Thursday, January 22, 2009

True Self Esteem

In line with the previous posts, I want to relate the story of how I gained true self esteem. I do this both so that I will have it recorded for my girls to know but just in case it should help anyone out there to find true self esteem from that same Source. 

First a bit of background. All of us have talents. We are all good at something, just not at everything. Well I have always felt smart. I am not and haven't ever been the "smartest" kid. Actually my own kids are way smarter than I ever was. But the point is that I felt smart as a kid. And that got me through my young years. But apart from being smart, I did not have a good self image. 

I won't go into all the reasons for my poor self image. That is too much emotional baggage and water under the bridge. But I will say that due to a poor self image I did things I would not have done and should not have done to gain favor in the eyes of peers. 

By the time I was 13 or 14 I looked at my life and did not like what I saw. I did not like who I was. I did not like who I saw as my friends. I wanted to be a different person. I decided to do my best to change myself into a person I would like better.

I made new friends. I stopped hanging out with the old peers who expected me to be and do things I didn't like to make me popular. I started reading and studying the scriptures everyday. I started to praying more sincerely. I started trying to live what I was learning. In the middle of this I had an incredible experience. I felt the love of the Savior for me. 

One night in the space of 4 or 5 hours, I felt the shame and pain the Savior had experience because of my sins and misdeeds. And when I was able to finally pull myself out of my tears and gather enough courage and audacity to pray and ask forgiveness, I felt the incredible miracle of the atonement in my life. I felt the crushing burden of sin lifted from off my shoulders and replaced by a sweet lightness of pure love and light. My tears of sorrow turned into tears of joy and gratitude. After this experience of true and powerful repentance, I wanted never to do wrong in the sight of the Lord again. 

Several months later there was a boy. Isn't there always a boy at this age? Well, in this story too there was a boy. I liked this boy. He said he like me too. Then after two weeks he decided he liked my best friend instead. I was pretty devastated. I sat in my room trying to figure out what was wrong with me. Why didn't he like me?

Being the logical, methodical person I am, I started mentally doing a self inventory. I looked at myself in my mirror. I thought, "hey, I may not be the hottest girl in school, but I am cute. He liked my looks last week enough to like me. Plus even if he doesn't think I am cute, I am cute. Maybe he just doesn't appreciate the assets I do have." 

Then I went through the rest of me. Mentally- I knew I was great. Socially- I felt I was fun. I liked my friends and felt they liked me. I had changed my social life so dramatically that I really liked my social self now. I felt confident in that. Emotionally - I was cool in this area. I wasn't some clinging emotionally needy chic. Spiritually - and here was the clincher for me - I was good. I knew the Lord approved of me. 

This is where I stopped. I knew the Lord accepted and loved me and I liked myself. I knew I wasn't perfect, but I was plenty likable.  At this point the light came on in my head and I realized that if this boy didn't like me, it was his problem and his loss, not mine. I liked myself just fine and most importantly I knew the Lord loved me. My melancholy vanished at this realization.  

Since that time, I have often reevaluated my checklist and have found that as long as I am improving in each of these areas - physical, social, metal, and spiritual - I feel good about myself. I am never perfect at any of them. But if I am working on them, I am okay. I don't like being fat but if I am fat and working out regularly and eating healthy, well at least I am working at it. I don't like failing at spiritual goals. But as long as I keep trying to keep them even when I screw up somedays, I know the Lord is a forgiving God. 

You get the idea I hope. May we all evaluate ourselves again. And if we fall short in our evaluation, may we change our lives to be the kind of person we are happy being and more importantly, the kind of person with whom the Lord is pleased. 


Susy said...

First comment yeah!
What an awesome post! I am overweight, but I do have great self esteem. I know the Lord loves me in such a way, that I realize I am in his constant care and he loves me for who I am and what I continue to do to make myself the best that I can be!

Jennie said...

Thanks for your post. It mad me think of the scripture, Luke 2:52 "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." A former Stake President of ours had us focus on this scripture (for ourselves) for an entire year. I am a firm believer that you must always be working towards something. If you are not progressing you are regressing. Thanks again. I love reading your blog every day.

Chris 'n Leah said...

Thank you for you posts, they are always wonderful. I hope that you will turn your blog into a book and get a copy for each of your children to have. I just went through this process with my blog this week and I am super excited to get our books in the mail next week. It is an investment that is well worth the cost.

I have been a silent reader of your blog for a long time and the thing I love about your blog is the spirit that is present in your posts. You speak your testimony from your heart and your children will treasure your words. What an incredible lady you are.

Amanda said...

How amazing for you to come to that realization at such a young age!

Kass said...

Thank you for the last few blogs on self esteem & body image. I loved them all and it made me ponder when I had that same realization. I was older than you, but it came & has been the source of inner peace & confidence through the years.

You are a great leader, Stephanie. Thanks for sharing your talents & heart so willingly. I am 24 weeks prego-close to you-and it is always good to be reminded of the miracle of your body & both it's spiritual design & physical functions when carrying a baby.

Scott and Mandi said...

Thank you so much for your last few posts. This one really hit home, and I love your attitude! Thank you for giving so much of yourself!

Chelsa said...

what a great post! i think we all need this reminder from time to time. whether in school, at the office, or just in our own peer groups we need to remember this!

Shanan said...

Steph, I miss having talks like these with you late at night on your comfy couch. Good times.

Thanks for your words!

Janae said...

What a great post Stephanie! I love it and I am going to have my girls read it:) Thanks for sharing.

cynphil6 said...

I love this post!
Thanks for the reminder!

Melanie said...

I just had a question for you. I know you're involved in the Young Women program in your ward and was wondering what you thought about the new addition of the value virtue to the theme.

Personally I love it. I am giving a talk on it for New Beginnings this Tuesday and was wondering what insights you might have into it. I'm sort of drawing a blank.

Nate & Courtney said...

I love these post about self esteem. I think so many girls can relate. Thank you for sharing these stories.
I have a quick favor, I am trying to collect pins for the Special Olympics World Winter Games. I don't have many blog followers and I am having a hard time getting the word out. Is there anyway you could read my blog and if you think it's a good cause maybe you could put a little something on your blog?
Thanks for all your uplifting post, you are such a talented writer and have a way of inspiring people.

Anonymous said...

I love seeing your perspective on this. Thanks for sharing!

Heidi said...

I've really enjoyed these thoughts. I'm not sure what inspired them, but I appreciated you talking about this.