Every Monday morning, the faculty and staff gather in a classroom. We share a spiritual thought, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and then we pray. Most often the focus of that prayer is on you. We pray for your success and an increase in our capacity and ability to help you be successful. We have had wonderful moments together on Mondays. I give credit to a colleague who shared with us a week ago an idea that caught my attention and has been lingering in my thoughts since then.
Here is a little sidebar. When thoughts from the scriptures or good principles spoken by another linger with you longer than usual, my advice is to redirect your behavior in the direction of that scripture or principle. And so, that being the case, I want to move in the direction that I felt when Brother Glenn McGettigan gave this thought.
Remember Who You Are!
Let me introduce the idea this way. When I was growing up, we had a dog named Honey. She was a honey-colored Cocker Spaniel and thus her name. Honey was my best friend next to Pete and Billy. In the summertime, Honey, Pete, Billy and I would spend a lot of time together playing outside in our large yard. Football games and baseball games, and digging giant holes in the vacant lot next door were our favorite activities. Though Honey was not very good at football or digging holes, she was a good retriever of a baseball. She was excellent in lying in the cool soft dirt as we boys fantasized about digging to China. When we would get tired, we would lay on the cool grass, look up at the passing clouds and challenge each other to see objects and creatures in clouds as they passed over our heads on their journey eastward.
Whenever Pete and Billy would come ring our doorbell to get me to join them, I would try to sneak out of the door before my mother could repeat her daily reminder to me. It was like a contest between us. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the reminder; it was that it got tedious, ritualistic, and at the age of 10, I needed some valuable interpretation and application. Maybe your mothers said the same phrase to you when you would leave the house every day to play or go to Elementary School. If you had the same experience that I had, join me on the count of three and we will recite those four words contained in our mothers’ daily admonition: Remember who you are! See, we all had the same mother, or it was in the same Relief Society manual, in great repetition.
What was it mother was trying to tell us? What was so important in that reminder that she felt it was necessary to say it every day whether it was summertime or off to school every day?
It was only when I had children of my own that the insights came as I found myself saying to them every time they left the house: Remember who you are!
Who am I?
The challenge to remember who we are begs the question: Who am I? It is a centuries-old question and was asked by great men and women in the past. In the Book of Exodus, we read of Moses’ reply to God when given the duty to go “bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt.” Moses replied, “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh?” King David said the same thing, as he sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God?” President Howard W. Hunter stated, “The greatest search of our time is the search for personal identity and for human dignity.”
As members of the Church in the latter days when the fullness of the gospel has been restored, we do not need to search for the answer to the questions: “Who am I” and “What am I supposed to do?” The Proclamation on the Family states it clearly: “…each [of you] is a beloved spirit son or daughter of Heavenly Parents, and as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.” Our greatest challenge is believing it and then acting consistent with that belief. I mean really believing it. Believing it to the point where we know how to act, and have protected and maintained our agency—our power and will—to act as we should.
And so when we are faced with the challenges that are before us now at the beginning of the semester and those that will surely come, the questions are: What will we believe about ourselves, and how will we act? In large part, the answers are based on how well we have remembered who we are.
You know the desire of the adversary. You know how he would have you believe and act. He has known you for eons of time and therefore knows that at first the subtlety of “flaxen cords” works better than binding chains.
And so I invite you to remember. The word is used 404 times in the scriptures. Six of those times it is recorded as “remember, remember.” That double expression has important meaning in Hebrew. In that language, there is no superlative—no good, better, best. Rather the word is repeated. So pay particular attention to the words, “remember, remember” within the Book of Mormon:
And now, my sons [and daughters],remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.
We are not like Joseph Smith pondering the great questions of life. He declared: “… for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know…” Because he found the answer and acted upon the knowledge he gained, you and I have a “more sure word of prophecy.” Because of Joseph’s actions, we can know what to do, if we will but remember:
“…behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God and to serve him, is inspired of God…. It is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night … wherefore I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; Wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.”
Can anything be simpler than that? Can anything be clearer than that? Can anything be easier to remember if you are willing to plant it in our hearts? When we remember who we are and what our potential is, then we know how to act. Then we do not need reminders about living the Dress andGrooming standards and acting with integrity in our course work. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every returned missionary here could be counted on to live the way the Lord would have him live and to be willing, able and worthy to serve at a moment’s notice.” Here is how President Monson feels about serving at a moment’s notice: “…I always want the Lord to know that if He needs an errand run, Tom Monson will run that errand for Him.” He also stated, “I am a very simple man, I just do what the Lord tells me to do.” When we follow the counsel in the scriptures and the example of the prophet, we can rely upon these promises of the Lord:
“Wherefore, as ye are agents, ye are on the Lord’s errand; and whatever ye do according to the will of the Lord is the Lord’s business….Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great…. Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind;  … [and] I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”
That is a wonderful promise. That is a promise worth living for, and you are able to live it when you remember who you are.
