I was asked to speak at our ward’s recent Daddy Daughter Camp Out (girls ages 12-18) so I thought I’d share those thoughts:
To begin with, I would have to admit that I had a wonderful childhood! I was blessed to live in this special area with many other members of the church, amazing Young Women and seminary instructors, and so on. Overall, I was happy, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have challenges. Just like any young girl, I (at times) had problems with friends, my self-image and worth, boys, school, you name it.
And if you don’t believe me, I have some examples!
- I remember a couple of times when I had best friends who suddenly decided not to be my friend anymore.
- I remember how I didn’t always feel like my outfit was cute enough for school so I would ask my mom to pick me to go change.
- I did the dumbest things to “impress” the boys I liked! One time in 7th grade, I liked a boy who was really into ASU football (or so I heard). I went out and bought a maroon and gold ASU outfit to wear to school the next week even though I didn’t even like ASU or the color yellow, for that matter! I don’t think that one worked out as planned…
- I wore mounds of makeup because I thought the “real” me wasn’t as cute.
I went through many of the same struggles that young women go through.
When I reflect on these instances, I realize that so many people (including myself) really don’t know who they are. It is so easy to get caught up in the high school drama of “who is prettier than who” and “who can run faster than who”, or the social media façade. And this is when my Young Women’s theme really kept me going…I always had that reminder on Sunday that I am a Daughter of God. What does this mean to you?
When we don’t understand who we are, then we have a tougher time knowing where we are going in life. Right now, while you are young, it’s the perfect time to figure out this truth for yourself! At such a young age, it’s important to spend your time trying to understand your value. Do you spend 10 minutes a day reading a fashion blog or watching Mormon messages? Do you spend ten minutes thinking about what others think of you, or thinking about what you think of yourself? Do you spend an hour doing your makeup or spend an hour with your siblings? These may seem like simple questions, but when you think about it, ten minutes a day adds up to over 60 hours a year, and 25 days in a 10-year span!! Asking these questions to yourself will help you know who you are becoming, and you give yourself an opportunity to correct your own path.
So, with the help of my leaders who always told me how amazing I was and encouraged me to be my best self, I was able to progress and overcome these small problems that seemed ginormous at the time. I specifically remember one of my institute leaders pulling me aside after class and telling me that he was impressed to let me know that when he thinks of me, he thinks of the phrase “get up and sparkle” (my maiden name is Markle). He told me that my smile brightens up the room and that he can feel my radiance. Little did he know that this is exactly what I needed to hear that week because I was going through a hard time.
This is why being a part of these programs is so critical!! Sometimes it takes another person, and even an adult who we look up to, to point out our amazing qualities for us to believe them. I didn’t always love going to seminary, but I knew how important it was for me to attend anyway because it would help me become the person I am now. And I grew to love it! I started to understand some key things about myself that make me unique:
- I love people! I always befriended the friendless.
- I am very artistic and love calligraphy and painting! The downside to this is that I can be very messy and disorganized…still workin’ on that!
- I LOVE being a mother!! This has always been my goal.
- This is one that is not so unique to just me, because it applies to us all. I am a Daughter of God. I am capable of many good things!
You see, understanding who you are doesn’t mean that you are prideful, or that you are unrealistic. It just means that you know your strengths and weaknesses. When we know our weaknesses, God can help us turn them into strengths. In my younger years, I constantly reminded myself of this.
As I started to work out my kinks throughout high school and into college, I began to notice that the guys I dated were changing. I realized that a guy can date you for your personality and not just because you’re cute, like I used to think in high school. I also realized that I actually had to become the person I wanted to marry. Yeah, judging by my list, that would take some work. 😉
I had actually made a list of the traits I wanted in a spouse as a young beehive, which many of you may have done, so I pulled out my list and it was still the same (well except that I wanted someone who was tall and had brown curly hair, which clearly didn’t happen…) But, there are more important things. J This list included things like:
- Loves God
- Loves me for who I am
- Inspires me to become better
- Someone who I am comfortable with
- Temple worthy
After looking at this list, I had an increased desire to magnify these traits within myself. About that time is when I met my husband Joe. How ironic? 😉 He just got home from his mission to Ukraine and I recognized him at our next Singles Ward activity since we both grew up in the Avalon Ward. I went up to talk to him and he remembered my last name…it was a start! Anyways, I thought he was awesome and such a great friend. Later, his brother told him to ask me on a date, but Joe was too intimidated (at least I think so!). He told Joe that I wasn’t getting asked out on any dates so he needed to ask me out (which wasn’t true by the way but it worked!) I got a call from Joe that week and we had the best first date. We had dinner and then made collages about our lives and then presented them to each other (so tacky, I know!). This date was so different than any I had been on! It was so simple and lighthearted, and I knew that Joe was definitely different. In a good way…!
Okay so after three dates, Joe wanted to get serious. I was a little apprehensive since I knew he’d want to get married and I was only 18 at the time. But, I prayed about it and it felt right, so I gave Joe a chance! We set a date to know whether we should get married or not and by the time that date hit, it was no decision at all. He met every requirement and the most important part was that I loved him. Marriage isn’t meant to be stressful, because it will always happen when we’re ready…and I guess I was ready!
So we got married two years ago and wanted a baby right away (like I mentioned before, I love being a mom and have always wanted to be one!!!). Levi is one, we are expecting another little angel, and life couldn’t be more exciting. And I have all of my leaders, family members, and friends to thank who never gave up on my and always reminded me of my true divinity and worth. Most importantly, I had a Heavenly Father who always loves me for me. One of my favorite scriptures that I kind of use as my motto is Philippeans 4:13. It reads, “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me”. How much more powerful will we be if we can constantly remember this simple yet significant truth!?
Finally, I’d like to talk about the role of a fathers. There are a lot of questions that we might have as young girls, such as “what am I going to be when I grow up?” “Will this bad grade effect the rest of my life?” “Why is it sometimes so hard to do what I know is right?”. I can testify that when we have these questions, it is important to ask the quote experts, or those who know us the best. One is your Father in Heaven, and the other is you father or father figure on earth. Go to him! I know he is happy to help, wants to help you and wants you to succeed. I remember a time on a recent road trip with my dad. The song, “Just the Way You Are” came on and my dad pressed pause and told everyone to sing “I’m amazing just the way I am”. I thought this was totally ridiculous but also the sweetest thing I have ever heard. He reminded me of a simple truth, just like my Young Women’s leaders did every Sunday: I am one amazing daughter of God. Fathers are like that…they may be ridiculous and embarrassing at times, but they are such a blessing and we would be blind not to go to them for advice. Thank you, fathers, for teaching us to love ourselves.
So I challenge you to ask yourself every day… WHO AM I? Your answer may change day-to-day, but I hope that the statement never does… that “I am a Daughter of God”. My answer to this question TODAY is: I am a baby-loving, family-centered, all natural, authentic Aubrey. And I am a Daughter of God!
I love this gospel. It is the only thing that makes sense in a world of confusion, and I know that as we make the effort to understand ourselves, God will reveal unto us our true potential.