I was asked to do a presentation for the young women in our church on, "Being Happy with Who You Are". My first thought was, oh, am I one of those people? You know the kind that the young women look at and think "well, look at her she seems to be happy even though she shouldn't be." (haha!)
Then I realized its probably just because I'm a positive person and smiling all the time. So, it was all good.
But, I spent a while thinking about what makes me a happy person. And I came up with that it's knowing that God loves me no matter what.
And that my life is so much better when I focus on my strengths instead of my weaknesses. Anyway, here's what I told the young women:
I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that you shouldn't care what other people think. That's like telling birds not to fly. We are women and we care. In fact, I couldn't figure out what to wear to this tonight, so I called my friends (who happened to be together so they put me on speaker phone!) to help me out. I care what people think!
So, have you ever laid outside and looked up at the stars and wondered why you matter. If you imagine all of the people in the world and all the prayers being said to God, "why would he even think of me?"
David, of the Old Testament, wondered this same thing. "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" (Psalms 8:4)
Moses had the same feeling after being shown all the inhabitants of the world. "Now for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed". (Moses 1:10) And yet when God spoke to Moses he called him by name, "Moses, my son".
God knows each of us individually. He knows our name.
I also like the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible. Jesus was visiting them in their house and Martha was working hard to serve him while Mary wasn't helping her at all. I've always thought of myself a little bit like Martha "cumbered about much serving". But when Martha complained to Jesus about it, Jesus' response was "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42 emphasis added)
Mary had chosen to listen to the Savior, but was Martha bad because she was trying to serve the Lord a different way? No. In another passage about Mary and Martha, it says , "Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister . . ." (John 11:5). He loved them both the same.
Mary and Martha just had different personalities. Different strengths. When their brother Lazarus died they reacted differently. "Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him; but Mary sat still in the house".(John 11:20) Was one better than the other in their reaction? No, they are just different people.
All of us have strengths. I think as women we have a tendency to focus on what our weaknesses are and how can we "fix" what we are bad at right now. When what we really should be asking ourselves is, "What am I already really good at, that I can do even better to help others?"
What is something you are good at?
One of the things I'm really good at is crying. I was always told by my siblings growing up "you're such a crybaby!" Well, now how is that a strength? Actually it is. Because I am an emotional person I can show empathy to others. It is easy for me to mourn with those who mourn. I feel deeply and that is OK. I now look at it as a strength.
What are some of your strengths and how can it help others around you?
Now, another thing you need to know is that God does not love you more or less than anyone else. He loves everyone the same. I have learned this more fully in the past year as I have helped some of my cousins. They have made some very poor choices and been in jail. But guess what, God doesn't love me more than them just because I try to do what's right. He loves them just as much as me!
So what is the point in doing all this good stuff? I do it because I love Him. It is the choices that we make that bring us closer to God. And the closer we are to him the more we feel his love. His love isn't more, we just feel it. It's like the sun. The sun shines the same, but when you are in the shade you cannot feel it. And the closer you get to it the more it warms you.
If you are having a hard time coming up with thinking of a strength you may have, here's a few suggestions.[insert awesome handout that I had hubby make] You can also ask a parent. What am I good at? Or ask a good friend. And then the hard part - believe them.
I was given a challenge a while back, with some others, to ask God what He thought of me. I want to give you the same challenge. Sometime this week when you kneel down to pray, ask God what He thinks of you. And then wait and listen. Everyone I know who has taken this challenge and then waited for their answer has felt His love. I know I have.
God loves each of you unconditionally. You have a ways to go in figuring out who you are. You are really just beginning to see yourselves and become who you want to be. But God knows you. He sees you as your best self. And He loves you no matter what. No matter where you are in your life or what choices you have made - He loves you.