Just when I thought my girl-crush on Letitia Wright couldn’t get any bigger, she stood up in a killer white pant suit and spoke with raw honesty about her faith in Jesus, her struggle with mental health and her gratitude to all who had brought her to where she stood on that stage. There’s so much children and young people can take from her example, but here are a few key things I noticed:
Thanking God can be natural
As the winner of the BAFTA Rising Star was announced and Letitia’s face appeared in a small box along with the other nominees, her immediate reaction after hearing her name was prayerful thanksgiving to God.
Thankfulness is a Christian discipline and maybe it’s easier to say thank you when things are going winning-a-BAFTA-well, but making time to be thankful even in the smallest blessings from God is so important.
Letitia said she couldn’t “get up here without thanking God” – may our young people have the same reaction to their own mountain top moments.
Maybe take some time to read through the story of the ten lepers (Luke 17) and encourage your children and young people who remember to return to Jesus and thank him.
Thanking others is important too
Letitia lists so many people she is grateful to, who have brought her one step closer to where she is. We are each shaped by those who have contributed to our lives – parents, teachers, youth and children’s workers and so many others. Making time to thank them is so important. Let’s encourage our children and young people to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, not only to God but to all who take the time to show they care.
You can speak powerfully even when you’re nervous
As she walked up to the stage you could see Letitia’s deep intake of breath. She hunched her shoulders, looking so nervous. And then she spoke: “I identify myself as a child of God…” Her nerves gave extra power to what she was saying.
So many times I have encouraged young people to step forward in church to help out with the reading, the prayers or an all-age service. To speak out openly about their faith. So many times, they say “I’m nervous” or “But I’ll stutter and sound stupid”. Letitia proves it doesn’t matter.
Maybe point to the example of Moses, who doesn’t think he can possibly stand before Pharaoh for the same reason (Exodus 3-4). Or you could read about Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, who points out he deliberately didn’t use polished speeches but kept his message simple (1 Corinthians 2). Nerves are natural, they’re human and God can use them to add weight and honesty to what you are saying.
Be honest about your story
Mental health affects so many people. Each week seems to bring a new statistic about how many people are struggling with anxiety, self-esteem and numerous other mental health issues.
Letitia opened up about her own “deep state of depression”, which nearly led her to quit acting. The only thing that pulled her back was God, her family and a well-timed email.
Her speech is another example of breaking the taboo of talking about mental health. May more people have the bravery to speak out and show this generation that it’s OK to struggle but doing it alone isn’t.
Encourage those younger (and older) than you
Letitia took time to mention that she wants to encourage those younger than her, and that the same applies to those older than her too.
So many children and young people in the Bible were wise leaders, setting an example to those older than them – Esther, Samuel, Josiah, the child with his lunch that feeds 5,000, Timothy, to name a few. Let’s remind our young people that they should never let others look down on them but set an example (1Timothy 4:12). They have so much teach us oldies.
We are all a work in progress
Letitia described herself as that. But aren’t we all a work in progress? Let’s encourage our children and young people that nobody expects them to be perfect, but God can change us for the better. After all, as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.” (The Message)