|My friend, Hallie once told me, "We love our kids just because they are.|
They don't earn our love by their appearance or accomplishments.
And we should feel the same way about ourselves."
I was in charge of teaching the lesson to my Young Women (youth group) last Sunday. The topic was, “Who Am I and Who Can I Become.” I started my lesson by telling a story that went something like this:
When I was in High School I went to one of the church dances with my friends. My best friend was so beautiful she stole the attention of, what seemed like, every boy there and it felt like no one cared to ask me to dance. I left feeling lonely, inferior and pretty sad. I called another friend to express my feelings to her because I thought she might understand. Instead she took me by surprise saying, “You know Audy, if you were just a little prettier, you would’ve gotten more attention. You’re not very out-going and that makes it hard for people to want to talk to you. You’re so quiet and it’s a little weird. You might be overlooked unless you change who you are.”
My Young Women were completely floored by this story. I mean jaws to the floor and eyebrows to the ceiling shocked. One girl blurted, “Who were these friends of yours???” Clearly, they had never encountered a nasty friend like that in their lives.
The story I shared was inspired by Brene Brown, in her book, “Daring Greatly,” and luckily it was only half true. I quickly explained to the girls that I hadn’t ever had a friend talk to me like that but the first part of the story was a real experience in my life. The only falsehood was that those awful words were spoken inside my head, by me, to myself. The girls sighed in relief but I think they understood the point I was making. I asked, “Why do we say things to ourselves that we would never say to our friends?” Honestly, none of us really had a good answer, including myself. Regardless of not knowing why, we all agreed our self-talk shouldn’t be filled with words of hate, shame and humiliation.
How should we talk to ourselves? Easy. Listen to the words of the Father who created us.
He tells us He made us in His image. Then how can we not look in the mirror and see ethereal beauty?
He promises He will always love us. Then why don’t WE love us, just because we’re His?
He asks us to become like Him because He desperately wants us back home. Then why don’t we trust that the life path and circumstances He gave us can get us there?
He tells us we can repent and change because His son already Atoned for our sins. So, why do we struggle to forgive ourselves long after we sorrowed for sin and mended the brokenness?
He says His Son’s Grace is sufficient for all men [and women]. Why then, can’t we move forward with faith that we too can be assisted and empowered by that spiritual force? That He is longing to help us accomplish works far outside the realm of our finite expectations.
And okay, maybe I said it was easy to know how we should treat ourselves and it’s a whole lot harder to actually pull through. We live in a shame culture that earns its’ living on the backs of those it lies to. “Buy it for a small price to finally see your worth,” it screams. But our worth is priceless and lets not forget, lies are lies and they come from one source. Once identified, those lies can be cast and replaced with truth.
God will repeat truth again and again through His books and servants and straight to our souls from the Holy Ghost because He is kind and loving. So lets trust Him. Every last word He whispers. We’ll know they’re His because they’ll bring peace to our hearts and clarity to our minds. As truth starts to make its home in our souls, God will change us from the inside out and joy will replace the sadness that comes from years of internal falsehood. We'll start to believe those gracious words and they will manifest in outward, loving acts of discipleship. We'll practice greater obedience with pure intention because the bottom-up pride born of untruth won't get in our way. Mostly, we show our love for God and others by loving ourselves because we'll understand that with our brothers and sisters, we are His greatest creations. And that is nothing to speak lightly about.