Elder Dean L. Larsen speaking in the priesthood session of April Conference in 1983 stated:
“As President Kimball has warned us, it will neither be acceptable nor safe to remain on the plateaus where our present conduct has kept us. Abrupt downward forces, represented by increasing wickedness in the world, can only be offset by forces that move correspondingly upward. Our lives must be better than they have ever been before. This simply means that we will become increasingly different from those around us whose lives follow the world’s way. It is not easy to be different. There are intense pressures that work against us. But we must clearly understand that it is not safe to move in the same direction the world is moving, even though we remain slightly behind the pace they set. Such a course will eventually lead us to the same problems and heartaches. It will not permit us to perform the work the Lord has chosen us to do. It would disqualify us from his blessing and his protecting care.”
Life, my young friends is like trying to go up a down escalator. When we pause in our efforts to consistently move forward, we lose ground. So every day the choice is ours. We make that choice every hour of every day. We can gravitate toward the world or toward things of the spirit. We cannot have one foot in Babylon and one foot in Zion. We cannot have it both ways.
And so as Robert Frost penned:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The road we have been asked to take is clearly one less traveled, yet at its end and along the way we will find greater joy and contentment, not just the fleeting happiness of a passing moment.
Remember these words of Edward W. Bok:
“Once we are convinced … that we are put here for a purpose: that the seed of divine energy has been given us and that it is for us to cultivate it to its fullest bloom, the way will be shown us. It is our part to make the effort and to put the fullest force and integrity into that effort. It is the young man of little faith who says, ‘I am nothing.’ It is the young man of true conception who says, ‘I am everything,’ and then goes out to prove it.”
Shakespeare penned: "Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them." William F. Halsey added: "There are no great men [or women], only great challenges that ordinary men [and women] are forced by circumstances to meet." Whether you like it or not brothers and sisters, greatness has been thrust upon you and great challenges lie before you. A loving Father in Heaven knew that and, therefore, you have been blessed with the all that is necessary to rise to the challenge and opportunity. This you must remember!
And when you go to the temple, you covenant for those blessings in special ways. And any of you who have been endowed and have not gone back recently to do initiatory work, I invite you to do that. And you tell that good brother or sister who officiates to slow down, and you listen carefully to those blessings. You cannot come out of that experience thinking that you do not have what it takes to succeed here or anywhere else in your life. They are powerful, they are eternal blessings, and they are yours if you have been so blessed. They are yours to look forward to if you have not had that experience in your life.
Therefore, the advice of Marianne Williamson applies to you:
“We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Finally, this counsel from Henry Eyring, a theoretical chemist and father of President Henry B. Eyring:
"Let us consider the nature of true greatness in men. The people who can catch hold of men’s minds and feelings and inspire them to do things bigger than themselves are the people who are remembered in history. . . . those who stir feelings and imagination and make men struggle toward perfection."
So brothers and sisters, I recognize that some of you come to school and you may not have had some great experiences in life. Your previous school experience may not have been terrific. I was one of those. The school system didn’t work well for me. But I also learned this: that every fear hides a vision. So I invite you to apply the blessings of the Atonement and cast out your fears about who you are and what you are capable of becoming. And start with remembering who you really are.
Now, let me give you six tips for remembering. Six ideas.
Six Tips for Remembering
Ponder your blessings. As you thank God for each one of those blessings in your life individually, more will come to mind. You will remember them. You will feel more gratitude, humility and thus have an increased ability to hear and increased capacity to heed the still small voice.
Write down the impressions you feel from the Spirit and commit to take action. Learning to hear, heed, and act upon the quiet incremental impressions of the spirit will be an important skill for the rest of your life.
Do genealogy work. As you follow the counsel of Isaiah to “look unto the rock from whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit from whence ye are digged,” you will come to know and remember the strength of ancestors. You will take courage from their stories. You will learn and remember the sacrifices they made for which you benefit.
Apply what you learn to your life’s situation. There is power, brothers and sisters, in pondering. The Lord will help you remember what is important and how to apply it. However, inspiration comes best when we have taken action to move our feet in positive directions – acting and not waiting to be acted upon.
Feast upon the scriptures. That is different than studying; that is different than reading. I invite you to feast, and I pray that the Spirit will teach you what it means to feast upon the scriptures. They have a familiar voice. The spirit that accompanies feasting in the scriptures will “teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance…”
Commit to your covenants and avoid taking the sacrament as just a weekly church ritual. Every week, in those sacramental prayers, we are invited twice to “remember.”
Believe in yourself, believe in the power you have that comes from righteousness, and from remembering who you really are. I pray that you will be prepared for the blessings heaven is willing and waiting to pour out upon you this academic year. I pray you will have strength to live up to what you know to be true, that you brethren will have strength to honor the priesthood authority you hold. And sisters, that you will have the strength to honor womanhood. I pray that you will be wise, that you will exercise the power to choose the right course based upon life experience and what you know to be true.
I testify to you that Jesus is the Christ. He stands at the head of this Church, and every subsidiary of that Church, including LDS Business College. His Spirit is here, His direction is here. I invite you to walk the halls, to sit in classrooms, and find it. I invite those that are part of the staff and administration to behave in such ways that there is nothing that we do or say that stands in the way of having the Spirit magnifying all that is done here. I pray that the Lord will magnify your abilities as you pray for them as well, that you will learn at rates that will just amaze the world, that you will come to know why you are here—the real reason, and it is not what you think, but you will find it if you pray for it, if you look for it, if you strive for it. And I leave you that as my testimony and my prayer for you, who I love as if you were my own. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.