Earlier this school year I received an anonymous note. It was a card someone left hanging on my door, dripping with kind words.

Curious about the author of this note, I went to my best friend in the building and asked her if she knew anyone who had written the note. She didn’t, but she said she’d think it over..

A few days later, my friend came into my room and said, “I know who wrote you the note. It was __________.”

“Really?!” I responded. I hardly ever spoke to this person or even saw her. How could she possibly know I was good at this or that and what I wondered even more was, why would she write me a note like that out of the blue.

I expressed these exact thoughts out loud to my friend at work and she said, “She says you’re too hard on yourself.”

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And with those simple words, tears filled my eyes. “How can she possibly know that?” I asked.

And my friend replied, “Sharlee, anyone who has spent any real time with you at all, can see that.”

That was at the beginning of this school year and I’ve literally been thinking about those words for months. Why am I so hard on myself? Have I always been this way? Do I want to be this way? Is that what I want people to think of me? No, I’d rather encourage them with confidence.

And it occurred to me,  I haven’t always been this way. I’ve been letting other people criticize how I tie my shoes and that makes me nervous every time I go to tie them myself. Other people tell me they’re too loose. Some people tell me they’re too tight. So I never think I’ve tied my shoes the way I’m supposed to. I’ve listened to everyone else.

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When I first wrote about tying my shoes, I mentioned a nudge I was given. That nudge was a big fat wake up call. Someone had once again told me my shoes weren’t tied well enough for them. That night, I literally bawled my way through a prayer where I basically pleaded with my Heavenly Father to stop letting other people’s words tell me how I felt about myself.

It was almost instantaneous. My thoughts went immediately to my Patriarchal blessing and then the words came to my mind, “Since when did you let their words become more powerful than mine. When did their definition of you become the way you see yourself instead of my definition.”

And the thing is you guys, I have my Heavenly Father’s definition of me in my Patriarchal blessing. I know what He thinks of me. I know why He made me the way that He did. And I haven’t been listening.

Those people have been criticizing me for a long time, some longer than I’ve realized. And because I believed their words, I believed there was something wrong with me. I believed they were right.

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And then I realized they don’t know why I am the way that I am. Even if they are supposed friends, they don’t know my heart if they feel the need to pass judgement. And that’s what I was missing.

I know I have room to improve, but don’t we all?  I know where my heart is and how often I forget it. I also know that in a lot of ways I have too strong a personality. I have made apologies either out loud or in private for it for too long. If it’s unbearable for some, the they don’t need to be in my life. I don’t need to play small. I had forgotten that my Heavenly Father made me..strong personality and all, for a distinct purpose. A purpose I don’t even know or comprehend, but I know He did.

The disappointing thing with all of this is that when people started criticizing my bows on my laces, I started looking at theirs and everyone elses. Well hers aren’t ____________. His are too____________. In order to make myself feel better about the criticisms on me, I criticized others. Stacking their flaws up against mine.

It doesn’t work that way.

We don’t wear the same shoes, have the same fingers, or even the same speed at which we catch on to things.

Heavenly Father doesn’t look at us that way and we certainly shouldn’t look at each other that way.

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Most importantly, though, we shouldn’t look at ourselves that way. I am just starting to learn that and I feel like I’m coming out of an abusive relationship.Where someone’s words were repeated time and time again in my mind.

Well __________ said I can’t be this way and do that because it doesn’t match.

____________ said I’m too opinionated.

___________ said I’m too proud.  And the list literally goes on and on and on.

And I let those words repeat over and over again in my mind, until I had convinced myself that I was just a big mess of contradictions, sass, and not much else.

Oh my goodness, there is so much more to me. So much more to all of us.

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I write this not only as therapy to me, but also as a call to you. Whoever you are, if someone has made a criticism of you that has left you feeling less than what you truly are, a Child of God, made with a distinct purpose, remember who you are. Say a prayer. Have a quiet moment. Reflect on your heart. Also remember this before passing judgement onto someone else. S/he was made that way for a distinct purpose as well. You don’t know where they’re at in life or why they are the way they are.

Life would be grand if we all just told the honest truth about ourselves all the time and didn’t have reason for walls and defense mechanisms, but it’s not that way. People are flawed …every last one. But we are all God’s children. Let’s not forget to view ourselves and each other only as such.

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