What It REALLY Means to Be a Child of God
I am a child of God.
We hear this phrase so often, I think we become immune to what it can actually mean for our everyday lives. I would argue that the stronger the foundation of our identity is rooted in being a child of God, the stronger our self-worth becomes. The stronger our sense of self-worth becomes, the less insecure, defensive, and fearful we are.
We can be more confident, happy, and content human beings if we are willing to shed our less important identities and place our divine origins at the very forefront of our self-perception.
Let’s dig in by talking about self-schemas for a minute.
Wikipedia explains self-schemas in this way:
“A person may have a self-schema based on any aspect of himself or herself as a person, including physical characteristics, personality traits and interests, as long as they consider that aspect of their self important to their own self-definition.
“For example, someone will have an extroverted self-schema if they think of themselves as extroverted and also believe that their extroversion is central to who they are. Their self-schema for extroversion may include general self-categorizations (‘I am sociable.’), beliefs about how they would act in certain situations (‘At a party I would talk to lots of people’).”
We each have our own identities and self-schemas of who we are and who we would like to be known as. It has been my experience that the further my primary self-schema is from “child of God,” the more uncomfortable I become in my own skin—particularly when I place my self-worth on self-schemas that are impossible to keep up.
For instance, a few of the self-schemas I hold on to: I like to think of myself as a faithful member of the Church, a good mom, an understanding person, a successful blogger, and an all-around cool human being (oh, and obviously extremely humble; did I mention that?).
The problem with each of these things is I let myself down.
Every single day at least one of these identities is threatened, if not all of them, so the closer I cling to holding these schemas as important to my happiness, the less happy I become.
It’s important to me to be a good mom, but every day I get frustrated with my kids and give Netflix a turn at being Mom for a while. It’s important to me to be a faithful member of the Church, and yet I fall short of some commandment every single day. It’s important to me to be an understanding person, but every day I make some unfair judgment.
When I cling to these identities, I’m building my foundation of self-worth on sand. Sure, sometimes there are sand castles, but they never seem to last. (And they never seem to be big or grand enough anyway.) It’s an unsustainable and unreliable foundation. And frankly, it’s exhausting.
Each of my self-schemas are barraged by threats daily.
Each of them, that is, except that I am a child of God. The identity of child of God can NEVER, EVER be threatened or taken away from me. In fact, it is the only identity I’ve found that can’t.
The surer my foundation rests on this eternal truth—that I am a child of God—the less unstable my self-worth becomes.
And the best news of all is that this identity can never be threatened by sin—either by our mistakes or sins or by the mistakes or sins of others. Because those are just going to happen. They just are. To all of us.
There is no need for our self-worth to ride a roller coaster of our own mistakes or failings in productivity, beauty, intelligence, competence, success, or faithfulness.
And when it does, we’re in for a bumpy ride.
What does it mean to be a child of God for me?
It means there is something from my Heavenly Parents inside of me—some piece of divinity—and since I did nothing to deserve it, there is nothing I (or someone else) can do to take it away. I can’t become MORE “child of God” by my own merits, and I can’t become LESS “child of God” by my mistakes. I just am a child of God. The divine is just there.
Of equal importance to this identity is my access to it. “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you” (D&C 88:63). No stipulations there. The divine within is always inside me to resonate with truth, to perceive beauty. And regardless of my situation, it is there for me to give that love and beauty to others. The ability to share my divine with others is one of the most beautiful and sacred parts of my identity as a child of God. No matter how depressed or scared or hopeless I feel, the capacity to love beyond my own capabilities is there within me.
And when something upsets me—my mistakes, a rotten circumstance, exhaustion—I can ask “Does this threaten my core identity?” And the answer will always be no! That’s good news!
I still stumble. At times I still feel insecure and defensive and scared. I still try to stubbornly cling to my lesser identities, but the more I try to identify myself as a child of God—as a child of love, forgiveness, long-suffering, and kindness—the more my self-worth feels solid and stable, built on something everlasting and unchanging. Something good and pure and true. Something that defines my very essence.
So let this sink in good and deep: You are a child of God.
Celeste graduated from BYU with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology. Her proudest accomplishments include her marriage, her three kids, and that one time she had all the rooms in her house clean at the same time.