Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Welcoming Womanhood: Self Worth vs. Self Esteem

Hello, girls! This is the first post in a series that I will be doing that focuses on issues that effect women.  Sometimes it will be as simple as an easy meal--we ALL need those!  Other times, I'll write my opinion about topics that effect each of us.  Oh, and I'll back it up with gospel teachings, too! ;)

This week, I have chosen to write about the difference between self worth and self esteem.  I'm sure some of you are probably thinking that I am splitting hairs, but I promise that I am not and that I have a point, so bear with me! :)

The world teaches women to have what they call "self esteem."  This means that women should put themselves above others and take care of themselves.  They should be skinny, well coiffed, and always speak their mind--it's their right!  That each woman is more important than those around her and should treat others this way--they should KNOW that, too!  In essence, it's modern feminism in action.  I won't be going into the reasons I believe modern feminism to be wrong.  Indeed, I believe that much of the early feminist movement was necessary for the progression of God's daughters.  But I won't go into negative thoughts.  Instead, I'd like to focus on the important opposite of self esteem--self worth.

"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God."
Doctrine & Covenants 18:10

Self worth is based on the knowledge and understanding that we are daughters of a loving Father in Heaven.  It is rooted in the comfort that comes from the perfect love of God.  It allows for imperfection--as long as we are striving to do our absolute best.  It doesn't care what brand of makeup you wear, who made your jeans, or what make and model your car is.  Self worth is based on charity, which is the pure love of Christ.

It is interesting to me that the first lines in both the Young Women theme and the Relief Society declaration are based on the knowledge that we are literally children of God.  The Young Women theme starts, "We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him."  The Relief Society declaration declares, "We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction." 

What do these two sentences teach us?  There is the obvious--that we are daughters of God.  That He loves us.  But look at the small differences.  The Young Women are taught that they should love God as well as know that He loves them.  I feel that this was essential to put in the Young Women theme--our knowledge that God loves us can only be felt as truth when we love Him in return.  Youth is a time to realize this, but it doesn't mean that each of us has a firm foundation of this truth as we enter Relief Society at the age of 18.

We will each have to come and know that our feelings of love FROM God come when we show Him that we love Him.  This comes as we serve in our callings to the best of the ability.  It eradicates feelings of inadequacy as we come to realize that our service may not be perfect, but that it is pleasing to the Lord.

President Thomas S. Monson has spoken on this subject and said, "We have the hands to lift others from complacency and inactivity. We have the hearts to serve faithfully in our...callings and thereby inspire others to walk on higher ground and to avoid the swamps of sin which threaten to engulf so many. The worth of souls is indeed great in the sight of God. Ours is the precious privilege, armed with this knowledge, to make a difference in the lives of others."

Notice that President Monson never once mentions the word PERFECT.  He mentions the words faithfully, inspire, higher ground.  Never perfect--because that only comes after years of working on all the other principles he mentioned.  Do your best--the Lord will make up the rest!

After we have felt of God's love by showing our love for Him, we will be able to come to a greater understanding of the end of the first sentence of the Relief Society declaration, that is to know that "our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction." 

We learn in the scriptures that "...this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors." (Alma 34:32)  So what does this mean to YOU.  I'm not going to tell you what this "means", because this is a very personal thing.  It is our job, as individuals, to come to understand exactly what direction our life needs to take.  Luckily, we have people that can help us, but ultimately, the decision is ours to make.  

Now, I do have a little bit of a caution for you.  If you choose to just "go with the flow" and allow things to happen to you instead of taking responsibility and action as to what you need to do, you are in danger of perishing spiritually.  In Proverbs 29:18 we read, "Where there is no law, the people perish..."  There are two ways that this verse could be taken (or maybe more, but I'll talk about two).  The first is that without a living prophet who speaks with God, the people do not have a constant source of "living water" and therefore they spiritually perish.  The other way is how we can cause ourselves to personally perish spiritually.  When you lose the vision of what your goal is--hopefully, it's eternal life--then you lose hope and start to fall into a state of personal apostasy.  This means taking time for yourself each day to replenish your personal spiritual reserve.

Elder M. Russell Ballard has given some wonderful counsel to us, as women, in how to cultivate meaning, purpose, and direction in our lives as well as in how to replenish your personal spiritual reserve.  He said, "Sisters, find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children. Avoid any kind of substance abuse, mistakenly thinking that it will help you accomplish more. And don't allow yourself to be caught up in the time-wasting, mind-numbing things like television soap operas or surfing the Internet. Turn to the Lord in faith, and you will know what to do and how to do it."

What a wonderful blessing we have in the living prophet and apostle of our Lord!  It is my prayer that each of us will come to a greater understanding of our worth as daughters of God, that we will choose to participate in activities that will lift ourselves and others, and that we will awake each day to a greater resolve to stand for what is right.  I hope that you know that Heavenly Father loves you and needs you--how do you do this?  You'll have to find out for yourself!  Please take a little time each day to find out how you can do this.  Have a wonderful day!

Linking to: Titus 2sdays, Women Living Well


Anne-Marie said...

Bless you for this wonderful post,'s made my day! It doesn't seem to matter how old I get, or how many RS lessons I teach or am taught, there just seems to be times when I need something a little extra....and today, you provided it! I remember that quote from Elder me comfort and hope that I'm on the right track :D
Also, thanks so much for the very sweet comment you left about my card...wish you lived next door and I could give ya a hug!! xx

TJ said...

Love your post! Rabbi Daniel Lapin said, "self-esteem is what you try to gain when you haven't achieved anything and thus don't deserve any self-respect [self-worth]." Though we all have worth because we are Heavenly Father's children, I love Elder Ballard's quote that we have to DO something with our time so that we don't have empty wells.