The lesson my mom gave in Relief Society was based on a 1993 BYU devotional by M. Catherine Thomas, who was an associate professor of ancient scripture at the time. My mom's lesson was about self-esteem and confidence. She mentioned how Professor Thomas said that the search for both of these is a red herring, leading us off the trail of what really matters: our relationship with God, and realizing who we truly are--sons and daughters of God. Realizing this and realizing His love for us gives us the confidence we crave.
There was a quote from the talk that my mom used in her lesson that really touched me:
"Often doors have closed before us that seemed to lead to the opportunities we thought we had to have. We assumed that the closed door was a reflection of some inadequacy in ourselves. But perhaps the closed door had nothing to do with whether we were good or bad or capable or incompetent. Rather, a loving Father shapes, even now, our path according to a prearranged, premortal covenant (see Abraham 2:8). The opening or the closing of these various doors is absolutely dependent on the Lord's perfect perception of our developmental needs. All the elements that we really need for our individual experience here, He puts onto our path. The most important things that will happen to us in this life will come to us often by no initiative of our own, but they come because He is piloting the plan. He says that He does nothing save it be for our benefit (see 2 Nephi 26:24); He has promised that all things work together to our good in order that we may be conformed to the image of His Son (see Romans 8:28-29)." -- M. Catherine Thomas
I needed that quote.
And I've been thinking about the lesson a lot, and have now read the devotional address. It talks about how when you give up the search for self-esteem and essentially "lose your life" for Christ, and really seek Him, you become liberated and stresses dealing with self-esteem disappear.
It's the giving up of the self that is a bit overwhelming. But it is step-by-step, day-by-day, by actively choosing to look to the Savior that it can be possible.
I've always been fascinated with fairy tales. One motif that I'm particularly intrigued by is in stories where a girl magically becomes more beautiful with each passing day. I've pondered about that concept, and decided that confidence adds to beauty, poise, and grace, and as a girl becomes more confident, she becomes progressively more attractive--not only in looks, but in manners and in spirit.
Now I'm really beginning to see that really, this beauty with each passing day is found in "seeking this Jesus" (Ether 12:41), and striving to receive His image in our countenances (Alma 5:14). It's definitely a thought.
For those interested, here's a link to the talk by M. Catherine Thomas. Enjoy.