I love to watch genealogy and family history shows! I have my dvr set to record episodes of Finding Your Roots, Relative Race, and the newest season of Who Do You Think You Are. It is fascinating to watch people take the journey to find out where their ancestors came from and what makes them them.
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.”
This past General Conference we heard 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.
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 all women and young women. 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 we repeat the words “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father” every Sunday in Young Women?
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, daughters 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, “Who do you think you are?”
And if you know, what are you going to do about it?
Please go and read Sister Dew’s talk. When you do come back and share your favorite parts, or what you learned, or any insights you gained.