I’m 16, and I’m having a really hard time figuring out whether or not I’m actually worth anything. I can’t seem to see how our Heavenly Father could create something so flawed. I look at myself and feel only contempt. Please… How can I fix this?
I read your question on the eve of July 4th. I was resting alone on a bench, watching a series of brilliant fireworks crackle and shine over a shimmering mountain lake. Moments earlier, I had observed a glowing sunset tuck arms of orange and red and gold into a deep pocket of violet mountains. It was truly one of the most beautiful scenes I had experienced with my own eyes. And then my phone lit up with the email containing your submission, and I read your words, gently placed my phone on the wooden bench next to me, closed my eyes, and cried. But they weren’t the kind of tears I usually cry when I’m sad or lonely or scared. They weren’t anything like the ones I shed when my brother left on his mission or when my grandpa died or when I broke up with a boy who I thought was the most sincere love of my life. These tears were new. They spuriously flowed from a deep hollow in my heart that I didn’t even know existed until I sat on that bench beneath that sunset on the edge of that water. And I don’t know how long I cried.
My dear, sweet, beautiful girl, I don’t know you. I don’t know what it is that causes you to experience the brokenness and contempt of which you speak; I certainly I don’t know what I could ever say to help heal you. And as I sat there in that moment by the lake on the eve of July 4th, I realized just how many things I don’t know. I don’t know why God felt the need to create mosquitoes. I don’t know why some children are born to parents who don’t love them, or why others are born to parents who do. I don’t know how the Theory of Relativity works, or why people rape other people, or if I’m going to be a good mother. I certainly don’t know much about love. I don’t know how it works, or why it sometimes isn’t returned or why it both wholly creates and crushes worlds. I don’t even know what I did to deserve that beautiful moment by the lake. But, I know that I cried for you.
One of my favorite scriptural passages is found in the Pearl of Great Price when God talks with Moses. Moses is a man I’ve always admired, because he was just an ordinary guy that God asked to do a lot of extraordinary things, and in Moses 1, he and God spend a long time discussing the marvels of the worlds, the people who inhabit them, and God’s relationship with each one. And God tells Moses that He wants to show him all of His creations. He says that His “works and words are without end,” and that “they never cease.” Moses looks at God’s marvelous, expansive creations—all of them: “there was not a particle, not a soul which he beheld not, and their numbers were great, even numberless as the sands upon the sea shore.” So, God and Moses have this incredibly enlightening interaction where God shows him everything. And I imagine God says something like “Look, Moses. I have created all of these worlds and all of these plants and animals and rocks and trees. And I’ve created all these people with all their joys and heartbreaks, successes and infirmities, smiles and tears. Millions of them. Billions of them. They are without end.” And Moses beholds it all.
Have you ever been in the mountains on a cloudless night, Broken? I have. It’s one of my most favorite things in the whole wide world: to lie on a blanket, or in my sleeping bag, or next to someone I love, and just gaze at the vastness, the deepness of the sky, and the endless speckles of light that rest there. The stars have a way of causing me to feel so magically insignificant, you know? Because the universe is so massive and dark and endless. And I’m just me—lying there on a blanket or in a sleeping bag or next to someone I love. And I’m so small compared to that sky and those billions of endless speckles, and whenever I stare at them, I can’t help but feel just unimaginably meaningless in a brilliantly meaningful world. So, I can’t even begin to comprehend what it must of felt like to be Moses when he spoke with God that day, but the scriptures say that after God withdrew His presence, Moses “fell unto the earth,” so it must have been something like pretty overwhelmed and similarly meaningless. And God must have known that. He must have known how insignificant Moses felt in that moment, or how insignificant I feel whenever I look at the stars, or how insignificant you feel right now. He knew, because He told Moses, “There are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power, by the workmanship of mine hands. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine, and I know them. The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.”
Dearest, Broken, reading your words filled me with a pain so real and so tangible, I felt I could reach out and grasp it with my hands—hands that often feel so small next to massive mountain ranges and brilliant sunsets and deep night skies. Hands I now use to type these words with the hope that something I write will fill you with even a spark of understanding of how meaningful you are. How smart, how brave, how important. And just as I use my hands to combine these words and create these sentences, God used His hands to create you. And He knows you. Out of all the plants and animals and rocks and trees and smiles and tears, He really knows you. And His work and His glory—His very purpose–is to bring to pass your immortality and eternal life, because He made you with His very own hands. And while there is so much that I truly don’t know, I do know that.
I believe the tears I shed for you that night, the ones I didn’t recognize and had never felt before? I believe they represented a briefly divine moment. And though they may be fleeting, I think occasionally, God sends us flickers of divine light to help us appreciate how amazing all of this is—how amazing our lives are and how many amazing things we get to do while we live them. He wants us to understand how special it is that He created us, and how powerful His love is. And as I gazed at the sparkling fireworks and blazing sunset through teary eyes on the eve of July 4th, I understood just that. Hold on, beautiful girl. Because He loves you, and you’re worth everything to Him. And maybe you’re flawed. And maybe you’re broken. But you’re His. And He knows you.