Monday, December 30, 2013

My Farewell Talk

Notes From My Farewell Talk

Who We Are:  We are sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father and Mother.

“You are literally a spirit daughter of heavenly parents with a divine nature and an eternal destiny.  That surpassing truth should be fixed deep in your soul and be fundamental to every decision you make as you grow into mature womanhood. There could never be a greater authentication of your dignity, your worth, your privileges, and your promise. Your Father in Heaven knows your name and knows your circumstance. He hears your prayers. He knows your hopes and dreams, including your fears and frustrations. And He knows what you can become through faith in Him. Because of this divine heritage you, along with all of your spiritual sisters and brothers, have full equality in His sight and are empowered through obedience to become a rightful heir in His eternal kingdom, an “[heir] of God, and joint-[heir] with Christ.”  -Jeffrey R. Holland

I have learned this for myself. Through prayer, I have learned who I am. I am not here to go with the crowd. I am not here to be average. I have work to do. It helps me so much to know that I have a Heavenly Father who knows me perfectly.

Not only do I have a Heavenly Father, but I have my brother Jesus Christ. I have hope through His Atonement. When Christ was on the Earth He bled from every pore in the Garden of Gethsemane as he suffered for every sin, sickness, and affliction. He was also crucified on the cross and resurrected three days later. Because of these actions, we can repent of all our sins and we will also be resurrected after death. Christ understands every bad day, every feeling of inadequacy, every feeling of doubt, every feeling of confusion, every ill feeling we may have, He once felt it and knows how we feel.

John 15:13 – “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

His love is greater than we can comprehend. Not only did He die for us, but he refers to us as His friends.

“Think of the purest, most all-consuming love you can imagine. Now multiply that love by an infinite amount—that is the measure of God’s love for you.

God does not look on the outward appearance.   I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely.

He loves us because He is filled with an infinite measure of holy, pure, and indescribable love. We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God’s love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked.

What this means is that, regardless of our current state, there is hope for us. No matter our distress, no matter our sorrow, no matter our mistakes, our infinitely compassionate Heavenly Father desires that we draw near to Him so that He can draw near to us.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

If the Lord be so patient with us and realize that life and love are a process…can’t we do the same?

How We Can Love – When we understand who we are, when we understand how much we are loved, when we understand how to use the Atonement, then loving others becomes easy. The perfect example is our Savior.  

“When I think of the Savior, I often picture Him with hands outstretched, reaching out to comfort, heal, bless, and love. And He always talked with, never down to, people. He loved the humble and the meek and walked among them, ministering to them and offering hope and salvation.  That is what He did during His mortal life; it is what He would be doing if He were living among us today; and it is what we should be doing as His disciples and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”  -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

This is one of the main reasons I want to serve a mission. I feel so blessed. I know who I am. I know my Savior and my Father in Heaven. I feel so much peace, love and guidance in my life and I want others to have that blessing too. If the Lord is going to call me His friend, then I want to be acting like a friend. We make sacrifices for our friends. Although it will be hard to leave my family, to put off school, and to learn a new language and be in a place where I’ll be a little bit of an outsider for a while, it’s worth it for Him. I want to help my friend with His work and help everyone to feel His love.

“I hope that we welcome and love all of God’s children, including those who might dress, look, speak, or just do things differently. It is not good to make others feel as though they are deficient. Let us lift those around us. Let us extend a welcoming hand. Let us bestow upon our brothers and sisters in the Church a special measure of humanity, compassion, and charity so that they feel, at long last, they have finally found home.  When we are tempted to judge, let us think of the Savior, who “loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. …

“[And] he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, … [for] all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.”  In truth, we “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  We are all in need of mercy. In that last day when we are called to the judgment bar of God, do we not hope that our many imperfections will be forgiven? Do we not yearn to feel the Savior’s embrace?  It seems only right and proper that we extend to others that which we so earnestly desire for ourselves.  I am not suggesting that we accept sin or overlook evil, in our personal life or in the world. Nevertheless, in our zeal, we sometimes confuse sin with sinner, and we condemn too quickly and with too little compassion. We know from modern revelation that “the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” We cannot gauge the worth of another soul any more than we can measure the span of the universe. Every person we meet is a VIP to our Heavenly Father. Once we understand that, we can begin to understand how we should treat our fellowmen.”  - Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I agree with President Uchtdorf wholeheartedly. I think that we are too often willing to point fingers at one another. Charity to me is not necessarily donating money to organizations, or participating in sub for santas or even cleaning out kennels at the animal shelters. Although these things are great and we should continue doing them, charity is deeper. Charity is the ability to see others the way that the Lord sees them: with complete patience and love. It is the ability to look past flaw to see the good, the ability to forgive when we are hurt, and the ability to step outside our own comfort zone and realize that every person on this earth has worthwhile talents and gifts that we can use to help one another.

