Do you know who you really are?

Do you know who you really are?We may or may not know each other personally.  I may know your name, I may not.  But I know some stunning things about you.  The truth behind who you are may surprise even you.  Let’s take a few moments and consider what the Lord has revealed about you, who you are, and your eternal identity.

To set the stage for this discussion, I would like to start with a thought-provoking quote from C.S. Lewis.  He said:

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship… There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

If that applies to everyone you meet, then it also applies to you.  Let that sink in while we chat.

Divine Offspring

In the scriptures, we learn more of this divine potential.  Fundamentally, we are taught that we are all children of our Heavenly Father, which we can learn from several passages:

Genesis 1:26-27: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

Psalm 82:6: “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”

Acts 17:28-29: “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God…”

Doctrine and Covenants 76:24: “That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.”

If you have children, how much do you love them?  Is there anything you would not do for them?  As an imperfect parent, you understand love for them.  Do you think it is possible for any human being to comprehend the depth of the love that your Heavenly Father has for His own children, specifically you?

Romans 8:38-39 says:

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

There is absolutely nothing that can make your Father not love you.  Not sins.  Not imperfections.  Nothing you have done or not done.  Not anything.  Consider this quote from Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf:

“Think of the purest, most all-consuming love you can imagine. Now multiply that love by an infinite amount—that is the measure of God’s love for you.

“God does not look on the outward appearance.  I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely.

“He loves us because He is filled with an infinite measure of holy, pure, and indescribable love. We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God’s love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked.

“What this means is that, regardless of our current state, there is hope for us. No matter our distress, no matter our sorrow, no matter our mistakes, our infinitely compassionate Heavenly Father desires that we draw near to Him so that He can draw near to us.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 2009)

He loves you beyond your capacity to imagine.

Inherent Value

Why is this true?  The primary reason is that we are not our mistakes.  Our divine worth to our Heavenly Father is not based on accomplishments, sins, bad choices, or imperfections.  Understand that the Lord does not see things the way we do.  He does not define individual worth the way we do.  Consider 1 Samuel 16:7, which says:

“But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

Let’s take an example.  A newly-printed $100 bill is worth $100.  After years of use, being wrinkled, folded, faded, and even a little torn, what is it worth?  Still $100.  It is the inherent value of what the note represents that has the value, not what it has been through.  The same holds true for us.  We are gods in embryo.  No imperfections, mistakes, or circumstances can change that.

A modern-day Prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

“As you have been reminded, yours is a godly inheritance. ‘I am a child of God’ is not an idle or meaningless statement. You were there ‘when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons [and daughters] of God shouted for joy.’ (Job 38:7.) You brought some of that inheritance with you when you came ‘trailing clouds of glory … from God who is our home.’ (William Wordsworth, ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood,’ st. 5.) You were there when ‘there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon.

“‘And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.’ (Rev. 12:7, 9.) You were among those who chose to follow the plan of Him who became our Redeemer rather than the plan of him who became our adversary. Great and marvelous is your place in the plan of God our Eternal Father.

“Simply do what you can do, in the best way you know, and the Lord will accept of your effort.” (General Women’s Meeting, 23 Sept. 1989)

Our Potential as Gods

All offspring grow up to be the same thing that begat them.  A baby bird grows up to be just like its parents.  As children of God, it is our destiny to become like Him.  What is Heavenly Father’s goal for us?  Everything Heavenly Father does, every decision He makes, every revelation He gives, every correction He gives, and by derivative every experience we have, are all calculated to make that happen.  In Moses 1:39 we read:

“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

His purpose is to help us to become like He is: eternal and exalted.  That is literally your purpose.  You are destined to become like God.  Just as C.S. Lewis said.

An Apostle, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin has stated it this way:

“We are sons and daughters of an immortal, loving, and all-powerful Father in Heaven. We are created as much from the dust of eternity as we are from the dust of the earth. Every one of us has potential we can scarcely imagine.

“The Apostle Paul wrote, ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.'” (In Conference Report, Apr. 2006)

You are a child of the very eternal King of the Universe.  That makes you a Prince or Princess by definition.  You are literally royalty.  Your destiny is to become perfect like God.  You are astoundingly incredible.  From Romans 8:16-17, we learn:

“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…”

You are a true heir of Him who created the very Universe.  And you have within you the potential of becoming like Him.

Chosen Spirits Reserved

You are among the most valiant of the children of God.  We learn this from several scriptures.  Abraham 3:22-23 tells us:

“Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.”

Abraham was one of them.  You were one of them.  These noble and great ones were reserved for the last days, which is now.  D&C 138:53-56 says:

“The Prophet Joseph Smith, and my father, Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and other choice spirits who were reserved to come forth in the fulness of times to take part in laying the foundations of the great latter-day work, Including the building of the temples and the performance of ordinances therein for the redemption of the dead, were also in the spirit world.  I observed that they were also among the noble and great ones who were chosen in the beginning to be rulers in the Church of God.  Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.”

