Doug Tales 134: Friends, Part Four

Doug Mendenhall once said that one of the things he wanted to overcome in this life was how easy it was for him to get angry. As a result, he believed God gave him many opportunities to practice patience, and like the hymn “In Humility, Our Savior” prays, “Fill our hearts with sweet forgiving; Teach us tolerance and love.” (LDS Hymns #172) Doug talks about things which “friends” taught him about agency and the “tendency to walk all over each other’s agency” in Possibilities: Lessons From the Spirit (2002), pp. 127-131:

“We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen.” (D&C 121:39-40)


It seems to me that the “war in heaven” was fought over agency. Christ presented His plan for us to come here to earth, receive bodies and experience what we couldn’t with a Father in Heaven who is perfect. Since we would have our agency to decide if we wanted to obey God or not, a Savior was provided to give us a way of repenting for our misdeeds or atoning for our sins. But we would have the right to choose. Christ would also give all glory to the Father.

Then Lucifer presented his plan. He would have us all come here to earth, and he would take our agency away, thereby making us obey all the commandments. We would be forced to obey. Then he, Lucifer, would take all the glory for himself.

Fortunately two-thirds of us chose Christ and His plan. One third of Heavenly Father’s children left with Lucifer. They were placed here on earth to provide our opposition. For with opposition I have found, we grow the strongest. Plus, I believe “it is required in all things.”

As a result of our experiences I have found that man does have a tendency to walk all over each other’s agency. When we do, are we under the influence of the evil one and could this be to our own detriment? The Lord seems to indicate it is. After all wasn’t agency what we “fought” over in heaven? Could it then be one of the foundational principles of heaven? I believe it is. Otherwise why would the Lord deem it so important and tell us to be careful of taking away someone else’s agency, impinging on it, or even giving another individual part or all of our own agency.

After we started having our “experiences” with Denise in December of 1999, I had an encounter with someone who felt it was his duty to take away my agency.

A family that I had considered to be close friends stopped by our home around Christmas time. They had moved some five hours away and we were very happy to see them. I had considered the father, Jeff, to be one of my best friends and had always confided in him. Well, we told them what we had experienced with Denise up to that point. My mind was always reeling, trying to figure out what was going on each day with each new experience we were having. It felt good to confide in Jeff. I guess I was seeking understanding.

The next Sunday in church my bishop came up and told me that Jeff had called and had tried to get me excommunicated from my church. He told me that he told Jeff to back off, that he was aware of all that was happening. I believed that would be the last I heard of Jeff. Was I ever wrong.

In our first book, the story was told of how someone had called the Division of Family Services on me, accusing me of abusing Denise. DFS came to the house and checked on Denise. After a few minutes they wanted to know who I thought had turned us in because “obviously there is no abuse here.” I thought it might have been Jeff and so indicated to DFS and also mentioned the same thought in the first book. I have found out since from several people that he personally told that he indeed did turn us in as abusers to DFS.

I don’t hold any ill feelings toward Jeff for doing what he did. I have talked to him several times since. It is just amazing to sit back and see what we do to each other. How we try to justify taking away another person’s agency.

In my opinion, Jeff followed what the world (Satan) is telling us to do, turn each other in. What is interesting is seeing how we love to do this, even based upon false conclusions we have come to.

Five months after this incident with Jeff, another person showed up at our home and accused us of abusing Denise. He said he had talked to Jeff that week and because of his “love and concern for Denise” he was there to “test her urine” to determine if we were abusing her. I wondered to myself when and where he had received his medical degree.

He stayed at our home for over one hour accusing us of many things that I feel Jeff had put into his mind or false conclusions that he had jumped to on his own. It didn’t seem to matter to him that Jeff seemed to have a personal vendetta against us or that we hadn’t seen Jeff in five months and he would have no idea what was going on in our home. He didn’t seem to care that our bishop had told Jeff to mind his own business, and I felt that maybe he ought to follow the same advice. It also didn’t matter when Dianne and I asked him if he would believe a “friend” over family. We were shocked when he said he would. We asked if he wanted to hear our story of what was going on and he declined. We were flabbergasted to say the least. I finally asked him to leave.

Then we found out that this person had told another individual what Jeff had said about us, and then he also turned us in to the Division of Family Services. I have talked to him and he said he “did it out of love and concern for Denise.”

Now I am not telling these stories because of any pent up feelings or wanting to “get back” at these people. In fact both of these people have apologized to us and we have accepted their apologies. They really are caring individuals.

I just happen to believe these stories are a good example of how we step on each other’s agency and then sometimes justify it because of our “love and concern” or some other reason we make up in our own mind….

When a man does good and serves his God and fellow man and in his agency he places God first, it fills his soul with light. But Satan or darkness would command that he does evil or seeks his own gratification by hurting the innocent by inflicting his will upon them. By doing so he serves darkness or Satan.