Bear with me as I share three seemingly unrelated stories and then tie them together with my big “ah-ha!” moment at the end. 😉
Story 1: I grew up on the East Coast in a large city with a small LDS population where I was easily known as “The Mormon” to friends, acquaintances and strangers throughout my high school. Looking back I think I held my head high with the name labeling me almost like a missionary tag defining me and influencing every interaction and relationship. However, it was also that invisible name tag that heightened my responsibility to define what “Mormon” meant to the people around me. It pressured me to need to know answers to questions before they asked me. One such experience is engrained in my memory–and not in a good way.
There was a really nice boy in many of my classes that asked me about the church one day. It was one of those scenarios you practice in your head and then it happened and the whole room seemed to stop and words that didn’t make any sense started fumbling out of my unpracticed mouth.
To my defense, his question was: “So you think you’re gonna be like a God one day?”
I remember grabbing a piece of paper which somehow felt absolutely necessary at the time and attempting to draw out the Plan of Salvation.
Needless to say, it didn’t go very well.
However, I will never forget his question. It rang in my head for hours, days and weeks afterwards and here I am years later still recalling it with a perfect memory.
Story 2: Just recently, I heard my 4-year-old daughter tell me “not to freak out.” I don’t think there is anything wrong with those words, but coming from the mouth of my daughter it just sounded strange. Maybe once or twice a week I will hear something come out of her mouth that demands the question, “Where did you hear that?!” Not always because it’s bad, but just because as she is developing her own vocabulary she is a sponge to words and phrases surrounding her ears and it’s funny when I hear her say something that is so clearly my lingo–but often something I don’t even realize I say until I hear my “mini-me” repeat it.
Story 3: These past few months I have been putting forth a significant effort towards spending more time learning about the Savior and striving to make changes in my life to qualify myself to receive His guidance and direction more readily. I feel like I have learned and grown so much! But from an outsider’s perspective I really haven’t changed that much. Our family still has the same challenges, and I haven’t had any huge, life-altering revelation that told us to join the Peace Corp or anything.
However, I have noticed an abundance of little things. They could easily go unnoticed to an onlooker or even myself but in reality it is these seemingly little things that make all the difference. One of them that has made me smirk is that my language has changed. Nope, I didn’t kick a huge swearing habit, but randomly phrases from the temple session or scriptures will somehow come out of my mouth as the best way my brain could find to articulate something. I didn’t do much more than smirk at it until these three stories and pieces fell together for me tonight as I read an article on LDS.org.
The article was defining our relationship with our Heavenly Father and ability to become like Him and said: “Just as a child can develop the attributes of his or her parents over time, the divine nature that humans inherit can be developed to become like their Heavenly Father’s.”
Just as my 4-year-old is developing my language and attributes, by intentionally making time to learn from my Heavenly Father, I can develop His language and attributes to become like Him. The phrases from scripture coming from my mouth were suddenly a quiet witness to my heart that my meager efforts have been making a difference in who I am. If I can unintentionally repeat sacred words as my own, than these small (but sometimes difficult!) changes in my life are able to make a difference and even change my subconscious language pool. Maybe He is molding me more than I know when I put forth the effort to know Him.
Oh, how I would change my response to that high school friend in so many ways if I could replay that scenario now. “Yes,” I would say undoubtedly and unwavering, “I actually do believe that I can become like God one day. I believe that God is not just some unknowable mist up in a mysterious heaven, but a Real and Loving Heavenly Father and that we are His children. I believe that just as a loving father on this earth wants to give everything he has to his children, our Heavenly Father wants to give all that He has to us.”
And after what He has recently taught me, I would add that the really neat and amazing part about Becoming Like God is that it is not something that is reserved for some distant unobtainable future, but that, as we put forth the effort to do our part, we can Become Like Him now. Today.