Sunday, April 24, 2016


Each of us will experience difficult times. However, it is what we do during those difficult times that will either make or break us. As the Youth Advocate at a high school I am always looking for ways to help and inspire my students. However, it isn't uncommon for them to be the ones inspiring me. If I were to begin listing all the different ways, we would be here all day, so instead, I am going to focus on three examples that happened just this week. Through the many different positive influences of my students, this week I was able to recognize three possible reasons we aren't able to find the happiness we deserve, and how to fix it. 



One way I try to help my students is by teaching them skills to be more organized with their time. I created a "Things To Do" printable for them to keep track of all the things they need to get done throughout the week and be able to check them off once they are finished. I usually ask them to bring it to me to check once they have filled it out. 

After giving him a "Things To Do" print-out, one of my students brought his in to my office and I was shocked by what I saw. Most kids will have a long list of homework and assignments (which is what the sheet is intended for), however, this one was a bit different. Along with the different assignments that needed to be completed, this student had added "Give thanks to God" at the beginning and end of each of his days. I couldn't help feeling impressed and even inspired. How often do we forget to "give thanks" to God? Do we really consider it to be one of our most important tasks of each day? This young boy inspired me and reminded me that I need to make "giving thanks" to God more of a priority in my life.  

At such a young age, one of my students was able to recognize the importance of giving thanks to God for all that he has been blessed with. I will be the first to admit that remembering to "give thanks" and "count my blessings" is not typically the first item on my to do list. However, it should be. My darling student nailed it. The very first and very last part of each of his days were dedicated to thanking God for all he has. 


While my religion and personal beliefs are a huge part of my life and extremely important to me, there is no place for that in public schools. As much as I might like to, I cannot share my personal beliefs about God with my students. Once again I was inspired by one of my outstanding students. Recognizing that I was a little "down" one day, and without even knowing the details as to why, this student reminded me of a truth that we too often forget by telling me, "God has a plan for you". At that very moment, those were the exact words that I needed to hear. I truly believe that God works through mysterious ways and that day He used a young 17 year old kid to be the answer to my prayers. 

When things get hard in life, people either turn to God for help, or turn away out of bitterness. When we turn away from God, we are turning away from the true source of  all happiness. During difficult times, the worst thing we can do is turn away from our all-knowing, and all-loving Heavenly Father. While you may have feelings of bitterness or confusion when things aren't working out the way you would like, remembering that God truly does have a plan for you is so important. I was reminded of this truth at the very moment I needed it by my incredible student.   


The last two weeks I have been doing a project with my students where they write on a piece of paper, "I AM..._______" and fill in the blank with one positive word that best describes who they really are. When I look at my students I can think of countless positive words that describe them. It broke my heart as I watched many of them struggle to come up with one positive word that they personally felt described who they are. A few of them threw it back at me and asked what I would put to describe myself. While it was so easy for me to see the good in them, when it was thrown back at me, the task seemed a little more difficult. I imagine that this is exactly how our Heavenly Father feels about us. We are LITERALLY, His children. We are sons and daughters of an almighty God. We are divine and precious.  While this is true, for some reason, our vision of our true identity gets clouded and we forget who we are. As I watched my students bravely redefine who they are and label themselves positively, I was reminded of who I truly am. A daughter of God with infinite potential. 

Do you really understand the significance of the reality that YOU are a child of God? Do you know that your worth is without bounds? Do you know that God loves you? You are His child. He knows you perfectly and can easily see all the good that we are. God doesn't love a certain version of you, He loves the WHOLE of you. Exactly as you are, faults and all. 

When we forget who we are, turn away from God, and forget to give thanks, we are making the possibility of finding true happiness near impossible. Doing these three things will not make everything perfect. However, doing these things will provide you the strength necessary to get through the difficulties that life will inevitably present to you. If you have found yourself struggling, bitter, or saddened by the hardships of life, I challenge you to implement these three things more seriously in your daily life. 

"He’s been there. He’s been lower than all that. He’s not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don’t need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He’s not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief." -Chieko Okazaki

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