That’s talking about you.  You were reserved as one of the choicest spirits of all to come forth now.  How did that come about?  Let’s read Alma 13:3, which explains:

“And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.”

In your premortal life, you exercised faith in the Savior.  You fought on his side.  You bore testimony and stood up for the truth.  You were valiant in the war against Lucifer.  The most noble and valiant of those who were on the Savior’s side were reserved to come forth now.  Do you believe that?  Let’s see what the prophets and apostles have said about this.

President Russel M. Nelson recently told us:

“Our Heavenly Father has reserved many of His most noble spirits—perhaps, I might say, His finest team—for this final phase. Those noble spirits—those finest players, those heroes—are you!” (Worldwide Youth Devotional, June 2018)

Elder Ezra Taft Benson, said this:

“For nearly six thousand years, God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the Second Coming of the Lord…. God has saved for the final inning some of his strongest children, who will help bear off the Kingdom triumphantly. And that is where you come in, for you are the generation that must be prepared to meet your God.” (BYU Devotional, March 1979)

There is a wonderful, beautiful talk by Sister Sheri L. Dew.  She covers this topic magnificently in a talk she gave.  I very much recommend internalizing it in its entirety, but below is an excerpt:

“President Lorenzo Snow taught that ‘Jesus was a god before he came into the world and yet his knowledge was taken from him. He did not know his former greatness, neither do we know what greatness we had attained to before we came here.’ But President Snow also taught that during the Savior’s life ‘it was revealed unto him who he was, and for what purpose he was in the world. The glory and power he possessed before he came into the world was made known unto him.’ [Brothers and] Sisters, just as the Savior came to remember and to know exactly who he was, so may we.

“Unveiling this knowledge would be easier if we could remember what happened in our premortal life. But we can’t. We can’t remember the glory of our former home. We have forgotten the language we spoke there and our dear companions with whom we associated. We cannot recall the ‘first lessons [we learned] in the world of spirits’ or the identities of our heavenly tutors. We cannot remember what promises we made to ourselves and to others and to the Lord. Nor can we remember our place in the Lord’s heavenly kingdom or the spiritual maturity we achieved there.

“There are, however, some remarkable things that we do know. We know that we were there, in the heavenly councils before the foundations of this earth were laid. We were there when our Father presented his plan, and we saw the Savior chosen and appointed, and we sanctioned it. We were there among the heavenly host who sang and shouted for joy. And when Satan unleashed his fury against the Father and the Son and was cast out of heaven, we were there, fighting on the side of truth. In fact, President George Q. Cannon said that ‘we stood loyally by God and by Jesus, and … did not flinch.’ We believed. We followed. And when we fought for truth in the most bitter of all confrontations, we did not flinch.

“Because of our premortal valor, we were chosen to be born into the house of Israel, which lineage President Harold B. Lee called the ‘most illustrious lineage’ of all who would come to earth, and which Elder Bruce R. McConkie said was reserved for those who sought the greatest of all premortal talents, the talent of spirituality.” (Brigham Young University Women’s Conference, May 2001)

When you were born into mortality, you forgot all of this.  That doesn’t make it any less true.  C.S. Lewis was spot on.  You are a god in embryo.  You cannot fathom how wonderful, precious, stalwart, and amazing you are.

Satan does his best to keep you from realizing all of this.  He plays on your anxieties and insecurities.  He tells you that you’re not good enough, that you’re broken, and many other lies.

The Lord does everything He can to lift us and help us return to him.  Do not give into Satan by putting yourself down or by minimizing your importance.

Love Yourself

It is literally a commandment to love yourself.  How so?

Let us consider the parable of the Good Samaritan as found in Luke 10:25-37, which says:

25 ¶ And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Note that the parable was, in part, to define what “neighbor” means.  Ponder for a moment on what type of person the Good Samaritan was.  What type of feelings did he have towards the injured man?  How did he treat him?  He had compassion.  He eased the man’s pain.  He did everything he could to relieve the man’s suffering.  His goal was to help the man heal.

With that, notice the injunction from the Savior in Matthew 22:37-39:

34 ¶ But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.

35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

In verse 39, the Lord is telling us that love for our neighbor and love for ourselves should be the same.  The Lord states that they are equal.

Combine these two passages.  If love for self is directly equivalent to love for neighbor, then you are the Good Samaritan and also the wounded man.  Treat yourself the way the Good Samaritan treated the wounded man: be compassionate, loving, nurturing, and healing to yourself.  That is literally a commandment directly from Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Be kind to yourself.  Accept that you are imperfect, but remember that those imperfections do not affect your worth as a human being and child of God.  You are not your mistakes.  You are of divine essence, and destined to become like God.  Even you do not realize how extraordinary and remarkable you are.  Pray for a confirmation of these truths.  The Lord will help you know how spectacular you are and how much you mean to Him.

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