On June 15, 2006 the Clark County School District halted the graduation speech of Foothill High School valedictorian Brittany McComb. District officials said Brittany’s references to Christianity amounted to proselytizing. Below is the full-text of Ms. McComb’s speech. (HT: Review-Journal)
Do you remember those blocks? The ones that fit into cut-outs and teach you all the different shapes? The ones you played with before kindergarten, during the good old, no-grades, no-pressure preschool days? I find it funny how easily amused we are as children. Many of us would have sat on the story rug for hours with those blocks, trying to fit the circle into the square cut-out. Thank the Lord for patient teachers.
As one of the valedictorians for our senior class, many might assume I caught on to which blocks fit into which cut-outs quickly. But, to be honest, it took me awhile. Up until my freshman year in high school, I continually filled certain voids with shapes that proved often peculiar and always too small.
The main shape I wrestled with over the years remains my accomplishments. They defined my self-worth at a young age. I swam competitively throughout junior high and high school. If I took third in a competition rather than first, I found I missed the mark; I failed.
But strangely enough, if I took first, I belittled my success, and even first place left me feeling empty. Either way, the shape entitled “accomplishments” proved too small to fill the void, constantly reminding me living means something more. Something more than me and what I do with my life, something more than my friends and what they do with their own lives.
The summer after my freshman year, I quit swimming. I quit trying to fill the huge void in my soul with the meager accomplishments I obtained there. After quitting, this amazing sense of peace rushed over me and I noticed, after 15 years of sitting on the story-time rug, this teacher standing above me, trying to help me: God. I disregarded His guidance for years, and all the while, He sought to show me what shape fits into the cut-out in my soul.
This hole gapes as a wide-open trench when filled with swimming, with friends, with family, with dating, with shopping, with partying, with drinking, with anything but God. But His love fits. His love is “that something more” we all desire. It’s unprejudiced, it’s merciful, it’s free, it’s real, it’s huge and it’s everlasting [audience cheering and applause]. God’s love is so great that he gave His only son up . . . [Microphone goes dead here.]
[His only son up . . .] to an excruciating death on a cross so His blood would cover all our shortcomings and provide for us a way to heaven in accepting this grace.
Interestingly enough, the school officials knew what was coming next when they cut Brittany’s mike — they had read her speech beforehand and edited out references to God, to Christ, and the Bible. Brittany determined to deliver her speech unedited as an expression of her freedom of speech, but was prevented from doing so.
Below is the rest of the speech Brittany planned to give. School officials called it proselytizing. Brittany says she was just attributing her success in school to Christ and introducing her classmates to the Person who had made the biggest difference in her life.
This is why Christ died. John 10:10 says He died so we no longer have to reach in vain for the magnificence of the stars and find we always fall short, so we can have life — and life to the fullest. I now desire not my own will, but the will of God for my life — however crazy and extravagant, or seemingly mundane and uneventful that might be. Strangely enough, surrendering my own will for the will of God, giving up control, gave me peace, gave me a calm I can’t even begin to express with words.
Four years ago, recognition as one of the valedictorians for our senior class would have been just another attempt to fit the circle into the square cut-out. But because my heart is so full of God’s love, the honor of speaking today is just that: an honor. Without it, I would feel just as full and purposeful as I do at this moment.
And I can guarantee, 100 percent, no doubt in my mind, that as I choose to fill myself with God’s love rather than with the things society tells me will satisfy me, I will find success, I will always retain a sense of self-worth. I will thrive whether I attend a prestigious university next fall and become a successful career man or woman or begin a life-long manager position at McDonald’s.
Because the fact of the matter remains, man possesses an innate desire to take part in something greater than himself. That something is God’s plan. And God’s plan for each of our lives may not leave us with an impressive and extensive resume, but if we pursue His plan, He promises to fill us. Jeremiah 29:11 says, ” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’ ”
Trust me, this block fits.
For our full coverage of Brittany McComb’s story, click here.