I recently made a connection that has given me a new perspective on the idea of change and progression. It is this: whenever we make a covenant with God, He gives us a new identity. For example, when we choose to follow Jesus by being baptized, we also take upon ourselves the name of Christ. Thus, as I emerge from the waters of baptism, I am no longer the woman I used to be. My identity has changed – I have taken upon myself a new name, that of Jesus Christ. With every additional covenant we make, we are again given a new identity; we are changed.
Why does this matter? Our identity shapes our attitudes and our behavior. It affects how we think about ourselves and how we treat others. When we make a covenant and receive a new identity, it is as if God is saying to us, “Don’t worry about who you were before we made this covenant. You are no longer that person. You can start anew.” We can cast off any worry or guilt about who we were before we made covenants, because we are no longer that woman or man. With our new identity, we can diligently work toward keeping the commitment we made to be the woman or man God wants us to be, without concern for how different it is from who we were before.
Of course, none of us is perfect. Progression is often slow and incremental, and we sometimes (even regularly) revert back to being the person we were before we made covenants. But each week, as we partake of the sacrament, we make that covenant with God again. And again, He gives us a new identity – the name of Jesus Christ. We start fresh, not worried about who we were last week, but focused instead on being who God knows we can be this week.
And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters. ... There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ ... And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ. (Mosiah 5:7-9)
For me, this principle has some important implications. When I consider my own life, I gain confidence in the Father’s plan for my progression, and recognize how my efforts to keep my covenants are changing me. Instead of getting frustrated at my own inability to be all that I wish I were right now, I can remember that by partaking of the sacrament and regaining my new identity, I can start again as often as I need to. Perhaps this is part of what it means to "always remember Him" - to consistently keep in the front of our minds the identity we received when we made a covenant to follow Him, and then act accordingly. Also, when I consider this principle in the context of the lives of those around me, I find it is easier to see God working in their lives - they, too, are being changed as they make covenants with God and exchange their former selves for a new identity.
And there you have it. My thoughts for the new year. Here's to a great 2018!