Thoughts on Gifts and Toenails

December 25, 2007

by BiV

I have received several notable gifts through heredity.  One of the most fascinating to me is my baby toenail.  It’s strange how, for at least 4 generations, the women on the maternal side of my family have been born with a very small toenail on our little toes.  It is so small it looks more like a dot than a toenail.  It is too small to apply nail polish.  I’ve always appreciated this genetic gift from my forebears–odd enough to be distinctive, yet not really a deformity.  When each of my daughters was born, I didn’t check for five fingers; rather, I glanced down at the smallest toe first.  How sad I felt when I saw that I had not passed down this distinguishing characteristic!  In each case, their baby toenail was larger at Day One than my own. 

 Other gifts passed down may not be so welcome.  My sister and I, having passed the age of 40, have noticed evidence that we may have received the gift of jowls–so prominent in the aged members on my father’s side of the family.  Yikes!  Another gift I’ve noticed lately that I’ve given to my daughters is the “Nancy Lund” voice.  When my mother was angry, she began to speak in a tight, controlled voice, enunciating each word and speaking down as if to a preschooler.  I didn’t realize I did the same thing until I began to recognize it in my older children. 

As children of Christ, his sons and his daughters, we are partakers of the divine nature.  Lately I’ve been wondering what this means in terms of heredity.  Are there gifts we inherit from our spirit parents?  Are we predisposed to receive the gift of healing, or the gift of tongues, or even the gift of weeping from our Heavenly Father and Mother?  Is becoming like Christ a difficult task we must fight for, or are there things that come to us easily, as gifts, simply because we have chosen to follow him and become his children? 

It’s been a constant struggle for me to try to develop a Christlike character.  Almost every good quality exhibited by the Savior is something that has been difficult for me to emulate.  But my thoughts on spiritual gifts have led me to two areas where I feel that I have been gifted.  I won’t share them here, because for some reason it would be more embarrassing to tell you what they are than to describe the appearance of my smallest toenail.  I’m not sure why–maybe because these gifts pale in comparison with the abilities of other Latter-Day Saints.  Yet I feel deep within that they are strengths.  One of these has always been with me.  Perhaps it is indeed inherited at a spirit level.  The other became evident when I was baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost at age 19.  It was as if when I was adopted into the covenant there actually was a change in my character and this gift was bestowed upon me. 

Of course, there are many other gifts we may lay hold of because of our desire and our diligence.  I know that the gifts we obtain this way come from God and are valuable and useful.  However, the things that have been given to me through no effort of my own are somehow so precious and sweet.  They make me feel so close to the Divine, simply because they identify my heritage.  It’s like looking in the mirror, and seeing the shadow of jowls coming on, and smiling at my great-grandfather.


  1. Reminds me of a saying my secretary used to say:

    Mirror, mirror on the wall,
    I am my mother, after all.

  2. When my son left for his mission in Mexico two years ago, I had one last “mom talk” with him before he boarded the plane in which I reminded him that all of his ancestors resided in him and made him who he was. Whereever he went, they went…in a manner of speaking. He looked at me with his 19 year old wisdom and said, “It’s the same with you, Mom.” He was right, of course, but sometimes we don’t always recognize the influence of our ancestors in ourselves as easily as we do in others. In fact, it’s probably true in spiritual matters as well in that we sometimes forget our divine natures.

  3. Thanks for this beautiful post.

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