Remembering who you are is more than thinking of the positive things you have accomplished, but also the struggles, pains and defeats that make you who you are.
Douglas Prawitt, Glen Ardis professor of accountancy in the Marriott School of Management, delivered a devotional address Tuesday about finding joy in progress, and invited students to cherish those experiences which draw them closer to Heavenly Father.
Prawitt recalled how his mom would always tell him to remember who he was.
“I would always answer ‘OK mom’, and off I would go,” Prawitt said. “I never wanted to disappoint my mother. I knew she loved me. I knew she would love me no matter what I did. Whenever I did make mistakes she quickly forgave me, and never withdrew her love … but tried to remind me who I was.”
Prawitt explained part of remembering who we are is learning from the mistakes we have made. While waiting for his exit interview on his mission to Uruguay, he said he contemplated his works.
“I was reflecting back on my experiences — the highs, the joys and the sorrows,” Prawitt said. “I had worked hard. I had given it my all. Then I started focusing on my shortcomings. The things I wished I had done. I told him I wish I could go back, to which [my mission president] said ‘no you wouldnt.’ ”
Prawitt invited students to not diminish the things they have accomplished, but to find joy in the lessons learned.
He quoted Elder L. Tom Perry about the purposes of choosing mortal life.
“There are two purposes for life in mortality,” Prawitt said, quoting Elder Perry. “The first is that we might gain experiences that we could not obtain in any other way. The second is to obtain tabernacles of flesh and bones. Both of these purposes are vital to the existence of man. We are now being tried and tested to see if we will do all the things the Lord has commanded us to do.”
He explained how remembering who we are is more than not making mistakes, but learning perspective.
“Some people I encounter seem to believe that we are here to prove to God, and everyone around us and even to ourselves, just how perfect we are,” Prawitt said. “There is failure in such prideful perspective.”
He explained that Heavenly Father knew we would suffer in this life, but that there is more.
“Why does He not just save us the pain?” Prawitt said. “[Because] there are some things that simply just need to be experienced.”
Prawitt recalled how remembering who he was was important, but sometimes it was hard to understand who he truly was, or who he was supposed to be.
“We are not here to prove to everyone that we are perfect,” he said.
He explained there is danger in such perspective, because when we commit we condemn ourselves and at the same time we justify and hide them. Making mistakes is part of living, he said, and those mistakes are the ones that make us stronger thanks to repentance.
Prawitt explained how the love of parents for their children is greater than their children can understand. He said God is the father of our spirits, but our love is not perfect like our Heavenly Father’s love is.
As we love our children and forgive them and want to give them everything, so does our Heavenly Father. Prawitt quoted a scripture found in Luke 11:13, which states, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”
As Prawitt finished his remarks, he told the audience of a trip he made with his mom as she neared the end of her life.
“I told her how much I loved her and how grateful I was for all that she had meant for me,” Prawitt said. “I told her how sorry I was for the little things I had done along the way that had caused her disappointment.”
Prawitt then recalled his mother’s sweet response.
“I will never forget what she said,” Prawitt said. “She squeezed my hand. She said ‘Oh Doug, you don’t understand, do you? I forgave you for those things before you did them.’ “