"We stand at the crossroads, each minute, each hour, each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to perform. Each choice is made in the context of whatever value system we have selected to govern our lives. In selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make.
"Those who believe there is one God who made all things and who governs the world by this providence will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who hold in reverence that being who gave them life and worship Him through adoration, prayer, and thanksgiving will make choices different from those who do not. Those who believe that mankind are all of a family and that the most acceptable service of God is doing good to man will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who believe in a future state in which all that is wrong here will be made right will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who subscribe to the morals of Jesus will make many choices different from those who do not...
Since the foundation of all happiness is thinking rightly, and since correct action is dependent on correct opinion, we cannot be too careful in choosing the value system we allow to govern our thoughts and actions" (Benjamin Franklin, "The Art of Virtue," 88-90)
If we are to have a true value system, Bishop Edgley said that our system should have its foundation on four points.
First, if we understand our identity (he notes the vital difference between just hearing about it and actually believing it) as sons and daughters of God, we will approach life with a long-term confidence in what we can do, because we know what we have the potential to become. The question then changes from defeat "I could never do that" with hope "I can do that."
Second, we need to understand the gospel plan. This was my favorite part. He told the story of a young man who began to slide in his living of the standards of the Church. He explained this to bishop Edgley by saying that "I am what I am." He said that this attitude is "inconsistent with the gospel plan, inconsistent with the Atonement. It is an affront to our very mortal existence." "You become what you will, we choose our ultimate destination." Wow. Powerful words. It made me think of my own experience with testing Ether 12:27 when I had considered myself "shy" before my mission. I have since come to believe that we can change almost any aspect of ourselves, if it is a righteous desire. Isn't that what life is for (Alma 12:24)? To change ourselves to become more like God?
Third, we need to personalize the Atonement. Here, Bishop Edgley focused on the wondrous gift of the Atonement. What is it, really? It is an endowment of hope. We can never despair because there is always a way to come fully unto God. The road is repentance. He tells a story of a man who broke a serious commandment and called Bishop Edgley and said that "He would do anything to feel right with God again. If that requires excommunication, then I want to be excommunicated." He said that this man partook of the full power of the Atonement and eventually became fully "right with God," with a clear, confident conscience again. Bishop Edgley states that "confidence becomes our motivator when we partake of the Atonement." We need to remember that Christ is continually calling to us, always inviting us to come unto Him--even in the seemingly obscure parts of our life.
Fourth, we need to continually develop faith in Christ. He quotes from Acts 5 and warns that trials will be our constant companion. However, with the proper perspective, we can, with the Apostles of old, rejoice in our trials because we seem them in their proper context. We know that we can learn and grow much in our trials, and God is ever aware of us and we can be assured of our eternal reward if we stay true to our value system. He again repeats that we have "ever reason to look forward with optimism and excitement."