Not A Pretty Girl

29 03 2010

“I am not a pretty girl
I don’t want to be a pretty girl
no I want to be more than a pretty girl”
~ Ani DiFranco

Please forgive me if my thoughts are fragmented tonight. (I hear a chorus of “Tonight? More like every night.“) There are a few things that have been banging around in my head and I’m not sure how well I can express them.

About a month ago Big G was saying our evening family prayer: “Grateful for food, grateful for our house, grateful for Jesus…” And then he busted out with, “Grateful for me.” I had to stifle my giggles because really, how ridiculously cute is that? Yet the more I think about it, the more I realize what a great sentiment it is (from the mouths of babes, blah blah blah). When was the last time you stopped and thought, “I’m grateful for me“? When I say it in my head, it sounds so pompous and contrived. But shouldn’t I be grateful for me? Why wouldn’t I be?

My blogging idol, The Bloggess, posted a column earlier this month. The last sentence haunts me: “I’m worthy because of you.” I’m haunted by this because it sums up my life-long quest to find my value through other people.

We did an eye-opening exercise at the substance abuse treatment program I recently completed. I don’t remember the exact scenario, but it was something along the lines of being on an airplane or boat that’s going down, and only two people can be saved. Who is saved, and why? Only two in a room of about 20 women chose to save themselves. (I was one of those women, but mostly because I didn’t want to make the other women feel bad by choosing one over another. That’s right, I was willing to kill them all so their feelings weren’t hurt. Shut up.)

That night, we had a homework assignment. We were to write down why we should live–without using other people. I couldn’t say, “I should live because I’m Big & Little G’s mom” or “I’m a great wife” (okay, yeah, I wasn’t going to use that last one anyway). The old standby “I’m a good friend” didn’t count. It was, bar none, the most difficult homework assignment I’ve ever had, and because this is so omnipresent in my mind, I’m going to share a little bit of it here.

Quite frankly, I’m not sure I can come up with a reason that I deserve life more than someone else. Everyone has something special about them that would recommend itself to survival. So do I deserve to live?

If we cut straight down to Darwin, I don’t win out in the grand scheme of things. Because really, I’m pretty genetically inferior. Without modern medicine I’d be dead, or at least childless, so you wouldn’t want to send me out of the cave to propagate. That just wouldn’t end well. So I guess we’ll skip over the whole “survival of the fittest” concept and assume humanity isn’t depending on my procreative powers.

I think what it comes down to is that I just won’t give up, no matter what gets thrown my way. That’s a pretty good quality to have in the long run. No matter what else you have going for you, if you’re not willing to persist, it doesn’t matter how smart or healthy or funny or kind you are. It’s all about enduring to the end.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “Therefore, enduring to the end is not just a matter of passively tolerating life’s difficult circumstances or ‘hanging in there.’ Ours is an active religion, helping God’s children along the strait and narrow path to develop their full potential during this life and return to Him one day. Viewed from this perspective, enduring to the end is exalting and glorious, not grim and gloomy. This is a joyful religion, one of hope, strength, and deliverance. ‘Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.'”

Ultimately, that’s why I should live. Because I believe that I can have joy in this life and develop my full potential. I can make my life exalting and glorious. I can find hope, strength and deliverance through my faith. Is there any better reason to be here, to keep going? I really can’t think of one. Because in the end, we’re all going to have to answer for what we’ve done with this life, and I’ve got a whole lot of things to do before I’m ready to do that.

It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, but (right this second, at least) I can say that I’m worthy because I am.

How do you define your value? Can you list 10 things that make you amazing that don’t come from other people?

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5 responses

31 03 2010
danessa

I needed this…

31 03 2010
Mom

Hooray! I think I was in my 40s before I got it figured out. You’re amazing, and have always been amazing.

30 03 2010
Rebecca S.

Good. Really, that sums this post up. Oh yes, and thank you.

30 03 2010
Kristina P.

Very interesting. I will have to think about this a bit more.

This might be interesting to have the kids in the substance abuse group I teach, complete, when we talk about values.

Thanks for your comment on my blog! Mario Lopez thanks you as well!

30 03 2010
Peter

Great post, Jenny. Thanks for providing some serious and worthwhile food for thought.

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