“I am a horrible employee. So irresponsible. How could I have forgotten to set my alarm? I never sleep this late. They are going to think I am so unreliable – and they are probably right.” These were the thoughts running through the young woman’s head as she rushed out the door, over an hour late to work at the restaurant where she was a team leader. As she drove quickly to work, trying not to cry, the negative thoughts piled up in her head. By the time she arrived, the tears were coming, and she had to duck into the bathroom to compose herself before going to find her manager.
Recently, in response to an inspired invitation from a YW leader, this particular young woman had hung the theme on her bathroom mirror and had established a habit of reading through it every time she saw it. Now, looking into her own distraught and tear-filled eyes that were reflected in the mirror of the restaurant bathroom, the words of that theme suddenly came to her troubled mind, bringing an unexpected sense of peace and confidence: “I am a beloved daughter of heavenly parents, with a divine nature and eternal destiny.” She began reciting the theme to herself, and said it several times, until she was able to dry her tears and go face her manager with a much-improved outlook on the situation.
This true story (which, to the young woman’s gratitude and relief, ended well) illustrates the power of remembering our eternal identity. “We are sons and daughters of a living God. … We cannot sincerely hold this conviction without experiencing a profound new sense of strength and power,” affirmed President Thomas S. Monson.
President M. Russell Ballard expounded on this principle in his October 2019 General Conference talk. He began by reminding us, “This is who you and I really are and who you have always been: a son or daughter of God, with spiritual roots in eternity and a future overflowing with infinite possibilities.” Then, he acknowledged that mortal life presents challenges and temptations which can cause us to stumble, despite the profound lineage we all share:
There is scientific proof that imperfect abilities and circumstances foster growth – if a person can remember who they truly are and what they have the potential to become. According to researchers Haimovitz, Kyla & Dweck (2017):
“A growing body of literature shows us that the mindsets children hold about abilities and intelligence can set them on different trajectories of motivation and learning. … Studies of the home environment have shown us that parents’ more chronic use of person or process praise predicts their children’s later mindsets. … Moreover, adults can potentially model these simple cues in responses to their own struggles and setbacks. Rather than commenting on their lack of ability, adults could draw attention to the potential to improve (e.g., “I can’t do this. . .yet!”). Indeed, Schunk, Hanson, and Cox (1987) showed that even observing a model who struggles with a task before mastering it (compared to models who do well without struggling) led children to feel more efficacious and perform better on the task. Highlighting struggles, especially as something normal and positive in the learning process, may help children understand how their own intelligence and abilities can grow”
Haimovitz, Kyla, & Dweck, Carol S. (2017). The Origins of Children’s Growth and Fixed Mindsets: New Research and a New Proposal. Child Development, 88(6), 1849-1859.
Now consider this in relation to our divine identity. We have the potential to become like God – and if we remember that, considering challenges as part of the path to become like Him, imagine how our perspectives could change. In Romans 8:16-18, the Apostle Paul writes:
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
The assurance is that Christ is with us in whatever we face – whether that is being late to work, struggling with a crisis of faith, fighting an addiction, or any other number of things. Our Heavenly Father has a plan for us, and that plan includes trials and questions and temptations, but because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, those sufferings have the potential to lend themselves to the divine and glorious destiny that Father has in store for each of His children.
President Ballard closed his message by encouraging his listeners to “think about where you are now in subjugating your carnal nature and empowering your divine, spiritual nature so when the time comes, you may pass into the spirit world to a joyful reunion with your loved ones.” Keeping this eternal perspective of who we are, what we can become, and where we would like to go will help us choose to “be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” Indeed, as we continuously but imperfectly strive for improvement and eventual godliness, we will become more like our Heavenly Father and reach closer to our true, divine destiny.