That Time I Was an Idiot
When I was a teenager, I had a huge crush on a boy in my stake.
I’ll call him Joe.
I thought Joe was the greatest thing ever. I liked him so much that I was willing to do whatever it took to make sure he liked me back.
And like a typical girl I would daydream about our future together- how we’d get married and live happily ever after.
I had an entire plan!
But to make sure my plan worked out I tried to make sure that whenever I was around him I was as cool as I could be.
I knew what kind of music he liked, so I started listening to that kind of music.
I knew what sports he was into and so I would pretend that I was interested in those sports.
To be honest, I was a total fake.
Possibly the worst thing though was that I had horrible teeth. I needed braces so badly.
Every time I went to the dentist, the dentist would tell me that I had to get my teeth fixed. And I almost did- many times. My mom was willing to pay, she had insurance to cover it…. but I just wouldn’t.
I REFUSED to get braces.
Because I just knew that if I had braces, Joe would not like me. And it didn’t matter that Joe had braces at the same time. If I had braces, he would reject me and we’d never get married. It was all very, very dramatic (at least in my mind it was).
So I never got braces.
I decided that a life with crooked teeth was better than a year with braces because I might just lose Joe in that year.
Years later I ended up finally having to get braces. I tried sending the bills to my mom but she told me I’d missed my chance… so I was out $5000… and Joe and I didn’t even end up together. #sigh
But I think this illustrates the point that sometimes we think we have to be something other than what we are in order to be loved or accepted by other people….even if they never ask us to.
Joe didn’t once ask me to change the music I listened to or the sports I liked. But I decided that the real me wasn’t good enough for Joe, so I changed to make myself worthy.
What Do I Need to Change to Be Loved?
And I want you to think about this.
I want you to fill in the blank below:
According to the world, I need to be ___________________ to be loved/lovable.
How would you fill in that blank?
Really think about it- what do you need to be?
Personally, I thought I needed to be attractive to be lovable; I had to be brace-free. I also thought I had to have similar interests to other people. I had to listen to the right kind of music.
What about you?
What are you required to be in order to be lovable?
Now let’s put this another way. Fill in the blank for this sentence:
According to Jesus Christ, I need to be ____________________ to be lovable.
How would you fill in that blank?
Really think about it- what do you have to be for Jesus to love you?
That was a total trick question, because there is nothing to put in that blank!
According to Jesus Christ, you are lovable and loved and wonderful and just the best!
You don’t have to do or be anything for him to think you are awesome and for him to love you.
God’s Love For You
Now if you look in the scriptures, you can find so many examples of God and Jesus’ love for you.
If you look at Enos, Joseph Smith, Moses, and Hannah they all have something in common.
When God speaks to them He calls them by name.
He knows them by name.
He knows them PERSONALLY!!
And He knows YOU personally!
God knows each of us. Jesus knows each of us. And Their love for us depends on absolutely nothing.
For years I thought that for God to love me I had to be perfect. I felt I had to “earn” His love.
But Sister Joy D. Jones said, “If we sin, we are less worthy, but we are never worth less!”
God’s love and care for us does not change based on our actions.
His ability to bless us might change, but His love never does!
But Satan doesn’t want us to know that; he is the master of deception and distraction.
“My Son” vs. “Son of Man”
This is portrayed perfectly in the book of Moses.
In the book of Moses, God comes to Moses and shows him a fantastic vision. Moses was able to see many amazing things, but the most fantastic thing he sees is the greatness and the grandeur of God.
He is absolutely amazed at the glory of being in God’s presence.
And yet, God- this glorious, great, and grand being- continuously refers to Moses as, “Moses, my son.”
He says this repeatedly throughout the vision, claiming Moses not just as “a” son, but as “His” son.
Don’t you love that?!
After the vision ends Satan comes in and tries to deceive Moses.
He uses his best tricks of deception and distraction to get Moses to worship him.
And just like the master of distraction he is, he refers to Moses as “son of man.”
Now was Moses the son of man?
Moses had a dad. We all have a dad!
