I picked up one of my 7-year-old’s books (“The One and Only Ivan”) the other day and was taken by the quote by George Eliot at the beginning.
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
I’ve mentioned before that I go through phases where I am really dedicated to figuring out what the Lord would have me do. Usually, those times lead me to an unexpected place – like starting a blog or submitting articles to LDS Living or moving to 5 states in 5 years.
In my “day job” I work as a pharmacist. It has been a good career – I feel that it challenges me but isn’t overwhelming, I am able to contribute financially to my family without a large time commitment, and I feel it utilizes my natural (read: OCD) skill set. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize the truth in the phrase, “You can be anything you want to be.” My parents told me that phrase frequently. For a while my “anything” meant a video-game tester, then a physical therapist (high school), then a medical doctor (beginning of college), then a cancer researcher (end of college/graduate school), then a toxicologist (graduate school 2.0), then a what-am-I-supposed-to-do (post-mission). I’d considered pharmacy a few times but figured that all pharmacists do is count to 30 multiple times a day. (Since then, I’ve learned they do a lot more and play an important role in patient care in both the hospital and the community setting.) Eventually I thought, “Meh…I’ll apply to pharmacy school. If I get it, then that must be it.” I got in and that was that. (An important side-note is that it was moving to pharmacy school that led me to meet my husband, Doug.)
Options to Consider
Now, with time to consider options and being more aware of my strengths and weakness, as well as my likes and dislikes, sometimes I’ve wondered if pharmacy is the best career for me. I’ve always been a bit obsessed with trying to maximize my potential. I’m also obsessed with looking at problems from every angle I can consider – just ask my poor husband how much I analyze Every. Single. Choice. With that skill set, would engineering have been a better path? If so, what kind of engineering? I love to write. What about writing? Should I have stuck with medicine? Astronaut? Lawyer? Bakery franchise owner? Entrepreneur? Olympic snowboarder? As Mr. Eliot poses, what might I have been? And how do I get there now?
In the talk, “Realize Your Full Potential” Elder Richard G. Scott, discusses numerous insights into this idea. He states, “With all my capacity I encourage you to discover who you really are. I invite you to look beyond the daily routine of life. I urge you to discern through the Spirit your divinely given capacities.” Of course, we need the guidance of the Spirit to determine what we might become. Throughout those times that I have been dedicated to finding what/where the Lord would have me do/be, I have been amazed at how things just take their own shape.
For example, we have been wanting to move for quite some time. We are now finally at the point where we can set some concrete plans. Going in, there was a 10% chance that we would build a house. (I wanted to move fast and not wait for a build – not to mention the stress of building.) But…guess what we’re doing? That’s right, we’re building. (Did you miss the foreshadowing when I mentioned “set some concrete plans?”) Even though I was hesitant to build, decisions that should have felt terrifying have just seemed to be part of the plan – it has all just fallen gently into place. Have you had that feeling? Things feel a bit out of control and you feel like you should be terrified but it doesn’t seem scary. Then, you think, “Oh yeah…it doesn’t seem scary because someone else is leading me along right now.” I’ve felt confirmed time and time again that this is the right place, the right ward, the right home for us.
The same is true of finding your divine potential – to not completely disqualify any options but to keep your mind open as your make your decisions. Then, be sure to remain open to promptings even if they are unexpected, uncomfortable or not necessarily the plan you had in mind or deviate from the original plan. I realize that even though the quote by George Eliot states “it is never too late,” my time may be past for some of those might-have-been options. (Let’s face it, with my bad knees, I will never win the Olympic gold medal in slopestyle skiing!) So, perhaps more important part of this idea is to help my children recognize and achieve their divine potential sooner rather than later.
Guiding our Children to their Divine Potential
Elder Scott states, “Truly, as obedience and morality decline in the world, the Lord is sending more exceptional spirits to earth. As a body they excel the average capacity of their forebears. Their potential for personal growth and positive contribution is enormous. As parents and leaders, how are you cultivating that potential? (emphasis added)” Kids are learning more and more at younger and younger ages. My 1st grader is reading books I didn’t read until 4th and 5th grade and his little brother is working hard to keep pace as well. In church callings in primary and the youth program, I have been humbled by the level of intelligence and spirituality of the kids. They really can be anything they want if they work for it.
Discussing her children on the Mormon Channel program, Conversations, Julie B. Beck states, “They came as they were, unique, wonderful spirits and my blessing was to just unwrap the package to see who they were and to help guide them into who they could be. I didn’t ever feel like I had to mold them or make them into somebody different than who they were because they were so great when they came. It was a fun discovery to learn who they were.” I don’t know if I am at the point in my parenting where I would always describe it as “fun.” Sometimes what can be viewed as “determined” in one light is most definitely “stubborn and obstinate” in another light (like bedtime). But, it is interesting to think of the idea of just unwrapping the gifts of our kids. To see what they bring to our lives, to our family and to the world. To see, even before they do, what they might be. But how do we do help them catch the vision?
President Russell M. Nelson posted a Facebook message on 02/18/2018 that stated, “We have been created for a purpose. Learn of your divine purpose and then live up to it. This will come to you as you seek for it. Ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, how He feels about you and your mission here on earth. If you ask with real intent, over time the Spirit will whisper this life-changing truth to you. Record those impressions, review them often, and follow through with exactness. I promise you that when you begin to catch even a glimpse of how your Heavenly Father sees you and what He is counting on you to do for Him, your life will never be the same! (emphasis added)”
As you teach your children the language of the Spirit, help them to ask the deeper questions. Then, be sure to teach them to record, review and follow through on the promptings and insights they receive.