I don’t know much about the history of LDS hymns, but I do know that in 1957, then-Elder Spencer W. Kimball asked Naomi Randall, the author of the lyrics of “I Am a Child of God” to change the lyrics from “Teach me all that I must know/ To live with Him someday” to “Teach me all that I must do/To live with Him Someday.” Kimball explained, “To know isn’t enough. The devils know and tremble; the devils know everything. We have to do something.”
So knowing isn’t enough. But is doing enough?
I think I’m pretty good at doing. Give me a list, and I’ll get it checked off. Like many of you, I often find myself on autopilot– running on the treadmill, emptying the dishwasher, throwing in a load of laundry, supervising a piano practice session, driving, driving, driving, reading a bedtime story, overseeing family prayer. I’ll bring a dinner to a family when the mom has a baby, show up with treats to a ward party, even whip up a Primary program when requested. I go through the motions of reading scriptures and praying to check them off my list.
I’m not saying that this is nothing. It’s an accomplishment to get through a full-day’s work, no matter what that work is.
If knowing is the first step and doing is the second, I’d say that at this point in my life, inching into my later 30s, I’m satisfied with what I know and what I can do in a day.
But it’s the autopilot mode, the thirty second prayer muttered under my breath as I flop myself onto my bed at the end of the day, exhausted, that makes me feel like knowing and doing aren’t enough. Sure, I’m getting a lot done, but my mind is always somewhere else– on the book plugged into my ears, on the din of kids in the next room, on the grocery list I’m mentally composing in my head.
My oldest son loves zoos. He goes to each zoo with a checklist of every animal in his mind. As soon as we walk up to the exhibits and he spots the animal, he checks it off his mental list and we move on. I think I’ve been doing that with my life. I’m often the first one to leave a party, eager to get home, put the dishes in the dishwasher, and sweep the floor before I go to bed for the night. I find it hard to sit and chat, even with good friends. Because there’s always more doing to be done.
So from now on, while all of you are singing “Teach me all that I must do,” I’m going to sing “Teach me all that I must be.” I don’t need to do more, but I do need to be more fully present, to be a better friend, to be a mom who listens to her kids. I want to become a woman who is changed by Christ and by His gospel, and not just known for all the things I can get done in a day.