A South Carolina high school valedictorian’s speech has gone viral on social media after she dared to talk about her faith in God.
At Woodmont High School’s commencement ceremony, Lydia Owens spoke about how faith helped her navigate the untimely loss of her mother two years prior.
“When tragedy struck my life, it was not my grades nor my accomplishments that helped me navigate through that loss,” Owens told her fellow graduates, according to local WSAZ TV 3 News. “When everything else in my life felt uncertain, the only person I could depend on to stay the same was Jesus.”
Owens reminded the class that people’s accomplishments or failures don’t determine their worth.
“You are still valuable and you are still good enough because you are made in the image of God,” she said.
“You don’t have to worry about whether or not you’ll be successful because God promises that His grace is sufficient for us, and that His power is made perfect in our weakness,” Owens concluded, alluding to a Bible passage about enduring hardship.
In an interview with Fox News, Owens credited her strong faith to her late mother.
“She always pushed me to be my best self,” she recalled. “She always encouraged me in my faith. She’s the reason I had such a strong faith. She was the example to me of how to be a godly woman and how to love intentionally.”
Owens’ father, Brian, added that faith and family sustained them through their loss.
“Right after her mom passed away, I talked to the whole family,” Brian told Fox. “And I just said ‘I don’t really know where we go from here…but whatever we’re gonna do, we’re gonna do it together.”
“We need more of this kind of free speech in schools,” said one commenter on Twitter.
Another commenter on Facebook celebrated not just Owens’ faith, but also her future vocation as a teacher.
“So glad to see the next generation stand BOLDLY for their faith in Jesus Christ and sharing the good news to their peers that they are made in the image of God!” Anna Jo Medina wrote on Facebook. “What’s even better is that she’s going on to major in elementary education.”
Owens will attend Anderson University in the fall, according to Fox Carolina.