Andra J. Duke spoke to BYU students about being intentional, spiritual creators in her devotional address on March 7.
Duke is a BYU alumna and the director of content for BYU Broadcasting, having worked there for over five years. She has been involved in the process of producing and creating content for television for 25 years.
Duke began by discussing the significance of being created in God’s image and using this knowledge to guide significant decisions in an individual’s life. She said she believes God gave His children the “inherited ability to spiritually shape our own creations, including the experience and path we forge here in mortality.”
One aspect of creating in this life, she said, is spiritual creation, which is the ability to see potential when others cannot. Duke recounted a story about her grandfather who restored Harley Davidson motorcycles from old, broken parts. She related this instance back to Heavenly Father, who she said sees the divine potential in each of his children.
Duke continued by discussing the power behind a “great story.” She said stories have the ability to inspire joy, empathy, connection and understanding. Duke compared the processes of content creation to everyone’s intentional journey, saying that creating the best stories takes time.
There are three different types of plot lines known as “A, B and C” stories, she said. The “A story” is the primary storyline for the main character, the “B story” is a parallel storyline headed by secondary characters and the “C story” includes smaller threads that pay off long term, but these characters will not undergo any significant transformation.
Duke said individuals should align their “A story” with Heavenly Father’s “A story,” which is the Plan of Salvation.
“If we are His work and glory, what are we doing to align our A story with His?” she asked. “Is it possible that we’re spending too much time and energy as a secondary character in our own journey, focused on our B or C subplots and missing His larger narrative?”
Another element of a great story is having a strong protagonist, Duke said. These protagonists are complex characters and are driven by an “aspirational objective,” which she said she feels this structure mirrors an individual’s spiritual journey. She said she believes that children of God are built to learn, transform and evolve for eternal progression.
Duke said throughout her career, there has been a long-standing joke of how they will “just fix it in post.” This means that although they encounter challenges during production, they will rely on the editing process to fix them all, she said. Duke said fixing this in post will be more costly, leading to a “substandard” solution that could have been better had it been fixed earlier.
“Similarly, in our own lives, while the Savior’s Atonement provides endless opportunities to ‘fix it in post,’ delaying the changes we need to make in our lives today, robs us of the peace and blessings that the Lord wants to provide to us right now,” Duke said.
In regard to the editing and refinement process of creation, she said there are times when their ideas were not executed in the way they had anticipated. But as they continue to fine-tune their show, these edits are what help their idea become complete, she said.
Duke said she has learned to trust and have faith in the process of refinement, whether that is in her job or in her own life. “Only through the power of His Atonement can we refine and smooth those awkward, badly performed moments in our lives,” Duke said. “Only when we allow the Master Editor, our Savior Jesus Christ, to shape and co-create with us, can our story’s true potential emerge.”
While a typical story has a protagonist, there are also antagonists, she said. These antagonists in an individual’s life can exist in the form of perfectionism, excessive self-criticism, external pressures and shame. She said these antagonists have the ability to derail an individual if they allow it.
“Instead, as we walk through the spiritual, intentional refinements that the Savior offers us, our story can become more beautiful than we could have imagined,” Duke said.
Duke concluded with an invitation to fill one’s journey with intention, faith, love and service toward one another.