I was blessed to be in the National FFA Band in 2021. This was one of my favorite experiences from high school. I came home excited about both band and FFA, and all my friends in both organizations got to hear me ramble about this awesome opportunity. I have a sweet freshman friend named Arely who expressed interest in applying for the National FFA Band last spring. A few months later, I was ecstatic to hear that she had been accepted.
Arely loved everything about the National FFA Band. She went on and on about her new friends, the thrill of performing, and the wonders of convention. I remembered the feeling, and I was inexpressibly happy that we got to share this experience. When she returned home, she was met with a whirlwind of homework, all-district band auditions, and FFA Area IV Fall Speaking. A couple of days after convention, Arely collapsed into tears outside the ag shop. It was apparent to me that she was exhausted, stressed, and overwhelmed. For a freshman, she had so much on her plate. If I had been in her position, I would have felt the same way. I could see that she was being way too hard on herself, but I realized that I would have looked at this situation in the same light.
We are our own biggest critics. Even though Arely had just accomplished something wonderful by being in the National FFA Band, she was dissatisfied because she was struggling to keep up with other demands. Sometimes we need to be kind to ourselves and give ourselves grace. Our worth is unconditional, not measured by our accomplishments. I live by the Bible verse Matthew 11:28-30, which says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest in your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” This verse reminds me that I can find rest in God’s presence rather than worrying about my life. Arely is an absolute rockstar and as I consoled her on that warm November morning, I learned the importance of being gentle with myself, too.