Viewpoint: New Beginnings

Contributed By From the Church News

  • 15 June 2014

At all graduation ceremonies during which students receive academic degrees, the celebration is symbolic of both an end and a beginning.

Article Highlights

  • personal attitude, belief in one’s ability, and the courage to face challenges are the ABCs of “an abundant life.”

“Daily prayer and scripture study should be a part of every Latter-day Saint home. Ensure that as you … establish yourself, that wherever you may live, the gospel will always be part of your home. … Make the gospel of Jesus Christ a vital, active part of your life.” —Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Traditionally, in late May and early June, thousands of high school seniors in the United States participate in commencement exercises. As are all graduation ceremonies during which students receive academic degrees, the celebration is symbolic of both an end and a beginning.

The graduates walk across a stage, accept diplomas, and leave their childhood behind. They look forward to adult responsibilities. Some might go away to study at a university, get jobs, or enter the military. Because LDS missionary service now begins at age 18 for young men and age 19 for young women, many will immediately dedicate two years to the service of the Lord.

Much will change for these high school graduates.

President Thomas S. Monson, speaking at commencement ceremonies at Weber State University on April 23, 2010, said graduation is not the conclusion of an achievement, but simply the ending of one chapter and the beginning of another.

He told the graduates that personal attitude, belief in one’s ability, and the courage to face challenges are the ABCs of “an abundant life.”

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face,” he said, quoting Eleanor Roosevelt. “The danger lies in refusing to face the fear.”

These ABCs have relevance for all of us who seek an abundant life.

In essence, each day of life for all of us is much like high school graduation—a new beginning.

It may be best said by the popular American proverb “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

Although the high school graduates enter a world where much is uncertain, Elder L. Tom Perry said that making good choices daily will ensure future happiness.

“Daily prayer and scripture study should be a part of every Latter-day Saint home,” he told BYU graduates on April 25, 2013. “Ensure that as you … establish yourself, that wherever you may live, the gospel will always be part of your home. … Make the gospel of Jesus Christ a vital, active part of your life.”

On April 21, 2011, Elder Richard G. Scott shared a simple pattern for success and happiness in life despite daily challenges.

“God has given you the capacity to exercise faith so that you may find peace, joy, and purpose in life,” he said. “However, to employ its power, that faith must be rooted in something secure. There is no more solid foundation than faith in the love Heavenly Father has for you, faith in His plan of happiness, and faith in the willingness and power of Jesus Christ to fulfill all of His promises.

“Some of the principles upon which faith is based include:

“Trust in God and in His desire to provide help when needed, no matter how challenging the circumstance.

“Obedience to His commandments and a life that demonstrates that He can trust you.

“Sensitivity to the quiet promptings of the Spirit and courageous implementation of the resulting impressions.

“Patience and understanding when God lets you struggle to grow and answers come a piece at a time over an extended period.”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles spoke during an April 19, 2012, commencement address at BYU of the opportunities and challenges that graduates face as they look forward to new beginnings. “The answer to all of these challenges is the same as it has always been,” he said. “We have a Savior.”

Elder Oaks added, “I testify that His teachings are true and that the way He has marked out is the way to peace in this world and everlasting life in the world to come.”

He said that in establishing the academy that was to grow into Brigham Young University, Brigham Young taught that education was “an imperative in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Quoting the teachings of President Brigham Young, Elder Oaks said, “All our educational pursuits are in the service of God, for all these labors are to establish truth on the earth, and that we may increase knowledge, wisdom, [and] understanding.”

May we all remember that we need our Savior and His Church as we face new beginnings and even as we face each new day.

Speaking to BYU students on September 20, 1983, President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency, reflected on all the days of his life.

“My life has been rich with challenges and associations,” he said. “I have wrestled with problems large and small. I have known something of discouragement and on a few occasions have felt the exhilaration of achievement.

“I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the marvelous and generous blessings of the Lord. Among these is the opportunity to be associated with His great cause and kingdom.”

He then shared with the students a few lines of something he had written, telling them to enjoy every day of the journeys ahead of them:

“If I were you, what would I do? I’d enjoy every day of my stay. …

“If I were you, what would I do? I’d walk humbly with God and my Savior, too,” he wrote.

It’s a pattern that will guarantee success as each of us face new days—and new beginnings; it is a pattern that will help all of us enjoy the “abundant life.”