One of the things I've felt impressed to do this year is to record some of the defining moments of my life.
I'm not talking about the "big" things--because typically the moments that might seem impressive to others aren't the ones that define you.
I'm talking about the little things, like brief conversations with people I admire or "ah-ha" moments that come to me at unexpected times. Many of my defining moments have happened on quiet days when I've prayed hard and thought deeply about what God wants for me. And many others have happened in the midst of chaos (because that's very regular in my life).
The defining moment I want to write about today happened during a lunch break when I was in elementary school.
We lived just a block away from the school, and I skipped home practically every day to eat a cup of Campbell's vegetable soup and a slice of whole wheat toast with my mom. She would stop the sweeping, move the bills off to the side of the table, and sit with me for the 20 or 30 minutes I was home . . . simply letting me tell her all about my morning and what our class's plans were for the afternoon.
But one day, I came home in tears.
My mom immediately opened her arms to me and said, "Oh, April, what's the matter?" Then she led me out to the living room and sat down beside me on our soft brown couch, holding my hands and looking into my eyes--trying to figure out what on earth could be troubling me so much.
I poured out my heart and, through my sobs, told her how a girl at school had told another girl (who then relayed the message back to me) that she thought I was ugly.
Looking back, I can see that this was just one of those things girls do--growing up and figuring yourself out is challenging. This particular classmate and I later became good friends, but at the time, I was devastated.
My mom then told me two things.
First, she said, "April, you are not ugly."
I appreciated hearing that from her, but it didn't really help. She's my mom. Of course she's going to say that.
But the second thing she told me has stayed with me for the last 20+ years, and I count it as one of my defining moments.
"And you must remember that the only thing that matters is what the Lord thinks of you. Is the Lord pleased with you, April?"
I thought for a moment--about how I tried so hard to be a good girl, how I tried to love other people and work hard in school and obey my parents and help people who felt sad. I thought about how I felt when I prayed and when I read the scriptures. I knew I wasn't perfect, but I knew that I was living a life that would please the Lord.
I looked up at my mom and nodded my head.
And then she said, "Then nothing else matters."
That phrase sat in my heart, and I knew it was true.
At the end of that lunch break, I walked back to school with the most peaceful feeling inside.
I hadn't gotten any prettier while I was home, but as I crossed the street and entered back into the playground, it simply didn't matter anymore.
Even though I'm no longer an adolescent, there are still moments I start to worry about what others think of me. My work at Power of Moms is very public. I pour out my heart on a regular basis. I show people pictures of the messes on my counters. I let everyone see my wrinkles and the dark circles under my eyes.
But these words from my mom come back to me often, and every time I think of them, I feel that same peaceful feeling.
We all have times when we wonder if we are enough. And there will never be a shortage of exchanges--deliberate or accidental--that hurt our feelings.
But we can strengthen our resolve and remind ourselves that the only thing that matters is what the Lord thinks of us.
Have you had any specific experiences that helped you learn (or teach) this lesson?