Carolyn Billings tells students, “be all the way in” the gospel

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Ty Mullen
BYU Devotional speaker Carolyn Billings addresses students on Oct. 17. (Ty Mullen)

Sports medicine director Carolyn Billings asked students if they are “all the way in” in her BYU devotional address Oct. 17. Her address focused on whether or not students have completely invested in the gospel principles leading to a full Christ-centered life. 

Billings began with a story from early childhood where she fell off the bed. Her father asked the four year-old why she fell. She responded she was “not in far enough”. Many times in her life when trials and problems have arisen, she said she has asked herself if she was in far enough.

Billings recounted the hardships of her college experience. She said she had difficulties keeping up with habits such as praying and studying scriptures.

Billings said she struggled with self-doubt, but at a particularly low moment in college she came across Hymn #105, “Master the Tempest is Raging.”

Billings said the second verse was exactly what she needed at her low moment, and she still draws upon parts of the song for encouragement. She emphasized a section from the first verse which reads,”Master, carest thou not that I perish?”

The line refers to the story found in the New Testament. While Christ slept, a storm raged and the apostles feared for their lives.

Billings said the line “carest thou not that I persih” is what people commonly think during trials. She said people assume Christ is oblivious of the trials that are being faced, but the opposite is true.

“It is we who need to be awakened.  It is we that need to turn and find him.  It is we that need to continue to follow His teachings.  And we who need to ask…am I all the way in? ” Billings said.

To students who are struggling Billings said, “Your Savior does care and love you. The Savior will always love you no matter what.”

Billings said it is easy to turn away from the Savior during trials, but it is not what should be done.

“The Savior didn’t abandon me,” she said. “I turned from the Savior because I wasn’t all the way in.”

Billings said athletes come to her with problems and ask her why things aren’t going the way they would like when they are following the commandments. Billings said these sorts of trials aren’t only for testing. They also help individuals grow and change.

“As much as we desire it, growth cannot come by taking the easy way,” Billings said.

Billings used her experience with collegiate athletes to explain the excuses made in order to avoid such growth. They may be tired, sore or lacking desire, but through the excuses she said the question must be asked, “Are you all the way in?”

She said it is important to be all the way in, even when it is easy to resent trials. She emphasized that trials foster growth and she stressed the importance of a grateful approach to trials.

Billings works with many injured athletes wishing to return to their original pre-injury level. She tells them they won’t be the same.

“If you will be all the way in and follow my treatment and rehab plan, you will be stronger,” Billings tells athletes, “You will learn more about your abilities. You will be awesome.”

Billings explained her theory she called the “80:20 theory.” She originally applied the 80:20 theory to her diet. If she was good about what she ate 80 percent of the time, then 20 percent of the time she can eat food considered unhealthy. She said it worked so well she tried to apply it to other places of her life.

However, Billings said the 80:20 theory does not apply to following gospel principles. The Word of Wisdom or the law of tithing cannot be followed only 80 percent of the time.

Billings said living the gospel 100 percent of the time is much more conducive to being all the way in and being like the Savior. She encouraged focusing on little things such as scripture study, saying prayers and serving others.

Billings is currently battling cancer for the fourth time. She said her cancer treatment was at times very difficult and she encouraged students to look for small victories. “There were many days where I didn’t have a bounce in my step or that was hard to smile or laugh and I found on those days my victory was simply just enduring the day.”

Billings also expressed the importance of hope, and the personal hope she has for people to serve each other.

The BYU soccer team gave her a great deal of hope by creating the “Carolyn Can” campaign, letting her know if anyone can overcome cancer, she can.

“I would dread going to radiation, but often it was in that moment that I would receive a text reminding me that Carolyn Can,” Billings said. “I would see the girls wearing their shirts and their yellow wristbands and their hope, strength, faith and energy which was so
contagious would provide the strength I needed to continue to fight.”

Billings finished by reciting part of Romans 9 and said nothing need separate us from the love of God, no matter the trial, when one is all the way in.

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