Thursday, October 1, 2015

Embrace Your Awesomeness...

Have you ever struggled with believing in yourself?

Believing in your ability? In your worth?

If you have, you're in good company.

Elder L. Tom Perry said,

"One of the greatest weaknesses in most of us is our lack of faith in ourselves. One of our common failings is to depreciate our tremendous worth.” 

It's interesting to note that most little kids seem to be immune to this weakness... 

they have no problem believing in themselves... 

no problem loving themselves.

They dream and they dream BIG.


You don't see little kids running around placing limits on their ability! 

They have plans to be Princesses, Secret Agents, Singers, Chefs, Butterflies, Video Game Designers, Ninja Turtles, NBA Stars, Doctors, Veterinarians, Ballerinas, Mermaids, Race Car Drivers, Lego Masters, Teachers, Superheroes, and Elsa. 

The sky's the limit! 

You don't see little kids running around viewing themselves with a critical eye...

they recognize their gifts...

they know their super-powers...

they EMBRACE their AWESOMENESS!


Personally, I can not look at a picture of myself without cringing (I just may be one of the LEAST photogenic people on the planet). So I loved hearing about a little girl whose mother snapped a picture of her; the little girl grabbed her mother's phone, eager to see how the picture turned out. She took a good long look at it and said, "Man, I look GOOOOD!"

Isn't that AWESOME?!

Somewhere along the way, we lose the ability to do that... 

to accept ourselves...

to love ourselves...

to believe in ourselves. 

Somewhere along the way, self-love is replaced by self-doubt; self-worth by self-deprecation. 

And the Adversary is a MASTER at preying on this weakness and getting us to "neglect the gifts within us" (1 Timothy 4:14).

Growing up, music was a HUGE part of my life.

As a child, I just KNEW I was going to be a singer (there wasn't a hairbrush I owned that didn't transform into a microphone) and at 10 years old I had my future planned out with ALL the confidence in the world. My little sister and I were going to start a band.

Yep.

I even had a NAME for our band...

wait for it....

wait for it...

“Double Vision.” (Ooooo. Aaaahhhhh.) 

I had written three AWESOME songs that were going to catapult us into stardom and we were going to be JUST LIKE that sister group, Wilson Phillips. ("Hold on for one more day," people! E-hem.)

Much to my siblings dismay, I was ALWAYS singing. I sang in the house. I sang in the car. I sang in the...okay, this is starting to sound Dr. Seuss-y...

I sang in the house. I sang in the car. 
I sang in the churches, both near and both far.
I sang in the schools of the middle and high,
I sang what I knew and I sang on the fly.
I liked it, I liked it, I liked it, you see.
I liked singing songs and believing in me.  

I even came to BYU with the intention of singing and majoring in music. 

Dream big or go home, right?

But.

When I got to BYU, my childhood bubble of confidence BURST. 

I looked around at everyone ELSE who had the intentions of majoring in music and realized JUST how UNTRAINED I actually WAS! 

(POP)

I hadn't HAD years of voice lessons; I hadn't had ANY voice lessons. 

I didn't play an instrument, let alone TWO or THREE instruments! (Well, there WAS the violin in 4th and 5th grade. Oh, and the recorder in 3rd. Did that count?) 

I barely knew how to read MUSIC, for crying out loud. And I had the audacity to believe I was going to be a music major? A singer? A songwriter?

I took one look at "THEM" and seriously started to doubt my own ability; my own worth.

And the Adversary was right there, preying on my weakness, wholeheartedly assenting my fears with whispers of: “you can’t do that," "you’re not good enough," "you're going to make a fool of yourself," "who are you kidding?,” "you don't belong here."

And sadly, I believed him.

I distinctly remember looking around that music orientation room and telling myself I didn't belong there. I still remember the awful sinking feeling as I left there that day and raised the white flag on my childhood dreams. I walked away from music.

Everything I knew about myself, who I thought I was and who I thought I was going to become, became undone.

My hairbrush became a hairbrush.

Now, jump forward 19 years, and here I am on this intense "mission" trying to uncover my personal mission; asking Heavenly Father to help me understand more clearly who I am, who I was before I came to this earth, and who I was sent here to become. (Check out my fireside, Your Unique Mission)

And little by little, stroke by stroke, Heavenly Father is painting a portrait of the girl I was before I came to this earth, the girl I am, and the girl I was sent here to become; highlighting the talents and gifts that I’ve been given.

And wouldn’t you know it, He is painting the portrait of a singer…of a songwriter…of someone sent here to build His kingdom and serve others, through the gift of music.

My first reaction? 

Tears. 

