When I was a teenager, it was common for young people to talk about trying to “find themselves.” While this was seemingly a worthwhile project, most teenagers and young adults searched for themselves in all the wrong places. For some, it was nothing more than an excuse to experiment with sin or waste a great deal of time.

Mormon FamilyTo find ourselves, we don’t have to travel to a foreign country or hang out with people who frighten our parents. We need to look to our heritage. We are all children of God, and we can’t find ourselves until we start looking in the places where He lives. When we begin our search with our creator, we soon figure out there really is a purpose to this life, and it’s a wonderful one.

God planned for us to come to earth, and it wasn’t a random science experiment. We had lived with Him before our birth, and had grown and progressed during that time. We had talents and personality and interests, some of which came with us to earth. But we needed more. We needed a body and a family. We needed to test ourselves, to see if we could keep it all together when we were away from Home. So He sent us here.

To find ourselves, we need to look at who we really are. We’re a child of God. What does that mean? As children of Heavenly Parents, we have a divine and royal heritage. Did you ever dream of being a prince or a princess? God is your king, and so your dream has come true. However, being this type of a prince or princess doesn’t mean dressing up in fancy clothes or waving to adoring crowds. It comes with responsibility. We have a responsibility to live up to the standards God set for us, to become everything He dreamed of for us.

So how do we do all of this? First, we have to put some work into the preparation. How much time every day do you spend learning about God and Jesus? If you aren’t spending any time with them, and the time isn’t meaningful, you aren’t going to have any idea how much they love you or what they want from you. You need to get to know them by reading scriptures, studying the words of their chosen leaders, and praying in meaningful ways.

Only a personal prayer that is spoken in the words of your own heart can teach you how to communicate with God. Say what’s in your heart and don’t turn to pre-written prayers or repetitious phrases. Then sit quietly and listen for answers. They come in the form of peaceful feelings or uneasy ones, but they are the clues about whether or not you’re making the right choices. If you tell God what you have planned, and you feel warm and safe inside when you’re sitting quietly and waiting for the answer, you know He’s pleased with your choice. If you’re uneasy as you wait, or as you carry out the plans you made without waiting, you’ll know you’re on the wrong path. The Holy Ghost places those feelings in your heart. He can also give you a reassurance of God’s love for you.

The next thing we have to do is to spend our time in meaningful ways. Visit God at least once a week in his home-go to church. Why not a Mormon church, which has a strong program for Mormon teenagers and their friends? Spend time serving his other children. Serving others helps us find ourselves more quickly than sitting and thinking does. From service, we learn to appreciate what we have. We see in those we help a model of courage, strength, and humility. We give something back for what we’ve received. We even learn more about how God feels when He’s helping us, and we learn more about what we’re capable of.

There is, of course, a place for introspection. Many people find it helpful to keep a journal. Rather than simply recording what they did, they record how those activities made them feel, what they learned from them, and how they plan to improve in what they’re doing. They pay attention, in their writing, to who they are becoming. If they whine about service, they might later notice this is a place they can improve. If they do three service projects and one of them has them so fulfilled and excited they can’t wait to do it again, they may have found a passion or a talent.

Identifying passions is part of finding ourselves, but it’s important to find a passion worthy of a child of a royal heritage. Feeding the hungry, teaching a child, planting a garden…these are passions worthy of a child of God.

When you find your passions, and you know your God, you’ll find yourself.

About Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.

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