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Graduation and Agency

We just got back from a short (can you say nine hours!) jaunt to Utah.  It was a planned and looked forward to event.  You see, my son-in-law, Matt, graduated from UVU in Utah.  Not only did he graduate, he was Valedictorian of his class.  How's that for impressive!
We loaded up the girls in the car, and made the drive from Arizona to Utah to celebrate his accomplishments.  The entire weekend was filled with graduation activities, parties, family celebrations, and just a moment of two for Matthew to take a breath and finally breathe.
Getting a college degree in any subject requires a lot of hard work.  It takes time, dedication, tenacity, and a desire to do your best.  Many people start out on that road, only to run into road-blocks, detours, and discouragement.  They run up against walls and obstacles, until slowly, one by one, they leave to pursue other avenues in their lives.
In America, over 80% of all adults have obtained, at least, a high school education.  21% have taken some college, but not earned a degree.  16% have earned a bachelor's degree, but no higher.  8.9% earn graduate or professional degrees.  (cited from USA Today at
It all sounds pretty complicated, and it is.  But it is possible, even probable to do it, if you just stick to it.  (no rhyme intended).  Not only is it do-able, but it is rewarding.  Statistics also show that you can double your earning potential by working on and getting that elusive degree.  So, "way to go, Matt".  We are all so proud of you!

How does getting a degree have anything to do with the gospel?  Are they even related?  I think they are.  Think for a moment about how accountability works here upon the earth.  We each have the privilege to make choices in our lives.  Even not making a choice is still a choice.  We have the opportunity to choose what we are willing to learn.  We can choose to feast on the scriptures.  We can choose to listen to the latter day prophets.  We can choose to develop a relationship with our Heavenly Father.  We can choose to be obedient.  Or we can drop out, quit, and walk away.  We can find other paths in our life.  We can choose not to do the things that will, in the end, bring us the greatest happiness.
It is all very much like Matthew and his degree.  I am sure there were hours and days and weeks when the frustrations of the moment made him ponder if it would all be worth it.  I am sure there were times when he wanted to simply walk away, when he questioned if staying in school was the best choice.  When he questioned if he was good enough to make it.
We each are asked to make a conscious decision to press on, to stay the path, to endure to the end.  We each have to opportunity to choose if we will press on to Him or if we will simply walk away from Him.

Brother W. Craig Zwick said, "It requires courage to make good choices, even when others around us choose differently. As we make righteous choices day by day in little things, the Lord will strengthen us and help us choose the right during more difficult times.

"The teachings and values we cherish the most are not embraced by a secular world. To maintain a firm stance for ourselves and our children, the message of the restored gospel must be firmly planted in our hearts and taught in our homes."
"We Will Not Yield, We Cannot Yield," Ensign, May 2008, 98

One of my favorite books as a young girl was the story of  Alice, in Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. If you know the story, you will remember that Alice comes to a crossroads.  There are two paths in front of her, each stretching forward, but in opposite directions. The Cheshire cat appears to her, and Alice asks, “Which path shall I follow?”
The cat answers: “That depends where you want to go. If you do not know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter which path you take.”

Part of our choice is deciding, like Alice, which way we want to go.  It does matter which path we take.  The path we follow in this life surely leads to where we will be in the next life.  Sometimes, we forget that our Heavenly Father wants us each to have joy.  He wants us to take the correct path.  He wants us to endure our journey and to arrive safely home.  Only by having the courage to make good choices, will we experience the joy that He has prepared for us.  We have each been given a wonderful gift from our Father in Heaven.  That is the gift of agency. It is completely up to each one of us to choose what type of a person we will be in the end.
May we appreciate and wisely use this gift as we make righteous choices in our day to day lives and work toward our own graduation.

Patty Ann is the mother of eleven and wife of an amazing man who cooks and keeps her happy.  She can be found most days, blogging at

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