Sunday, May 2, 2010

"I know who I am...I am a nobody."

These are not my words, they are a quote of a quote of a quote. What? In stake conference today, President Clegg said them referencing a conference talk by Elder Andersen in which he quoted Boyd K. Packer. I'm not sure that makes much more sense. Anyway, you can read his conference talk here:

"Come unto Him." by Elder Neil L. Andersen, but here's the exact quote:

As (President Packer) addressed the congregation, he said, “I know who I am.” Then after a pause, he added, “I am a nobody.” He then turned to me, sitting on the stand behind him, and said, “And, Brother Andersen, you are a nobody too.” Then he added these words: “If you ever forget it, the Lord will remind you of it instantly, and it won’t be pleasant.”

I think I am understanding what this quote is supposed to be suggesting, but it seems contradictory to everything I've ever been taught and tried to teach. It's talking about humility. He's trying to instill in us that we are not the great ones, the Lord is. He's trying to teach us that if we are prideful we will be struck down. I guess I just don't like the wording because some people will only hear, "I am a nobody" and that is what will stick with them. This wouldn't be the first time I've had an issue with the way that President Packer has said something. Maybe that's what keeps me humble. Maybe that's what makes me a nobody. (See, it doesn't sound good, does it?)

Elder Andersen talks about how we share a faith in Christ with many people in our communities and around the world and that we shouldn't minimize other people's faith just because they do not share our exact same beliefs. People all around us believe that family is important, they continually do good, they make sacrifices, they are unselfish, and they prayer to the same Heavenly Father that we do. And, Heavenly Father loves them just as he loves us. And by "them" and "us", I mean you and I, people we know and people we don't, people all around.

But how is it that we can be beloved children of God, children of a divine birthright, and nobodies at the same time? I'm just trying to figure out how to teach this to my children and the young women while at the same time convincing them of their individual worth. I worry about the wording because it can be misunderstood. Many people walk around their whole lives thinking that they are nobodies. They think they don't matter, don't make a difference, and don't have a say in what happens to them. That is the complete opposite of what we know to be true in the eyes of God. Every spirit matters to Him.

Any ideas on how to teach both concepts? Do you teach one before the other? Is the lesson on humility only important to those that become prideful? HELP!


proud parents said...

Let's see if I can make sense after working all night and just submitting three papers and taking two tests:

If you fail to realize your individual worth, your divine nature, and your potential, does that make you a somebody?
If you flaunt God and deny Christ, does that make you a somebody?
If you put yourself before others, ignore counsel, and wallow unrepentantly, what kind of somebody does that make you? Nobody.

Think of it this way: those that are in outer darkness are nobodies. They have no light, no love, NO BODIES.
People who are nobodies resemble those who don't get the opportunity to have bodies.
So let me try to turn it around into a positive light for you. Let's use the definition of nobody as: "not any body."
Before we were born with physical bodies, we had spiritual bodies. Before that, we were just intelligence. We existed, but without any body. But we had the potential, as we chose to act on it, to get our spiritual and then physical bodies. Our state of nobodiness is up to us.

Consider these scriptures:
Matt 7:20, 21, 23
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you . . .

Additionally, John 10: 4, 14, 27
4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
Ps. 100: 3
3 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
1 Ne. 22: 25
25 And he gathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth; and he numbereth his sheep, and they know him; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd; and he shall feed his sheep, and in him they shall find pasture.
3 Ne. 18: 31
31 But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered.

When we humble ourselves, recognize our God and Savior, allow ourselves to be molded by them and withstand the crucible of our trials, realize and fulfill our divine destinies, forgot ourselves in the service of others, and "lay down our lives" for the Only Begotten--when we are baptized and when we repent and take on His name, when we allow ourselves to be counted and numbered, then we are no longer nobodies without any body (or substance, or light). We become not just any body, but we become somebodies. We have some body. We are substantial. We become priests and priestesses, queens and kings. We become "chosen before we were born". We become elect. Not just any body. Not any body. Not nobody. We are counted, not countless. We are "named"--as a Wrinkle in Time puts it. We are known as we know Him. Anybody being a nobody can become a somebody, but in order to do so, they need to recognize that they are nobody. Just because they are nobodies doesn't mean they don't have potential, worth, and divine inheritance. They need to recognize that they need humility, repentance, charity, prayer, light, God. Until then, nobody. Natural man, without Christ, is nobody.

I feel like I've got an inkling of what I want to say, but it's just out of my grasp. Is it dawning on you? Do you see what I'm trying to say? I don't know if it helps any at all, but this is how I choose to personally interpret this.

proud parents said...

Oh, and the scriptures reference that if we do not draw to Christ, then we are nobody to Him. But you probably figured that out, smarty.

proud parents said...

Now that I'm awake, I thought of another scripture. John 15:5 "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. " (Ties with my earlier Matt quote)
Phil 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
Just reinforcing again that without Christ, we can do nothing and therefore are nobodies. But with (the light of) Christ (within us), we can do ALL things.

Sara said...

H, I actually remember that quote from conference. One of the only things I heard. I don't have any helpful commentary, but Jennifer....I think we need to swap callings. You need to teach relief society and I can lead the music. You've got so much insight on everything!

proud parents said...

NEVER Sara! I LOVE your lessons and look forward to them every month!
I would like to summarize my thoughts here, though, and then I'll leave you alone.

We are, in our current state, nobodies in that we do not have our own glory. We have the potential to achieve our own glory, just like we had the potential to receive spiritual, and then physical bodies. Each state of our existence is a conditional precursor to the next. As intelligence, we were nobodies in light of not having spiritual bodies. As spirits, we were nobodies in light of not having physical bodies. As physical beings, we are nobodies in light of not yet having received our paradisical glory. But, depending on this current state, we will have our own light. We will be some body! Until then, we live on borrowed light--the light of Christ, which enables us to be somebodies in the here and now notwithstanding our natural physical state. Everything in this world, even the sun, borrows its light from Christ and will continue to do so until He comes again.
I know I tied a lot of physical and spiritual ideas together, but only because physical and spiritual laws run parallel to each other and are even intertwined. Understanding one may help us grasp the principle of the other.

H said...

Oh Jennifer, I just reread all that you said and it finally made sense to me. I think I got lost in your somebodies and nobodies and some body and no body. (I hear myself read and that's just plain confusing!) I'd like to say I had an "aha moment", but it really was a book I was reading. (The Myth of Self-Esteem, by Ester Rasband) I discovered everything you said and just had to come back to this to add some additional thoughts...

Alma 26:12 "Yea, I know that I am nothing: as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I wil boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things."

"The best way to see divine light is to put out your own little candle." (I loved this visual.)

And the Christian Paradox: "Only when we lose ourselves will we find ourselves." This suggests that we are only something when we are nothing.

I believe that I was taking the word "nothing" a little too literally. I understand that we are nothing without God. Always have and would never argue otherwise :) I think I can teach that without diminishing individual worth and divine potential. Aha.