A sugar beet farmer loaded up his open-bed truck after harvest and headed to the sugar refinery. Along the bumpy dirt road, some beets fell out and tumbled to the side. Upon learning of the missing beets, the farmer told his helpers: "There's just as much sugar in those which have slipped off. Let's go back and get them!"
President Thomas S. Monson compared this account to members of the Church who have "fallen from the path of activity."
"Paraphrasing the farmer's comments concerning the sugar beets, I say of these souls, precious to our Father and our Master: 'There's just as much value in those who have slipped off. Let's go back and get them!' ("Sugar beets and the worth of a soul," Ensign, July 2009, p. 5).
The world tells us that our worth is dependent on what we do or own, how many friends we have or our level of charm.
When our sense of self-worth hinges on public opinion, we are often left feeling worthless or defeated when faced with criticism or poor treatment by others. In times like these, we can reach out to our Maker and receive the reassurance that in His eyes, we have infinite worth.
Often, our feelings of low self-worth stem from listening too much to the voices of the world instead of listening to the promptings from the Holy Spirit that tell us our true worth.
In these moments one might receive the gentle and loving rebuke from the Spirit, similar to what the Lord told Joseph Smith after the 116 pages of manuscript were lost:
"For behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God and despise his words —
"Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble" (Doctrine and Covenants 3:7-8).
It takes intentional, daily effort to snuff the relentless voices of the world that tell us we are not enough. When these voices begin to seep into our consciousness, it is helpful to remember that those mocking, pointing fingers do not know our true value.
As children we are told that we have innate worth and belong to a loving Heavenly Father. Often the cares and opinions of the world enter in and cloud our perspective.
"The Touch of the Master's Hand" poem tells the story of a violin being auctioned. Unaware of the worth of the violin, the auctioneer starts with a $1 bid. He accepts bids from the hesitant crowd until the violin almost sells for a meager $3, until someone more aware of the violin's worth intervenes:
From the room far back a gray bearded man
Came forward and picked up the bow,
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings
— ("The Touch of the Master's Hand," Myra Brooks Welch).
After the melody, the bids increased until the violin sold for $3,000. The master violinist saw not only the violin's potential but also what the violin had already been — through the scarred and scratched wood were remnants of a glorious instrument that was capable of glorious melodies.
A beautifully kept violin can be played by anyone, but without the influence of someone who knows how the violin works and its capacity for beautiful music, the music, though still sweet, is incomplete. The instrument offers a sweeter melody when played by a master.
So it is with each of us.
Many are "auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd," as the poem reads. Ours is the challenge to pray for the ability to see others and ourselves through the lens of our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Masters' Hand.
Once viewed through this perspective, we will be able to more fully take advantage of opportunities to help others reach their potential.
Through the gift of the Atonement, we all have the capacity to change, to repent and to become better. As Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president, taught in the October 2012 General Relief Society Meeting, each can receive recompense for all of life's injustices through Christ's Atonement.
"That supreme act of love [the Atonement] ought to send each of us to our knees in humble prayer to thank our Heavenly Father for loving us enough that He sent His Only Begotten and perfect Son to suffer for our sins, our heartaches, and all that seems unfair in our own individual lives" ("Is faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ written in our hearts?" Ensign, November 2012, p. 111).
While we are changing, it is important to remember and give thanks to the Lord for His enabling power.
Each of us should remember our own worth and the infinite worth of those with whom we associate each day. As we "see others as they may become," our own lives will fill with the peace and joy that attend such service, and we will find that our capacity to love has increased.
May we keep in mind the words of President Monson: "I pray that we will have the courage to extend the hand of fellowship, the tenacity to try and try again and the humility needed to seek guidance from our Father as we fulfill our mandate to share the gospel" ("See Others as They May Become," Ensign, November 2012, p. 68.)