Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Farewell Talk

Good morning brothers and sisters! 

As Brother Call said I will be serving in the Canada Calgary Mission, and I couldn’t be more excited.

I would like to start out today with a quote from Dieter F. Uchtdorf in his talk The Merciful Obtain Mercy. “He says:

“We all depend on the Savior; none of us can be saved without Him. Christ’s Atonement is infinite and eternal. Forgiveness for our sins comes with conditions. We must repent, and we must be willing to forgive others. Jesus taught: “Forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not … [stands] condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin” and “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”

That is what I would like to talk about today, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”

Now what exactly does that mean?
The dictionary defines mercy as
“Kindness or help given to people who are in a very bad or desperate situation.”

I think that through mercy we can gain compassion for others, and compassion is defined as a powerful, deep awareness of someone else’s suffering, making it so that you want them not to suffer.

So mercy and compassion can go hand in hand. One person in particular that I look up to is my Grandma King. She is probably the most compassionate and selfless person I’ve ever met. Not too long ago she was in the hospital and wasn’t looking too good, and every single time we would go to visit her she would ask us how we were doing and ask if there was something she could do for us. She had countless visitors because she is a friend to everyone and everyone loves her, and still every time someone showed up she would see how they were doing and make sure that they didn’t need anything. Now this isn’t the only time she’s done this, her whole life has been devoted to lessening other people’s burdens and she has done a great job and I just want her to know that I appreciate the example that she has been to me and I’m sure for others as well.

I was talking with my sister the other day about mercy and she brought up something that I really liked. She said something like when we go through something difficult sometimes it’s for the benefit of someone else. Looking at our trials as a way to ease other peoples burdens is a very Christ-like mentality because we are willing to accept pain and difficulty to help ease someone else’s pain.
We won’t be able to perform the Atonement but Heavenly Father gives us our own way of being able to serve and help others.

1 Nephi 1:20: But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."

I have the strongest testimony of tender mercies, I’ve seen many throughout my life but I just wanted to share a few of those experiences with you, these are personal experiences that I feel like shaped who I am and without them I don’t know if I would be up here giving my farewell talk.

I was in the middle of my sophomore year and I had a bunch of friends but to me something felt like it was missing. I prayed for weeks to know what I needed to fill in that missing space. And the answer that I got was that I had good friends, but that I needed to find different friends. At first I didn’t know why or what that meant to find different friends and that definitely wasn’t the answer that I was looking for, but with faith I started to distance myself from my friends and start looking for what the Lord wanted me to find. It had been a while and I still hadn’t found anyone, and I was feeling more alone than ever. I kept praying to ask if I really had to make new friends because it wasn’t working out very well and I was feeling alone.  Right when I got to the point where I was going to give up on my search, to my surprise the Lord blessed me with not one but two angels. 2 girls moved in, and we played high school basketball together so it was really easy for us to become fast friends. 

Something that I realized about this new group of friends was that I could talk to these girls about the gospel. We could have fun together but we could also connect on a deeper level and share our testimonies and life experiences with each other. I had no idea that was the missing piece, but I am forever grateful that I found what the Lord wanted for me.

During that time when I felt alone, I had no idea what was coming. And I can honestly say that without those 2 girls I probably wouldn’t be heading out to serve the Lord for a year and a half, today I would still call them my best friends. The Lord knows us better than we know ourselves; his plan is better than ours. I just had to go through a period of time of feeling lonely to understand that.

So I have a piece of advice for all you high schoolers out there. High school is a time where you are finding and becoming who you’re going to be for the rest of your life and the way to become your best self is to surround yourself with good friends. Be able to share your feelings about the gospel and your testimony because it can make the biggest difference in your life as it has for me. I have a testimony that even when we feel lonely if we continually pray and keep the commandments that it will all work out in the end, I can’t wait to be able to share that message with the people in Canada.

The other day I heard an analogy that I absolutely loved.  Life is like a weight lifting class. You start out with small weights and as you continually push yourself you get stronger. You get stronger by going up and down with weights but there comes a time when you’re lifting and you reach the point where your muscles can’t lift anymore, that’s when your spotter steps in. The important thing to know is that your spotter is always there when you’re going through all your ups and downs but they can’t do everything for you because then you wouldn’t get any stronger. The spotter steps in once you hit that point where you can’t lift anymore. I know that there will be moments on my mission where I feel like I won’t be able to go on, or that I am at a place where my muscles reach their point where they can’t go any further, but Christ is my spotter. He will always be there for me in my ups and downs helping me to become stronger, and he steps in when I reach that point where I just can’t do it anymore. I know that I will be able to get through anything because Christ is there, He is my spotter, and He’s always there to help even if it’s just giving a few words of motivation.

