The Problem With Just
“Heavenly Father delights to have us (use) our own voice, not someone else’s. Believe in yourself, and believe in Him. Don’t demean your worth or denigrate your contribution. Above all, don’t abandon your role… Why? Because YOU ARE UNIQUE; YOU ARE IRREPLACEABLE.” -Jeffery R. Holland
Too often we LDS women undervalue ourselves. We undervalue our contribution to the world and wonder if what we’re doing even matters, or if we make a difference at all. We believe we are just average or even less sometimes. We think because we’re not all doing something huge and noticeable that somehow what we ARE doing is less important or insignificant than what others are doing.
Think about how you respond when someone asks you, “So, (insert your name here), What do you do?”
Common responses: Oh, nothing big. I’m just a Mom.
I just volunteer at my kid’s school
I just teach in primary
I just work part-time
I’m just a stay-at-home Mom
Now, I know what you’re going to say (as you roll your eyes), “I know it’s not JUST a mom.
That’s the best thing we could be BUT…” And heck yeah…that’s entirely what I’m going to say AND MORE. We need to STOP undervaluing ourselves and our purpose here.
We are infinitely MORE than “just” what we do. Several months ago I had the opportunity to head up the music for a Tri-Stake youth conference. It was a huge event that lasted 3 days and took months and months of preparation. In the beginning I needed to establish a committee of people that would help me figure out all the music for the conference but the problem was, I didn’t know anyone from the other two stakes that would be a good fit for music so I asked the Stake leaders to help me out. I gave them a paragraph of the type of person I was looking for that would best serve on the committee. Not long after I got some names back. I didn’t know these people at all but trusted the leaders in their areas and went to work contacting them.
It was interesting because EVERY.SINGLE.ONE commented, “I don’t know why I was asked to do this. I’m just a ______________.” There’s that word again…just…After the third or fourth person I contacted that said that to me I said, “I respectfully disagree with you”. She was shocked and said, “Excuse me?” – I assured her I didn’t mean anything negative by it. Quite the contrary, actually. I told her (and the others) that they were asked to do this because the leaders in their area and I had prayed for guidance to find the people that would be able to bring something special to the committee and ultimately the conference. I told them that out of ALL the people in their stake (and these are pretty big areas) that THEY were the ones that were asked. They specifically were chosen and Heavenly Father knew that they had specialgifts, talents, and point of view that will be crucial and essential to the work that we’d be doing.
I don’t know if on that first phone conversation they believed me or not. But I tell you what…They each had a profound impact on the way the music was shaped and brought about in the conference. It was indeed inspired and the unique contribution they made was essential and had a far reaching impact not only to each of us in the committee or even to the conference but will carry on infinitely.
You may think I’m over exaggerating but I’m not. We will never know just how far our impact can go but I know without a doubt that who we are, what we do, and how we show up in the world makes a significant difference in the lives of others.
I want to share an example of this: I love the novel, Wonder written by R.J. Palacio. It’s an incredible story and I highly encourage everyone to read it or now there’s a major motion picture – if you’re not a reader – go see it (remember to bring tissues). This novel follows the lives of August Pullman, a young middle school aged boy with a severe facial deformity. He’s been homeshcooled up to this point and now at age ten his parents decide it’s best for him to venture into the public school scene. As you can imagine this is difficult for him to wake up each day and face a world that doesn’t know how to react or respond to you.
Full synopsis link here:
This novel is written so well and in a way that everyone can relate to on some level and the main lesson? “Be Kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato
So a little into the back story: The author had a real life experience with her own children that prompted this novel. They were at an ice cream shoppe and saw a little child with a severe facial deformity. Her son cried in shock and fear and Palacio unsure of what to do and didn’t want to offend the otherfamily took her kids and left the shoppe as quickly as possible. Later she thought about the experience and realized that all she taught her children were that when you see someone who is different, you run away. She then thought that she missed a prime opportunity to teach her young children that it’s okay to be different. There’s nothing to be afraid of and that what they should have done is to introduce themselves, smile, and be a friend.
This one moment in the ice cream shoppe went on to her creating the novel Wonder, where it has now reached so many people and touched the hearts of millions. Her book has left a forever imprint on my life as well as many others.
The world needed what SHE could contribute. I’m sure there are countless others that have had a similar experience but weren’t Palacio. They didn’t think the way she did. They weren’t prompted like she was to write this novel that has shed so much light on how to love and show up for others that are different. What a blessing! For US and for them. She isn’t JUST a mom taking her kids out for ice cream. She is unique and irreplaceable…just like you are.
We never know just how far our reach is, how many lives we’ve touched just by being ourselves. We are unique and different by divine design. You have so much precious worth. The work you are doing today, right now in fact, is worthwhile despite how widely know it is.
Please remember this:
You are amazing and beautiful and have so much to offer.
The world needs what only YOU can bring:Your unique personality, the way you think, your spirit.
Never doubt your worth.
Never doubt your value.
You are special.
You are so much more than “JUST” anything. You are irreplaceable.
Never demean your work and what you do. It is all by divine design and you NEVER know just how far your example goes – how far your unique light reaches into the world. Have a fantastic day hopefully with a new resolve to love those in your circle and an appreciation of what you choose to spend your time on. You are valuable and necessary. See you later, my friends.
“Each of us is a unique strand in the intricate web of life and here to make a contribution.”
― Deepak Chopra
Interview with R.J. Palacio
Jeffery R. Holland: Songs Sung and Unsung