Mental ill health in young people is a growing concern. At Step we care deeply about young people's mental wellbeing and how they feel about themselves, so we want to help communicate how the Christian faith can play a crucial role in tackling this issue.
Self-worth is a vital part of our mental health so our campaign is called 'iMatter', because we believe exactly that - 'I matter' (say that out loud to yourself!). After much pondering as a team, we decided on 5 'I am' statements that help us to realise just how much we really do matter.
Each star on our iMatter logo represents one of those statements. Below are more details and some tweets we have published relating to each one.
I am created
I wonder if you've ever considered how you got here. If all we have to explain our existence are theories of evolution and the Big Bang (which may well be true), it is easy to see humanity as an accidental development from a random event billions of years ago.
What does that mean about ourselves? Am I an accident? Am I just a collection of atoms? Do I really matter in the grand scale of the universe?
The Christian faith has another perspective, which is 'I am created'. The Bible teaches us that God was there in the beginning and it was God who created the universe (maybe using the Big Bang and evolution - maybe not). God's plan was to create life and especially to create human life in his image. The Bible says that he had each of us in mind before he even created anything.
If this is true, I am certainly not an accident - I am designed, I am unique, I am valued. I am not just a collection of atoms, but an individual with a soul and despite the vastness of the universe, I matter. My life matters, my feelings matter, my relationships matter, my actions matter because God chose to create me.
We have been tweeting Bible verses about all our iMatter sentences. Here are the ones we sent with the hashtag #IAMCREATED
I am handmade, unique and one of a kind #Psalm139v13 #Iamcreated #iMatter
I am a reflection of God’s glory #Genesis1v27 #Iamcreated #iMatter
I am fearfully and wonderfully made #Psalm139v14 #Iamcreated #iMatter
I am God's workmanship, created to do good works #Ephesians2v10 #Iamcreated #iMatter
I am designed and made in the image of God #Genesis1v26 #Iamcreated #iMatter
I am a new creation, the old is gone, the new is here #2Corinthians5v17 #Iamcreated #iMatter
I am fully known by my creator #Psalm139v2 #Iamcreated #iMatter
I am loved
Love is a word that we use all the time in our everyday language. But I wonder if you have ever sat and pondered what being loved actually is, or what it means at its best. The dictionary would tell us that love is a feeling of deep affection and if you’ve ever heard of the love languages, you’ll know that we receive and give love in different ways. But what does being loved really mean for us, and how does that make a difference to our mental health?
You may have heard God described as omni-benevolent, which means 'all-loving'. Sometimes in life we go through tough times that make us question whether we are loved. These are often the lowest moments we can experience.
But in the Bible, John 3:16 tells us that God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only son, so that whoever believes in him could have eternal life. Just take a moment to let that sink in…
The Bible tells us many times of the love God has for us. This love goes beyond what we can humanly understand - it is far deeper and far greater than we can ever comprehend. This knowledge can be transformational because in times when it feels like we don’t matter, we can live in the assurance that we do matter and are deeply cared about because we are loved by God.
We have been tweeting Bible verses about all our iMatter sentences. Here are the ones we sent with the hashtag #IAMLOVED
I am precious and honoured in his sight #Isaiah43v4 #Iamloved #iMatter
I am forgiven and restored to relationship with my Heavenly Father #Luke15v24 #Iamloved #iMatter
I am free from condemnation #John3v17 #Iamloved #iMatter
I am rejoiced over with singing #Zephaniah3v17 #Iamloved #iMatter
I am comforted by the source of all comfort #2Corinthians1v4 #Iamloved #iMatter
I am loved despite my imperfections #Romans5v8 #Iamloved #iMatter
I am living a life of love as Christ loved me #Ephesians5v2 #Iamloved #iMatter
I am responsible
Do my actions really matter? What difference do I actually make in the world? If you've ever asked those questions, you're not alone. These are big questions that everyone will ask themselves from time to time.
The Bible tells us that our actions do matter. Our words, for example, are described as being more powerful than fire. What we say to others, whether face to face or online, have an impact. They have consequences. We can use them to build each other up or put each other down.
In the same way, our actions can make a positive or a negative difference to others. We can make the world a better place by helping those in need, looking after the environment and seeking justice - or we can leave it worse-off by being selfish.
The Bible says that God created us as individuals (see the 'I am created' section) to do good. We are unique and valuable and no-one else is like us. We have different talents, interests, personalities and appearances and that's brilliant. But each one of us can choose to use our time, talents and treasure for good as God intended, or for bad or sinful motives (sin is effectively living life without reference to God and how he would want us to live).
'I am responsible' means that our actions do have consequences. They really do matter and they matter to God. It also means that each one of us has a role to play in this world and we are responsible for the choices we make in how we use the time we have been given.
