Sharing her family motto with Brigham Young University-Idaho graduates during commencement exercises on July 23, Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president, said to do good and be good, but if you have to choose, be good.
Speaking to the graduates in the BYU-Idaho Center in Rexburg, Idaho, Sister Oscarson spoke of the lifelong process of refining, repentance and line-upon-line learning that comes as individuals follow the Saviors invitation to become perfect.
Small decisions that we make at critical junctures in our lives can set the tone for a lifetime, Sister Oscarson said. A person who is striving to be good thinks about the cumulative effect of his small daily decisions.
In addition to Sister Oscarson, Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy and the Commissioner of Church Education, and BYU-Idahos President, Kim B. Clark, spoke, honoring the 1,728 students recognized for earning degrees.
Sharing an example of her husbands father, Roy Oscarson, Sister Oscarson told of a time that, while looking for work during the depression, he moved to a different state than his wife and baby. After being hired on as an extra and after his first exhausting day of work, he quickly fell asleep, only to wake the next morning to the sound of the Salvation Army group playing music. He realized it was Sunday, and despite being extremely tired, he decided he would get up, clean up and attend Sunday services.
This one small decision was the beginning of an established pattern for him and his family for the rest of their lives, she said. They moved dozens of times in the next few years and their first thought was always to seek out the Church. This one small decision to attend church on that discouraging Sunday morning has meant everything to our family.
Just as one mans choice to be good, faithful and an active Church member has blessed the lives of his descendants. Individuals also have the choice to be good as they make a difference in the lives of others and build a foundation for good in their own families lives.
Make the small decisions now that will impact the tone of your commitment and service in the Church for the rest of your lives, she said. Decide to attend your own ward each week and get involved. Be diligent and faithful about magnifying priesthood duties and Church callings. Put down roots wherever you are and be a fully vested member of your ward. Decide to be a good member of your ward family.
Speaking on the topic of family, Sister Oscarson encouraged graduates to stand up and defend the principles stated in The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
Today, we live in a climate where those who dare to stand up and defend the principles set out in The Proclamation are labeled, at best, old fashioned, antiquated and outdated, and, at worst, intolerant, bigoted, hateful and unchristian.
My dear young graduates, while the winds of popular culture have drastically changed what is considered politically correct and acceptable, the Lord saw fit to declare His standard years ago so that we would stand firm on this important and essential principle in our time.
While encouraged to be loving and kind to those with differing opinions, Sister Oscarson said there is no need to apologize for supporting, promoting and encouraging the establishment of traditional families.
Marriage is ordained of God, and it is central to His plan for His children, she said. My testimony to you is that your greatest growth, joy and fulfillment in life will come to you as you marry the right person in the Lords house, bring children into this world and raise them in righteousness.
She reminded graduates that requirements to marry do not include money, job security or a house, but rather faith. If you wait until you have enough money to get married or have children, you will never do it," she said. "I promise that the Lord will help you.
Sister Oscarson told graduates to make the success of their marriage union their first and foremost priority by putting side childish pursuits and desires and by giving their full attention to the happiness of their spouse and children.
Stay focused on the important things in life, she said. Come unto Christ and concentrate on those things which are of eternal worth.
The Lord is looking to His people to preserve and protect the sanctity of the family and marriage in this world, she taught. All of us, both those who are married and those who have not yet had the opportunity, should recognize that the restoration of the power to seal families together in the House of the Lord our temples is one of the most significant and meaningful blessings available to those of us who live in this dispensation. We need to hold that doctrine dear to our hearts and not be ashamed to share that vision loudly and clearly with the world.
It is through the many small decisions that individuals make each day of their lives and the habits that they form. Those habits, in turn, determine who a person is and whether or not they are on the road to perfection.
You are working on the foundations of your lives right now, she said. What are the small things you can decide to do that will determine whether you accomplish a great work as you leave Rexburg, Idaho, and begin the next phase of your life?
Sister Oscarson shared three habits that help individuals as they are trying to "be good": prayer, paying a full tithe and temple attendance.
Make prayer a daily habit. We each have the privilege and blessing of communicating one-on-one with a loving Heavenly Father who listens to us and desires to bless us. Prayer is our life-line to the source of help for all that may challenge us in this life. As they hymn says, Dont forget to pray. Speaking to the Lord each morning and each night, and then pausing to listen to the whisperings of the Spirit as He speaks to you will be one of the great comforts and blessings in your life.
As you go out into the world and begin to earn a living, make the decision right now, that when you receive that first paycheck and with every single one that comes after, that you will pay your tithing before you pay any other bill, she said. I can almost guarantee that there will be times you will be tempted to feel you cannot afford to pay tithing, but I promise you, that you cannot afford not to. Paying tithing doesnt take money, it takes faith.
Attend the temple
How often you attend the temple depends on your lives and circumstances it is different for everyone, she said. The important thing is to make the decision to go, set a specific schedule, and then stick to it. The temple is the spiritual center of our Church and is the source of the greatest spiritual blessings in our lives. The ordinances of the temple are essential to our exaltation.
It is through making good decisions that individuals are able to take part in the great work of building the kingdom of God.
The greatest joy you will experience in your lives will come from establishing righteous families, keeping the commandments of the Lord and unselfishly serving those around you.