Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lauren's Farewell Talk

Good afternoon brothers and sisters, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be here with you all and speak one last time before head out to the MTC on Wednesday, I only get to do this once so I’ll try and make it count. I want to thank the awesome kids in our ward, I LOVE the primary program, it’s the best Sunday of the year and I think it’s kind of appropriate that I was scheduled to speak right after the kids, seeing as I feel like I still am one….

I truly do miss being an innocent child, playing outside all day and watching Disney movies like it was my job. When I was a kid, I loved any movie that had a princess in it and the little Mermaid was a particular favorite. In this movie, the main character Ariel is a mermaid princess who is turned into a human and given the opportune experience of life outside of the ocean where she was raised. When Ariel is a mermaid, she is fascinated with humans and collects man-made objects salvaged from shipwrecks. At one point she finds a fork and, not knowing its purpose or name brings the object to her above water seagull friend Scuttle. Scuttle, the all knowing  expert on humans tells Ariel that this object is called a “dinglehopper” and that it is used to comb and style one’s hair.  Later in the movie, Ariel finds herself above water in the dining hall of Prince Eric. She sits at the table and to her content recognizes  the familiar dinglehopper sitting on the table before her. She immediately picks it up and begins combing her hair with it, as she believed that this was it's intended use. However, when the prince and others look at her like she is nuts, she is embarrassed and realized that scuttle the seagull had misinformed her of the use of this object.

In this story, Ariel is unaware and misinformed of two things 1) the identity of the object and 2) it's purpose.  In the world we live in, many people simply don’t know their own identity and purpose in life. Much like how Ariel was misled into thinking a fork was a hair-combing dinglehopper, we as people can be deceived into believing that we are non spiritual entities who’s purpose is solely to seek financial success and other temporal goals. Some succumb to self-destructive habits such as drugs and alcohol, immorality, and deceit on their quest to discover their purpose.  And many have elements of the truth, but simply are unaware of the full truth of their identity and purpose.  And that is where the gospel of Jesus Christ comes in.