Tears of gratitude. 

Tears of disbelief. 

Tears of hope. 

Could it really be that God was actually encouraging me to set free that part of me that I had locked up and buried away so long ago? 

It seemed too good to be true. 

And almost instantaneously, those hopeful tears turned into fears. 

"I must have misunderstood. There is NO WAY the girl in that portrait could possibly be ME. I've SEEN what "GOOD" looks like, and I am not good."  

And of course, the Adversary was RIGHT there...AGAIN...preying on my weakness: “you can’t do THAT," "there’s nothing special about you," "you’re NOT good enough," "no one’s gonna listen to you," "you’re just gonna embarrass yourself," "you're going to fail," "who are you kidding?” 

It was just SO hard to BELIEVE that I could actually DO what Heavenly Father was asking me to do; that I could actually BECOME who Heavenly Father was asking me to BECOME.

Have you ever felt like that?

I was AFRAID.

Afraid of trying. 

Afraid of failing. 

Afraid of looking foolish.

And the fear was paralyzing; it was kryptonite.

I would occasionally dip my toe in the water, from time to time, but I was too afraid to actually jump in.

So what inevitably gave me the power to take the plunge? I thought you'd never ask!

Faith. (Ya know, the opposite of fear.)

Specifically, my faith in GOD. 

I might have struggled with faith in MYSELF, faith in MY ability, faith in MY worth, but I DID have faith in GOD. And God was showing me that THIS was who I was. That THIS was my mission. That THESE were my gifts. He was telling me that I COULD do it. 

He was telling me He believed in me. 

GOD, believed in ME

THAT, my friends, is what FINALLY gave me permission to start believing in MYSELF. 

Heavenly Father BELIEVED in me. He didn't want me to raise the white flag on my dreams. He wanted me to believe in myself...

to work hard...

to develop the talents and gifts that I had been given...

to "neglect not the gift that is in [me]" and USE it to bless and lift others. 

He wanted me to dream and dream big.

And He wants the same for you.

"God is anxiously waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as He always has. But He can't if you don't pray, and He can't if you don't dream. In short, He can't if you don't believe.” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "This, the Greatest of All Dispensations," July 2007 Ensign.)

I can’t tell you how much TRUST and FAITH it takes to stand up in front of a group of people and call myself a singer-songwriter (because NO ONE is more aware of just how raw and unpolished I am, than ME). But I don’t claim to be one because I think I’m amazing or because the world has recognized me in those areas. I claim to be one, simply because God is showing me that THAT is who I am. 

And I'm choosing to believe Him. 

The AMAZING thing is, as I muster the faith to believe Him about who I am, and work HARD to take steps and BECOME that person, Heavenly Father is showing me that I can do it. 

With HIM, I can do it! 

FEAR is giving way to COURAGE, not because of my OWN ability, but because of GOD’S ability...His ability to help me become who I was sent here to become.

Any perfectionists out there?

Me too. In the beginning, it was VERY hard for me to "get out there" and start sharing my gift; I kind of thought if I wasn’t PERFECT at something, then I had no right sharing it with others. I was wrong. 

Heavenly Father is teaching me to be patient with myself; to ALLOW myself to be a beginner. And in the meantime, while I’m still learning and growing, He can take my humble, imperfect offering, and bless it, and stretch it, and make it what He needs it to be. Even when my delivery is FAR from PERFECT, I'm learning that when I stand with Him, together, we have something worth offering. 

And so do you.

You have been given your own unique set of talents and gifts, your own super-powers.

Embrace your awesomeness.

"Neglect not the gift that is in thee..."

Don't let fear and self-doubt stop you from developing your talents and becoming who you were sent here to become.

“Don’t limit yourself and don’t let others convince you that you are limited in what you can do. Believe in yourself and then live so as to reach your possibilities. You can achieve what you believe you can. Trust and believe and have faith.” (President Thomas S. Monson, "Living the Abundant Life," Liahona, January 2012)

Faith is STRONGER than kryptonite. Heavenly Father will help you develop your gifts and become who you were sent here to become. 

If someone would have told me 15 years ago that I’d be going around, writing songs and sharing them with others, I would not have believed them. But despite how scary and vulnerable it can sometimes feel to share that part of me, I've found that I truly LOVE it! I LOVE sharing my testimony with others, through music. It's my happy place, my super-power. It's who I am. I knew that as a child. I just needed to believe in myself.

And so do you.

You were sent here to do amazing things.

Let God show you who you are, who you can become. Believe Him. Believe in yourself.


Embrace your awesomeness.

Come on in, the water's great!

Barbara

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