Growing into the Gospel


Joseph B. Wirthlin
(Adapted from an October 1999 general conference address. See Ensign, November 1999, pages 38–41.)
Ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth (D&C 50:40).

My parents were hardworking. They made every penny stretch as far as possible. That was probably the reason everything they gave me was always two or three sizes too large.

When I was thirteen years old, I wanted football shoulder pads and a helmet more than anything else. On Christmas morning, I opened my packages and there they were: shoulder pads and a helmet—sized to fit Goliath!

“Mother, they’re too big,” I complained.

“Be grateful for what you have, Joseph,” she said. “Don’t worry—you’ll grow into them.”

When I put on the new equipment, the shoulder pads hung so far over my shoulders that about the only things they protected were my elbows.

Even though I stuffed cotton and newspapers into the helmet, it jostled every time I took a step. When I ran, it would turn and turn until I was looking out through an ear hole. One time I rambled for a long gain right into a tree. Each time I was tackled, the helmet would spin 180 degrees and I’d get up looking like my head had spun with it. How I yearned to grow into that helmet!

I had even more important growing to do. My father was truly a great man. I remember one day putting my feet in my father’s shoes. I was amazed at the size. Will I ever be big enough to fill his shoes? I wondered. Can I ever grow into the man my father is?

I look back with tenderness to my dear mother’s encouraging words, “Don’t worry, Joseph—you’ll grow into them.”

In a similar way, we all need to learn how to grow into our duties as members of the Lord’s Church. Heavenly Father loves you. He is the Father of your spirit. That makes you His literal child. As such, you have inherited the potential to become like Him. His greatest desire is that you grow in this life, becoming more like Him so that one day you can return to His presence.

It is my prayer that we may all grow into the kind of people our Heavenly Father wants us to be.

[illustration] Illustrated by Kevin McCain