"It is so sad to see poor choices being made at critical times, choices that have very seriously limited the options a person has for future opportunity. No doubt you will continue to see the 'poor-choices' factor operating all the days of your life. Consider it ongoing evidence for you to make good choices and to be consciously striving to improve yourself each day.
I recall a motivational speaker during my teenage years making the statement, 'I know of no one to be pitied more than one whose future is in the past.' What a sobering thought—bad choices seriously compromising opportunities of the future.
So if you are tempted to take that dare or to get involved in activities that may appear exciting, give it careful thought. Don't be swayed by the urgings of peers. Is the potential thrill worth the risks and the baggage that accompany questionable conduct? You have come so far. Don't let bad choices put a ceiling on your upward mobility and, even more important, bring heartache and sorrow and loss of self-respect into your life.
I continue to be amazed at the frivolous way in which choices are made by some, both young and old alike—decisions that have eternal and everlasting consequences. I refer to such things as experimentation with drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. I refer to conduct that leads to loss of virtue or harm or injury to self or other people.
I recall a situation that came to my attention while I was practicing law some years ago. It involved a very well-educated and initially successful physician. He had spent years gaining the education and training required for a very coveted and much sought after specialty in medicine.
Just when it seemed that he "had everything," he attended a party where drugs were available and tampered with by many in attendance. With an air of abandonment—an attitude of "What will it hurt to give it a try"—he consented to an injection of a substance that his tempter said he would really enjoy.
Little did he realize that this would be the beginning of a nightmare that ultimately cost him his family, his practice, and his ability to function. He later admitted that when he took that first dare, so to speak, he knew that he was hopelessly addicted.
What a price to pay for such a moment of abandonment, a moment of thoughtlessness. Of course, not every case of addiction or promiscuity or a wasted lifestyle results from just one experiment or just one drink or just one immoral encounter, but unfortunately we are not able to determine just how strong we will be in a given situation or what effect harmful substances will have on us.
I am reminded of a wise father's counsel: "If you never take the first one, you'll never need to worry about the second one."
We should all keep in mind that there is no neutral ground between where the Lord's boundary ends and the adversary's begins. The safe rule to remember is to stay on the Lord's side of the line.
Excerpt from a BYU Devotional given June 30, 1998 by W. Eugene Hansen on the Importance of Balance in Life