What We Really Mean when We Say to “Keep an Eternal Perspective”

Side view of wooden rocking horse on wooden floor with running horse sketched on the wall.

“You just need to keep an eternal perspective.” Oftentimes, we hear that and think, “Yeah, eternal perspective. That means that everything will be fine and dandy down the road.” Or perhaps we think of it as the Mormon adage for optimism, meaning, “Chin up; everything will work out in the end.”

Whatever maxim comes to mind, the message seems clear: in the end, we’ll be happy. In the end, everything will be as it should be. Peace and understanding will come—but not until the end.

But why do we look to the end when there are no endings in eternity? As President Uchtdorf taught, “Endings are not our destiny.” In general conference, he explained,

“We are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless (Moses 1:3) and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny.” [“Grateful in Any Circumstance,” April 2014]

In pondering the immensity of eternity, Elder Richards referred to the Prophet Joseph Smith, who compared eternity to a ring:

“When you cut it, [Joseph] said, there’s a beginning and there’s an end, but as long as you don’t cut it there’s no beginning and there’s no end.” [“Heaven Doesn’t Matter,” October 16, 1973]

Eternity is like a circle, which surrounds us at all times. Our divine identity—who we were in the pre-earth life, the roles we will fulfill in this life, and who we will become in the next life—exists eternally.

To have an eternal perspective means to recognize this potential and to recognize that it surrounds you at all times. It’s not, “One day I’ll be this,” or “One day I’ll have this.” Whatever it is, you already have it. Everything you have been or will be is who you are right now.

Because we’re trained to see this mortal life in a linear fashion, we often fail to see who we truly are eternally, usually because this mortal life hasn’t yet given us the opportunity to manifest certain aspects of our eternal being. But we can overcome this short-sightedness by expanding our view from where we are to who we are.

Having an eternal perspective means recognizing that you are a divine being, a disciple, a parent, a spouse. Even if, in the here and now, nothing seems further from the truth.

As an eternal being, you have the power to be everything. In this moment, you are more than you can even comprehend. You are a limitless; you are made of the stuff of eternity.

Having an eternal perspective isn’t patiently awaiting the finish line. Having an eternal perspective means recognizing who you are as a child of God. And so, eternal progression is not pursuing what lies at the end line; it’s working to manifest the eternity that surrounds you.

Some days, we may feel as though we have failed, or fallen short. Perhaps we weren’t the parent, friend, or spouse we needed to be. Maybe we weren’t as much of a disciple as we wish we had been. Some days, we may feel as though we have no shot at becoming anything we wish to be. And a lot of times, life just doesn’t seem to go according to (our) plan.

In those moments, an eternal perspective can help us remember who we are—that we’re divine beings with infinite potential and that Heavenly Father doesn’t see us linearly. He isn’t waiting for us to become great; from His eternal viewpoint, there is always greatness in us.

linear perspective vs eternal perspective drawing

This sketch is from the author’s journal.

Megan Komm

Megan Komm is an editorial intern for BYU Publications & Graphics, and she plans to champion the Oxford comma until her dying breath. Megan finds an unruly amount of excitement in greenery, witty words, free food, and other people’s good news.

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