So last night I had the opportunity to finally go see the movie "The Help" with a bunch of women from my ward. The script was well written, the casting was well done, and I really felt the gamut of emotions as I had when I read the pages of the book. (By the way if you haven't read the book, you should.)
As I lay in bed for hours trying to fall asleep last night (which is unfortunately, becoming a serial thing as of late), I kept thinking about a part of the movie that really struck a chord with me. There were many parts of the movie that hit me but this one thing in particular was on the forefront of my mind. In fact, I confess I cried for a little bit because I was THAT emotionally affected by it.
Let me explain. Abilene is one of the main characters in the story. She is a maid for one of the Jackson, Mississippi families. Part of her duties beyond the cleaning and caretaking of her employer's home is the raising and caretaking of a little girl named Mae Mobley. Abilene has worked as a maid for several families through the years and has raised many children that she loved and cared for as if they were her own.
The one thing that she has taught each and every one of these children she has raised is that despite what may happen to them in life, they should always remember that they are kind, they are smart, and that they are important. Life is not always easy. It is often filled with much adversity and people will not always be kind. Life is filled with many challenges and when you face these challenges, you will always not meet with success. Sometimes there will be failure. Sometimes in life, you can be faced with much criticism, not everyone will like you, you may be judged, or even people will try to tear you down for their own benefit.
However, despite all this, even if we had done wrong, or made a mistake or failed, or even felt so badly about ourselves, it does not change how much we are worth. It does not change that we are each a daughter or son of Heavenly Father. We are each worth much in the sight of God. "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God."
So why did this particular exchange of words between Abilene and Mae Mobley affect me?
I confess I don't always do a good job at remembering who I am. In fact, I sometimes flat out forget and my sense of individual worth is lacking.
And then what happens? Little things get to me. And I let unkind things bother me. Like being judged. Like being criticized. Like being excluded.
And I stop wanting to go to things or be around other people.
I confess I have been to one Enrichment this year. And I really struggle with wanting to be at church. Or going to get-togethers. And I don't feel like I have anyone to talk to whether it be about good things or bad. All because I am choosing to let the negative things (although there seem to be a lot lately) impact me. I forget who I am. I start to believe I am not worth much, I feel like I do not belong anywhere. And I beat myself up inside.
I am good at what can be termed "putting your game-face on". I smile. I make small conversation when in public. I give 110% to my calling. I am a good listener. I rarely say no when asked a favor. I give my best to my clients. I do my best to support and encourage or help others.
However, I think what kind of an example am I setting for my kids if in public I do one thing while in private they see mom feeling bad about herself? I try to encourage and teach my kids to do their best; to keep their chins up when met with struggles or adversity. I encourage them to follow through, not to quit, not to give up. I teach them to shrug off the bad things.
But what kind of mother am I for observing the practice of "Do as I say, not as I do?"
I need to not forget. I need to remember that I am kind. That I am smart. That I am important.
And even when I lack support or courage, I can stand on my own. And when I falter, Heavenly Father will pick me up if I only ask.
That is the example I should be setting.
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said "The way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we are in life."
Forgetting who I am is not the reaction I should have.
And I must needs practice what I preach. Just as I tell my children to shrug off unkind words, learn from your mistakes, grow and become better in light of criticism, let it be and move on, surround yourself with good friends, and above all believe in yourself, I must do the same.
I am kind. I am smart. I am important.