“Remember who you are.” There was a popular phrase that LDS moms used to say to their kids when they’d leave for school or play. They’d give them a kiss and shout after them, “Remember who you are.” I converted to the church as an adult. A phrase like this was not part of my upbringing. It sounded funny at first—if you’re so afraid of your kids forgetting their names, give them a name tag. What I soon learned was that this simple address was a reminder of a higher level—a request to remember that we are all children of the most high God.
I am a Child of God
The concept of being a child of God was not known to me. I was taught that God created the earth and all that is in it. On the sixth day he “created” man. While I was taught that he loved us, I was never fully taught of a parent-child relationship with him. In fact, the more I learned of his greatness, the more distant he became to me. Icons of Christ and the disciples were made to look different than humans so as to elevate them from us, creating distance—not something that a parent should have with his children. We prayed to God, not to Heavenly Father, although we memorized the Lord’s Prayer and recited it during the liturgy every week. Even though it began with the phrase, “Our Father which art in heaven,” (Matthew 5:48), we were never taught what that really meant. In fact the first time I ever heard anyone regularly refer to God by the name “Heavenly Father” was when I met the LDS missionaries. I just thought it was one of their peculiarities and accepted it as their unique and exclusive cultural norm. But searching the Bible opened my eyes to a forgotten truth about our relationship with our Father in heaven.
The Old Testament abounds with references to our parent-child relationship with Heavenly Father. The 82nd psalm reads, “I have said ye are gods, and all of ye are children of the Most High.” (Psalm 82:6). This is a powerful statement, not only referencing us to being his children but telling us of our origin with Him as well. How could a truth like that be overlooked? Later in the book of Hosea we read, “Ye are the sons of the living God.” (Hosea 1:10). Again, a powerful truth that shows there is a familial bond between us and God. In Malachi we learn further that we are all brothers and sisters when we read, “Have we not all one Father?” (Malachi 2:10). That not only brings us closer to Him individually, it brings us closer to each other when we realize everyone is our brother and sister.
In the New Testament there are multiple references to Christ being the son of God. He admonishes us to be like our Father in heaven. When he taught the disciples how to pray, addressing God as Heavenly Father, he wanted us to feel the closeness to him that a loving child feels for his parent. After Christ’s death and resurrection, the apostles continued the ministry to teach this correct principle. In the book of Acts the apostles taught that “We are the offspring of God.” (Acts17:29). The people at the time may have needed some reassurance of this. After all, Christ no longer walked with them. But he sent the Holy Ghost to bear witness of all truth. The Disciples knew this when they taught, “The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.” (Romans 8:16)
He has sent me here
We have always been his children, even before we were born. The Lord told Jeremiah in the Old Testament, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee…” (Jeremiah 1:5). We also lived with Him in heaven as spirits before we were born. In Ecclesiastes we learn that the spirit will return to God, where it first came from. In chapter twelve verse 7 it states, “And the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” What struck me so hard when I first read these scriptures were the phrases “before I formed thee in the belly” and “return to God.” The first teaches us we were with God before we were born. The second says we will return—we can only return to a place we already once were. I like to compare this to loving parents who nurtured their child from infancy, sheltered in a home full of kindness and love. When the child is old enough to learn more about life, the parents get them ready to go to school for the first time. They send the child off on the school bus waving with one hand and wiping a tear from their eyes with the other. At the end of the day, the child returns home to the loving arms of his parents, excited to tell them everything he learned. Our journey here on earth is a kind of boarding school experience. Our Heavenly parents sent us here to learn. But they did not send us without help.
An earthly home with parents
God gave us families. The family is a sacred structure patterned in heaven. Of course He would want us to be raised in a similar fashion as to what we had in heaven. When a family rears a child in love, that child is more likely to feel a sense of wholeness, to develop a moral center, and to live in accordance to righteous patterns. This is a time tested fact of civilization. The ideal parenting situation is the one we came from—with heavenly and perfect parents. We do our best to emulate that here on earth, but we cannot be perfect here. Thankfully, the Atonement of Jesus Christ has made a way for us to be perfected when we return home. No matter what our circumstances, no matter what environment we are raised in, either good or bad, the pattern of heaven is waiting for us when we return.
Lead me, guide me walk beside me, help me find the way
“But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another and to serve one another.” (Mosiah 4:15). Parents have a difficult responsibility in raising children. At the birth of the first child to a mother and a father, their lives change completely. They realize the enormity of taking care of a helpless baby. They have heavenly help to do so if they seek it, because their heavenly Father wishes for them the same nurturing and love he provided before they were born. Revisiting this truth again and again made it easier for me to raise my step-son and to nurture and teach the many children I’ve been a steward over through the years. It has always had its challenges, and it will continue to in the future. But it is less difficult when I seek guidance from my Father in Heaven.
Teach me all that I must do to live with Him some day.
“And if you keep my commandments and endure to the end, you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.” (D&C 14:7). The Plan of Happiness, which our Heavenly Father created, is the blueprint for our eternity. We knew this before we were born. We saw it first hand while we lived with our heavenly parents. In the New Testament, Paul knew this as well. He taught the people, “eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (I Corinthians 2:9) He received a special witness of heavenly Father’s love for him. We can too, if we remember who we are—children of a Heavenly Father who loves us deeply, fully, and unconditionally.
Nanette O'Neal loves the gospel and is very happy to share her testimony on LDS Blogs. She is a convert to the church and still feels the spirit burn strong within her heart. She graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts with a degree in music education and has taught children and adults in the private and public sphere for over twenty years. Nanette continues to study the gospel and the art of writing. She writes weekly inspirational articles on her blog and is currently working on an LDS fantasy novel series, A Doorway Back to Forever. You can find her at NanetteONeal.blogspot.com. Nanette has a wonderful husband, talented son, and three beautiful dogs.