Career and Academic Advisor
Originally from Rexburg, Carrie Valora has worked in various positions at BYU-Idaho for 12 years, and has been an academic advisor for the past six years. She is currently serving as the president of the Women’s Advisory Council.
She and her husband, Peter, are the parents of three children: a high school senior, a high school freshman, and a 2nd grader.
Carrie received an associate degree from Ricks College in Office Education, and a bachelor’s degree from BYU-I in psychology.
She serves in Primary as a teacher for the 10 year olds.
Please respond to the question below on the devotional discussion board:
Ponder a time when you have overcome a trial and then shared your learning experience to help others.
How can you look at your individual struggles as successes and help those around you?
I am very humbled to have the opportunity to speak to all of you today. I would like to start off with a little story.
In late May of this year, my family and I decided to go for an ATV ride. We drove on a windy dirt path through deep crevices in the roads, over fallen trees and remaining snow that hadn’t melted through the spring thaw. The air was crisp, and we could smell the fresh pine as we rumbled along the mountainside. It was going to be a great day! We hiked down a steep gravel trail and finally arrived at our destination, Pack Saddle Lake.
There we saw a rope swing that others were using to swing out over the crystal-clear 40-degree water, and back to the land. My oldest son gave the rope swing a try, and then my husband tried. They glided gracefully over the lake and safely back to land without any hesitation or problems. My son noticed a log higher up on the hillside that could be used to stand on to get more lift when swinging on the rope. With confidence, I got up on the log and prepared to swing. I was nervous. I was afraid that once I swung out and back to land, I wouldn’t be able to get off the rope. We all talked through the process of how to get off the rope, once returning to dry land.
I was mentally preparing as my husband gave me tips: “Remember your weight training.” Let’s watch this video to see what happened next.
Did you notice my daughter giggle and say, “She’s gonna fall?” As soon as we had cellular service, my son sent this recording to all of his friends. I was soaked, humiliated, critical of myself, and I felt like a failure. One of my sons’ friends responded with a text that said, “Wow! Your mom is so brave!” My thoughts about myself changed from “I am a failure” to “I am brave!” I learned not to put myself down but to see myself in a different light. I chose to laugh, live, and learn that day.
Comparing our lives to others gives us the illusion that they are gliding gracefully through life without any effort or challenges. In contrast, our lives may seem like a big splash of failures. The lessons we each learn will be different. Some of us are suffering silently while others’ sufferings are obvious. What I didn’t realize when my husband and son swung out on the rope was that they rested their feet on the bottom knot of the rope, which helped take much of the weight off their arms. I did not use the knot at the bottom and was relying only on my arm strength, which obviously was limited.
The only way for us to be successful in life is to turn to our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the knot at the end of the rope swing enabling us to hold on and ease the pressures of the world. He is there to carry our burdens and to help us learn and grow from our failures or shortcomings. Christ has also sent us one another to buoy each other up, share our burdens, life stories, and to give support and motivation.
I believe opportunities and life experiences do not happen by chance. You are here at BYU-Idaho for a reason. There are people here that you are supposed to meet, listen to, or help. Whatever the reason, the Lord has placed you here at this time and place for a purpose.
An experience I had while working in the Hinckley Building one semester changed my life for the better. I came upon a woman whom I had seen many times walking the hallways, but never officially met. We exchanged greetings, and as soon as I introduced myself, she excitedly said, “Oh! You are a success story!” Those words took me by surprise. I thought to myself, “How could I be a success story? What is she talking about? Does she really know who I am?” All night her comment resonated in my heart and mind. I wanted to know what she meant by success story. I instantly started to think of all of the trials and failures I had experienced in my life. I had moments of embarrassment, moments of insecurity, hurt, anger, fear, and loneliness. Several scenarios crossed my mind before a powerful voice came to me and pricked my soul. It said, “You are a success story! You are a daughter of a king! You are here on earth for a purpose. Share your story!”
After that time, I began to dig deep from within and realize my divine potential and strengths. I learned to be vulnerable and not be ashamed of who I am and the challenges I have faced in my life. As I started to share my experiences, I found my identity and direction. I am proud of the refinement in my life that has sculpted who I am today. I’m not afraid to say, I have survived heartache from a divorce; I have survived physical pain from ailments and surgeries; I have survived emotional pain of losing loved ones. I have overcome spiritual pain by clinging to the gospel.
Now I ask each of you:
- Do you see yourself as a success?
- Do you see the significance of who you really are?
- Do you see the heroism in yourself as you overcome life challenges?
