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Commencement

Daring to Be Different

Brothers and Sisters Aloha. Today I have decided to speak on joy and daring to be different, whether that be academically or spiritually. President Thomas S. Monson has said, “The choices we make determine our destiny.” While sometimes that line can be encouraging, I think that more often than not, it overwhelms us. I have thought a lot about it as I have entered college and the realm of being an adult. We constantly ask the questions, “What major should I choose? What should I do in life? What is the right choice?’ And we fear that we will make the wrong choices. There are two lessons I have learned that have helped me to deal with this fear. There may always be some fear in our lives, but if we doubt our doubts before we doubt our faith, and remember that through fear we can become stronger, we will always make it through the difficulties in our lives.

Lesson number one: it’s ok to be different. I am a history major, and right now, there are only nineteen history majors in this whole school. As such, I am different than most people here. I have had lots of people ask me, “What can you do with a history major?” or “why did you choose that major?” My answer to the second question is I chose my major because I LOVE it!

When we are looking for what we want to do with our lives, it is so important to choose something that brings you joy. Yes, it is important to find a way to make money, we all have to make money when we become adults, but this should not come at the price of our happiness. 2 Nephi 2:25 reads, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” And Moses 1:39 teaches that God’s work and glory is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” I truly believe that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are happy and pleased with their children’s choices when their children choose to live joyfully. Peer pressure around us tells us that we need to do the same things as everyone else, and look like everyone else. We should not have to look to the world to tell us how to live our lives. We can find peace, joy and happiness through following the gospel and not through following the ways of the world. Outside pressure may cause us to fear, but as is taught in 1 John 4:19, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:... we love him, because he first loved us.” However, this is dependent on how we live the gospel, which is lesson number two.

This is what enables us to be different in the right way. President Russell M. Nelson said: “the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.” Do we focus our lives on Jesus Christ? It is through Christ that we are able to do all things. Philippians 4:13 reads: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” How do we do things through Christ?

Elder D. Todd Christofferson shared three ways in which we can “do things through Christ.” Through keeping His commandments, overcoming sorrow and weakness through Him, and serving as He served. It is through these actions that we are able to do what Christ would have us do and feel joy. If the path we choose in our lives is in line with the gospel, enables us to keep His commandments, and serve those around us, then whatever we might choose is the right path.

President Thomas S. Monson said, “As we contemplate the decisions we make in our lives each day —whether to make this choice or that choice —if we choose Christ, we will have made the correct choice.” I know that through these decisions we will be able to find joy just as we are promised in John 15:10-11, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

I challenge you all to live your life joyfully, even though this requires us to be different. This not only means in our career choices and Sunday choices, but in our everyday life choices. We should act differently, dress differently, speak differently, and interact differently with our brothers and sisters than the world does. We should reflect Christ. Alma asks us, “And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” Through living in this way I know that we can find joy in our lives and as we continue to live in this way God will give us courage, courage to, as President Thomas S. Monson said, “to defy the consensus.” It is through that courage that we will be able to, “ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.”

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.