Despite knowing you are a child of God, you may feel stuck in a rut, undervalued or even worthless. If so, perhaps it’s time to shift your frame of reference.
Detour to Damascus
Jesus often asked questions that "required an entire shift in one’s frame of reference" (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "Jesus, the Perfect Mentor," Ensign, February 2001).
On the road to Damascus, the Master asked Saul a life-changing question: "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" (Acts 9:4). Though temporarily blinded by the encounter, Saul would become the visionary apostle Paul. In that moment, the hated persecutor of Christians was willing to confront his conduct and character. Instead of justifying himself, Saul abandoned his previous path by asking: "Lord, what wilt thou have me do?" (Acts 9:6).
The road to Damascus is a symbol for the detour of self-examination. Without a willingness to examine our character, our life path is mired in the pride of the unexamined heart.
Sometimes disaster storms our peace through no fault of our own. At other times, we are dissatisfied with the gap between the life that is and the life we desire. Finally, there are times when our restlessness is self-inflicted by sin or sloth.
In all circumstances, we matter to God. We are known and we are numbered as his precious lambs, "and ye are my sheep, and ye are numbered among those whom the Father hath given me" (3 Nephi 15:24).
There is a vast difference between feeling undervalued, and being undervalued. Though few of us persecute others for their religious convictions, we sometimes act like the pre-Damascus Saul by refusing to see ourselves as Jesus sees us.
Consider the widow’s mite. While observing wealthy men donating to the temple treasury, the Savior noted an impoverished widow casting in two mites. Calling his disciples, he said, "Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in ... even all her living" (Mark 12:42-44).
Though undervalued by the witness of men, God knew the widow’s heart — her true value.
The world tells us we are boring prodigals who must experience the glitter of the far country. Thus, pop-culture depreciates motherhood, civility, charity and decency in order to gain converts from the rich pool of the restless or selfish.
Ironically, to the extent we waste our inheritance in self-pleasing, we dilute our most valuable asset: our potential. Selfishness is its own self-limiting direction.
Love’s true value
When we are tempted to wonder whether we matter, consider the love of those who have most influenced us for good. Teachers come to mind; they mentor, they encourage, they inspire. Despite low salaries and some disengaged parents, teachers matter because they help others matter.
When we extend our love, our self-worth expands to allow us to value others as God values them. In selfless service, no one feels undervalued and no one is.
My friend Dennis Barney founded a food bank and many other charitable causes. It took three buildings to accommodate the throngs at his funeral. His widow noted that he died, literally, of an enlarged heart. Dennis mattered to others because of the depth of his love.
Because we are our harshest critics, we sometimes lose sight of our true value: "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God" (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10).
If you’ve ever felt like giving up, don’t. Remember that your value is priceless and your potential eternal. Encourage someone, help someone, bless someone. By lifting others, you will never feel undervalued.
Your true value is far above the glittering lights of a tinseled world. You are one of the shining stars in God’s heaven.
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