‘Remove windage’ to be securely bound to the Savior, President Johnson tells BYU students

PROVO, Utah — When a winter weather system known as Kona low slammed the Hawaiian islands last month, many boat owners had taken precautions to secure their boats to the mooring or dock; some, however, had not. 

In a Brigham Young University campus devotional on Tuesday, Jan. 11, Primary General President Camille N. Johnson showed a picture of a large boat that lost its connection to its mooring and was thrown ashore by the winds and waves. 

What happened? Some sails and flags — things the wind could grab, or “windage” — were still apparent on the boat.  

“Experts say that removing windage is critical to protecting a boat in a storm …,” President Johnson said. “Sails must be secured, biminis removed, inflatable dinghies deflated and tied down. Flags, cushions, lights, everything that can be removed or lashed down should be to reduce windage.”

An image shown during President Camille N. Johnson’s devotional at Brigham Young University on Jan. 11, 2022, shows a battered boat after a storm.
An image shown during President Camille N. Johnson’s devotional at Brigham Young University on Jan. 11, 2022, shows a battered boat after a storm. Credit: Screenshot from byutv.org

With the image of the battered boat in mind, President Johnson asked: “Dear friends, students, faculty, do you have windage you need to remove? Do you need to reduce resistance so that you may weather the storms that are inevitably coming or bearing down on you now?”

Jesus Christ is an anchor that is never displaced, a mooring buoy that doesn’t dislodge, and an immovable dock, she testified. “Are there things on your metaphorical boat creating windage — creating resistance to your attachment to Him? What, if anything, is keeping you from being bound securely to the Savior?”

President Johnson invited listeners to pray to know what windage is creating a strain on their relationship with the Savior. She shared some examples of windage she is trying to remove in her life. 

Failure to trust in the Lord

A self-described “consummate planner,” President Johnson recalled receiving her patriarchal blessing at age 16 and expecting specific direction about a course of study and professional path. Her blessing didn’t address either. So she moved forward in faith, one step at a time. 

A job in Washington, D.C., led her to taking the LSAT and getting accepted to law school, where she met her husband, Doug. They had three sons and she continued practicing law. She took a leave of absence in 2016 when she and her husband were called to be mission leaders in the Peru Arequipa Mission. She returned to practicing law in 2019 and has since put it on hold to serve in the Primary general presidency

“Why give you my bio? To express my testimony that my life plan was rolled out for me as I lived it, keeping my eye on the prize of eternal life. … 

“As I trust more and resist less, I feel bound more securely to the Savior,” President Johnson said. “My faith and confidence in the Savior increase as I place my faith and confidence in Him. Because He knows my potential perfectly, He has taken me to places I never imagined myself.” 

Failure to employ daily repentance 

President Russell M. Nelson has counseled: “Nothing is more liberating, more ennobling, or more crucial to our individual progression than is a regular, daily focus on repentance. Repentance is not an event; it is a process. It is the key to happiness and peace of mind. When coupled with faith, repentance opens our access to the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”

President Johnson assured listeners that the Savior, through His Atonement, has provided a way for all to be clean and changed to be more like Him. “Know that it requires effort,” she said, “as our prophet has pleaded with us to employ.”

Procrastination

President Johnson quoted Alma 34:32-33: “This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God. … Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance.”

President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, taught: “One of the questions we must ask of our Heavenly Father in private prayer is this: ‘What have I done today, or not done, which displeases Thee? If I can only know, I will repent with all my heart without delay.’ That humble prayer will be answered. And the answers will surely include the assurance that asking today was better than waiting to ask tomorrow.”

Primary General President Camille N. Johnson speaks during a Brigham Young University campus devotional in the Marriott Center, in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022.
Primary General President Camille N. Johnson speaks during a Brigham Young University campus devotional in the Marriott Center, in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. Credit: BYU Photo

President Johnson also warned against procrastinating joy and gratitude. “Finding joy in your journey and offering gratitude to your Heavenly Father and Savior for those blessings is a way to batten down the hatches, prepare for storms, and secure your relationship with Jesus Christ,” she said.

The company we keep

Another potential source of windage is the people one chooses to associate with. President Johnson said she chooses to spend time with those who respect what she believes and encourage her to live in a moral way. “For me that is choosing good company, and it is neither exclusive nor exclusionary,” she said.

President Spencer W. Kimball said: “Always keep good company. Never waste an hour with anyone who doesn’t lift you up and encourage you.”

Validation from unreliable sources 

In her youth, when an unkind thing was said about her, President Johnson remembers her mom or dad counseling her, “Do you need care what they think?”

“Value and pay heed to the opinions of people you truly respect. … Value and pay heed to your relationship with the Savior,” she said. “Seek validation and affirmation from Him first.”

Distractions

Elder Alvin F. Meredith, a General Authority Seventy, said about distractions in his October 2021 general conference talk: “The adversary seems determined to get good people to do nothing, or at least to waste their time on things that will distract them from their lofty purposes and goals. For example, some things that are healthy diversions in moderation can become unhealthy distractions without discipline. The adversary understands that distractions do not have to be bad or immoral to be effective.”

“Brothers and sisters,” President Johnson said, “keep your eyes on the prize of eternal relationships — an eternal relationship with our Heavenly Father and the Savior and the opportunity to return to your heavenly home to be with the people who are most dear to you. That focus on your ultimate objective will help you avoid unhealthy distractions.”

Poor use of time

Goal setting is one way to remove distractions and make the best use of time, President Johnson suggested. She echoed President Dallin H. Oaks’ teaching of “good, better, best.”

She asked: “Are we using our time to secure our attachment to the Savior, or are the choices we make for our time a reason we are flapping around in the wind? Is time an asset or has it become windage? … Will you respond to the Prophet’s plea and make time for the Lord?” 

In conclusion, President Johnson invited listeners to be candid with themselves in identifying windage that can be removed from their lives. 

As her family learned from an experience at Lake Powell when their houseboat was moored to two competing points, “Sometimes our mooring lines get tangled and perhaps our ship even breaks loose from its mooring buoy in a storm when windage puts a strain on our attachment point.

“And then, thankfully, and joyfully, I testify that our Savior Jesus Christ stands as the lighthouse leading us back to safety if we will just follow His light. ‘Brightly beams our Father’s mercy from his lighthouse evermore,'” she said.

Students listen to Primary General President Camille N. Johnson speak during a Brigham Young University campus devotional in the Marriott Center, in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022.
Students listen to Primary General President Camille N. Johnson speak during a Brigham Young University campus devotional in the Marriott Center, in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. Credit: BYU Photo

Grace Johnson, a sophomore from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, studying Spanish, said she resonated with President Johnson’s message of removing things that aren’t important. “It’s not necessarily that distractions are bad, but that we can pick things that are better,” she said.

For Zac McMillan, a junior from Bountiful, Utah, studying information systems, the message of trusting in the Lord was timely. “It’s even something I’ve been hearing in prayers and reading in the scriptures lately, is trust in the Lord completely,” he said. “Don’t be halfway trying to figure out, the other half trusting Him. Just fully trust Him.”