Our trials have purpose in the eyes of God and can bring us closer in love with Him and others. This post is meant to help you understand who you really are. I hope it changes your perception of yourself and any labels you may have been given.
It was helpful for my daughter and I to change our perceptions about mental illness. In the beginning we asked the question 'why?' or 'why me?' Over time, we learned to change the questions we were asking of God to, "What would you have me learn?"
I learned that I may have even chosen to have a daughter labeled wtih a mental illness before I ever came to earth. The idea that we may have chosen our own life learning lessons -- or what we call trials -- is actually a cross cultural pattern found in NDE's around the world. Understanding this can bring hope when facing life's challenges. Remembering who we are, where we've come from and our purpose in coming to earth helps us through happy as well as tough times. Author Roy Mills saw that before being born on earth, “I selected certain life experiences and was taught about them.”
An apostle said something akin to that. Elder Richard G. Scott said, "We lived in the presence of God our Holy Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ in a premortal existence. There we gained an understanding of the Father's plan of salvation and the promise of help when we would be born as mortals on earth. ...So that the period of mortal testing and growth would yield its greatest benefits, you were taught and prepared for the circumstances you would personally encounter in mortality." (Ensign, Nov. 2005) (See also illustration #293 in my book Healing Arts.)
My friend, Kathy Truman, introduced me to Roy Mill's book The Soul's Experience and sent the excerpt below. It is from a chapter titled "The Mighty Spirits." I share this with all of my clients lately and have highlighted portions of it. Enjoy, and get your own copy of this amazing book!
An account of one man’s remembrance of the premortal realm:
We come to live in the physical world so that we can grow spiritually by gaining experience and exercising our free will. Many of those experiences involve hardships which can only happen on earth, because Heaven is a place of perfect love, forgiveness, peace, and tranquility. And these hardships are necessary to help us build faith and exercise the gifts God has given us. Each of us is given a mission to accomplish while we are here, but we are also allowed to select some of the challenges that will bring us growth.
The angels help us choose our experiences, because what we choose must fit with our mission and with God’s overall plan for our lives... They explained that the more difficult a challenge was, the more knowledge and wisdom and love it could bring. I knew that it would be pleasing to God if I dealt with many experiences in a positive way, so I began selecting all kinds of challenges.
While I was in Heaven, I never saw anyone who was depressed, maimed by an accident, or suffering from disease. Our spiritual bodies are always healthy and whole; they are perfect, and our spirits shine with a radiant beauty. Our physical bodies are only a temporary home for our spirits, and nothing can truly harm who we really are. So when I selected my earthly experiences, I had no concern for what they would do to my physical body. I knew that the more I suffered for others, or because of others, the more I would grow in spirit. And with that knowledge, I had a completely different perspective on adversity and the experiences I chose for my own life.
The angels explained to me that an illness or accident triggers a chain of events that can lead to spiritual growth. Some spirits choose a life of extreme sacrifice or nearly unbearable suffering. The light of God shines brightly around these people, and in Heaven they are thought of as mighty spirits, because they come to earth to suffer so that others can grow in understanding and love.
Some mighty spirits choose to be born with severe disabilities such as blindness, deafness, mental illness, Down’s Syndrome, and others. Some choose to be paralyzed or disfigured or disabled later in life by an accident. Others suffer a life-threatening illness such as cancer, or Alzheimer’s. And many brave spirits choose to be born into alcoholic or drug addicted families, or into abusive homes where they suffer and sometimes even die from abuse.
Many of these people who suffer from such challenges live their lives thinking they are inferior or unworthy of love because they look different or don’t have the same abilities as most people, or because they were the victims of abuse. But the truth is that they are mighty spirits who denied themselves and have come to earth to help others grow.
When we see a child who is confined to a wheelchair because of a problem with his or her muscles or nerves or brain, we feel compassion for the child. But the deeper truth is that this individual had compassion for us first, having chosen their condition to help us grow. When we think we are helping the disabled, we are really helping ourselves by learning selflessness, charity, and how to demonstrate our love.
These courageous souls chose their conditions in order to inspire love, compassion, caring, patience, or forgiveness in others. They also suffer to gain experience and knowledge that will help others who face similar challenges, or to help improve conditions by raising public awareness. Like Jesus, the mightiest Spirit of all, these souls suffer in our place so that we can learn, experience, and grow without bearing the same cross they carry.
In Heaven, everyone who chooses to be born on earth is thought of as a courageous spirit. It’s not easy to leave the peace and love of Heaven for the hardships and strife of earth. ..It often takes adversity to shake us up and help us grow, but God wanted His children to be happy in their earthly lives, too. After choosing my life experiences, I was told to also have fun while I was here. This life may be a ‘vale of tears,’ but it is also supposed to be a time of joy. And how much joy we experience is up to us.
When we realize that we, ourselves, chose many of the difficulties in our lives, and that all things happen for a reason, we begin to let go of earthbound thinking. We can give up the crutches we use to fill the emptiness in our live-alcohol, drugs, money, meaningless sex, prestige, and power. When our eyes are opened, we begin to see things as they really are.
We begin to understand that life isn’t cruel or unfair, but is a spiritual journey that leads us to meaning and joy and real happiness. Knowing the truth about ourselves sets us free to be the happy, loving people God wants us to be.