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.