You are Awesome, and You Matter

Affirmation is incredibly important to me. A lot of the time I go about my business, trying to do my small part in this world to make it better, but I forget that there is significance to what I’m doing, even if it is something small. Yesterday we had a local motivational speaker come in to a professional development day for various youth workers in the county. She brought the perfect combination of charisma, love, humor, and encouragement to her message and left everyone feeling lighter and entertained. She talked about how she wished that her mother had been able to send her to an after school program and how she wishes that she could send her nieces and nephews to one, but she knows that sending money for them to enroll in programs will do nothing because her sister will use the money to pay for other things that she considers more important. It gave me a fresh perspective on the work that I am doing and made me long to see our kids back today. They were absolutely crazy, but I was thinking about what she said, and I tried extra hard to love them and appreciate them for who they are.

I’ve done some sort of leadership since I was in junior high. I’m willing to put in extra hours, energy, and effort in order to accomplish a goal. I am responsible and dedicated, and my commitment holds more water than the amount of rain that’s fallen here in the past few days (which is a lot, by the way). I don’t need financial repayment for the things I do, but hearing affirmation that there is value in what I am doing is like receiving a huge paycheck for me. I had a youth pastor when I was 13-15 who made a huge impression on me for the fact that he was willing to recognize and encourage me in my strengths, and he always affirmed what I was doing. After we had cleaned everything up for the night and I was one of the last ones to leave, he would catch me on my way out and say, “You are awesome. Thank you for you help.” Those two simple sentences meant the world to me. He wrote them in a card one day, and even though years have passed, I still have that card. That was the period of my life where I most hated the way I looked and where I felt like my existence didn’t matter to anyone. I spent a lot of time questioning my value and worth back then, refusing to allow the truth of God’s love to permeate into any reality of my life. His presence in my life was probably the best thing that happened to me, because I knew if nothing else, someone believed in me and appreciated me.

When I think of giving thanks, I try to think of the things and people in my life that I truly appreciate, and I thank God for their presence in my life. I doubt that this youth pastor fully knew my teenage angst at that time, or the difference that his words made in my life. I hope that my dedication this year makes that kind of difference to someone. I want to believe in these kids and give them everything I’ve got so that they have a better chance of doing more with their lives, of getting better in school and making friends and knowing they are loved. I want to know that I matter and that I’m awesome, and I want them to know this too. Too often we hear other messages, but it’s worth the time and effort to tell the people around us what we appreciate. Affirm the value and worth of your own life and actions, and of the people around you. We all have value and meaning and purpose, because we were created by the most awesome and loving God that could exist. I love it when faith and logic work together to reveal truth. God’s kind of awesome that way.

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