Good morning, brothers and sisters. As was said, my name is Symone Stout, and for those of you that don’t know me, it’s probably because for the last three years I have been at school at Brigham Young University-Idaho. I was asked to talk about the things I have learned about myself and what has helped me while attending school, and let me tell you, I have learned so much in those years, I don’t know if I will be able to fit them in the ten minutes given me. But I am going to try.
Never before have I learned so much about myself, through both life experiences and reading the scriptures, and especially in combining the two together. I’ve never been that successful in finding ways that the scriptures can be applied to my life, but these last few semesters have really given me the opportunity to find various ways that the scriptures can not only apply to my life, but help lift me up during difficult times.
One of the things that I learned is found in John 18:37. This reads, “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” The line, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” says to me that Christ understood that He had a specific plan designed for him to follow while on the Earth. So, we need to know that we, also, have a plan to follow while on Earth, and we will find the greatest happiness as we work with our Heavenly Father to make sure we are on the right track. Never have I seen this principle as clearly as I do now. I have started to see how everything in my life is all part of a wondrous and detailed plan, and I am grateful that I am able to have a Heavenly Father who is willing to help me keep to the plan. Because of this realization, I have started to work harder at being a righteous Daughter of God, in order to be in tune with the spirit and to know what God wants me to do with my life. I have worked on fixing things in my life that I need to in order to truly be on the path that the Lord wants me to follow. This has helped me feel better about every trial I have gone through, and those trials that I will face later in life because I know it is part of my plan and that it will all work out.
Another thing that has helped me through my trials is Doctrine and Covenants 122. This whole section is very good, and very inspiring. It talks about when Joseph Smith was in the Cartherage Jail. He was very frustrated at all of the trials he was facing at the time and questioned God about the reasoning behind his obstacles. The last line of D&C 122:7 reads, “know thou, my son [and daughter], that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” This has helped me the most. What a great way to look at trials, or any experience that we will go through. Although they may be difficult, if we remember that they are for our good, we will be better prepared for anything else life throws at us. If we start to look at things in this point of view, I am sure we will all be better able to get through life with our heads held high, ready for what the Lord will bring about.
A third thing that has opened my mind is a quote said by a classmate. Her mother used to tell her, "What's the point of being clean and modest on the outside when on the inside we are rotting?" Matthew 23:26-28 says, “cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also… Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye…indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of…all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” What an interesting thought. We can dress modestly, make sure we are clean and pure to anyone who is looking at us on the outside, but if we are unclean and impure on the inside, what will it matter? We must maintain clean thoughts, actions, and language at all times. How we act and think define who we are. Mosiah 4:30 gives more explanation on this principle. It reads, “But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.” If we want to be clean and pure, we must start from the inside.
As we become clean, we will feel as Joseph F. Smith did after his dream, which was discussed in a talk given by President Gordon B. Hinckley. While serving his mission in Hawaii, Joseph F. Smith had a dream where he was on a journey. He made it to his destination, but felt he needed to bathe and put on clean garments. After he did so, he went and knocked on a door, which opened to the Prophet Joseph Smith standing in the doorway. Joseph Smith looked at him and said, “Joseph, you are late” to which Joseph F. Smith replied, “Yes, but I am clean- I am clean!” Gordon B. Hinckley said, “His declaration ‘I am clean’ gave him self-assurance and courage in facing anyone or any situation. He received the strength that comes from a clear conscience.” When we become clean in our own lives, we, too, can feel of that strength and courage. We will feel more inclined to go to the Lord because we will feel clean and worthy to do so. A lot of times, as we sin, we don’t feel worthy or like we are able to talk to the Lord. But, we should know that that is the time we should talk to Him the most. And, as we make the needed changes in our lives, and as we become cleaner, we will begin to feel the desire to talk to Heavenly Father more so than ever before. I can testify to the truth of that.
One last thing that I have really taken to heart over the last little while is some advice given in 2 Nephi 32:3. This verse reads, “feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” I know that when my roommates and I tried our hardest to read our scriptures daily, and learn what the Lord wanted us to, the Spirit was stronger in our apartment. We all got along better, and were able to help one another more so than before. Brothers and sisters, the scriptures are true. They were given to us in order to help us and provide a way for us to learn what the Lord wants us to do. As we feast upon them and study them with an open mind and heart, we will be able to see those things that the Lord wants to teach us. We will be able to find those things that apply to our lives, and they will help strengthen us and increase our knowledge. It is possible to apply the holy writ to our lives and if we try, we will be able to draw closer to our Father in Heaven. I never saw that before, but ever since I have changed how I study my scriptures, everything has started to become clearer.
Now, this may not be EVERYTHING I have learned, but it does cover some of the important things.
I am so grateful that I have had the chance to learn all these things, and for the willingness I have had to apply them to my life. My life has changed over the last little while, but I feel so much better knowing that the Lord has provided a way for me to be on the path back to Him. I am grateful for the classes and experiences I have gone through, and I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. I am grateful for my family, friends, and all the people Heavenly Father has placed into my life. I am grateful for the church, and for the spirit I receive every Sunday. I have a testimony of this gospel, that it is true. I know that the scriptures are true, and that trials and every day experiences are for our good. I know that the Lord is always listening, and is willing and ready to help us when we choose to ask for His help. I know that we will all be continually blessed as we read the scriptures, and follow the commandments of the Lord. I testify that this is true, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.