Paper Hearts

I spent last week in Indiana.   I was invited to speak at three nights of “Planned Potential Rallies” for a group called a Positive Approach to Teen Health (P.A.T.H.), which is an incredible educational nonprofit organization committed to equipping, empowering and encouraging  teens to make healthy choices.

I’ll just be completely honest, although I was excited about the opportunity to talk to hundreds of kids in the NW Indiana area, just as much of me was a nervous wreck. I mean, seriously, do you know how tough a crowd a bunch of kids are? Even if they love you – you’d never know it by the expressions on their faces. (Fortunately, that was not my experience with the kids at the P.A.T.H. Rallies.) Everybody from the staff to the kids in the audience to their parents made me feel welcomed and appreciated and understood. But this experience was like so many others – I spoke to myself as much as those in the audience.

I once heard it said, “We teach BEST what we most need to LEARN.”

Isn’t that a great saying? I wish I had thought of it myself. But regardless of who came up with it originally, its truth rings loudly with me. My whole “platform” – for lack of a better word – over the past few years has become sharing about the WORTH we all possess. It’s something I struggled with all my life until just a few years ago. Even as a Child of God – I just couldn’t get it. I always thought God was mad at me for being fat. What I have since learned is that instead of mad, He is mad-LY in love with me! 

As I prepared in the weeks prior to my trip to Indiana about what I’d share with these kids, it was kind of a cathartic experience. Because I wanted to share my own experiences as a teenager and pre-teen. And…well…quite frankly, those were not the happiest, most “powerful” days of my life. In fact, it made me sad to think about some of the things I went through. But what made me the MOST sad was that all of the nasty, hurtful things people said to my face and behind my back…I believed. I let those people and their words determine my value and my worth.

I thought a lot about what I would most want to tell myself if I could go back to that time in my life. Because I have come to know that what you believe about yourself will not only impact your present, but it will determine your future.

On the first of the three nights I spoke, I was looking through my notes and I found this crumpled-up heart made out of construction paper. It was from Noah. The handwriting was hard to read and there were many misspelled words. It was obviously from years ago. And I have no idea how it got lodged in a stack of my current papers. I hadn’t seen it in a long, long time. But as I sat there before I spoke and handled the little paper heart made so lovingly by my oldest son, tears filled my eyes and my own heart just melted.

At that moment I wouldn’t have traded that little heart or the lesson it taught me for a sack of gold. Not because it had any intrinsic value in and of itself. But because I adore the one who made it for me. Because of the value I place on my son, this token of his love for me was…priceless.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

As I concluded my time with the kids at the rallies I showed them the paper heart. They were unimpressed. Not a single one offered me anything for it. They failed to see the value in what I considered precious. But after I explained to them where and who it came from…I could see the lights going off in their eyes.

I left them with the words that I leave with you in this blog: Don’t let anyone else determine your value. Only the one who created you and loves you unconditionally can do that. And He has already been VERY clear about how He feels about you. To Him, just like that little heart is to me, we’re priceless.

About Julie Hadden

I'm Julie Hadden and for the past few years I've been on quite journey. My experience on Season 4 of "The Biggest Loser" resulted in a total transfomation in my life. What started out being about what I could "lose" turned more into what I "gained." God revealed great truths to me about the infinite WORTH we all possess in His eyes and I'm passionate about sharing what I learned through this process. View all posts by Julie Hadden

One response to “Paper Hearts

  • Cassidy Robinson

    Oh Julie, I’m so glad I found your blog! These are such great words. Josh and I definitely understand how students can be the “toughest crowd” to speak to! Haha. I love the example you used from Noah’s paper heart. You are just as great a writer as you are a speaker! 🙂

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