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Five Ways to Understand Your Identity

Learn how to overcome your struggles by understanding your eternal identity more deeply.

In his 2012 BYU Education Week devotional address, Elder Tad R. Callister, then serving as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, taught that when we understand our eternal identity, we are able overcome most of our challenges.

He said, “We believe that we are the spirit offspring of God with inherited spiritual traits that give us the divine potential to become like our parent, God the Father.”

During life we are faced with many challenges that seem unfair. Why does a loving God allow his children to suffer? Why do bad things happen to righteous people and innocent children? In response to these kinds of questions, President James E. Faust said, “This life makes no logical sense unless we think in terms of the eternities.”1

Because we are fallen individuals, we can experience full measures of pain and happiness. We are immersed in a world of good and evil where we can make choices. But despite our best intentions, we will still fall short of perfection. “Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, God can exalt all His children—meaning empower them to become like Him,” Elder Callister taught.

It may seem hard to imagine yourself becoming a god or goddess. That is exactly why Elder Callister taught that there are five witnesses to help us realize that we do have eternal identity and purpose.

1. Scriptures
Every book of scripture testifies that our spirits existed before this world was created. For example, the Old Testament reads, “Ye are Gods; and all of you are children of the most High (Psalm 82:6).”

2. Early Christian Writers
Ancient religious writers such as Hippolytus, Cyprian, and Irenaeus each testified that man had the ability to become like God. For example, Cyprian (AD 200¬–258) said, “What Christ is, we Christians shall be, if we imitate Christ.”1

3. Poets and Authors
Authors such as C. S. Lewis had deep spiritual insight into man’s identity. Lewis wrote: “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which . . . you would be strongly tempted to worship. . . . There are no ordinary people.”2

4. Logic
“Science has taught us that a complex genetic code transferred from parent to child is responsible for the child attaining the physical attributes of his parents,” Elder Callister said. Because this is true, it makes sense that spirit children of God have the divine characteristics and potential to become like their parents.

5. History
In a short lifetime, a human can accomplish much. Think of Beethoven, Van Gogh, and Joseph Smith. Within a few short years, each left a distinct mark on the earth. Elder Callister said, “A glimpse beyond the veil tells us that the records of history do not end at death but continue to mark man’s unlimited achievements.”

Read Tad R. Callister’s full address, “Our Identity and Our Destiny.”

Source: Religious Studies Center

—Alissa Holm, Mormon Insights

feature image by jan faborsky, text addedteddy kelley

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  1. I’m grateful for all five of these witnesses in my life. Some of the hardest trials of my life happened when I was a child. I often wondered why God could let me endure so much pain and suffering. As I grew up and experienced each of these witnesses, I realized that your suffering could be caused by things or people other than God. I’m grateful for the scriptures, authors (old and contemporary), history, and logic that have influenced my life.

  2. Pingback: Seeing Ourselves Through Christ’s Eyes - Latter-day Saint Insights

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