LAIE, Hawaii — Individuals must get over their insecurities and look to the future with faith, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told graduates during commencement exercises at BYU-Hawaii on Dec. 17. The ceremony for the more than 200 graduates was held in the Cannon Activities Center on the university's campus in Laie, Hawaii.
"First of all, it is incumbent upon us as students, as Latter-day Saints, and as children of God to see the divine potential in ourselves, to believe in ourselves to know that with God's help there is quite literally nothing in righteousness that we cannot become," Elder Holland said. "That is the parable of this school's history and it ought to be the parable of your history."
Elder Holland spoke of the school's rise to its present significance and consequence against a backdrop of struggle, poverty and a lot of faith. He focused on two lessons for graduates, or any student, at BYU-Hawaii to remember.
"For Latter-day Saints in general and BYU-Hawaii students in particular there should be no blur in the vision of what is humanly possible," he said. "We of all people should not be guilty of living under our moral capacity, or, as Brigham Young regularly phrased it, 'living beneath our privilege.'"
It is through realizing and living up to ones potential that individuals are able to make a difference in their families and communities.
"If you lack confidence or always sound apologetic or feel you have an inferiority complex, get over it," he said. "We all start humbly, we all start with feelings of inadequacy, we all think the fellow seated on our right and the woman seated on our left are more talented, more gifted, had wealthier beginnings than we do, and are going to do better in life than we will. Well, they aren't and they don't and they wont! They are just like you."
Everyone has fears and insecurities, Elder Holland said, but it is through looking up, looking ahead and believing in oneself that individuals are able to make a difference.
"Jesus said to the Twelve just after they were newly called, 'Lift up your eyes' (John 4:35). That is what he continues to say to us," he said. "I don't know all of you individually, but I know you collectively and I have lived the years you are now living. I know only too well how much you may feel that you have disadvantages, but I say shame on you if you do not see the wonderful blessings you have had, including this educational experience at BYU-H, and the wonderful world of possibilities lying in front of you. …
"You may rightly apologize for not studying hard enough or going to the beach too often — as students we all have those things to apologize for — but no one should ever apologize for lack of opportunity, lack of possibility, lack of divine love to guide us, or lack of dreams to make us better than we ever thought we could be — because all those gifts are ours for the taking if we want them.
Individuals must never subject themselves to a blurred vision of their potential or the atrophy of spirit that gives excuses, Elder Holland said.
"Take your dreams, your education, the love of a whole church full of people, and go make something of yourself," he said.
It is through taking the experiences graduates had at BYU-Hawaii and applying them to their lives that they will be able to make a difference in the world, he said.
"You have been blessed with some of the best and most loving teachers, neighbors, friends, staff and faculty you could ever have," he said. "But as graduates you will be pushed our of this nest, ushered out of this little academic Garden of Eden, and you will be spending time — a lot of time — in the cold and dreary secular world. Don't resent that. Don't resist it."
It is part of "the plan" in a world that so desperately needs faithful individuals, Elder Holland said.
"Don't see your work-a-day world as a loss or a limitation, something less wonderful than BYU-H," he said. "See your life away from here as the next step, as an opportunity, a chance to have an impact, part of your 'mission' in life."
Just as a missionary firsts enters the Missionary Training Center prior to reporting to the mission field, so have the graduates entered BYU-H to enter the world.
"The idealized life you have had here is not to be permanent but is to fortify us for the world we have been trained to enter and which needs our life, our learning and our example," he said.
"Don't you dare just go blend into the amoral, telestial, hard-scrabble world of today. Don't go to your first job or first neighborhood or first staff meeting and just begin to act like everybody else. Be strong. Be true. … Teach — rather than being taught. You can't control everyone's language, but you can control your own. You can't control everyone's standards, but you can control yours. And thus the light of the gospel — the figurative lighthouse of Laie — can shine in all the world in which you go.
"Don't give up or give in. Be strong if you are the only Latter-day Saint for a hundred miles in any direction. Stand. Stand straight. Stand true and firm. … Remember the parable of BYU-H. Smile at your humble beginnings. Get over your insecurities. Be filled with faith in yourself and in your future. Take a stand. Have an influence. Keep your covenants."