I count it an honor and a blessing to be able to speak on such a night of celebration. Tonight, we are celebrating 2 graduations of sorts. The first of which is the graduation of our dear friend, teacher, and mentor, Brother Stephen Stokes who graduated to begin his post moral work, and who better qualified to help those in spirit prison. Though there are undoubtedly many who knew him better, I have a great admiration for the life he lived. His kindness was unmatched, and the stories I’ve heard of him since have given even more prestige as to just how much of a disciple of Jesus Christ he was. Brother Stokes contributed greatly to the influence of the Spirit that can be felt here, and will be sorely missed. For those who don’t know, Brother Stokes taught classes that dealt with many dark, unsavory topics. The way I was able to feel the Spirit through him even when discussing such heavy topics filled me with hope, that even though evil is all around us, we can find peace and comfort, and our works can contribute to the light that is in this world.
The second graduation, the progress from our time here at Brigham Young University - Idaho on to any number of new ventures. As I reflect on my time here at BYU-I there is one theme that threads them all together - and that is sweat.
- You sweat when your parents begin saying ‘goodbye’ leaving you alone to begin “adulting” (Maybe even some sweat coming from your eyes)
- You sweat at the end of your first semester, standing in line at Broulim’s seeing your total climb with every Top Ramen packet they scan, hoping that you’ll have enough to grab a Little Caesar’s on the way home.
- You sweat when you see those Freshman 15 pop up on your scale - then you sweat to get them off, or sweat because you can’t get them off. Any way you look at it, that’s a lot of sweating.
- You sweat when you get a call inviting you to meet with the Bishop on the first Sunday of the semester when all the “big” callings are still on the board.
- You sweat through tests, presentations, papers sending up prayers that you promise you’ll start studying earlier for the next one if you can just get help on this one.
- You sweat and stutter, speaking 2 or 3 decibels higher than normal, when that special guy or girl speaks to you for the first time
- You sweat or will sweat, when you realize that guy or girl is the one you’re going to spend the rest of your life with.
- Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ll sweat when you hear the question, “What are you gonna do with the rest of your life?” hundreds of times over the next few months.
I could go on and on, but I won’t. I will only say that it’s only appropriate that the end of my career here ends with sweat once again.
In the scriptures, there are two references found in the topical guide in association with sweat. The first is when Adam, after being removed from the Garden of Eden is told, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground.” This application can easily be applied to what we’ve been doing for the last 4 years. As we have gained knowledge and experience “in the sweat of our face,” we have been given the ability to go into the world and “make bread,” though I prefer the analogy to “bring home the bacon.” I had a basketball coach in high school who would regularly get after us when we would try to make fancy passes or an advanced type dribble. He would say things like “Grow here thinks he’s Magic Johnson.” But then he taught a valuable lesson. He taught that the reason Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson were able to make such advanced plays is because they worked so hard on the fundamentals. They began just as we did, basic chest passes, bounce passes, layups, dribbling with each hand, until they had perfected them. Here at school, we’ve had the same opportunity to learn and perfect our fundamentals. As you continue to hone your skills that you’ve developed, I challenge you (including myself) to become the Michael Jordan of our field. Begin to challenge just how much you can accomplish.
Albert Einstein was quoted as saying, “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” You’ve done much to gain knowledge, now allow your imagination to take that knowledge that you’ve gained to bring your hopes and dreams to fruition. Challenge norms. Fly past expectations. Give yourself the permission to do things that are uniquely you. The great philosopher, Jim Carrey, in an address similar to this one, addressing graduating students, told of his father who could have been a great comedian, but instead chose to become an accountant, because of the safety and security it would bring. He made a choice out of fear disguised as practicality. After 10 years, he was fired from his job. He failed at something he didn’t even want to do. You might as well take a chance on doing something you love. Try things. Fail. We have so much time left to leave the world with the music we have inside of us.
The second scriptural reference to sweat is that of our Savior, “And he being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” It is interesting to me that no matter how much we will toil and sweat in our lives, that sweat will never amount to anything if we don’t allow the sweat and sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ to enter our lives. While we’ve received a great education at this school, hopefully the most important resolution that we have made is to honor the covenants that we’ve made and to live our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ. His sweat is the only way that we will be able to partake of the Bread of Life.