This reminds me of a scripture. I’m sure we’ve all heard it, Helaman 5:12

 12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

I just love this scripture! If Christ is our rock and foundation then Satan can’t do anything to us.

The other experience that I would like to share was actually pretty recent. I just need to say that the few months after I received my mission call and was preparing to enter the temple were probably some of the hardest in my life. Satan really tries to have an influence over you. One night after I had taken a midterm that I had studied really hard for, I didn’t do nearly as well as I thought I would do. For some reason that one bad test score made me feel like I was doing bad at everything else, all my classes, preparing to serve the Lord, and even my social life. I just had the biggest feeling of inadequacy. It turned from me not doing very well on the test to thinking that I wasn’t good enough to be a missionary. I was having second thoughts about me going out, I called my mom just sobbing, and I had no idea what to do. I just prayed real hard that night and went to bed. The next morning I woke up and my roommate was out eating breakfast so I talked to her for a little bit before heading to work and out of the blue she told me “Ashley I hope that you know that you’re going to be the best missionary, you’re just awesome.” I wish that she knew just how much I needed to hear that. That was probably one of the simplest but most influential tender mercies of my entire life. That was a testimony to me that God loves me and that I was doing what I needed to be doing. That was the reassurance that I needed to feel better about me serving a mission. All it took for me to feel better was my roommate just telling me that I’m awesome.

President Uchtdorf later in his talk goes on to say:

“When the Lord requires that we forgive all men, that includes forgiving ourselves. Sometimes, of all the people in the world, the one who is the hardest to forgive—as well as perhaps the one who is most in need of our forgiveness—is the person looking back at us in the mirror.”

I think this is a problem that lots of us have, I know that I can work on this. I for one am a perfectionist and I’m really hard on myself, but this quote gives me comfort. Sometimes it is a lot easier to forgive everyone else when we actually need to forgive ourselves as well. We just need to realize how awesome we are.

One way that the merciful can obtain mercy is by becoming like Christ and learning to see everyone, including ourselves, as Christ sees us. Nobody is perfect, but even when we make mistakes that doesn’t mean that we aren’t good enough. I hope that there is someone in Canada that needs a little redheaded girl to be friendly and tell them just how awesome they are and hopefully make the difference in their life like my roommate made in mine.

These experiences have tremendously impacted my life; they are tender mercies from the Lord. These trials have helped me to develop love and compassion for others, I haven’t met the people in Canada that I’ll be serving yet, but I know that I already love them. I know that because I have been through these trials, even though they might not be huge, they will help me on my mission and hopefully I might be able to ease the burden of someone else.

One of my favorite forms of scripture is actually music, and the song that describes how I’m feeling right now is the hymn Because I have Been Given Much. Specifically the 3rd verse.

Because I have been blessed by thy great love dear Lord, 
I’ll share thy love again According to thy word, 
I shall give love to those in need, 
I’ll show that love by word and deed, 
Thus shall my thanks be thanks in deed.

I’ve seen the Lord’s love for me through countless experiences, and now I get to go teach others just how loved they are. Not just by me but by the Lord.

I would like to end with my favorite scripture:
D&C 6:36
“Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.”

This has kind of been the scripture that I like to live by. If we are focused on the Lord and we’re trying our best, then we shouldn’t be afraid of anything.

This scripture is so simple but for me the simple things are what have formed my testimony. I have a testimony that this church is true, I wouldn’t be going on a mission if I didn’t. I know that the Book of Mormon is the truest book on the Earth today. I know that we have a true and living prophet on the earth today, and that Joseph Smith restored this gospel. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to go and share the gospel that I love so much. 

I’m grateful for each member of my family and for the positive influence that every one of them have had on my life. It’s going to be really hard for me to leave them for a year and a half, but to help me through it I think of what it is to be a missionary. A missionary is one that leaves their family for a short while, so that others can be with theirs for eternity. I’m so grateful for the knowledge that I can be with my family forever; I have a pretty great family. 

I love this gospel so much and I’m so excited to be set apart as a full time missionary.

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

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