- Do you see the greatness in store for you?
- Do you recognize the fortitude and belief in your life’s journey?
- Do you see the magnificence of being in the right place at the right time?
Elder Robert C. Oaks stated:
One of the great blessings of understanding our true eternal identity as a child of God is that our personal sense of self-worth can only be high. There are no born losers in God’s frame of reference. He loves each one of His children. We are each His son or daughter with the potential to become like Him. 
When I think of divine potential, I can’t help but think of Simon Peter in the scriptures. Following the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus instructed His disciples to board a ship and cross the Sea of Galilee while He remained behind to pray. A violent storm arose on the sea during the journey, and the small ship was tossed about by the waves. The disciples encountered a figure or spirit on the water. They cried out in fear. However, what they really saw was Jesus walking on the water. Although the Savior announced His presence and that they should not fear, some on the ship were skeptical. Peter challenged, “If it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” And Jesus responded, “Come.” 
Peter left the boat and, like Jesus, walked on the water. Then Peter looked away from the Lord. And sometimes I wonder if he possibly heard a voice similar to my experience on the rope swing—a voice that said, “You’re gonna fall.”
Because he let fear in, Peter began to helplessly sink into the water. He cried out for help as Jesus grasped Peter’s hand and said, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”  I like to think, on a deeper level, that in that moment, Peter didn’t just doubt the Savior, but he doubted himself and his own divine potential. 
In fact, when Jesus first met Simon, He gave him a new name, Peter, which means “rock.”  Peter was an ordinary fisherman from Galilee, but Jesus called him to be an extraordinary fisher of men.  The Lord knew Peter better than Peter knew himself, just like the Lord knows each one of us and has a plan for us.
Do you think Peter thought of himself as a success? Do you think Peter understood his significance or purpose when he wrote the two epistles?
Like Peter, we cannot fully understand our potential or purpose until we turn to the Lord and realize our value and heritage.
President Ezra Taft Benson said, “You are choice spirits, many of you having been held . . . in reserve for almost 6,000 years to come forth in this day, at this time, when the temptations, responsibilities, and opportunities are the very greatest.”  He encouraged us to live up to our divine potential. He also said, “Remember who you [really] are and the divine heritage that is yours—you are literally the royal [sons and] daughters of our Father in Heaven.” And prophetically he has declared, “You have been born at this time for a sacred and glorious purpose. It is not by chance that you have been reserved to come to earth in this last dispensation of the fullness of times. Your birth at this particular time was foreordained in the eternities. You are to be the royal [sons and] daughters of the Lord in the last days. You are . . . ‘of the noble birthright.’” 
We know that after Jesus reached out His hand, Peter was saved and the wind ceased.  We can learn from this scriptural account that, in life, temporal supports sometimes sink. We can know for a surety that our Savior stands nearby, though perhaps dimly seen, and He is ready to stretch out His hand to help us if we will but reach out to Him. We do not have to struggle alone. 
Like Peter, we are God’s chosen children. He knows who we can become. He knows our fears and our dreams. He knows our potential. He waits for us to come to Him. I want each one of you to know and feel that you not only need our Heavenly Father but He also needs you. Those sitting around you right now in this meeting need you. The world needs you. And once we begin to see the divinity in ourselves, we can see it in others. We need to be that hand reaching into the water, giving courage and hope to those who may be drowning. Be the person who uplifts and inspires others.
There are people here that don’t feel like a success. They feel like failures. They are not just alone; they are lonely. Loneliness can be dangerous and toxic to your self-worth and affect your relationship with others, including our Heavenly Father.
We are all different on the outside, but our hearts feel the same. Just because we aren’t from the same town, don’t have the same major, live in the same apartment building, does not mean we can’t feel the same feelings of frustration, loneliness, or like a failure. I’m here to tell you, share your story. Your life story is not just about you; it’s about all the people around you. It’s about all the people you can touch, impact, and influence. The person sitting next to you has a story to tell.
Last week, President Dallin H. Oaks spoke on loving those around us. He stated, “When we understand the doctrine that explains our relationship to God, we also understand our relationship to one another. All men and women on the earth are the offspring of God—spirit brothers and sisters.” He continued, “What a different world it would be if brotherly and sisterly love and unselfish assistance could transcend all boundaries of nation, creed, and color.” 
Recently I posted a question on the devotional discussion board. I asked, “How can you look at your individual struggles as successes and help those around you?”
