Monday, March 23, 2015

We Are All Made Of The Same Stuff

A few weeks ago we had New Beginnings.  It has been at least 14 years since I've participated in New Beginnings so I have to say I was more than ready to let everyone else take the lead and I figured I'd watch and help out more next year.  But that's not what callings are for.

For those of you who don't know what New Beginnings is, here is my simple and hopefully close to correct definition.  Each year, somewhere near the beginning, the Young Women put on a program to introduce the upcoming Beehives (girls turning 12 that year).  But the program isn't only about the new girls,  All the girls are asked to attend and parent's of all the girls are invited. We choose a theme and give mini talks.  Then we eat.

This year our theme was basically, "we are all a work in progress" or "under construction" - I honestly can't remember the official theme,  The girls wore hardhats and gave "tool talks" about each of the Young Women values (and they picked a tool to signify that value - i.e. blue prints, hammer,etc.).  Then - it was my turn to talk.  I was to give a 5-7 minutes talk on how we are all a work in progress.  I will admit, I stressed about this.  There isn't much already out there about this topic and I wanted to make sure I went along with the rest of the program without really understanding what the rest of the program would be.  I didn't know if I was near the beginning or the end (actually...I assumed beginning but I was at the end).

I want to share some of the thoughts I shared with the group (and some I didn't share).  I can't say I completely followed what I had written, which means I joked around a bit more because I do that when nervous and I hope it means the spirit spoke more than I did.

I started off with sharing a quote from President Uchtdorf.  He gave a talk in a Priesthood Session of conference entitled, "Four Titles" and one of the titles was "Son of God" (changed by me to "Daughter of God" for the evening).  He says,
"Compared to the perfection of God, we mortals are scarcely more than awkward, faltering toddlers.  But our loving Heavenly Father wants us to become more like Him, and...that should be our eternal goal too.  God understands that we get there not in an instant but by taking one step at a time.
I do not believe in a God who would set up rules and commandments only to wait for us to fail so He could punish us.  I believe in a Heavenly Father who is loving and caring and who rejoices in our every effort to stand tall and walk toward him.  Even when we stumble, He urges us not to be discouraged - never to give up or flee our allotted field of service - but to take courage, find our faith, and keep trying."
 Then I suggested that there were three versions of us coexisting each day of our lives.

  1. The person you used to be
  2. The person you are now
  3. The person you will become
Here's where I'll interject a bit more of a personal touch for the blog.  To better clarify this idea, I remember a time in my life when I felt so far away from God and from the person I thought I was, the person I wanted to be.  I never thought I would get back there, much less, to develop beyond to even better.  I was stuck with the person I had been, the one who had made mistakes and led me to that moment, and the person I was at the time because of those actions and consequences.  I can still remember a day only a few months after that when I realized how far I had come.  I read through an old journal entry and realized that in a matter of months I had completely changed (with supreme effort from the Lord and from myself).  In my moments of self pity and depression, I failed to see the third version of myself, and to understand that the person I am now is changing, sometimes as quickly as day to day.

For the girls I described the difference between being a helpless baby (completely dependent upon their parents) to the young women they are now.  How they can walk and feed themselves, how they can have conversations, how they can even take selfies now.  But I also shared with them that they don't have to look that far back to see the difference from a younger version to the present.  

I remember in a Sunday School lesson once, the teacher said "We are all made of the same stuff".  I can't remember exactly what the lesson was about, but this statement has helped me, especially when I still find myself comparing my qualities to others.  I used to look at others and the things I admired in them and felt as though I lacked the ability to ever get there.  They must have something that I don't.  Even at the beginning of the program that evening I couldn't stop comparing myself, a nervous wreck who had to look at her notes, to Annette, who wrote her talk a few minutes before and I don't believe looked down at her notes once.  Or Jen, much further along in pregnancy and yet she's always willing to give a talk or bake some goods, or run to the store to pick up decorations.  I feel so lazy compared to her.  While I can't stop the thoughts, I can remind myself, "We are all made of the same stuff".  It means I can be better than I am today, I have the same potential as everyone else.  If I see a quality I like in someone else, I can work on developing that in myself.  It's not about where someone else is in their progress, but about continuing to work on my own.

We all have the same basic building materials to start construction.  We have the same potential as the person next to us.  We are not finished products but we are under constant construction and it is a lifelong process.  We’ve been given everything we need; it is up to us how to use these materials.  It’s important to seek the Lord’s will since he has the blueprints for our best selves. 

C.S. Lewis gives an example of a living house.  He says: 
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
It is important to remember that you are created in God’s image.  You are a daughter of God with divine potential and he has a plan for you.  Each week in our opening exercises we stand and recite our theme which begins, “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us and we love Him.”  This statement reminds us who we are and whose we are.  He is the master architect and if we trust in Him he will push us beyond a cottage and into a mansion.  


Ashley Burton said...

I wish you had been one of my young women leaders!!! Good thing I have you in my life anyway haha - you're amazing!

Jessica Rowland said...

Awe, shucks Ashley - you made me blush :)


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