Today’s Talk: I Am a Child of God by Donald L. Hallstrom
Several years ago when my adult daughters were still in the Young Women’s organization, our bishop started a tradition that quite frankly made me squirm a bit. Whenever any young woman, be she a seasoned Laurel or a brand new Beehive, came up to the stand or to the front of the classroom to interact with him, the bishop would ask, “Who are you?” If the girl responded by saying her name, he would politely but quickly cut her off and repeat, “But who are you?” To avoid the embarrassment of answering “incorrectly,” all of the young women in our ward promptly learned to respond to this question in the way that he wanted: “I am a daughter of God who loves me and I love Him.”
While the practice seemed strange and uncomfortable at the time, it quickly became clear what our bishop was trying to accomplish. He wanted every young woman in the ward not just to recite the Young Women’s theme, but to know what it meant—namely that her primary and most important identity (what Elder Donald L. Hallstrom called our “preeminent identity”) was that of a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father.
I was barely a young woman myself when I first learned how it felt to be the daughter of a loving Heavenly Father. After teaching a particularly inspiring lesson, my Beehive instructor issued us a challenge. She asked each of us to find a private place to pray individually and then to look into the night sky as we contemplated our relationship to God. I did what she asked and had one of the first really spiritual experiences of my life. In a moment of profound clarity and peace, I discovered that God was my Heavenly Father, that He loved me, and that all the people who surrounded me were my heavenly brothers and sisters. What a life-changing moment!
I think back on that experience from time to time, especially when I feel sad or lonely or overwhelmed. I wish I could hang onto that feeling at all times, but the truth is that Satan and his minions work very hard to get us to forget who and Whose we are. That is why I always thrill to hear our Church leaders preach and re-preach the doctrine of our divine parentage. I love what Elder Donald L. Hallstrom taught in his most recent General Conference talk. Speaking of the doctrine of our divine parentage, he said:
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. A correct understanding of our heavenly heritage is essential to exaltation.
Yes! Essential to our exaltation and essential to our peace, happiness, and survival in this wicked and confusing world. Elder Hallstrom further asked:
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? Is that coupled with an absolute trust that He allows some earthly suffering because He knows it will bless us, like a refiner’s fire, to become like Him and to gain our eternal inheritance?
I know that I am a child of God who loves me very much, and I want to draw so close to Him that my immediate and first response to everything that occurs in my life to be one of submissive trust in Him.