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How a mean email motivated me to share love and light

POSTED: September 17, 2017 8:10 a.m.
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert/

Elizabeth Smart speaks during Fight Like Girls intro night at in Salt Lake City Thursday, June 23, 2016.

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About a year ago, I was asked to write a song for a convention in New Mexico called the Women of Light Convention. I spent many days and nights pondering what I could share that would be positive, uplifting, encouraging and, most of all, motivating. I wanted women everywhere to feel they could make a difference by sharing their light. That their influence mattered.

Weeks after completing the song and witnessing yet again the magic of music creation, I headed down to Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point to film a music video of sorts to be projected onto the big screen during my performance. I was excited to be a part of something whose whole purpose was to bring women from all walks of life together in unity.

I was standing on the grass by a little stream lined with flowering trees and berry bushes with the camera pointed at my face, ready to roll, when my phone buzzed. I had received an email. The videographer was still getting the settings on his camera just right, so I pulled it out and opened it up.

“Your last column sounded like it was written by a 14-year-old,” it began. My stomach dropped and my heart began to pound. The email went on and on about my lacking abilities and poor judgment. The person made fun of the fact that I was a former "American Idol" contestant, as if they thought I was using that for credibility, and not simply a way for people to remember where they might recognize me from should they see a column of mine. It was very hurtful.

“OK, we’re ready!”

I quickly shoved my phone back in my purse and took a deep breath, trying to look happy. And it was in that moment that I felt like a total fraud. How could I possibly stand in front of a camera and act like I was so happy to be sharing a message of hope when I was starting to lose my own?

Doubt swirled around in my mind and I began thinking of all the ways I was unqualified for everything I was trying to do. What was I doing? Who cares about what I have to say? My whole life, I’ve felt as if I were always striving for something that was just out of reach. And I was tired of trying to prove to the world that I was good enough.

The music started, and I had no choice but to begin singing. As the song played on, the words began to sink deep into my soul. The power of those words — words which I had felt so strongly needed to be shared — hit me with full force, and as I sang I felt the peaceful confirmation and truth of the message.

I’ll spread this goodness

Like fire on a hill

And when the darkest night comes

I’ll burn brighter still

There are many examples of women who have fought through incredible challenges and are examples of sharing light and hope. Here are two.

Imagine if Stephanie Nielson, NieNie Dialogues blogger and motivational speaker, didn’t fight so hard for her life after the plane crash that burned over 80 percent of her body? What if she decided life wasn’t worth living? Millions of people would have missed out on the opportunity to be touched by her testimony and strong, beautiful spirit.

What if Elizabeth Smart, kidnapping survivor and child safety activist, would have let her horrible circumstances overtake her? She would not have been such a powerful force in teaching women and children all over the world how to overcome evil, believe in yourself and never, ever give up hope.

Even though they have had the worst of the worst happen to them, they are some of the most positive and peaceful people I know. Why?

Because they have learned that the way to be truly happy is to share goodness and light with everyone. And I want to be like that.

I am nobody important and I haven’t done big, huge, amazing things. But I am trying to use the voice I have to spread that same goodness and light. It doesn’t matter what your individual circumstances are. It doesn’t matter if a million people or only a handful know your name. It doesn’t matter. We all have a story to tell. We all have light that needs to be shared. We need each other. Please, use your words and energies for encouragement and love. We all need it.

Here I am

Ready now to make a mighty change

Take my hand

Together now, we’ll illuminate.
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