I spoke in church yesterday, and I wanted to make sure that I said thank you to everyone who came out to hear my talk and to everyone that has shown their support and sent their love my way in the last few weeks! I am so blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful people in my life.
After church a few friends and family members came up to me and asked if they could have a copy of my talk. I thought the easiest way to share it might be just to post it here, so here you guys go! Thanks!
Hello, my name is Sydney Metcalf. I’ve only been a part of this ward for a short time now. My family moved here a couple months ago and I came home from school to live with them for the summer break. This past year was my freshman year at USU. (go aggies) I am an international studies major, I’m also pursuing minors in Spanish and Linguistics, and I have been called to serve in the Albuquerque, New Mexico Mission. For the next 18 months I will be sharing the gospel in the Spanish language. A couple other random facts about me: I have a metal spine, I’m currently wearing waterproof mascara (let’s hope it works), I love Abraham Lincoln, because well you can’t spell babe with out abe, and come this November I will have lived in 4 different states in the past 4 years. Oh and I love my mum.
I feel a little inadequate standing here before you all today. Even though I’ve only been in this ward for a little while, I’ve always felt the spirit so strong in this ward. I’ve had the opportunity to sit in on some really great and really powerful lessons here and I’ve just learned so much from you all in this short amount of time, so I thank you for that. There are also a lot of my friends and family members here today, and I can’t even begin to tell you how thankful I am for each one of you. You’ve all shaped me into the person that I am today. I’m really going to miss you guys. You’re a great bunch of teachers, and so I’m really not sure if there’s much that I can offer to you all today. I just hope the spirit will be here and that it’ll be him that serves as the real teacher in this meeting.
So with that,
Today I have been assigned to speak on the topic of “standing in holy places.”
So as I mentioned before, I’m minoring in linguistics and I like words a lot, so I do geeky things like look up etymologies for fun. The first thing I did when I started to put this talk together was look up the etymology of the word “holy.” It comes from old English and so it’s of a germanic origin and other associated words listed with it were “consecrated, sacred, godly” and none of this came as too much of a surprise, but what really caught my attention was the word that holy is originally derived from, and that is halig. And halig has the meaning attached to it of being whole and healthy.
That really got me thinking, so we’ll come back to halig, but for now all aboard this train of thought of mine for just a moment here. I’m really going to try to dissect what standing in holy places means.
Okay so, first off it all begins with the word stand. Its not sit, or lounge about, it’s stand in holy places and I feel like that is significant. In D&C 87:8 it says, “ Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come,” Basically, the scriptures counsel that we need to set our roots in holy places. Standing relays a meaning of being sure, being confident in what we are doing and where we are at.
Okay so next is the word in. I like that it says to stand in holy places rather than to stand on holy places. The words in and on. They only differ by one letter, but that one letter difference does cast subtly distinct meanings to each word. “On” has a very direct, concrete feeling to it. Like, we’re on Earth, the couple sits on the bench, the monkey is jumping on the bed. It kind of serves to suggest that the subject is physically here. Whereas the word “In” is more abstract. It suggest that the subject is more surrounded by a place, or a thing or a feeling. The monkey is in trouble, the couple is in love, the angels are in heaven. So on, in – there’s a difference.
Alright so then, examples of holy places that I thought of were temples and churches and when it comes to these holy places, all of us can literally go and stand on them. What I mean is that, we can stand on temple grounds, we can come to church and even stand right here where I am, on the church pulpit. But we can stand on holy places and still totally miss the mark of it all. So I really like that the charge isn’t to “stand on holy places,” but rather to “stand in holy places.” because to me, that suggests that it’s a lot more about where our heads and our hearts are at. It makes me feel a lot more like a holy place is something that I can choose to be in all the time, like it’s more of a state of being, than a physical location.
I think our minds can be holy places. But that really depends upon the thoughts we choose to harbor there. You see, to me, temples and churches are places of peace and refuge, of reverence, worship and enlightenment. Fear, contention, filth, confusion, those things aren’t welcome in holy places. The spirit dwells in holy places, and as we live the gospel, say our prayers, read our scriptures, do our best to be more like Christ, that is when we begin to construct our minds into being holy places.
To a lot of you that probably sounds pretty great, but maybe some of you aren’t completely sold on this idea. Maybe it makes you a little uncomfortable even. Why would you want to reshape your mind into something more holy, why would you want to shift your life into a more religious direction? Maybe what you’re doing right now works and maybe you figure, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Maybe holiness just isn’t for you, right?
I know I’ve been in places in my life where even I’ve felt that way. That I think is why the origin word that holy comes from really caught my attention. If you recall, halig means to be whole, to be healthy. And I really like that. Maybe the word holy, is kind of an intimidating adjective or lofty goal to be set, but I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t want to be healthy, or feel whole inside.
The gospel is good for the welfare of our souls, abiding by its precepts will bring us spiritual health and peace. Here we can find direction and purpose. Here, the love of our savior can fill all voids. His invitation is to all. Come unto Him as you are. Come unto Him and allow him to heal your heart aches, soothe your sorrows, allow Him to help you to feel whole.
I’ve talked about a couple of abstract ideas today, but let me clarify now that Jesus Christ is not one of them. His life was not merely a bible story and He is not just some fictional character. He is a real and living being. He came to this Earth, He lived as a perfect example and He died as a sacrifice for us all. Because of Him death is not the end and we have reason to hope, to be glad. He is there, He hears every prayer, and knows everything there is to know about you. He has personally and deeply felt every pain, every regret, every sadness. He is ready and willing to lift us and be a part of our lives, but only if we are willing to let Him in.
Jess Mcdoniels, he’s my dad’s best friend and was my bishop for most of my life, he’s here today. He’s a convert to this church and one of my heroes. He said something about Jesus Christ that had a really profound impact on me. He says this better, but I’ve always remembered him telling the youth in our old ward once that when he was investigating the church, what it came down to for him was that if Christ truly was who He said He was, and that if He had truly done what was taught that He had done, if He had come to this Earth and died as a sacrifice for you and for me, then that would be something worth investing time into to determine if it was true. I know the Savior did perform miracles, I know that He is the son of God and I know that He atoned for us all. Take your concerns to Him, pray. He’s there and listening.
Ultimately He is the way. By strengthening the relationship you have with the Savior, by coming to better understand who he is and the role He plays in the plan, that is when everything else about the gospel will begin to fall into place and make sense. That is when you will begin to find yourself in a holy place. If you can’t yet stand on your own, lean on Him.
Yo se que el Señor vive. En el nombre de Jesucristo, amen.