For those of you who couldn’t make it to my farewell, here is the talk I gave! Also, for those who did make it, sorry that the talk isn’t the exact same. I only wrote out bullet points so I just typed up what I remember saying!
Wow. It’s amazing to be up here and speak to all of you. Every once in a while as I’m preparing to leave, I have moments when it actually hits me that I am finally going on a mission! Right now is one of those times. I’ve dreamed of this moment my entire life. I’m humbled to share some of the things that are most dear to my heart with the people most dear to my heart before I go.
Today I’d like to talk about seeing others as they may become. My parents and sisters are great examples of this principle to me. They have always seen my potential and encouraged me and done all they can to help me achieve it. At a young age they taught me that all my dreams could come true if I worked hard enough for them. If you tell a kid anything enough times, eventually they are going to believe you. Never doubt the influence you can have on a person. Many of you here have changed my life forever whether you know it or not.
Stephen R. Covey said, “To recognize a person’s potential is to help them achieve it.” What does that mean – to recognize a person’s potential? President Monson once asked, “Have you ever pondered the worth of a human soul?” The worth of a human soul is its capacity to become as God.
Doctrine and Covenants 18:10 says, “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” You are of great worth to your Heavenly Father.
Someone said in gospel principles last week that the definition of humility is “to see yourself as God sees you.” In that way, humility is both sombering and empowering. It is seeing your weaknesses and your continual dependence on Christ, but it is also seeing your potential to become like Him someday. Often in my moments of true humility, I find that if I truly recognize where I am weak and my need for daily repentance, God reminds me of the other half, of His never ending love for me and my potential to become.
I loved during this last women’s conference, when Sister Burton mentioned a woman who had been through many trials. The woman said, “I have come to realize that I am like an old $20 bill – crumpled, torn, dirty, abused, and scarred. But I am still a $20 bill. I am worth something. Even though I may not look like much and even though I hae been battered and used, I am still worth the full $20.” Isn’t that beautiful?
Now as I remembered this story, I thought about that $20 bill and its potential to become. Honestly, I love Chick-fil-A, so the first thing that popped into my head was a platter of chicken you can get there. It costs $20 and it has enough chicken to feed your entire family and have leftovers. If I have a $20 bill, I’m not going to care if it’s a brand new crisp bill or a dirty old one. They both have the potential to become that platter of delicious chicken and that’s all that matters.
God sees us this way. We are all of equal worth to him, no matter what condition we may be in now. He sees our potential to become, and we are worth much more than a platter of Chick-Fil-A. We each have the potential to become like God.
Another story I love in the Bible is the story of Christ with the woman who committed adultery. A group of people were gathered around this woman. They were all pointing their fingers, accusing, and judging her. They wanted to stone her. Jesus came along and, of course, the people didn’t hesitate to tell Him exactly how she had sinned. To which He replied, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” Slowly the crowd disappeared and Jesus was the only one left. He asked her, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? To which she replied, “No man, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” The one person who could judge her because He was perfect, didn’t. He knew her life wasn’t over yet and He knew her potential to change.
People can change. God is fully aware of that. President Monson reminded us of this truth at this last general conference. He said, “We must develop the capacity to see men not as they are at present, but as they may become.”
This is the reason I have chosen to serve a mission. Missions are always a sacrifice. It’s not easy to leave behind those I love, or school, or my intense love of art and filmmaking, or to save up the money to pay for it. But it’s so worth it. The gospel has blessed me more than words can express. I see the difference it has made in my life and I want others to have that too. I see their potential to become members of this church and experience the same joy I experience daily.
I know that the same gospel that Christ taught while He was on the earth has been restored again in its fullness. These divinely restored truths are what make our church different than any other on the earth. These truths are contained in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon has the answers to deep questions of the soul and all problems we may have in life. I know it truly is the word of God in addition to the Bible. I know that keeping the commandments brings peace and happiness that is true and lasting. It’s better than any temporary pleasure that may come from sin. I know that Christ has atoned for the sins of all mankind because He loves us so much. Whenever we mess up, we can turn to Him and repent. Whenever we go through anything hard, we can turn to Him and receive comfort from somebody who knows exactly what we are feeling. The Gospel is simple. Anyone can know the truth of these things if they ask God with a sincere desire to receive an answer.
I’d like to challenge all of you to not just take my word for it. Find out that the gospel is true for yourself. If you don’t have a testimony, do what you need to to get one. If you already have one, guard it and nourish it. I promise that as you do these things, you will realize how precious your testimony is. You will be able to receive the strength, guidance, and comfort you need throughout life and you will be able to find purpose and lasting happiness. I love this Gospel so much. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my testimony with you and soon with the people of Chile on my mission. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.