We have been tweeting Bible verses about all our iMatter sentences. Here are the ones we sent with the hashtag #IAMRESPONSIBLE
I am blessed to be a blessing #Genesis1v28 #Iamresponsible #iMatter
I am Christ’s Ambassador #Luke10v16 #Iamresponsible #iMatter
I am a temple of the living God #2Corinthians6v16 #Iamresponsible #iMatter
I am the righteousness of God #2Corinthians5v21 #Iamresponsible #iMatter
I am bold and courageous for God is with me #Joshua1v9 #Iamresponsible #iMatter
I am a light in the world #Matthew5v14 #Iamresponsible #iMatter
I am a steward of the Earth God has created #Genesis2v15 #Iamresponsible #iMatter
I am connected
Currently Cristiano Ronaldo has the most followers on Facebook and singer Selena Gomez is the most-followed person on Instagram, with more than 138 million followers. By the time you read this, I’m sure this will have changed. Despite their fame, I wonder how connected they feel to the people who follow them.
The Christian faith believes that people need connection, not fame, to flourish. Our God is a triune God, which means that he is three persons in one. Relationship and connection is built in to his very nature. The Bible teaches us that we are made in his image, that we echo God’s capacity for relationship and that we will therefore struggle if meaningful connections are taken away from us.
On the cross Jesus, having endured terrible suffering at the hands of the Romans, cried out not because of the pain he had experienced, but because he was isolated from God the Father as he died in our place, for our sins. His connection with his father was broken. Jesus was tragically alone. The Bible tells us that, having dealt with our sin, Jesus then rose from the dead. This enabled him to reconnect with God and to have relationship with him - and it enables us to do the same today.
Jesus' actions show that God didn't make us for isolation or extreme independence. We were meant for connection, and when this connection was broken by our sin, Jesus came to repair it. He demonstrated that we must matter to each other and to God. In Matthew 22:37, Jesus summarises what God requires of humans simply in terms of two relationships or connections: love God and love one another.
We all matter because we are connected. This means that what we share, who we care for, what we say, who we hang out with, what we buy, what we watch and how we live impacts ourselves and others significantly.
We have been tweeting Bible verses about all our iMatter sentences. Here are the ones we sent with the hashtag #IAMCONNECTED
I am serving Jesus #Matthew25v40 #Iamconnected #iMatter
I am always with Jesus #Matthew28v20 #Iamconnected #iMatter
I am inseparable from God's love in Jesus #Romans8v39 #Iamconnected #iMatter
I am an essential part of the Body of Christ #1Corinthians12v27 #Iamconnected #iMatter
I am a branch on God’s vine - chosen to bear fruit #John15v16 #Iamconnected #iMatter
I am designed for relationships #Genesis2v18 #Iamconnected #iMatter
I am a temple for the Holy Spirit #1Corinthians3v16 #Iamconnected #iMatter
I am eternal
If you could have one super power, what would it be? The ability to fly? Mind-reading? Super strength? What about being able to live forever?
There is a reality which Christians believe to be true and not all people are aware of. This is that we, humanity, were created as eternal beings and not just to be born, work hard in life and then leave this earth behind. It is possible to live life through a different lense, to see it differently. You matter because you are eternal.
So what does this look like? Having a sense of perspective is difficult when you are trying to get through the current pile of homework and other tasks life throws at you, all the while knowing more will come your way. I wonder if this is something you face at the moment. Do you feel like you're barely managing to keep up, let alone think about the future?
Christians believe that Jesus came so that we might have life in all its fullness (John 10:10). Jesus is hopeful that we will see this life as more than just the time we have on earth. His death and resurrection show us that it is possible to have life beyond death, and also that we have something eternal within all of us already. Some describe this as our soul or our spirit.
This identity can give you confidence as you journey through life that Jesus goes before you, that he has prepared a place for you, and that you have value and purpose because you are eternal.
We have been tweeting Bible verses about all our iMatter sentences. Here are the ones we sent with the hashtag #IAMETERNAL
I am going to the place prepared for me #John14v2 #Iameternal #iMatter
I am a co-heir with Jesus #Romans8v17 #Iameternal #iMatter
I am fixing my eyes on what is unseen #2Corinthians4v18 #Iameternal #iMatter
I am living by faith and not by sight #1Corinthians5v7 #Iameternal
I am choosing life in all its fullness #John10v10 #Iameternal #iMatter
I am receiving the gift of eternal life #Romans6v23 #Iameternal #iMatter
I am awaiting an imperishable resurrected body #1Corinthians15v42 #Iameternal #iMatter
If you are struggling with your mental health, please do ask for help. Talk to someone you trust, whether that is a parent, a friend, a teacher, a youth worker, a Step member or someone else. Below are a few websites where you can find useful information as well.
Friends of ours at The 267 Project run a support group for those suffering from anxiety. More information can be found by emaling firstname.lastname@example.org, clicking here for their website or going to the Local Youth Groups page on our website.