One of my new favorite movies is Frozen. We can learn so much from the sisters, Anna and Elsa. Growing up they were not close and Anna felt like her sister shut her out. However, when Elsa’s powers were discovered and everyone became scared of her, calling her a monster, Anna stuck up for her sister. She always believed the best. At the end of the movie, Elsa learns that it is love that will make her powers truly beautiful. I am so impressed with Anna’s ability to look for the good before the bad and with the power that love has.

“Let our hearts and hands be stretched out in compassion toward others, for everyone is walking his or her own difficult path. As disciples of Jesus Christ, our Master, we are called to support and heal rather than condemn. We are commanded “to mourn with those that mourn” and “comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”

Christ did not just speak about love; He showed it each day of His life. He did not remove Himself from the crowd. Being amidst the people, Jesus reached out to the one. He rescued the lost. He didn’t just teach a class about reaching out in love and then delegate the actual work to others. He not only taught but also showed us how to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.”  Christ knows how to minister to others perfectly. When the Savior stretches out His hands, those He touches are uplifted and become greater, stronger, and better people as a result.  If we are His hands, should we not do the same?” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

The New Testament repeatedly uses phrases like “moved with compassion” and “his bowels were filled with compassion” to describe our Savior. He literally could not make it from Point A to Point B without this phrase being used as he helped someone. How often are we “moved with compassion” that stirs us to action? Once a week? A couple times a week? Once a day? Multiple times a day? Due the circumstances and feelings of others around us “fill our bowels with compassion”?

Why is This Important:
First and foremost, it is a commandment – John 15:12 – “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”

Second, it will make us happy – “As we extend our hands and hearts toward others in Christlike love, something wonderful happens to us. Our own spirits become healed, more refined, and stronger. We become happier, more peaceful, and more receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

The weekend before finals week, my roommate Tamsyn and I decided to help our with our ward’s Sub for Santa. We were buying gifts for a nine year old girl named Harley who was being raised by a single mother. We had a plan to shop for about two hours, be back by noon, and then study for the rest of the day. However, this was not your average nine year old girl and she was into skulls and Tim Burton and things of that nature! We were struggling to find things that she would like and we ended up shopping almost all day! Then we decided to put together a basket of “strengthening families” with a movie and a game and some treats! By the end of all of it, it was about 7 o’clock at night and let’s just say…minimal studying occurred. However, the following week as we were camping out studying and looking like hobos, all of my tests went well. I had to double check almost every grade coming out of my tests because I couldn’t believe I had done that well. I know that when we put others before ourselves, Heavenly Father notices and we are blessed. Now I’m not suggesting we skip studying, but Heavenly Father knows our hearts.

Most Importantly, Love is How we Return Home – We are here to learn how to become like our Heavenly Father. Here to have trials, make mistakes, create families, become better. Favorite scripture – Moroni 7: 47-49 – “But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father will all energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.”

I love this scripture because in order to truly be friends with the Savior and to know Him, we have to become like Him and begin to think like Him. If we are going to relate to Him, we have to do the things that He does, think the way that He does, love the way that He does. This is the sign of a true disciple and true friend of Jesus Christ.  I have a favorite hymn that I hope to make the theme of my mission that I would like to share with you in closing:

Savior, may I learn to love thee. Walk the path that thou hast shown.  Pause to help and lift another, finding strength beyond my own.  Savior may I learn to love thee.
Love I would follow thee.

Who am I to judge another when I walk imperfectly?  In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can't see. Who am I to judge another?
Lord I would follow thee.

I would be my brother's keeper. I would learn the healer's art.  To the wounded and the weary, I would show a gentle heart.  I would be my brother's keeper.
Lord I would follow thee.

Savior may I love my brother as I know thou lovest me.  Find in thee my strength, my beacon, for thy servant I would be.  Savior may I love my brother.
Lord I would follow thee.

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