Sister Bonnie H. Cordon’s talk at the October 2021 General Conference discussed two important things each of us needs to know about ourselves. The first is our identity and the second is our purpose in life.
Everyone at one point or another wants to know their identity and purpose in life. I believe that “who we are” changes over time, even though our core identity stays the same.
What is our core identity? Simply stated, we are the children of God. God loves us with all His might, mind, and strength. We have the opportunity not only to live with Him again but to be like Him. We are His children and He wants us to succeed, not only in this life but in the life to come as well.
The question then becomes, how do we find out for ourselves that we are children of God? I have related the story about my time at Brigham Young University and praying to know if God was there and if The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His church. For me, that experience confirmed my identity.
However, sometimes we lose our way. This happened to me as well. I developed an addiction and became lost. During this time, I didn’t know, or remember, who I was or who I could become. This was a very difficult time in life for me and it wasn’t until I decided to break the addiction that I was able to “look for myself” again. During my search, I remembered the story of Oliver Cowdery and Doctrine and Covenants 6:22-23 came to my mind. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?” I remembered that night in my dorm room and remembered who I am.
Who Are We?
Even though we all have the same core identity, it doesn’t mean that we are all the same. We have differences and those differences make us unique. Some of the things that make us unique are:
- Different life experiences
All these things make up our life’s story and provide us with individuality. That is a good thing and something that God wants. My life’s story isn’t the same as my wife’s, nor my children’s or anyone else’s.
Once we know who we are, the question becomes, why am I here? What is my purpose? Sister Cordon states that our purpose “is to come unto Christ and actively join Him in His great work.” Turning to the scriptures we find that His great work is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39). The way we come unto Christ is by “[proving ourselves] herewith, to see if [we] will do all things whatsoever the Lord [our] God shall command [us]” (Abraham 3:25)
When we know who we are and align our purpose with God’s, it becomes easier to live the two great commandments of loving God and loving our neighbor. The question still remains, how do we accomplish this purpose?
During my life I have learned that we must focus on three areas in order to come unto Christ and help Him in His work. They are:
- Love of self
- Love of family
- Looking for opportunities to share
Love of Self
What does “love of self” mean? I struggled with this for many years. Due to life experiences, I had a low opinion of myself. It wasn’t until I learned that I could change the thoughts in my head from negative to positive that I really began to love who I was and what I could become.
I took some classes from 3 Key Elements that taught me about replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. I learned about a technique called declarations which allowed me to put into my head phrases about myself. Some of those phrases include:
- I have faith
- I have courage
- I seek wisdom in good books
These declarations have helped me to love me and in turn, allow me to see others in a positive light. I also believe they have helped me to have compassion towards others instead of judgment.
There is another tool that helps us love ourselves. It is our Patriarchal Blessing. I often turn to my blessing when times are tough, or I need a reminder of why I’m here. In fact, many of my declarations come directly from my Patriarchal Blessing. The blessing comes from God and is unique to each person. It shows God’s love to each of us and in turn helps us understand who we are and what we can become.
Love of Family
A prophet of God, David O. McKay once stated “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” Family is our most important relationship. Loving our family means we want what’s best for them and helping them to achieve their potential. Cheryl and I have shared a lot of this over at our Gracefull Parenting site. I’m not a perfect parent or husband, but I try to show my love for my family and do things that will help us all come unto Christ.
Looking for Opportunities to Share
The last area requires work. I’ll admit, this is an area I really struggle in. Sharing the gospel to help others come unto Christ outside of the family is hard. My biggest worry is that I will be mocked when I try. However, there have been times where sharing was easy and I try to rely on those experiences to help me share whenever possible.
For me, this usually happens in the course of casual conversation. The topic of religion doesn’t always happen, but other topics can lead to it. I was in a meeting one time and popcorn was brought in. Due to some medical issues, I can’t eat popcorn. I politely declined when it was passed. One of my co-workers knew I was a member of the LDS church and asked if it was a religious restriction. My first thought was “what? did he really ask me that? why would he think that?”. Of course, that’s not how I answered. I let him know that it was medical not religious. That did lead to a discussion about the Word of Wisdom and what items are restricted. It was a pleasant conversation about beliefs and I was able to share them without fear.
In her talk, Sister Cordon states that we are to “come unto Christ, and don’t come alone”. Understanding our core identity and who we are will lead us to want to come to Christ. It will also lead us to love God and our neighbors which in turn will help us share the gospel and help others come unto Christ.
What are some of the ways you have found your core identity? How are you achieving your purpose in life? Share in the comments below. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.