On Dec. 7, students gathered in the BYU-Idaho Center for the final devotional of Fall Semester 2021.
Blake Willis, a faculty member in the Agriculture and Life Science Department, began his address by informing the audience that he had a bad attitude as a teenager. After venting to his mom about his circumstances, she shared some merciless wisdom:
“You know Blake, you can’t always choose your circumstances, but you can choose your attitude — and by the way, you have a list of chores you need to do before dinner.”
That advice stuck with him throughout his life. He encouraged students to reflect on it.
Willis then continued to share stories of others facing obstacles and how they managed their attitudes in doing so. After sharing a cheerful anecdote of a king and his peasants, he shifted his tone to a more serious one.
Willis shared that his father signed up to fight for World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor which happened exactly 80 years from his devotional address. Willis grew up hearing his father’s war stories. He learned a lot from his example of bravery and facing trials with courage.
“I was blessed to have a father that would tell me stories of real life heroes, not marvel comic book heroes, but people who lived real lives, facing obstacles with steadfastness and determination,” Willis said.
Willis invited students to face their obstacles with grit and persistence. He shared that when children of God turn to Him in facing trials, they’ll grow stronger from them.
“Challenges can be a valuable tool in our pursuit toward earthly and eternal goals. Obstacles need have no necessary connection with failure. Attitude, self -management and self-discipline in all of our trials will bring only strength. Bad habits seem to beget bad habits. Good habits encourage additional good habits. When we complain, avoid or make excuses we become weaker and give external forces the power to write the story of our life. The problems remain the same. Instead of excuses, look for answers. Instead of giving up at the first rock in the road, look for a way to move the rock. An obstacle to the valiant is an opportunity for growth.”