I am a child of God. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this phrase is said and heard so frequently. It’s even the title of one of the first songs that we ever hear as a child, or as a new convert to the church.
These words are so commonplace in our vocabulary and I think that we are so used to hearing them that we don’t really let the words and meaning truly sink in. You know when you hear something so often that you begin to not really even hear it at all? Like really hear it? It just goes in one ear and out the other.
I feel like this has been the case for me, and maybe for some of you, with these basic, but foundational and vital 6 words. I am a child of God.
I have been coming to realize that even though I’ve been taught this important truth my whole life, I haven’t really internalized it all the way. I always thought that I believed and knew this fundamental doctrine, but I am realizing that I have only scratched the surface. And in my new found quest to dive deeper into the gospel of Jesus Christ and claim more of my privileges, I have been finding myself with a greater desire to go deeper into this doctrine.
I am realizing that internalizing these 6 words, and really coming to know, at my core, without a doubt, that this statement is true, can make all the difference. It can make all the difference in my relationship with Heavenly Father. And it can make all the difference in my relationships with my fellow beings – my fellow brothers and sisters, Heavenly Father’s other children. And those relationships make all the difference in my life.
First, I want to talk about how knowing that I am a child of God influences my relationship with Heavenly Father…
I was reading in the bible dictionary the other day about prayer. Prayer is something that I have always struggled with. I have always said my prayers, but I often feel like they lack sincerity and deep, genuine connection with my Heavenly Father. In the bible dictionary it says,
“As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship.”
Ah ha. I think that this is my problem. I guess I haven’t truly internalized the true relationship in which I stand toward God – that He is my Father and I am His child. If I really, truly understood this then prayer would become natural and instinctive on my part. The difficulties that I have with prayer arise from forgetting this relationship with Heavenly Father.
Developing the ability to have a true connection with Heavenly Father (remembering the connection that I had with Him before birth) through prayer is vital to successfully completing my journey back to His presence so developing a true and deep understanding that I am a child of God is really important and necessary.
Next I want to talk about how knowing that I am a child of God influences my relationship with the people around me…
Something that I have been focusing on more lately (as evidenced by my last post) is confidence. True confidence. Jody does a class every month that is dedicated to a specific topic and April’s class was about confidence. I recently went back and watched that class again and I learned so much. I have been gathering the pieces of wisdom that I learned from that class with other things that I have been learning from Jody (and other sources like Wife for Life, etc.) over the past few months and I’d like to write about some of those here…
Jody talks about how pride, shame, and confidence are all on a spectrum.
Shame Confidence Pride
On the left we have shame. It’s easy to see that these people do not have self-confidence and it’s easy to see that they are operating out of fear. They fear that there is not enough love to go around and that they feel that they got the short end of the stick. They have a scarcity mindset.
These are people who can see the value in other people but can’t see it in themselves. They feel flawed, worthless or less worthy than others, they have thoughts like “I have nothing to offer;” “I’m not good enough;” “He/She is better than me;” “What’s wrong with me?” You would think that it would be easier to be friends with someone that is on the shame side of the spectrum (as opposed to the pride side) because even though they don’t like themselves, they still like us. But when people love others (or at least see their value) but don’t love themselves, we don’t really like that, necessarily. Jody says that it feels kind of needy/creepy like “hey. I really like you. Can you help me feel better about myself?” It also often feels like you are walking on egg shells all the time in interactions with this type of person. Shame draws us away from other people because when we interact with others (or certain people in particular) we feel even worse about ourselves so we try to avoid that.
On the right we have pride. It’s harder to detect a lack of self-confidence in these people. We often assume that they are confident. But in reality they do not possess true confidence. They are still operating out of fear. Pride is fear based because you have to maintain your position at the top. If you think that you are on top, then that means there is a top. And if there is a top then there is also a bottom (and all that is in between.) You have to work harder and harder to maintain your position at the top because you fear falling below. You also fear that there is not enough love to go around. You have a scarcity mindset.
These are people who can see the value in themselves, but can’t see it in others. They feel (or at least come across) as arrogant, vain, cocky, haughty, etc. They have thoughts like “I’m better than you;” “My ideas are better than yours;” “My way of doing things is better than yours;” “My needs are more important than yours;” “My personal journey/path is better or important than yours”
It’s easy to see why we don’t enjoy being around people who are on the pride side of the spectrum. They like themselves, but don’t like others (or at least don’t like us.) It’s not enjoyable to be around them and often triggers our own shame feelings.
Pride draws us away from other people because people don’t really want to be around us. And we aren’t really interested in getting to know others at a deeper level because we might find out their strengths and then we might lose our place at the top.
We all fluctuate up and down on this spectrum. At certain times in our lives, or in certain circumstances we may be more prone to be more on the shame side or the pride side of the spectrum. But the goal is to get ourselves to the middle.
Right in the middle of the spectrum is confidence. True confidence. People who possess true confidence love themselves and they love others. They know that each of us have individual worth. They understand their divine nature- that they are a child of God, and every other person possesses this divine nature as well. They have thoughts like “I am inherently valuable and amazing. And so is everyone else;” “I am a child of God. And so is everyone else;” “I have been blessed with many amazing and wonderful strengths and abilities as gifts from my Heavenly Father. And so has everyone else. Our strengths may be different, but they are equally amazing;” “I am not better than anyone else. And no one is better than me either;” “”I’m good, I got me.” and “Hey, oh my goodness, I love you. Tell me about you.””
Jody says that when you love you, and then you love others as well, that makes you pretty irresistible. We like to be around people who are confident, people who are comfortable in their own skin, and who love us.
True confidence also reduces contention significantly. I don’t know about you but 99.9% of relationship conflicts that I have had in my life can be boiled down to a lack of confidence…usually on my part. I would bet it is the same for you in your life. Conflict becomes a lot more painful when we take it personally and make things mean something negative about our worth.
But the truth is, nothing that you do can or will ever change your worth. No one else’s opinion of you can change your worth either. Your worth won’t ever decrease in the eyes of God. It won’t ever increase either. We are of infinite worth. Solely because we are God’s children.
People who are truly confident have an abundant mindset. They know that there is more than enough love in the world to go around. There is infinite love. No one has to compete.
True confidence draws us to each other and we have a deep desire to foster relationships with our fellow brothers and sisters.
If both shame and pride are fear based, then what is true confidence based in? I think that it is based in faith, hope and charity. And I think that those are based in deeply knowing the truthfulness of the 6 words, I am a child of God. If we really know that we are children of God, then we will find evidence of that belief in our feelings, actions, and results.
So the most basic truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ seems to be, to me at least, the key to all relationships. The key to my relationship with Heavenly Father (and how vital that is to my eternal progress.) And the key to all of my relationships – with my husband, with my kids, with my parents, with my siblings, with my extended family, with friends, with neighbors, with strangers, with the world.
My question for you is, how have you come to know the truthfulness of the statement, I am a child of God, for yourself? And how has that knowledge changed you and your relationships?
I will continue my quest to deepen my testimony and understanding of this basic and vital doctrine and I’m sure I’ll share what I discover along the way. 🙂
“There was a period when we, with Jesus and others, basked in the light of the presence of God and enjoyed His smiles. We are the children of God, and as His children there is no attribute we ascribe to Him that we do not possess, though they may be dormant or in embryo. The mission of the Gospel is to develop these powers and make us like our Heavenly Parent.” (George Q. Cannon)