November is my favorite month of the year. It appeals to my senses: pumpkin everything, campfires, crisp fall air, apple butter, golds and maroons and deep purples. Gratitude is brought to the forefront and with it, remembering.
Spencer W. Kimball taught that the word ‘remember’ was the most important word in the dictionary. There are so many things to remember! I’ll be exploring these throughout the month as I believe remembering helps to increase our gratitude.
Remember Who You Are
Who am I? Haven’t we all asked ourselves that question? Many have gone on journeys to figure out the answer.
In my own family we like to tell family history stories about our ancestors so our children know where they came from. My teenagers are addicted (the good kind) to doing family history and searching for long lost relatives who need their temple work done. We have ancestor photos hanging our our walls, photo albums filled with fun family pictures, and family history books full of stories on our bookshelves. We’ve even taken DNA tests to find out more about our physical makeup.
But sometimes pedigree charts can get messy. There are divorces and remarriages and no marriages at all. My great-great grandmother had four children but was never married. Her children all had different fathers and they never even knew their names. While our earthly pedigree charts can become difficult to follow there is one that most definitely is not.
Pres. Boyd K. Packer once said, “The pedigree of your Spirit can be written on a single line: You are a child of God.”
The April 2016 General Conference had several talks based around this simple yet profound message. Elder Donald L. Hallstrom taught, “Here on earth, we identify ourselves in many different ways, including our place of birth, our nationality, and our language. Some even identify themselves by their occupation or their hobby. These earthly identities are not wrong unless they supersede or interfere with our eternal identity—that of being a son or a daughter of God.”
And one of my favorites from Elder Neil L. Andersen, “While a child’s earthly situation may not be ideal, a child’s spiritual DNA is perfect because one’s true identity is as a son or daughter of God.”
All this knowing about our mortal family does little good if we forget about our heavenly heritage. And what a heritage it is! The Family: A Proclamation to the World states, “All human beings … are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents.”
Do you know that? Do you really truly believe it? I do. Remember who you are!
Understand Who You Are
Sister Sherri L. Dew gave a landmark address to the sisters of the church way back in 2001 titled Knowing Who You Are – and Who You Have Always Been. I think it should be required reading for everyone. One of the things she said was,
“Our spirits long for us to remember the truth about who we are, because the way we see ourselves, our sense of identity, affects everything we do. It affects the way we behave, the way we respond to uncertainty, the way we see others, the way we feel about ourselves, and the way we make choices. It affects the very way we live our lives. So, today, I invite you to ponder in a new way not just who you are but who you have always been.” (Sherri L. Dew)
Just as children inherit traits from their parents, we inherited traits from our Heavenly Parents. We each have divine qualities that we developed before coming here. We brought those attributes with us. We need those to help us here as we navigate our mortal journey back to our Heavenly Parents. Why is it so important for us to understand who we are? Why do children sing “I am a Child of God”? Why do young women repeat the words “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father” every Sunday?
To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave to it. (Alexander Schmemann)
When we come to believe and call ourselves who we truly are, children of Heavenly Parents, we are showing God we value what He values. And we notice that what He values most is us. That knowledge is powerful. With that power we can overcome anything Satan throws our way.
“Noble and great. Courageous and determined. Faithful and fearless. That is who you are, and that is who you have always been. Understanding that truth can change your life, because this knowledge carries a confidence that cannot be duplicated any other way.” (Sherri L. Dew)
We are mighty warriors fighting for what is right and good, standing where God needs us to stand, lifting where He needs us to lift.
I ask you, “Do you remember who you are?”
And if you remember, what are you going to do about it?