But what was Satan trying to do?
He was trying to make Moses lose sight of who he was eternally. He was trying to make Moses forget that he had a Father who will never ever stop loving him no matter what.
And that’s what he does to us. He tries to get us to focus on all of the least important things he can. He tries to convince us that we have to be something more than what we are to be loved because we’re only a son or daughter of man.
Well, guess what?
It’s not true.
Each of us is a son or a daughter of God with infinite worth.
That NEVER changes no matter what.
For When You Feel Forgotten
But what if you’re in the middle of a trial or a struggle and feeling alone and forgotten?
It happens- it happens to every single one of us.
At some point in our lives we will feel unimportant and forgotten by God.
But the best reminder in times like this comes from a scripture story in 2 Kings.
It is the story of Elisha the prophet who has a young deacon-aged boy that lives with him.
At this point in Israelite history, the Israelites are fighting a battle with the Syrians and the Syrians have a scary army. Holy smokes, you do not go against the Syrians.
But the Israelites are fighting them and somehow the Israelites keep knowing exactly where to go in battle, exactly which areas to avoid, and exactly when the Syrians are coming.
And so the Israelites, with their much less trained soldiers are beating the Syrian army and the Syrian King is getting mad.
He thinks one of his men must be a spy for the Israelites. So he gathers his men and says, “Will ye not shew me which of us is for the king of Israel?” In other words, “Which of you dirty dogs is a spy for Israel?!”
But one of the Syrian king’s servants said, “None, my lord, O king; but Elisha the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in they bedchamber.” Or in other words, “The Israelites don’t need a spy- they have a prophet who can tell what you’re doing and thinking even when you’re alone!
And so the Syrian King, in a really dumb move, decides to take out the Israelite prophet.
Worst idea ever.
And so the Syrian army goes after Elisha who is currently living in the pastoral land of Dothan. There is no army nearby to protect him, no city full of angry villagers to come to his aid. It is just Elisha and his young servant.
Early in the morning Elisha’s servant wakes up and looks outside. What he sees must absolutely terrify him. A host of Syrian soldiers with horses and chariots are surrounding them. The military might of Syria surrounds one old man and one young boy. And man, if I was this boy I would be shaking in my Israelite sandals!
How alone and forgotten this boy must have felt!
Here he was, serving God’s prophet, and what does he get? Death at the hands of the Syrians!
The boy runs to Elisha to tell him that they’re surrounded by the Syrians. But, probably to the boy’s surprise, Elisha wasn’t terribly concerned.
He looked out at the Syrian host and told the boy, “Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”
My guess is that this boy was thinking, “Gosh, I’m not that smart, but an old man and a teenage boy against a Syrian army…. it’s not hard to know which way the alligator goes on that on… Greater than less than…”
There are less on Elisha and this deacon aged boy’s side than there are with the Syrians.
But Elijah prays and asks the Lord to open the boy’s spiritual eyes.
And for the first time the boy is able to see clearly both physically and spiritually what is outside his window. “…and behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”
Was this boy forgotten?
Not for a second!
Was this boy unimportant to God?
Not at all.
This boy was important enough for God to send a heavenly host to his aid.
I testify that even when we feel alone or unloved or unimportant, even when no one else can see our value, we have a heavenly host ready to come to our aid when we need it, because THAT is how valued we are by God.
Your Neighbors are Loved Too
Now if YOU are that valued and loved by God, what about everyone else?
Let’s read a quote from C. S. Lewis on this topic,
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature, which if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship. There are no ordinary people. Your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”
You are Holy. You have such grand potential that if we could see you in your future glorified state, we would be tempted to kneel in front of you.
And the same goes for your neighbors and your friends and your frenemies and your enemies. And for everyone!
Each of us is a person with such amazing divine potential that we don’t need to worry about if someone likes us or not because we have braces, and we don’t need to change our clothes to make someone like us, and we don’t have to change what music we listen to so that we can fit in.
Our value does not change based on what anyone else thinks of us.
Our value is infinite.
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