Ever since I was a child, I have struggled with my weight and accepting myself. In the beginning, the nicknames I received because of my weight seemed harmless, but with time, I started to believe that the negative things that were said about my appearance also meant negative things about my personality.
As a teenager, I started to realize that, although I liked my physical characteristics, my body type didn’t fit with worldly expectations. And I liked my quiet personality, but it wasn’t what people expected from me either—teachers wanted me to speak up in class, boys liked the more talkative girls, and I was told frequently that I needed to be more outgoing than I actually was. Little by little, my self-worth started to languish.
My young adult years found me depressed, uncomfortable in my body, and questioning why the Lord couldn’t have made me at least a little pretty and more interesting. I tried more diets than I should have, and ironically, the more I tried to lose weight, the more weight I gained. Being a single, introverted, and overweight young adult didn’t seem very promising.
I felt defeated and decided that I was the way I was, even if I never lost the weight I wanted to or became more extroverted. Although I stopped hating myself so much, I was still far from seeing myself as a beautiful, worthwhile daughter of God. I simply gave up on trying to find my worth.
One day a miracle happened while I was reading a talk by Sister Mary G. Cook, wife of Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, from the September 2016 worldwide devotional for young adults titled “Find Joy in Everyday Life.” I read: “When we came to this earth, we brought with us our divine nature as children of God. Our individual worth came from heaven.” I felt as if my mind was finally opened to a light that I so deeply needed but thought I would never get. I realized that, before, I had felt as if it were wrong to like myself because I didn’t fit the worldly stereotype of what a beautiful, worthwhile woman should be. Now I was ready to admit that I love my introverted and geeky personality, messy curly hair, brown eyes, potato-like nose, big smile, and even my overweight body that still does just what I need it to do. I became grateful for being God’s creation. I finally understood that He doesn’t create mistakes.
After so many years of emotional and physical struggles and suffering, I finally learned a truth that for many may be obvious: my individual worth has nothing to do with this world! It came from heaven. It has always been with me, even if I was blind to it. It’s not decided by media, by my peers, or by anybody but Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and They see me as valuable enough that the Savior died for me.
Learning from the Spirit about my value in God’s eyes has changed me in so many ways. I fell in love with life again. I feel more gratitude for my countless blessings. I feel a huge desire to try harder to do what’s right and believe more in myself and in my dreams. It made me want to be more kind and patient with people around me and brought me closer to the Savior.
The voices of the world keep calling and judging, but now I have a strong knowledge of my worth that I never want to forget. That knowledge brought me peace and joy that I want to share with everyone I meet. Through that devotional talk, I learned that even my self-worth and self-confidence need to have a firm foundation in Christ so “that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon [me], it shall have no power over [me] to drag [me] down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which [I am] built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Helaman 5:12).
I’m grateful for the Lord and the eternal worth He sees in all of us. I’m grateful for inspired women like Sister Cook who strive to live the gospel and share its wisdom. I’m grateful for this life, for the miracle of our bodies and minds, and for the divinity within each of us.