Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given Sunday, Aug. 7.
When we look at other living things, we expect that they will grow and change over time. No one assumes that a seedling will stay small and fragile — we know that it is destined to grow into a strong and mighty tree. When we see a calf or a cub, we also see its potential to become a full-grown animal.
And yet, too often, we don’t see the same potential for growth in ourselves. We tend to think that the person we have been in the past, or even the person we are right now, is the person we will always be. A Harvard psychologist refers to this as the “end of history illusion” — the assumption that the “real” you is the present you, no matter how far you’ve come and how far you could still go. “Human beings,” he explains, “are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.” (See Daniel Gilbert in Benjamin Hardy’s “Take Ownership of Your Future Self,” Harvard Business Review, Aug. 28, 2020, hbr.org.)
Because we are children of an eternal God, we have eternal capacity to improve. But it doesn’t just happen. Just as the seedling doesn’t grow without plenty of nourishment, we are more likely to progress if we are intentional about progressing. In fact, one important difference between us and the seedling is that we have a degree of choice about the direction of our growth. If, in the past, we’ve been too quick to anger, too self-centered, we can change that. If we wish we could become a little kinder, a little more loving, we can do it!
One starting point is to believe that we can — to be open to positive change, to welcome it, even seek for it. Instead of labeling ourselves by our past mistakes and weaknesses, we envision our better selves and then work to make it a reality.
One woman, for example, always used to get lost easily. She would tell people, “I’m bad at directions.” But then she decided that she wanted to change that. So she worked at reading and following maps, memorizing street names and noticing landmarks. In time, she became more proficient and even confident at finding her way.
Our loving Heavenly Father sees us for who we have the potential to become. And He wants us to see what He sees. Rather than defining ourselves by who we have always been, we can begin to become who God wants us to be.
Tuning in …
The “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL NewsRadio 1160AM/102.7FM, KSL.com, BYUtv, BYUradio, Dish and DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Ch. 143), tabernaclechoir.org, youtube.com/TheTabernacleChoir and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.com/viewers-listeners/airing-schedules.