I’ve been captivated by the classic Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Simple Man” for much of the past year.

The singer reflects on his mother sitting him down when he was a boy, and offering pearls of wisdom intended to guide him across his life. Among her words that resonate the most with me are, “You’ll find a woman and you’ll find love,” and “Troubles will come and they will pass.”

But the most poignant of all the song’s lyrics, from my perspective: “Oh, be something you love and understand.”

Everyone’s parent or guardian should invest such an affirming vision in a young person’s life. Because, as ubiquitous marketing campaigns reveal, much of what we’re told and believe indicates we’re not quite that lovable. We’re advised, rather, that we’re damaged, missing key attributes, and don’t measure up–but no worries! A plethora of solutions lays at our purchasing fingers.

This dearth of self-love is epidemic and contagious, and without such love of self there can be little self-understanding. Insecurity, guilt, and regret–the three evil poisons that hinder the growth of love for self–release toxic confusion and impulsiveness, leaving us limping about and desperate for healing and wholeness.

There are many worthwhile goals that our ambitions might grab a hold of in any season of life, and it’s a satisfying jolt when we fulfill them. But this satisfaction doesn’t last if it’s quickly swallowed up by the void. There might be a more powerful objective whose level of sustaining joy is far greater, and that is simply “to be something you love and understand.”

This journey of becoming is likely to be different for each of us, but it’s available to all of us.