Yes, today I graduated from high school. It was a beautiful ceremony with special friends and family. Instead of trying to say everything I said over again.... I'm just posting the text of my speech. So here you go! 

"So much has already been said, and I hope the point has already been made clear: All glory be to Christ. But since I’m the one graduating, I get the chance to share something as well. I could say so many things about what an incredible childhood I lived, what unbelievable opportunities I’ve been given, what faithful friends I have, or what a supportive, godly family has raised me. But when it comes down to it, I want to take just a few minutes to share what I believe the most important part of my life, especially these high school years, has been.

I want to start by telling the story of a man named William Borden. William Borden was born in 1887 to a very wealthy family in Chicago. After graduating high school at age 16, his graduation gift was a trip around the world. While on his journey, his eyes were opened to the need all around him. His friends were absolutely astonished and claimed that he was “throwing himself away as a missionary.” Yet William was not discouraged from the calling he had been given. After William renounced his inheritance in his family’s fortune, he wrote two words in the back of his Bible: “no reserves.” When William said that he had no reserves, he was acknowledging that he was going to give God everything. He wanted his life and his money to be completely relinquished from his own hand and given to God. His desire was to keep nothing for himself, but to surrender it all, with no reserves.

William didn’t just hope and pray for that kind of life: he lived it. As he attended Yale, he started a prayer and study time with first one friend, but soon more people joined. By the time he finished his first year there were 150 freshman meeting together every week to study the Bible and pray, and by the time he graduated, 1,000 of the total 1,300 students were participating in such meetings. After he graduated, he was once again faced with the things of this world. He was offered many high-paying jobs and his father reminded him that he would always have a job in the family company. He turned down them all. And he wrote two more words in the back of his Bible: “no retreats.”  William wasn’t going to step down from what God had called him to do. Even with all the things that this world desires being laid at his feet, he refused to take anything less than a Heavenly commission. He would not back away and settle for temporary success.

And so he continued on. In early 1913 he sailed for China, the place where he knew God had called him to minister to the Asian Muslim people. He was ecstatic, overjoyed to be finally setting out to fulfill his dreams of mission work. William stopped in Egypt to study Arabic before continuing his journey, but while there he contracted spiral meningitis. Within a month, 25-year-old William Borden died.

This sudden end of life seems a horrible shame to us. But in a biography, it is said that “Borden not only gave [away] his wealth, but himself, in a way so joyous and natural that it [seemed] a privilege rather than a sacrifice.” His gravestone is engraved with these words: "Apart from faith in Christ there is no explanation for such a life." Was Borden's untimely death a waste? Not in God's perspective. Prior to his death, Borden had written two more words in his Bible. Underneath the words ‘No reserves’ and ‘No retreats,’ he had written: ‘No regrets.’

The story of that man has challenged me for many years now. Many of you know that “no regrets” has become my motto in life. Let me read you a quick poem I wrote to explain it:

Some people have,
A theme that they love,
A truth which they strive to uphold.
The phrase, “No regrets,”
Helps me never forget,
How I want to live fearless and bold.

Two powerful words,
That challenge me so,
And compel me to live unashamed,
Of the gospel I’ve known,
And the love I’ve been shown,
That merits my Jesus proclaimed.

So, what is a regret?
A feeling of distress,
Something you’d change if repeated.
But I want to live loud,
So Jesus’ll be proud,
On the day when my life is completed.

You see, life is short,
I know this is true,
After seeing close friends pass away.
But their lives have inspired,
An urgent desire,
To live purposefully each day.

Living without regrets,
Takes perseverance,
And it takes an eternal perspective.
So let’s do hard things,
And hold back nothing,
With Jesus our only objective.

I’m motivated,
Inspired, activated,
By remembering what I will think.
When my life has gone by,
I’ll be glad I held tight,
When it felt I was there at the brink. 

It was there that I learned,
And began to live out,
The principle of which I write.
Better be radical,
Than to be regretful,
I’ll follow with all of my might. 

Jesus, please show me,
IAnd what You have asked me to do.
And when You have spoken,
Give me the strength,
To immediately follow You.

Looking back on high school now, and really my entire life so far, I definitely do have some regrets. But more than that, I remember the moments that truly stood out. The times when I felt the most fulfilled and the most proud weren’t necessarily the ones of fame and success. When I think of the “no regrets” moments, I don’t think of winning first place in my speech on abortion, I remember the judge who wrote the they had become pro-life. I don’t think of the good grade I got on the Spanish AP exam, I remember the man I talked to in the Orlando airport who didn’t speak English. I don’t think of the English teacher’s certificate I got after my month of training in Beijing, but I remember the beggar on the street whose face lit up when I told him Jesus loved him in his native language. I don’t think of the times I was recognized and applauded as I interned with TeenPact all over the country this spring, but I remember the hour-long conversation with a student who was struggling with her family and home.
Leaving high school and beginning “real life” is an adventure that I’m excited to begin. I will miss the beautiful times and amazing opportunities mom and dad have provided for me during these years. I’ll miss science club at the Aldrich’s house, Spanish class with my best friends, exploring endless fields and woods with my neighbors, music lessons with Mrs. Nutter or Nathaniel, debating Russian policy with my club, staffing classes with TeenPact. These were all a launching pad into whatever’s next, and I’m taking all of this with me into the next chapter. But more important than all of that is the gospel.
Mom, dad, thank you for preaching the gospel to me from day one. Mr. Riegg, Mr. Wolcott, thank you for being so focused on the fact that Christ died to save a hopeless sinner like me. Macaela, thank you for talking for hours about what it means to really follow Jesus with reckless abandon. Mom and dad again, thank you for being willing to let me live with no regrets, even when it doesn’t fit the picture of a normal life. Thank you Jesus for everything. For salvation, redemption, sovereignty, unconditional love, and for being faithful to me even when I’m not faithful to You.
On William Borden’s gravestone was written the words, “Apart from faith in Christ there is no explanation for such a life.” I pray that my life will echo that theme as well. Thank you. All glory be to Christ."


  1. This is beautiful, Shelby! And what a remarkable phrase that really is - "No regrets." I pray that my life may be filled with the same purpose and passion. Thank you for your inspiration! :)


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