Lisa McCubbins, an online student from Utah, responded:
I often hear the saying "God will not give you more than you can handle." I want to say, "Yes, He will!" I testify that God will give us more than we can handle, but He will not give us more than we can handle with Him. When we make the choice to take God's hand and walk through the trial together, I have found that it is done with a great peace and guidance that can only come from a loving father. Also, when we choose forgiveness, it creates a peace that allows us to share our story with those around us, and to let them know they're not alone. I truly believe we are given trials to share what we have learned and how we have grown with others.
Darla Valora, a campus student from Rexburg, commented:
I feel as though I have had success but am still running the race, so it’s like I’m not finished yet. I feel most of my success stories stem from hard, life-altering experiences and always include the Savior.
I have found that my greatest success comes when I am ready to humbly submit to the will of the Lord and patiently wait through my affliction.
Christian Lubamba, a student from Pretoria, South Africa, said:
When I go through difficulties and challenges, it's hard to see the goodness in it or measure my success. Mormon said we have no witness until after the trial of our faith, and that is very much true, because after being tested—that's when we see the growth and success. So I think when we allow the Lord to mold and shape us in our struggles—that's when we get the strength to overcome our specific struggles. Nephi, when bound with cords, prayed for strength that he may burst the cords he was bound with. He did not just wish for the Lord to take them away. If we likewise pray for strength to overcome our struggles, we will be well-positioned to help others who go through the same problems or even better deal with them when we are faced with the same struggles.
There is a story about a man who was walking down the streets of New York when he fell through a hole into the sewer. All day he called out for help, and no one could get him out. A Wall Street trader passed by and wrote him a check. A reporter saw him trapped and stopped to take a picture.
Finally, the man saw his friend look into the sewer. When he asked for help, the friend jumped into the sewer with him.
“What are you doing?” he yelled at his friend. “I’ve been yelling all day and you were my only hope. Now we’re both trapped.”
“Don’t worry,” the friend told the man. “I know how to get out of here. Follow me.”
The point to this story is when you’re in a hole, you need the experience of someone who has been there before and knows how to get out. 
“We may not see it now, but everything we do, every day we live is for a purpose. And we have a Heavenly Father who will always be there to lift us up and cheer us on [in some way or by someone].” 
I want you to take a moment and close your eyes. Picture in your mind someone who has positively influenced your life. Now, take out your phones and write down their name. Maybe jot down a brief message, thanking them for being an inspiration to you. By the end of the day, I want you to have sent that message to your person.
I have this quote in my office that I read daily: “We rise by lifting others. A hug is one of the most beautiful forms of communication that allows the other person to know beyond a doubt that they matter.”
There is a song from a popular Disney movie, Toy Story, which illustrates this quote beautifully.  As we listen to this song, I want you to do a little exercise with me. Stretch your arms up high. Let your right arm rest around the person sitting to your right. Let your left arm rest around the person to your left. Now sway back and forth, and feel free to sing along while the music plays.
My favorite part of this song is verse two, which reads:
You've got a friend in me
You’ve got troubles, and I’ve got ‘em too
There isn't anything I wouldn't do for you
We stick together and we can see it through
‘Cause you've got a friend in me 
I want each of you to know that you matter. You now have a friend anywhere you go. I challenge each of you to discover who you really are and to reach out to someone new. It is powerful when the Spirit touches a heart for eternal good because someone like you was there. It is my prayer that as we focus on rising and becoming, the Lord will strengthen you to embrace your challenges and failures as learning experiences, which will become your personal success stories so you will inspire others. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 Matthew 14:31.
 See F. David Lee, “Can you help me see the significance of the account of Peter walking on the water?,” Ensign, Oct. 1984.
 See John 1:40-42.
 See Luke 5:10.
 Ezra Taft Benson, “A Message to the Rising Generation,” Ensign, Nov. 1977.
 Ezra Taft Benson, “To the Young Women of the Church,” Ensign, Nov. 1986.
 See Matthew 14:31-32.
 See F. David Lee, “Can you help me see the significance of the account of Peter walking on the water?,” Ensign, Oct. 1984.
 Dallin H. Oaks, “The Paradox of Love and Law,” BYU-Idaho devotional, Oct. 30, 2018.
 HailStateBeat, “ A parable from Cohen and a swing by Rea lead to victory for MSU in SEC Tourney,” May 21, 2014; hailstatebeat.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/a-parable-from-cohen-and-a-swing-by-rea-lead-to-victory-for-msu-in-sec-tourney .
 Virginia H. Pearce, “Keep Walking, and Give Time a Chance,” Ensign, May 1997.
Toy Story, directed by John Lasseter, 1995.
 Randy Newman, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” 1995.