When we come to know Christ, and learn of His doctrine, we will come to know our true identity as royal spirit Sons and Daughters of our Heavenly Father. However Before we can come to know our true purpose, we must first know our identity.
We are so blessed that our Heavenly Father has shown us in these latter-days where we came from, where we are going, and why we are here. Much of the confusion that comes in this life stems from us not understanding who we are.
In a CES devotional, President Uchtdorf shared the classic Hans Christian Andersen story of the Ugly Duckling: “In the story a mother duck discovers that one of her newly hatched chicks is unusually large and very ugly. At first the mother wonders if she has hatched a turkey egg, but the ugly child can swim as well as her other children. And so she comes to the conclusion that the poor thing is simply abnormal and disfigured.
The other ducklings, however, cannot leave the ugly child alone. They punish him mercilessly, pecking at him and teasing him and making him miserable. Finally, the ugly duckling decides it would be better for everyone if he left his family, and he runs away. During the bitter cold of his first winter on his own, the poor duckling nearly freezes to death, but somehow he survives. In spite of his privations, he feels himself getting stronger, and he loves spreading his wings and taking flight even though he’s alone.
Then one day he sees flying overhead a flock of majestic birds, white as snow, graceful in their movements, with beautiful long necks and wide, elegant wings. Oh, what glorious and happy creatures! The ugly duckling longs to fly with them. He is afraid that they might kill him because he is so ugly. But then he decides that would be better than being pecked at by the other animals forever or freezing to death in the winter. And so he takes flight and follows them to a beautiful lake where they settle onto the water.
As he lands, the ugly duckling looks into the water and sees the reflection of a magnificent swan. Gradually, unable to believe it at first, the ugly duckling realizes that the reflection is his own! To his surprise the other swans welcome him, and they even agree that he is the most beautiful, most majestic of all the swans. At last he has discovered who he really is.
President Uchtdorf went on to say “think of where you come from, you are the sons and daughters of the greatest most glorious being in the universe, He loves you with an infinite love, He wants the best for you. This knowledge changes everything. It changes your present, it can change your future, and it can change the world. If only we understood who we are and what is in store for us, our hearts would overflow with such gratitude and happiness that it would enlighten even the darkest sorrows with the light and love of God, our Heavenly Father. Our destiny is greater than we can imagine.
After we come to know our true and eternal identity, we can come to know our purpose. As we know in the book of Moses it says  “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Our TRUE and ETERNAL purpose is to work towards eternal life and share the gospel with others so they can receive that same joy.  However, we all have our own specific purpose in life and can come to know what the Lord has in store for us as we grow closer to Him.  In my own life, it wasn’t until I started to work at discovering my specific life mission and the purpose the Lord sent me to Earth to fulfill that I began to recognize a customized divine errand from the Lord.
Growing up, the idea of going on a mission was never really on my agenda; it was more of a distant and unlikely possibility that I never really gave much thought. But just about a year ago, I really decided to stop trying to man the ship all by myself and turned the steering over to my Heavenly Father. I kind of just said, Heavenly Father, look I’m starting to realize that I don’t really know where I’m going, I can’t do this alone and I need to know what you’ve got in mind for me, so from now on, thy will O Lord be done, not mine.
And as soon as I changed that paradigm and attitude in my life, I just felt immediate peace and I knew that everything would fall into place through this newfound or rather renewed partnership that I had with the Lord. I continued to pray for direction as to what the next step in my life would be (what I kind of had in mind at the time was maybe a hint at a career path or something obvious like that) buuuuuut just a couple weeks later the answer came to me at a very unexpected time in an unexpected way, watching general conference, and in an instant EVERYTHING I was planning for my life changed, and suddenly I was going on a mission, there was no question, the spirit testified that to me the moment the prophet said that I would be eligible to serve at age 19 and just like that I had discovered the next step of the Lord’s customized divine errand for me. And I could not be more thrilled to be taking that step now, a year later.
I love this gospel IMMENSELY and the amount of peace that I feel just from just reading my scriptures and praying, going to the temple and developing that relationship with the Lord is immeasurable and truly inspiring. Nothing in the world inspires me more to try to be a better woman and to be pure and spotless and to love my fellow men.  This gospel  makes me happy. Truly truly happy and how could I possibly keep that from all the people who dont know anything about it. I CANT and THAT is why I am going on a mission. that’s why.
I hope with everything in me that those I come into contact with will feel of the joy that comes along with the spirit and the knowledge of his gospel and the transforming power of the atonement, because I know that it will make their lives better and fulfill His work and His Glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal Life of man.
I get so excited just thinking about this awesome work and I truly believe that sharing this joy is the greatest, eternal service one can give, and giving up 18 months of my college years is a small price to pay.  
I love you all brothers and sisters, and I love my family for the rock that they have always been and always will be to me.  I am grateful for this restored gospel on the Earth today. I know that our Prophet is truly a prophet of God and I find great peace and inspiration from the words he speaks. I love the temple, I have only been a couple times but the spirit that I feel there is so scared and indescribable and something that everyone should experience. I love the Book of Mormon and I know that the words within it are true. I will never be able to physically prove to anyone that the Book Of Mormon was really written by ancient prophets, but I know that every principle in it is true good and for our benefit, and I know that God provided this book for our day. I know that Joseph Smith restored the gospel to the Earth and I am so grateful for his faith and sacrifice. And lastly, I love my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and the sacrifice they made and the love they have for every one of us. I love the transforming power of the atonement and I know that it truly does change people.  I want so badly to be a good disciple more than my weak mortal imperfection can allow, and I pray that I will learn and grow, but more importantly forget myself and serve the Lord.

And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, awesome talk. So glad I could read it even if I couldn't be there. Love you Lauren!