Monday, December 13, 2010

A Shiny New You

Sacrament Talk for the Young Adult University 3rd Ward
December 12, 2010
Elizabeth Willis Barrett

Hey you! Yes, You. You—the one who is texting right now to find out what time the game starts or to see what your friend ended up doing last night. You who left a pile of clothes on the floor in your attempt to find something great to wear today. You who are struggling with your testimony and came praying that you’ll get some answers. You who didn’t know who to sit by and now will have to go to Sunday School and Relief Society or Priesthood and worry about who to sit by all over again. (That’s what always happens to me. I’m afraid you’re saving a place for some beautiful girl or some handsome guy that could change your life forever. And I don’t want to take his or her place!) Hey You. The incredible remarkable You. You who have no idea how vastly important you are.

I have thought hard and prayed fervently to know just what our loving Heavenly Father wants you to know today. And this is it:

You are His. His Son Jesus Christ bought you with His blood. You are so dear and so important to Him that had you been the only person on this earth, He still would have sent His Son to die for you and to take upon Himself your sins, your frustrations, your sorrows, your depression, your faults, your sicknesses, your addictions, your insecurities, your abuses, your timidity. He loves you.

And like Mr. Rogers, He loves you just the way you are. Although, there is always room for improvement.

Our daughter Kelli has a 4 year old daughter named Claire. The other day Claire came to her mom and said, “Mom, I know that Christmas isn’t just about Santa.”
Kelli beamed. “What a great mother I am,” she thought. “I’ve taught her so well.”
“You’re right, Claire,” she said. “Christmas isn’t just about Santa. What else is it about?” Kelli knew that Claire’s answer would be the right one until Claire replied, “It’s about Rudolph!”

Like I said, there is always room for improvement.

You and I will have so many experiences while we’re here on this earth—so many chances to grow and to improve. And our experiences won’t be the same as anyone else’s because we are not like anyone else.

Look around. We are all quite different. If Heavenly Father had wanted us to be just alike, He could have figured out how to do that, but obviously He wanted us each to be unique. According to the varied answers to my Google inquiry, there are nearly or just over 7 Billion people on the earth. And there have been approximately 69 Billion to 110 Billion people since the world began. I can’t think in numbers that big but I believe it is safe to say that out of all the myriad of people who have ever been, you are the only YOU. There has never been, is not now and never will be someone exactly like you. That boggles my brain. Does it yours?

We are all different and our experiences will be different. You might have already discovered that life can seem very unfair. Why were some made so beautiful that they can walk out the door with next to no makeup and others need to spend a lot of time with Max Factor, Cover Girl or Este Lauder? Why were some given gorgeous singing voices while others have to mouth the word “watermelon, watermelon” so it only looks like they are singing? Why can some think of something to say in any situation and others feel like their tongues have been lassoed and tied up to a hitching post? Why do some have two or three homes while someone else is lucky just to have moved up to a double wide?

It almost makes you want to get out your referee uniform, blow loudly on your whistle and shout, “Foul play! Unfair advantage!”

But each will be given the experiences that they individually need for eternal progression and it’s not our job to keep score.

On the last day of June in 2005 a terrible car accident took the life of our precious daughter-in-law, leaving our son and their two little boys devastated along with the rest of our family. Our son didn’t choose to have that experience but he could choose what to do with it. Leave the Church? Become bitter? Denounce God? Give himself up to depression? Or pick up the pieces and become spiritually stronger than ever. He chose the latter.

A month later our youngest daughter got married to an exceptionally worthy young man. It was a great occasion.

You, too, will have—symbolically speaking—many funerals and weddings in your lifetime. I hope one of them is yours. Not the funeral.

Whatever experiences you have had or will have in your life have the potential to bring you closer to Christ and to what He wants you to be. But you cannot compare yourself to others. They have different paths to take, different experiences to enjoy or to endure. They will be brought to Christ possibly in a different way than you will be brought. Take your path and hold fast to the rod. Love your life and all that is in it.

