Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged,
for the Lord your God will be with you
wherever you go.
– Joshua 1:9
Blame it on my obsession with the show “What Not to Wear” but a few years ago I went to a presentation from a personal stylist. In the midst of her sermon about scarves and nude pumps she told a story about a former client who was an incredibly successful businesswoman. She had a beautiful home, amazing career, good friends but was sad, lonely and didn’t like anything about herself. As the stylist went through this woman’s massive closet she noticed that most of the clothes were red, a color that was not flattering to this woman’s complexion. When asked about it, the woman looked at the closet confused and then began to sob. The stylist sat next to her on the bed, holding her in her arms as she cried. The woman began to talk about her mother who was very cruel and abused her throughout her childhood. One day she was wearing a red shirt and her mother said she looked pretty. It was the only nice thing she could remember her mother ever saying to her.
Psychologists talk about this idea of internal dialogue; these voices inside all of our heads that seem to run on a loop. They are usually a quote, said off handedly and often only once but they stay with us, telling us why we aren’t good enough, why we aren’t successful or worthy of love. In every chapter of the book of Joshua, God says, “don’t be scared, don’t be discouraged, I am with you.” Our Sunday school is memorizing these words with the hope they will become part of our internal dialogues. I know each of our youth have or will have things said to them that will hurt and be permanently fastened to their hearts. I pray that these words from God counteract all of that. No matter what struggles or doubts our kids face, I pray that they will live with courage and the confidence that they are expressions of God’s intentions, creativity and endless love.