As women, we often feel doubtful, discouraged, unsure, and insecure. It’s easy to let the load we carry on our shoulders and in our hearts, weigh us down. It takes a constant and consistent effort to rise above the feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and failure. I don’t know why as women we are so susceptible to these undesirable feelings, but I do believe that these debilitating self proclaimed notions of inadequacy that we torture ourselves with, might possibly be why we, as women, rise up and become “certain women.” But, if we’re not careful, it can also be the very thing that keeps us from becoming certain.
In a talk I heard titled, Certain Women, Linda Burton talked about many women in both ancient and present day situations that have risen above society, debilitations, discouragements, insecurities, and trials, and have chosen to be certain where they stand.
Linda Burton said, “Consider these synonyms of one meaning of the word certain as connected to faithful, certain women: ‘convinced,’ ‘positive,’ ‘confident,’ ‘firm,’ ‘definite,’ ‘assured,’ and ‘dependable.’”
I am certain that these women were not born certain, but were willing to go through the process of rising up and becoming that way.
5 Rising Up Tools
1. Make a “Can Can List”!
This new concept hit home for me. We have to first believe and recognize that we can! Burton gave many inspiring examples of certain women, but the one that stood out the most to me was the story of a woman who has been confined to a wheelchair and has battled the debilitating and progressive disease, Inclusion Body Myositis, for 15 years. Burton said, “Though confined to her wheelchair, she strives to be grateful and keeps up her ‘Can Can List’: a running list of things she can do, such as I can breathe, I can swallow, I can pray, and I can feel my Savior’s love. She bears her Christ-centered certain witness almost daily to family and friends.” Think of this woman and the power of her “Can Can List”.
A “Can Can List” will change our perspective from can’t to can. It forces us to be grateful, and it reminds us of the things we can do! As women, we all too often focus on what we can’t do or didn’t do, and we do the unpardonable and compare ourselves to others who can or did. So as the first step of becoming a “certain woman,” let’s stop the “Can’t Can’t list” that runs through our minds, and actually start a physical hand written “Can Can List.”
2. Have the Courage to Be Different
Certain women have the courage to be different. They are different because they see the world with a different perspective. They know they have an individual mission that only they can fulfill. They have the courage to accept their mission no matter how glamorous, unglamorous, or difficult it may be. This is where they are different from the world. Certain women are focused on being an instrument in the Lord’s hand, rather than receiving accolades and praise from others. They understand the purpose of their mission is to be the Lord’s servant, it’s not for their own fame or fortune. A quote that always comes to mind when I think of this principle was said back in 2000. Margaret Nadauld said, “Women of God [certain women] can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.”
When you first read this passage, you may think “well yeah of course,” but putting it into practice is another thing. It’s hard to be different. It means not participating in hurtful or backbiting conversations (or even thoughts), it means being kind to people who aren’t kind to you, it means speaking the good of others no matter what, it means not participating in exhausting practice of comparing or competing with others, it means being happy for others in their successes, it means loving those that think and act differently than you, it means putting family before fortune, and the list goes on. I don’t write this list to discourage us, but to inspire us. As we strive to do these things, we will rise above feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, and become certain instead of cynical. Our world, and the world, would be a different place if we had the courage to be different.
3. Serve Others and Let Others Serve You
Many of us would help others at the drop of a hat, but struggle to allow others to serve us. Both are equally important. Think of the internal dialog and feelings that come with the process of each of these. In serving others, we become more certain as we serve with charity, wanting nothing in return, not even recognition. We are able to reach outside our own bubble, our comfort zone, and often our convenience, to help someone else in need. It offers us the opportunity to become more like Christ. Similarly, allowing others to serve us shoots us down the humble and vulnerable path, a path that is often resisted and less traveled. Our human nature is to protect our pride, to show everyone that we are capable all on our own. But the beautiful thing about become a certain woman, is that we finally recognize that we don’t have to do it on our own. We discover how much more beautiful life is when we are vulnerable and allow others into it, including our Savior.
In Burton’s talk, she tells of a woman named Jenny, who was diagnosed with cancer and went through treatment, all while she was the president of a large organization of women. Jenny said, “Not only are we here to save others but to save ourselves. And that salvation comes from partnering with Jesus Christ, from understanding His grace and His Atonement and His feelings of love for [women]. That happens through things as simple as brushing someone’s hair; sending a note with an inspired, clear, revelatory message of hope and grace; or allowing women to serve us.”
There is no one that can help us become more secure and certain than our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ. Anytime I begin down the doubting insecure path, I check myself, and without fail, I’ve gotten distracted and have allowed myself to worry more about what people think rather than what God thinks. Some prayers are not always answered immediately or how we want them to be, but every time I’ve turned to God about this type of concern, His answer is immediate and I feel His love and an overwhelming peace immediately. He is on our team, and will help us on our quest to be certain if we will humble ourselves and ask Him.
5. Put First Things First
In a world bursting at the seams with distractions, we have to have the discipline and conviction to put first things first, because if we don’t, all the sudden, first things are put last. Christ should always be at the center of our lives. How each of us does that is going to be unique to our situation, but it does need to include sacrifice and earnest thought and actions. We can’t just go through the motions and do things just to check them off our list. When we do that, we stay in a state of distraction and our mind is not centered on our Savior. Meditation and self reflection with earnest effort and thought is the secret key that will unlock the shackles that keep us bound from rising up and becoming certain women. Let’s commit and recommit when needed to put first things first.
Who Doesn’t Want to Be Certain?
If I were to line 1,000 women up and ask, “Whoever does not want to be plagued with doubt, discouragement, guilt, uncertainty, insecurity, and thoughts of failure and inadequacy, please step forward. I am certain, 1,000 women would step forward. None of us enjoy these feelings. The exciting new is that we can rise above them and become more than we would have been without them! If we consider, ponder, and implement these five simple steps, always turning to our Savior for comfort, help, and guidance, these feelings will be short term visitors that flee as quick as they come.
Who’s going to join me on the path and rise up and become certain?
Photo Credit: Erin Schmutz