For some reason Mormons love allegories, parables, analogies, and object lessons. We love them. We constantly are starting teaching moments with them. Maybe it’s because the scriptures are riddled with them; maybe it’s because Christ taught in parables; maybe it’s because everyone loves a good story. Whatever the reason is, there are a ton of well-known parables, allegories, analogies, and object lessons in our culture. One that I have been pondering a lot lately has been the one about the chariot drivers.
There was a king who wanted to hire the best chariot driver in the land to drive him where ever he wanted to go. He found the top three chariot drivers and decided to give them a test to decide who to hire. He had each driver drive him down the steepest and most dangerous mountain pass.
The first driver drove as fast as he could. He showed how skilled he was by driving at times on the very edge of the road, almost over the cliff. He sped down the treacherous terrain without any trouble or incident.
The second driver drove just as fast. He too drove as close to the edge of the cliff as possible. Sometimes he would drive so one wheel would hang off the side of the road. He also sped down the road and arrived at the bottom without any trouble or incident.
The third driver drove slow and carefully. He drove as far away from the edge of the cliff as possible. It took him longer to arrive at the bottom, because of the great care and caution he took as he drove. He also arrived at the bottom of the mountain without any trouble or incident.
The King hired the third driver.
This story has been told many times to me. Usually it has illustrated the importance of keeping far away from breaking the commandments, far away from the appearance of sin. But the past several days, I was pondering a different topic when the analogy popped into my head. I immediately saw the relation between the two and I hope that I can communicate it to you as well.
At times in my life I have noticed trends. I have a terrible habit of biting my nails. I’ve been doing it since I was a small girl. I have quit biting my nails many times in my life. I have even gone years without biting them only to fall back into the habit later. Usually when the nail biting begins again, other things start to occur as well. I begin to fall into other lazy and bad habits. I don’t clean, I spend too much time on my phone or electronic devices, I just end up falling into all my worst traits. At the root of all these bad habits is one issue, impulse control or self-control.
Self-control isn’t something that we focus on much in our society today. If it feels good, do it. If people don’t love you at your worst, then they don’t deserve your best. Ideas like if it feels good it’s right, it doesn’t matter what the consequences are.
There is something to be said about controlling your impulses. As a mother it happens a lot. Mothers constantly abandon what they want: sleep, reading a good book, eating a warm meal, and so on for the needs of their children. Husbands and fathers often do this too. Superman has been known to work multiple jobs so that I could stay home with Princess Pea. Superman and I have given up some of the frivolous social activities from our single lives when we got married because of the needs of each other.
I find that when I work on self-control in one part of my life, say diet and exercise, then the rest of my life falls into place with self-control as well. It’s easier to keep my impulses under control when I’m already doing so in so many other ways. It’s easier to spend more time playing outside rather than mindlessly scrolling through Facebook when I already have been keeping my energy high with good food and activity. It’s easier to cook healthy meals for my family when I have a clean kitchen to work in.
It’s crazy how it all works as a domino effect. I think if we all pick one small aspect to work on (self-control wise) we would be surprised at how it spills over into everything else.
What ways to you struggle with self-control? How have you found keeping yourself in control helps other aspects of your life?