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Wright Words: Questions that haunt — Am I loved? Am I beautiful? Am I divine?

Published: Tuesday, July 7 2015 11:40 a.m. MDT

Jason Wright addresses the Alpha Delta Kappa Convention in Washington, D.C., on July 5, 2013. (Oakli Wright) Jason Wright addresses the Alpha Delta Kappa Convention in Washington, D.C., on July 5, 2013. (Oakli Wright)

Have you asked yourself, "Am I loved? Am I beautiful? Am I divine?"

Last week I spoke to one of my favorite groups — Alpha Delta Kappa. ADK is an international honorary organization for women educators. They have chapters in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico, Australia, Canada, Jamaica and Mexico.

I’ve addressed their local chapters, state and regional events and now their international convention in Washington, D.C. This is an inspiring group of women that does a lifetime of good each day before I’ve polished off my first bowl of Lucky Charms.

I agreed in principle to this latest speaking gig — giving the keynote at their international convention — one year ago. I signed a contract and began putting together rough notes and ideas 11 months back. Six months ago, I got more serious and started sorting through stories to share and possible object lessons. With a week to go, I finalized my plans for the 45-minute presentation.

Jason Wright and Elizabeth Riffey experiment with an object lesson at the Alpha Delta Kappa International Convention in Washington, D.C., on July 5, 2013. (Oakli Wright) Jason Wright and Elizabeth Riffey experiment with an object lesson at the Alpha Delta Kappa International Convention in Washington, D.C., on July 5, 2013. (Oakli Wright)

Then, in the car on the way to the venue, everything changed.

I was sitting in the backseat with my headphones on and my laptop open as my wife and oldest daughter rode up front and chatted and giggled about mother-daughter things. I enjoyed the final chance to review my plan for the evening and an unusual object lesson I was excited to unveil for the first time in front of the crowd of more than 1,500 teachers.

As we cruised from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley into the nation’s capital, my mind’s eye saw a sad woman sitting in the audience with three haunting questions that would not go away:

“Am I loved? Am I beautiful? Am I divine?”

I shook my head and tried to rattle the nameless face out like a stubborn pebble in a tennis shoe. "That’s not my message," I thought. "My program is about following dreams. It’s about finding your niche and relying on others to make your passion a reality."

Moments later I again heard the silent worry, the kind that follows us like shadows that will not go to bed with the sun.

“Am I loved? Am I beautiful? Am I divine?”

Virginia’s lush green hills rolled by, but the questions did not fade over my shoulder.

I’m not ashamed to admit in time, tears gathered in my eyes as I considered that someone — a teacher, mother, wife, sister — might be hiding in the audience that day with those three questions burning a bridge between their hearts and minds.

I scrolled back through my presentation with fresh vision. By the time I was done with the virtual red pen, I’d slice and diced half of my material and completely reworked the ending. I asked myself, "If there is even just one woman waiting for me in the audience who feels this way, don’t I owe it to her to answer these questions?"

Two hours later, I launched my presentation with the admission that something had happened to me — that I felt the need to deviate from months of preparation to share a message that might only apply to a handful in the room. Or, perhaps, it might apply to just one.

Are you loved?

“You are!” I nearly shouted. There are people everywhere who care for you, who believe in you and rely on you. They may not say it often enough, but they do love you.

Are you beautiful?

“You are!” You’re a creation of a loving Heavenly Father. No matter what magazines or blogs tell you, they do not own a copyright on the definition of beauty. Beauty is about the contents of the package, not the wrapping. You deserve to know this and to never forget it.

Are you divine?

“Of course you are!” Like all of us, you were created in his image. If God painted a canvas, it would be divine. If he sculpted a piece of art, it would be divine. If he created a woman, she would be divine! God has eternal and divine consequence, so wouldn’t his children?

After posing and answering these fundamental questions, with a lump in my throat, I stated the obvious. “Some in this room feel broken. Marriages have ended in pain, spouses and children have died, sickness has hit, jobs have been lost and homes have been taken.”

Do those facts change how much heaven loves us? Jesus Christ suffered all pain so ours could be healed. Whether physical, emotional or spiritual, there is healing available to us if we’ll simply knock.

Surely some in the audience then, and some reading this column now, wonder, “Can I overcome this? Am I capable enough? Am I talented enough?”

To them I exclaimed, “Yes, you are!” And to you I say the same.

You cannot do it alone; you’ll certainly need some help. It may come from friends, family, professionals, neighbors or strangers. You might see your angels, you might not. But they are waiting to assist you through life's trials, and more importantly, so is the one who sent the trials in the first place.

“Am I loved? Am I beautiful? Am I divine?”

Yes, you are! Now go tell a friend they are, too.

Jason Wright is a New York Times bestselling author of 10 books, including "Christmas Jars," "The Wednesday Letters," and "The 96th Annual Apple Valley Barn Dance." He can be reached at jwright@deseretnews.com or jasonfwright.com.

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company