“Be Good,” Sister Oscarson Tells BYU–I Graduates

Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer

  • 30 July 2014

Bonnie L Oscarson, Young Women general president, speaks during commencement exercises for BYU–Idaho graduates, held in the BYU-Idaho Center on July 23.  Photo by Ryan Chase, Brigham Young University-Idaho.

Article Highlights

  • 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.

“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.”
—Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president 

REXBURG, IDAHO

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 Savior’s 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 the Church Educational System, and BYU-Idaho’s president, Kim B. Clark, spoke, honoring the 1,728 students recognized for earning degrees.

Sharing an example of her husband’s father, Roy Oscarson, Sister Oscarson told of a time when, while looking for work during the Great Depression, he moved to a different state, away from 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,” said Sister Oscarson. “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.”

The University Choir performs a musical selection, “Redemption Cometh,” during the spring 2014 graduation commencement exercises. Photo by Tyler D. Rickenbach, Brigham Young University-Idaho.

Graduates meet outside on the BYU-Idaho campus after commencement exercises on July 23. Photo by Tyler D. Rickenbach, Brigham Young University-Idaho.

Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy and Commissioner of the Church Educational System talks briefly to the 2014 spring semester graduates during commencement in the BYU-Idaho Center. Photo by Tyler D. Rickenbach, Brigham Young University-Idaho.

President Clark applauds the 2014 spring semester graduates during commencement exercises in the BYU-Idaho Center on July 23. Photo by Tyler D. Rickenbach, Brigham Young University-Idaho.

Deans of the College of Performing and Visual Arts award diplomas to graduates during the convocation held in the Snow Building. Photo by Tyler D. Rickenbach, Brigham Young University-Idaho.

Just as one man’s 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 Sister Oscarson encouraged those listening to be loving and kind to people with differing opinions, she also 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 Lord’s 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 aside 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 he or she is 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.

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.”