How I Discovered Grace (Baccalaureate Speech 2021, Heiby Hidalgo Blanco)

Amy Barnard

Each year three students are invited to share at Minnehaha Academy's Baccalaureate night. Here is what graduating senior Heiby Hidalgo Blanco had to share. Content has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Control: The One Thing I Wanted

Since the day I received the email to speak, I began to ponder my faith and what I would share. I found myself at a loss for words to express my journey. I began to look back at old memories from these past four years, the highs and lows, the silly moments filled with laughter and the dull moments filled with tears; and yet, I was still at a loss for words, it just seemed like a normal high school faith experience. But it was Monday night after writing this speech three times that I finally realized that there is nothing normal or average or boring about my faith journey because it is simply not about me. It’s about the amazing work God has done in my life that highlights his goodness, so as I share a part of my faith journey, I hope I can bring you a little bit of joy that God has shown me. 

A place where I’ve seen and continue to see my faith grow is in my fear to lose control. I’m terrified of messing up. I am not fond of the idea of missing the end goal, of working on a project that everyone knows about and then facing embarrassment when it crumbles into pieces, or of wasting people’s time and money because I didn’t achieve what I was supposed to achieve. I strongly believed that if you worked hard enough, you would avoid failure. If only you stayed up late enough to study for that test, you’d get the score you want, or if only you worked out before practice in the mornings, your likelihood of being a good athlete would increase. I soon realized that some things, even the small things aren’t always in our control. Shocker, right? 

Things Fall Apart

It wasn’t until this year, my senior year, that this mentality changed. You see, as I entered high school my goal for the next four years was to be an academic rockstar, a great athlete, and have a friend group. I worked extra hard at these three areas, and because I was working so hard at these areas I didn’t bother to question, “what if I don’t become an academic rockstar?” or “what if I don’t become who I want to be in any of these areas?”

I didn’t bother to question, “what if I don’t become who I want to be in any of these areas?”

2020 was a year that taught us all that there are things we can not control, even if we try our hardest; my own life was no exception. As August of my senior year rolled around, I was filled with excitement because I couldn’t have asked for a better class to enjoy this last year with. I was ready to end this year strong. I had done it for the last three years; even with online school junior year, I ended well, and with hard work I could do it once more. That was not to be the case.

September, started what I’ve called “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” just like the book series. We lost a close loved one and for the first time, I felt the loss. A couple of weeks later we lost another loved one; right after that the list continues. These events caused me to become distracted from everything in my life. So, for the first time in my four years, I felt like I failed. I didn’t just fail at one area, I failed at all three areas that I had strived so hard for throughout high school (academics, sports, and friends). I tried every study method, I ran my hardest during practice, and I tried to listen to my friends as best I could, but there was simply no strength in me left; I couldn’t get the grades I wanted, I didn’t become the runner I wanted to be, and I couldn’t be the caring friend I wanted to be. 

Coming to Grace

Although it seems like my senior year was a sob story, it truly was my favorite year out of the last four years and the most joyful and happy. I finally came closer to understanding God’s grace. I came closer to understanding the cross: that God would send his only son to die on the cross as punishment for my wrongdoings.

God painted a clear picture of his grace through the MA teachers and students. I didn’t deserve all the extensions and outside of school lessons that the MA teachers provided for me, when I was clearly zoned out during class time; specifically, Mr. Manion, who came in an hour before school started for weeks to help me understand Econ. I didn’t deserve the kind gestures, the smiles, the waves, or the invites the sweet MA students offered me, when I couldn’t always offer the same back. It was simply this picture that helped me understand that my strength and joy is not found in what I can control, but in His grace.

My strength and joy is not found in what I can control, but in His grace.

2 Timothy 2:1 states, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus;” and thus, this is the reason why I am so joyful and this year was so joyful: not because of anything I did, but because God showed me a smiling face every day through this community.

So, Class of 2021, as we go off to different places may you remember that, as the Sauer quote goes, to "control what you can control and pray about the rest." Thank you.


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