I Am a Child of God

· Week Three of the April 2016 General Conference Book Club ·

April 24, 2016 0 Comments

I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, where are you going?
And this he told me…

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it’s the time of man
I don’t know who I am
But you know life is for learning

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

– Joni Mitchell

I love these lyrics from the 1970 classic “Woodstock” by Joni Mitchell. The sense of yearning for something more and seeking a greater understanding of who you really are– it resonates with me. Though I have my doubts that embracing the hippie culture of the 1960s and 70s would prove to be the best course in helping us find answers to these questions, I do believe that anyone can learn for themselves who they really are.

And when we understand who we are, we come to realize our intrinsic worth.  We have a desire to return to a state of peace, love, and innocence.

In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis remarked:

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

At church we talk frequently about being children of God. Our children grow up with an understanding of this information through the very first song they learn in Primary. Yet do we really comprehend its weight and importance in our lives?

temple with cherry blossoms

Donald L. Hallstrom explained it well in his recent Conference Address:

This doctrine is so basic, so oft stated, and so instinctively simple that it can seem to be ordinary, when in reality it is among the most extraordinary knowledge we can obtain… But the critical question is, do we really know it? Do we know it in our mind and in our heart and in our soul? Is our heavenly parentage our first and most profound identity?

In our modern society we love to label and classify others based on myriad criteria. Their race or nationality. What they do for a living. Their political party affiliation. Where (or if) they attended school. And if they did, was it the *right* school? How about the size of their home? The neighborhood they live in?

We are so quick to judge and so slow to remember that each person we share this planet with is beloved and cherished of God.

Yes, even that politician or celebrity that drives you absolutely up the wall.

But more than that, I think we often forget that we ourselves are treasured beyond measure.

Often the person we are silently judging and condemning the most is the one in the mirror.

I have several good friends that have left the Church in recent years, and I have noticed a common thread among their individual experiences is that excising religion from their lives allowed them– in their own words– to finally live free of guilt. As a devout believer, they had constantly felt that they were never doing enough, never measuring up, and constantly under pressure to do and be more in order to appease a judgmental God.

To be honest, hearing their stories has made me very reflective of my own experience in the Church. Because their stories sound similar to my own from years long past. I often felt that I must be a terrible disappointment to my Heavenly Father, as I always failed to live up to His (perceived) expectations.

That’s certainly no way to live, and I am convinced God doesn’t want us to go through life that way. Through His word we are told that men are that we might have joy!

I Am a Child of God

Elder Hallstrom also stated:

We live in a world that can cause us to forget who we really are. The more distractions that surround us, the easier it is to treat casually, then ignore, and then forget our connection with God.

Along with this, I think we also forget the true nature of our Father in Heaven. He is love personified. Unlike our earthly fathers, He is completely perfect. Some of us have had amazing fathers in our lives. Some of us haven’t. Regardless, no earthly father can even come close to measuring up to His goodness and glory.

Yet so many of us walk through life believing that we aren’t good enough for Him, nor will we ever be. We are discouraged and hopeless, even as we publicly affirm faith and the reality of the Atonement. We know that faith without works is dead, so we run ourselves into the ground trying to do it all– or feel silently guilty when we simply choose not to.

I’ve learned for myself that God isn’t sitting up in heaven with a clip board and pen just waiting for us to make some small slip up so He can unleash punishment upon our heads. His grace and love are real. He yearns for a real connection, a two-way relationship with each of us. I have felt His presence and His love in my life in tangible ways that I cannot deny. And though critics may pass my experiences off as mere coincidence or psychosomatic phenomenon, I still stand firm in what I know.

Do you know that you are a child of God? Do you really know it?

Donald L Hallstrom

With that knowledge, we can feel free of self-loathing and shame. We don’t have to dwell on satisfying the demands of a vindictive God. Instead we can focus on growing closer and getting to know our adoring Father in Heaven.

We don’t have to be perfect. That’s why Christ came.

Again from Elder Hallstrom:

In real life, we face actual, not imagined, hardships. There is pain—physical, emotional, and spiritual. There are heartbreaks when circumstances are very different from what we had anticipated. There is injustice when we do not seem to deserve our situation. There are disappointments when someone we trusted failed us. There are health and financial setbacks that can be disorienting. There may be times of question when a matter of doctrine or history is beyond our current understanding.

When difficult things occur in our lives, what is our immediate response? Is it confusion or doubt or spiritual withdrawal? Is it a blow to our faith? Do we blame God or others for our circumstances? Or is our first response to remember who we are—that we are children of a loving God?

When we set the focus of our devotional relationship on God instead of on the Church alone, amazing things can happen. He will walk with us through the arduous journey– whether it be in public crises or the silent battles within our own hearts. He will succor his weary children.

Joni Mitchell was right: This life is for learning. And when we rise above the smog, the truth shines before us.

We are stardust. We are golden.

How does knowing that you are a beloved child of God affect you and the way you live your life? 

What will you do to deepen your relationship with your Father in Heaven this week?

general conference book club

This Thursday we’ll be discussing “He Asks Us to Be His Hands” by Cheryl A. Esplin.

Next Sunday we’ll review “Where are the Keys and Authority of the Priesthood?” by Gary E. Stevenson. Come and join the conversation!

New to General Conference Book Club? Check out the details here.



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