My brothers and sisters, I feel almost as if I should look in the coffin to see if I am there. I am grateful for Brother Haycock’s kindness. I assure you it was overdone.
I congratulate you young students who have the good fortune to be students at this great university. I am grateful that several of our grandchildren are with you. It is sixty-eight years this month since I came to enroll at Brigham Young University—these have been interesting years. Our family was among the refugees fleeing from the civil war in Mexico, having left all our worldly possessions behind. I was just seventeen. My uncle, Carl Eyring, had invited me to come and live with them and go to Brigham Young University.
The two years I spent here made a lasting impression on my life, and I developed and ever-increasing love and appreciation for this great school. I hope you appreciate the uniqueness of the Church-sponsored institution, my young friends, and realize that the major reason for its existence is to help you, its students, to develop a firm testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ as well as to receive an education that will prepare you to be successful men and women in your life’s work.
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ, we have taken upon us his name, with a commitment to keep his commandments. He set the perfect example for us in his earthly life and has given us a pattern for living that can assure us a useful, happy, productive life here. We realize this is the purpose of our earth life in preparation for life eternal. When Christ was here in mortality He was asked by the Pharisees, “Which is the first and great commandment?” His answer, as you remember, was,
Thou shalt love thy Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
Upon these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. [Matt. 22:37–40]
As we look about us at the lack of love of God or of fellowmen in the world today, we realize that failing to keep these commandments has brought the world into the state of war and contention in which we find it. What can we as individuals do about this situation? Our responsibility begins with ourselves. Can we look in the mirror at ourselves and see reflected one who has accomplished self-mastery? Are we honestly able to look to the welfare of our neighbors and to be as concerned about them as we are about ourselves?
The primary concern of each of us is to put our own lives in order. We are accountable primarily to ourselves for what happens to us in our lives. The source of real happiness comes from within. We are responsible for our success or failure. And the most fundamental need of every human being is to be loved and needed. This then fosters a feeling of self-worth. Hopefully each of us makes a firm commitment at the beginning of each day that this day will be a happy, successful experience. We must know that the source of our success and happiness comes from within. We are responsible for our choices.
Our free agency is our most priceless possession. Remember that the Prophet Joseph said, “We teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.” In the scriptures we read,
There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven . . . , upon which all blessings are predicated—
And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. [D&C 130:20–21]
It is important, then, that we keep always in mind that while free agency is a law of heaven, it is equally certain that we must take the consequences of our free choices. Therein lies the importance of seeking divine guidance in the use of our free agency so that we may always choose the right. As we make all of our decisions, our question ought to be: “What will be the result of my choice?”
You young people are the hope of tomorrow. You are here on earth at a time when the forces of evil are bombarding you with false standards as well as an enlightened age when the knowledge of technology has never been so sophisticated. You are being bombarded with false voices that cry, “Marriage is not necessary. Anything that comes naturally, that gives you satisfaction, is acceptable. Lie a little, steal a little, take advantage of your neighbors if it will bring you profit. Do your own thing.” Close your mind and heart to the voices of evil. Take a long look at the future. Life is eternal. You are your own constant companion through everyday of life and throughout all eternity. You cannot escape yourself. You could make choices that might give you a thrill for the moment, but what will be the lasting result? We are spirit children of heavenly parents and have great potential. We all can communicate directly with Heavenly Father, and He is just as close as we will let Him be.
He has designed that we, as men and women united by the bonds of eternal marriage and strengthened by the bonds of love and companionship, can build a family unit and thus carry out the Lord’s design for the fulfillment of the destiny of the human race. You young people are in a most crucial period of your development. This is the time of preparation and decision. Your choice of an eternal companion will have a most profound effect on your future and the future of civilization. Look for a companion who has ideals similar to your own—one who will help you be your best self. I quote from a noted historian and philosopher:
Throughout history, nations have been able to survive a multiplicity of disasters—invasions, famines, earthquakes, epidemics, depressions—but they have never been able to survive the disintegration of the family. The family is the seedbed of economic skills, money habits, attitudes toward work, and the arts of financial independence. The family is a stronger agency of educational success than the school. The family is a stronger teacher of religion than the church. . . . What strengthens the family strengthens society. The role of a father, a mother, and of children is the absolute critical center of social success—if things go well with family, life is worth living; when the family falters, life falls apart.
We of the Church of Jesus Christ have the added knowledge that the family may be the eternal unit of importance if the marriage is sealed for eternity in the holy temple of God. Marriage is an equal partnership between husband and wife. Each has specific roles that the potential of man or woman can fulfill most effectively. The father who holds the priesthood fills most successfully the role of director and protector of the group. His position, hopefully, is never one of autocratic direction, but only of cooperative consideration carried out in perfect love and unselfishness. The role of a successful mother involves a lifetime of dedication. It is the most exacting and difficult of all professions open to women. Anyone who would say apologetically, “I am only a homemaker,” has not fully appreciated the importance and intricacy of her profession. Some of the attributes required to be a successful mother are an unlimited amount of love, patience, unselfishness, and endurance. A mother should be skilled in child training, in economics and management, in nutrition and nursing; in fact, a well-rounded education will be a great help in her important role both as wife and mother.
Some weeks ago I received a letter from a sweet young girl from Colorado asking, “Sister Kimball, since the Church stresses so the importance of a woman’s role as wife and mother, do you think it is necessary to have a college education?” You may be sure that I sent her a very detailed letter of the importance of all the education that a woman can acquire. A well-rounded education will be a great help in a woman’s important role both as wife and mother.
There should be love and harmony between husband and wife. In the home the mother has the opportunity to teach her children to honor and respect their father, who holds the priesthood of God. It is he who will properly preside and lovingly direct the activities of the family. Children should be cherished with the strongest bonds of affection. No sacrifice is too great to protect our families from evil and to rear them in righteousness. Our constant anxiety is that all members of the family will live worthy of the eternal blessings promised to those who remain faithful to the end.
These suggestions may seem premature to you young people, but I remind you that you are in a period of preparation. It is not too early to make your opportunity for learning meaningful and serious. Hopefully you are here happily, making friendships that will be stimulating and lasting. The direction, “If you would have a friend, you must be a friend,” is a truism. A happy, optimistic outlook on life will help you to attract friends. A smiling countenance and a glad handclasp are a way of projecting your desire to make friends. Be constantly on the lookout for anyone who seems to be lonely and timid. They need your help. I speak from experience of a long time ago. Develop your talents. Make the most of every opportunity. Be alert and alive, moving forward enthusiastically and joyfully. Life is good if we make it so.
I wish to bear my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to the happiness and joy and feeling of peace that come when we follow His directions. May our Heavenly Father help each of us to follow the road and do the things that will make it possible for us to live eternally with Him and with our Savior, Jesus Christ. In His name. Amen.
© Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.
Camilla E. Kimball, wife of Spencer W. Kimball, gave this devotional address at Brigham Young University on 6 September 1980.