Not many junior high students asked for a typewriter and a filing cabinet on their Christmas wish lists, but Melissa Larson, now a teaching professor in the School of Accountancy at BYU Marriott School of Business, found it necessary. Larson asked for these items as a way to help transform herself into the student she wanted to be; she eventually became the first individual in her family to pursue higher education.
In her Tuesday devotional address, Larson stated that transferring to BYU’s accounting program was difficult and gave her many opportunities to transform into a better version of herself. She explained that transforming moments are essential for individuals to become their best selves.
“'’Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed,”’ Larson quoted from the New Testament. “Transformational experiences can be uncomfortable and challenging, but they are essential for our growth and development.”
The mission of BYU is rooted in helping individuals achieve perfection and eternal life through an intensive education that is “spiritually strengthening, intellectually enlarging, character building and leading to lifelong learning and service.” Larson explained that the aims of a BYU education are not only to help students earn a college degree but are also blueprints for personal transformation.
“Why does BYU aim to help its students transform so completely, not just intellectually but in spirit, character and service too? We came to the Earth for that very purpose! To transform. To gain a body and have experiences that will help us progress and become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
It is essential to remember that true transformation and renewal require effort and sacrifice, Larson said. One must confront opposition, relinquish old habits and shed limiting mindsets to receive a new heart and spirit.
It can be difficult not to compare your growth and transformation to those around you, Larson acknowledged. In her time in the accounting program, she often struggled with this. One night, she knelt down and told the Lord how inferior she felt compared to her peers and was surprised by the response she received.
Recounting this story, Larson shared the impressions the Spirit gave her. “You’re right, you may never be as smart as so and so. But more importantly, you may never get the opportunity to sit next to and interact with this student again. If this is the smartest person you know then why don’t you learn everything you can from him and those around you rather than comparing yourself to them? Take this opportunity to learn and grow.”
Realizing that she needed a shift in perspective, Larson learned that comparison is pointless. She explained that God doesn’t compare His children to each other.
“[God] wants us to use our differences to bless and sustain one another. Rather than doing everything on my own and constantly comparing my weaknesses to the strengths of others, I needed to ask for help!”
While transformation can be beautiful, it can sometimes be difficult to see how you're changing while in the middle of the process. Comparing our transformation to that of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, Larson taught that we are here to grow, change and ultimately be reborn as perfected beings.
“The ‘cocoon phase’ of transformation can be difficult because we cannot clearly see the glorious end result that awaits us. And unlike the butterfly, our transformation will take much longer than nine to fourteen days. It is a lifetime pursuit.”
Larson testified that while we may feel like we are being broken down, much like the butterfly in its cocoon, the Savior will help build us up again and make us “new creatures,” if we let Him.
“By relying on the strength and comfort that our Savior offers us, we can move through transformational experiences with greater patience, peace and confidence.”