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Ensign College president, wife testify of divine identity and ability to see it through trials

A testimony of one’s divine heritage ‘is essential for all of us as we each strive to navigate the challenges of mortality,’ says President Kusch

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Ensign College President Bruce C. Kusch speaks Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at Ensign College’s first devotional of winter semester 2023, in the Assembly Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Larissa Gasparini da Cruz, Ensign College


Ensign College president, wife testify of divine identity and ability to see it through trials

A testimony of one’s divine heritage ‘is essential for all of us as we each strive to navigate the challenges of mortality,’ says President Kusch

merlin_2957525.jpg

Ensign College President Bruce C. Kusch speaks Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at Ensign College’s first devotional of winter semester 2023, in the Assembly Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Larissa Gasparini da Cruz, Ensign College

Ensign College President Bruce C. Kusch showed students and faculty pictures of what he did over the Christmas break, such as being king for a day in a Latin American country and almost scoring a winning goal in the World Cup. But he confessed that the pictures were fake and “every identity was a fabrication” because “each image was created by an artificial intelligence software program.”

He then shared a true experience of being called an “older gentleman” in a hospital. “Two stories,” President Kusch said, “one about identities that I did not create and the other about a label that — at least in my own mind — was not accurate.”

The label that is accurate, according to him, is “our true identity as children of God.”

In Ensign College’s first devotional of the winter semester, President Kusch and his wife, Sister Alynda Kusch, spoke in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square on Tuesday, Jan. 10. They testified that individuals’ heritage is divine and trials can help them realize it.

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Ensign College President Bruce C. Kusch speaks Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at Ensign College’s first devotional of winter semester 2023, in the Assembly Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Larissa Gasparini da Cruz, Ensign College

Embracing divine potential

“If I had one hope for what you take from my message this morning,” President Kusch said, “it would be that you take with you a firm witness, born to you by the power of the Holy Ghost, of who you really are: a child of God, a child of loving heavenly parents and someone with divine potential. That testimony — firm, immovable and unshakeable — is essential for all of us as we each strive to navigate the challenges of mortality.”

President Kusch asked for the congregation to sing “I Am a Child of God.” He invited attendees to carefully ponder its words, which contain messages “that should cause us to think deeply.”

“For me, ‘I Am a Child of God’ teaches me about my true identity,” said President Kusch, “and it inspires me to do the things that will qualify me to live in God’s presence one day — if I live worthy of that blessing.”

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Students and faculty listen Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at Ensign College’s first devotional of winter semester 2023 at the Assembly Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Larissa Gasparini da Cruz, Ensign College

Labels that affect eternal progression

President Kusch asked four volunteers to each answer a different question about identity. Before each question, he quoted parts of President Russell M. Nelson’s message at the Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults in May 2022.

After sharing President Nelson’s counsel of the three most important identities — a child of God, a child of the covenant and a disciple of Christ — President Kusch asked, “How might we avoid adopting or accepting a label that could affect our eternal progression?”

Other questions he left listeners to ponder were “How can each of us avoid being judgmental or displaying animosity toward another?” and “How can we keep the knowledge of our true identity as children of God first and foremost in our minds?”

‘Will this snow and cold never end?’

Sister Kusch started her address by sharing her experience in cold weather the past few weeks, such as driving in a blizzard and slipping on ice. In contrast, her friend relaxed in the warmth of Mexico. “What if every day was sunny and warm?” Sister Kusch asked.

“Heaven, right?” she said. “Maybe not. ... Without a snowy day, could you truly appreciate the warmth of the sun, or would it just be another day?”

Sister Kusch read Lehi’s declaration in 2 Nephi 2:11 that “it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.” Although individuals might think of this scripture in the context of agency, she said, they can consider instead how their lives could be improved through adversity.

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Sister Alynda Kusch speaks Tuesday, Jan. 10, at Ensign College’s first devotional of winter semester 2023 at the Assembly Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Larissa Gasparini da Cruz, Ensign College

The principle of the polished rock

This paradox of being bettered through hardships is what Sister Kusch referred to as “the principle of the polished rock.” She showed the congregation a photo of a rock smooth on one side and rough on the other, caused by friction as water and sand rushed over the smooth side.

She saw this principle in her dad, who had to give up hobbies because of challenges like severe arthritis, deteriorating vision and a severe allergic reaction. But despite these difficulties, “a more gentle, loving, appreciative man emerged.”  

She said, “I realized that opposition and challenges are actually a gift. ... They turn us to the Lord. They bring us to our knees in prayer. They help us dig deep within ourselves and motivate us to do hard things. They smooth our rough edges, and they polish our souls.”

Watching her dad overcome difficult days taught Sister Kusch to do five things: Recognize that unexpected things happen, celebrate small victories, keep persevering, do things to invite the Spirit and acknowledge personal change from challenges.

“So,” she said, “be grateful for the gift of opposition, for challenges, for hard things. They smooth out our rough edges, turn us to God and help us appreciate a beautiful, warm sunny day.”

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