A Regal Identity

An Evening with Elder L. Whitney Clayton

Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults • September 13, 2015 • New York, New York


 

I am thrilled to be here today, hand in hand and side by side with my forever best friend. Living with the love of my life is a grand adventure.

I am also honored to be here with you. You are quite a remarkable sight—both the ones of you I can literally see and the many, many others that I see in my mind’s eye. You’re marvelous. I wish you could see yourselves as I do right now—clearly glowing with potential and promise. Sometimes I fear that we are the ones least able to recognize our own worth, and even when we do, it’s hard to live equal to it. And sadly, the distorted view we have of ourselves is more often too small rather than inflated.

The scriptures describe each of us, in Moses, as His son or daughter, “in the similitude of [God],”1 and again in Mosiah, “Because of the covenant which ye have made [which is baptism] ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters.”2 Then again in Romans we read:

“We are the children of God:

“And if children, then . . . heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.”3

So, why do we have such a hard time remembering our regal identity and living consistently motivated by and equal to it? The following metaphor seems helpful to me:

Some years ago my husband, our youngest son, and I lived in Argentina on assignment from the Church. Our son and I particularly made something of a career of visiting local sites of interest in our free time. We had a few favorites. Among them was a wild and wonderful zoo unlike any zoo we had ever seen before. Rather than wander past cages of sleepy animals and admire them from afar, the Lujan Zoo invited visitors to enter the pens and pet the animals—even the most notoriously wild ones. We couldn’t resist that invitation. Following the trainer, we made our way into the enclosure prepared for the very large, very intimidating lions, and we petted them while they seemed to fully ignore us.

Once we had safely left the enclosure, I asked the trainers how in the world they could have convinced those giant beasts not to eat us. Their answer was fascinating to me. They called my attention to the several little dogs who likewise inhabited those pens. They told me that one of the things that they had done was to raise the lions with those dogs constantly at their sides. When the lions were very small, those yappy dogs were bigger than the lion cubs. The dogs believed that they were in charge, and they chased the lions mercilessly and nipped unkindly at their heels. The baby lion cubs became accustomed to cowering in the corner and behaving as if they were terribly afraid of the pesky little dogs.

When the lions grew, they continued to cower in the corner and fear the small dogs. With the flick of a paw, any one of those large lions could easily have sent those dogs flying clear out of the pen, but the lions didn’t see themselves as they really were. They were painfully unaware of their regal identity. They were stuck and limited by a mistaken notion of their potential. They thought they were small and weak, so they allowed pesky, persistent dogs to control and intimidate them.

I fear that we all have some pesky little dogs that squash our confidence and keep us cowering in figurative corners. Let me name a few that seem nearly universal.

First: Lack of confidence.

A revealing study noted that too many of us characterize our performance more by our failures than by our successes. Very often, if a young person is given a test with 100 questions and he gets 80 of them right, he will sadly admit that he missed 20 questions rather than proudly note that he got 80 correct. Lack of confidence in ourselves and our potential can blind us to our true worth and capacity.

Second: Imperfect, incomplete knowledge.

Even Nephi, a prophet, was obligated to exercise his faith because he didn’t know everything. Remember when the heavens opened to him and an angel came down and stood right in front of him? Nephi saw a vision of Nazareth and the mother of the Savior, but when he was asked if he understood the condescension of God, he admitted that he didn’t know the meaning of all things. But before he acknowledged what he didn’t know perfectly, he asserted what he knew for sure: “That [God] loveth his children.”4

That’s the most essential thing to know. It’s plenty to keep us from allowing any pesky little dogs of incomplete knowledge to compromise our certainty of the truthfulness of the Church and of our blessed relationship to Him and His unfailing and empowering love for us.

Third: Carelessness or inattention.

Bad choices or the neglect of good ones cloud our vision of reality. I think there was a symbolic reason why the children of Israel needed to gather manna daily. Heavenly Father surely could have given them a supply to last for the week, but the daily obligation to gather soul food kept them remembering Him. Soul food needs to be consumed regularly and often. Scripture reading, praying, attending Church, serving each other—those things are our manna and the superfood of children of God.

You undoubtedly have pesky dogs that are uniquely yours. We all do. Don’t let them define you. Behave as the regal children of God that you are. That is your birthright. If your behavior doesn’t currently match the level of your regal identity, make changes. With the help of heaven, you can do it. Your divine identity is lasting. Just because those lions weren’t behaving in brave, powerful ways didn’t make them cease to be lions.

Sometimes we say we are the creations of God, and surely that is a noble thought. But I like even better remembering that we are His children. We have His spiritual DNA coursing through our veins. Remember, He has said again and again that we are His sons and daughters and His heirs. Swat any deceiving messages, beliefs, or habits that cause you to cower in the corners of your life. Don’t let them nip at your heels and make you feel fearful or hurt. Rise to the level of your eternal stature. You are royalty.

May the Lord bless us all with a sense of our divine identity. “All that the Father has” is the promise for those who catch hold of God’s great vision of their potential and live equal to their birthright as our Heavenly Father’s heirs. May the Lord bless you as you embrace and rejoice in who you really are. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

© 2015 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. English approval: 6/15. PD10054259