Cassy Budd, professor in the School of Accountancy and this week’s BYU Devotional speaker, shared a few stories about her personal failures in order to help BYU students recognize the strength that comes from acknowledging their own personal weaknesses.
Budd spoke about how she had always struggled to play the piano without getting frustrated. As a young girl, her piano teacher would tap her hands with a pencil every time she made a mistake. Later, as the Relief Society pianist, her hands would rapidly retreat from the keys whenever she hit a wrong note. But from this experience, Budd learned a valuable lesson.
"When you allow yourself to be paralyzed by your mistakes, you diminish your ability to be useful in God’s kingdom," Budd said. "Making mistakes is simply part of the human condition and can be one of your most productive learning tools."
After sharing a story about her initial inability to keep up with her peers during a skiing course, Budd shared another truth about progress and perfection: Just show up and try.
"Simply showing up and starting where you are is all that can be asked of you," Budd said. "Regardless of your level of experience, your failures or your perception of your own potential, wherever you are in life, you just need to show up and try."
Budd also suggested students should understand that everyone around them is trying as well.
"Celebrate their progress, even when they seem to be farther along than you, and give them a pass when they fall short," said Budd.
Budd mentioned she recently started working with a trainer to improve her overall health and fitness. Her trainer liked to give Budd weights that she could barely lift near the end of her workouts when her strength was nearly spent. Consequently, Budd said she grew to more fully understand the importance of relying on someone to help turn weaknesses into strengths as her trainer helped her lift those heaviest weights. This also helped her make a connection between physical improvement and spiritual improvement.
"If failure is important to our intellectual and physical improvement, perhaps it is important in our quest for perfection as well," said Budd. "Could it be that our moments of extremity are necessary for our spiritual progress, and our Savior knows that only then we are ready to learn? Regrettably, accepting help when we need it most can be difficult."
Budd emphasized this idea with another personal story – this time about spelunking. Budd struggled to climb out of a cave, overcome by exhaustion and fear of falling back down to the cave floor. She was only able to exit the cave after standing on her friend's back for an additional boost. Budd said realized the Savior helps us – similar to her friend – but in a spiritual context.
"Our Savior is the same: He can work with whatever you have to give if you are willing to accept his help," Budd said. "Living perfectly is not the plan; repentance is the plan. Jesus Christ is the plan."
Next Forum: Clayborne Carson, historian at Stanford University
The next BYU Forum address will be given by Clayborne Carson, historian at Stanford University, on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 11:05 a.m., in the Marriott Center. His remarks will also be broadcast on BYUtv.