"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
April 08, 2015
I Control What I Can
by Amy L. Stevenson

“It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succor of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.”

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote these words in his book The Return of the King. The quote struck me when I first heard it so of course I googled it. I had to read over it several times to feel like I fully understood it.

I have not read the book the quote comes from, so I do not know the context in which it was written, but this is how it translates for me: I don't have to do everything or know everything, just help how I can where I am now.

If I focus on filtering out evil in my own family, and my own circle of reach, I will give my children and their generation a clean place to start from. I cannot control the future or what they will do with what I provide, but I can give them their best chance.

When my husband was in high school he had an English teacher who required the class to read a book that had been on the banned list for its profanity and inappropriate content.

When she introduced the book to the class, she gave a big speech and told them all that there might be things their "mommies and daddies wouldn't like," but that they should not go home crying to them about it because it was important literature.

After class he went to her and said that he didn't want to read the book because it was offensive. She threatened that she would assign him another book that was much longer and more difficult if he refused to read it. He said that he would read the other book.

She then got angry and questioned, "Why is it a big deal? You hear swearing and this kind of thing at school every day anyway!"

His answer was profound for a teenage boy. He simply said, "I control what I can."

This should be the mantra of every person for himself, and all parents for their children: I will decide what to make part of my life. I will choose what grows in the home my family lives in. I will not passively stand by and allow evil and nonsense to influence what the harvest will be. I cannot be guaranteed that what I plant will always take root, but I will work at it anyway.

What we, as adults, choose to include and exclude in our family affects how our family members will think and act. Their thoughts and actions shape what they will become. The way we speak to one another, work we do, media we watch, music we listen to, games we play, friends we have, and religion we practice all go into the soil from which we grow. Let us choose carefully, and keep it clean.


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About Amy L. Stevenson

Amy Stevenson grew up in central California but ventured to Utah to receive a bachelor's degree in human development from Brigham Young University. She has been using her degree every day since then as a stay-at-home-mom to her son and three daughters.

She believes that parenting is more than telling children, "Be good!" It is about surrounding ourselves with good things, and then acting in a way that reflects the good we have found. She has always enjoyed discovering how people become who they are and has a blog where she shares clean, good, uplifting ideas and resources for children and families in hopes of helping them become their best selves.

Along with her husband and children she has lived in nine different cities in three states, which has taught her that people are good everywhere and there is something to learn from every experience. She and her family now live in Simi Valley, California -- and hope to stay there.

Amy serves as a ward missionary and teaches the gospel principles class.

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