How much better you will be able to serve the Lord if you can incrementally become your very best self and if you can be happy in that process in spite of tough experiences.

What is keeping you from being your best self—the best YOU possible? Could you serve better if you were more physically fit, if you ate less junk and exercised more? Could you serve better if you could forget about yourself and your awkwardness and learned to care more about others and what they are feeling?

Maybe you could be a better disciple of Christ if you could re-discover that zeal you had on your mission that you thought you would never lose? Or if you could stop being oppressed by your many responsibilities and activities, feeling as though every else were given 24 hours in their day and you were only given 19.

Could you be a better YOU if you got rid of that sin that keeps peering into your life and making you feel unworthy?

If you need to get rid of something that isn’t helping you to be your best, do what is necessary. Don’t try to put a Band Aid over a festering, oozing wound of sin. It has to be cleaned out first with true repentance. It will hurt. So what? Think how good it will feel to finally have that sin gone, to be free. As it were, in that one area, to be born again.

We have a heroin addict in our family—a situation that has brought much sorrow. I feel so strongly that when he finally turns to the Lord through repentance and accessing the Atonement that he will be able to turn his negative experiences into teaching tools that will greatly bless his life and the lives of others.

As the Lord said to Joseph Smith as he suffered in Liberty Jail: “know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good.”

That would be my hope for my family’s addict, that he would turn all of his rotten lousy experiences into a great huge good.

In D&C 90:24 (my favorite scripture) it says: Search diligently, pray always, and be believing and all things shall work together for thy good.

I hope that you can turn each of the experiences of your life—the delightful ones and the distressing ones—into something good. That each of your experiences will help you become the fabulous YOU our Heavenly Father needs you to be.

Why do you think your very unique self was put here on the earth at this time? What do you think Heavenly Father wants of you? Ask Him. Whatever it is, you can accomplish it best if you are the best YOU possible.

Which brings me back to Christmas. Wouldn’t it be great to give Jesus a gift this year? Being as it is His birthday. What better thing could you give Him than YOU, the best YOU you can be.

Eleanor Powell, a famous tap-dancing movie star of the 40’s who later became a minister, said. “What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.”

What can you give Him, poor as you are
An MP3 Player, a shiny new car?
For something like that, He’d have no real need
Or for anything modern, I’ll have to concede

How ‘bout a book? A beautiful rose?
A new little lamb? No, He’s got lots of those
I know what He needs—Here’s what you can do
Give the gift of yourself—a shiny new YOU!

One of the best parts of Christmas to me is that it comes at the end of the year. Right after Christmas, we can start all over with a brand new beginning. What a great time to activate your gift to the Savior.

Your very unique, one of a kind gift—YOU—filled with resolve to follow Him, wrapped in self-confidence and tied with a bow of charity for yourself and others, ready to be used by a loving Savior in whatever capacity He needs you.

May you take all the experiences of this life—the good ones and the bad ones—the weddings and the funerals of your life—and let them mold you into greatness—into the person Heavenly Father and His Son need you to be. What a gift! A happy, confident YOU. There is no one else that can do it. No one else can be YOU. May you do it well. That is my prayer.


Katrena said...

Simply awesome Sis. Barrett. Thank you so much for sharing your talk. I very much needed to read it. I struggle with depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. It is quite a burden and I find myself succumbing to it more than I should. I am remiss in taking my burdens to the Lord. I have no problems praying for others, however, as I was enlightened by your talk, I need to lay my burdens at his feet also. Thank you, thank you, for that much needed enlightenment.

With love,

Katrena (Elkins) King

Jennie Blaser said...

Thanks Liz! What a wonderful talk -- so elegantly written. I'm sure it was delivered as such as well. I bet you are glad that is over with. Thanks so much for sharing it!

AliceK[i]ND said...

Liz, you've done it again. This is beautiful! I hope you don't mind if I share a link to this on my blog. :)

Tami Allred said...

You are an elegant writer. Thanks so much for sharing. I never knew about the tragic loss of your daughter in law. So very sad.
Love your perspective about the New Year and New You.