I grew up singing this song in Primary that teaches a pretty basic and fundamental truth about our divine natures.
I am a child of God and He has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear.
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me. Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do to live with Him someday.
I believe this simple message, yet unfortunately, I forget it at times. When I see a dirty, homeless man holding a sign downtown, I don’t immediately see a child of God. Or when a grumpy lady bumps into me at a store and glares as though I just ran into her, my thoughts are far from kind. Worst yet, when an old man cuts me off in traffic and forces me to drive eight miles under the posted speed limit, I’m sad to admit I don’t react by calling him a child of God. In my head, I know all these people are God’s children. It doesn’t matter what color they are, or how clean cut or rough they appear, or how kind or rude they act, or what political party they support, or how slow or fast they drive. We’re all children of God. The trick is to always remember that truth so we act with more kindness.
Some people seem to come to earth with an innate gift of kindness; others have to struggle. I fall into the second category. I’m quiet by nature and don’t like confrontation, so I’m never outwardly nasty and probably come across as very nice; but my inner thoughts can tend to be negative or judgmental if I’m not careful. Remembering this simple message—I am a Child of God—helps me be more kind. When I ask God to help me see others as He sees them, my attitude improves. I see what I have in common with everyone, instead of focusing on differences. God sees our divine potential–or what we have in common with Him–not our faults.
Even if you’re like me and have to work to be kind, I believe it’s possible to become naturally kind (although it might feel unnatural to do so at first). Every time I leave my house, my good intention is put to the test. That old man I mentioned earlier pulls in front of me and I start grumbling. But all it takes is a simple reminder—Oh, yeah. He’s a child of God.—and right away, I loosen my iron grip on the steering wheel and shake my head at how quickly Satan tempts me to anger. Remembering that the old man is my spirit brother, not just an obstacle sent to torment me on my drive to the grocery store, changes my whole attitude. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter whether I arrive at the store two seconds faster (or even a minute).
Unexpected challenges will pop up constantly to make us forget. Even on my drive behind the slow man, remembering just once didn’t change me for the rest of the day (or even the rest of my ten minute drive). I forgot several more times (with the same slow man, bless his heart) as he did several other obnoxious things on the road. But for each time I forgot, I could also remember…and I chose to focus on what we had in common—that we were both children of God—so that I’d smile instead of sneer. And just the act of smiling made me feel better, even if nothing changed about the annoying circumstances.
Following these simple steps have made it easier for me to become kinder…and happier. Truthfully, they’ve probably lowered my blood pressure too and improved my physical health, because anger isn’t good for anyone.
- Pray to remember this simple truth: You are a child of God…and so is everyone else. That makes them family…your spirit brothers & sisters.
- Pray again and again, because once in the morning won’t be enough if you’re quickly annoyed or angered like I am by silly things. A formal prayer in the morning is great, but a dozen more silent ones throughout the day is even better.
- Smile at everyone you meet. Don’t treat them like strangers. They could’ve been your best friend before we came to earth. That makes you think a little harder before you flip someone off on the highway or glare at the lady in the grocery line in front of you with two full carts.
- Don’t beat yourself up when you stumble and aren’t as kind as you wish to be. Get back up and try again. For every time you forget to be kind, you can remember that you are a child of God with unlimited potential and work to become more kind. That’s why we’re here…to become like our Father in Heaven. His Son showed us the way to do it.
I’m always pleasantly surprised when I put these steps into action. Not only do I feel better, but I usually end up making others smile as well. Funny how that works.