As the presenter, I wanted to share with the parents how we approached this topic. My goal is to invite a conversation that can help to offset this latter-day plague.
I opened this conversation with the familiar scripture
… thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
After a brief discussion, I had them focus on the concept of loving your neighbor as yourself. I then stated the following:
Our ability to love God and to love our neighbor is heavily influenced by our ability to love ourselves.
I shared with them the following three questions which many youth (and adults) struggle with:
- Am I worthless?
- Am I a failure?
- Do I have value?
To tackle these serious questions, I used the evolution of a Violet Parr, a character from the movie The Incredibles.
I connected Violet’s self-doubts with a true story of a girl I called Jane (not her real name) to highlight how this stalwart LDS young woman had reached a nadir in her self-esteem, so much so that she convinced herself she was irredeemable and unlovable. (Click here for her story.)
Next we discussed the idea on being a failure. In the movie, Violet was on a plane with her family that was under attack by missiles. Violet had the power to create an impenetrable force field around the plane but she doubted her ability. As a result, she failed to protect her family.
I used Violet’s failure to tell them about Bob (not his real name). Bob suffered a devastating failure in his life and as a result he attempted suicide. (Click here for his story.)
At this point, I told the youth that a common thread between both tragic stories, was that neither Jane or Bob felt worthy of God’s love. I explained that God’s love cannot be earned. His love can neither grow nor diminish. There is nothing we can do to make Him love us more and there is nothing we can do to make Him love us less. He loves us perfectly.
I feel the constancy of God’s love must be the foundation of our relationship with Him and is the key for us to understand our individual worth.
Not wanting to leave the youth with two tragic stories, I concluded my presentation by showing the transition of Violet from feeling she was a worthless failure to becoming a confident young woman Her transition started when her mother expressed love and confidence in Violet, even after her horrific failure. This brief conversation was the catalyst for Violet’s discovery of her individual worth.
I returned to the stories of Jane and Bob and explained that each of them had a similar transitional moment that rescued them for the clutches of their self-esteem crisis. Once Jane and Bob felt valued by others and by God, they were better able to roll up their sleeves and work to discover their individual worth.
At the end of the presentation, I shared with them the video from President Uchtdorf about our individual worth.