a lifetime of then trying to live inside the proper boundaries, but nothing in life brings more peace and joy than having the courage to do that.
I will close with this poem that Louisa May Alcott, wrote at 14 years old. The message of the poem reflects exactly the message I wanted to pass along to everyone today.
A Little Kingdom I Possess – by Louisa May Alcott
A little kingdom I possess
where thoughts and feelings dwell,
And very hard I find the task
of governing it well;
For passion tempts and troubles me,
A wayward will misleads,
And selfishness its shadow casts
On all my words and deeds.
How can I learn to rule myself,
to be the child I should,
Honest and brave, nor ever tire
Of trying to be good?
How can I keep a sunny soul
To shine along life’s way?
How can I tune my little heart
To sweetly sing all day?
Dear Father, help me with the love
that casteth out my fear;
Teach me to lean on thee, and feel
That thou art very near,
That no temptation is unseen
No childish grief too small,
Since thou, with patience infinite,
Doth soothe and comfort all.
I do not ask for any crown
But that which all may win
Nor seek to conquer any world
Except the one within.
Be thou my guide until I find,
Led by a tender hand,
Thy happy kingdom in myself
And dare to take command.