DEPRESSION, BIPOLAR & ANXIETY - LIVING AS A LATTER-DAY SAINT, LDS

Episode #212 - Mortality, the Perfect Plan?

January 14, 2024 Damon Socha
DEPRESSION, BIPOLAR & ANXIETY - LIVING AS A LATTER-DAY SAINT, LDS
Episode #212 - Mortality, the Perfect Plan?
Show Notes Transcript

When you suffer with mental illness, it can be very difficult to see mortality as a perfect plan of exaltation?  And yet what else could it be?

Episode #212 – Mortality, The Perfect Plan?   I am your host Damon Socha.  Those of you who have listened for some time already know that I have had somewhat of an eventful life.  Bipolar disorder, Anxiety disorder, Major Depressive disorder, a few autoimmune diseases and naturally the bumps and bruises of life.  I have also been healed of bipolar and major anxiety disorder and partially healed of the depressive symptoms and autoimmune disorders.  Mine and my families life has been full of trials and trouble and also blessings beyond measure.  The Lord has not made it easy.  Several of my children suffer with mental health concerns and yet we live joyfully in the gospel of the Savior.  With all that I have witnessed, felt, and experienced, I have often wondered why mortality.  To say that mortality is the perfect method of refining celestial beings and exalting them in families seems foreign.  And yet our Father is perfect.  Our Savior is perfect.  And so we must consider his plan for mortality, perfect.  Our Father is omniscient, omnipotent and sees all.  Now this is incredibly important to understand.  Our Father in heaven could have organized mortality in any method he so choose.  And yet what we see, feel and experience physically and spiritually is what he created.  And so the conclusion must be that mortality is the perfect proving grounds, perfect refining fields and the only method by which exaltation can occur.  There exists no better method or plan.  What we see is what we get and what we get is perfect.

And yet from the perspective of mortality, it does not often feel that way.  Why must mortality be as we see it, with all the ugliness of pride, prejudice, and pain.  Why must we struggle to find peace, every minute of every day?  Why does it need to be so difficult?  What purpose could possibly be found in battling mental illness throughout one’s life? What perfect design could incorporate so much evil and yet produce so much righteousness?

First we must understand the Lord’s omniscience or his ability to see all things including those of the future.  One cannot have a perfect plan unless one is ability to predict the path and end result of every person.  And not just every person but every environmental event that would occur throughout history.  If you cannot see the end from the beginning, you cannot provide for exaltation for every individual that would inherit the earth.  The reason is that they might do something that would place them beyond exaltation and you would be unable to rescue them and return them to a path that would lead to exaltation.  To lead a person to exaltation you must be able to see the path to get them there from beginning to end.  Thus the only thing that would hold a individual back from exaltation would be their own poor choices.  When they come to judgment and the books are opened the Lord will show each individual all of the opportunities that were provided for their exaltation and they will admit that they knew and simply did not choose to take advantage.

I am close to finishing the Book of Mormon again and just finished Christ’s several visits to the people of the Americas.  In one of his closing remarks, he mentions something that many find troubling.  He talks about the nature of the fourth generation from those who had seen him.  This is chapter 3 Nephi chapter 27 verse 32.

32 But behold, it asorroweth me because of the bfourth generation from this generation, for they are led away captive by him even as was the cson of perdition; for they will sell me for silver and for gold, and for that which dmoth doth corrupt and which thieves can break through and steal. 

Why do so many find it troubling?  Because it can feel like destiny, as if theses souls waiting in the pre-mortal spirit world were already judged to be unworthy of exaltation.  Destiny is not the plan of the Lord, the simple truth is that destiny removes agency.  Destiny leaves no room for choice.  It is as if the Lord planted a specific plan in our brain that we must follow and that our resurrection to the various kingdoms is not by choice but be a pre-marked path we cannot escape.  This is simply not true.  When I read these prophesies, I always try to remember to include a phrase.  After all the opportunities I will give these individuals they will still choose a different path.  Now we will get to the idea s to why they choose a different path.  The key to understand prophecy is that the Lord continually provides a pathway to exaltation and we have the opportunity throughout our mortal trial and testing to choose those opportunities.  We have full agency and opportunity, the Lord simply knows us well enough to know what path we will eventually choose.

When we think of our mortal journey, we tend to think about it in very limited terms.  We tend not to see it as an extension of our pre-mortal existence.  We more often think of it in isolation.  Naturally so, as we have a veil over our minds.  But mortality does not exist in isolation.  We are spiritual beings living a mortal existence.  If Christ knew that the fourth generation of the Nephites were going to turn away from his gospel, then he must have known those spirits intimately.  He knew each one of them and what would happen when each came to earth and interacted within a community.  He knew who would reject his gospel and who would live it more fully and everyone in between.   

The question is couldn’t the Father find some pathway that we would choose given his knowledge of us, some combination of events that would exalt every son and daughter.  The answer is actually no.  What we find is that the Father and Savior consistently provide the best pathway in our lives given our choices and circumstances.  That path is consistently open to us every day, week, month and year.  To say anything different would be to say that the Lord prefers one child over another and that is not true.  He loves each of us completely and wholly.  He always provides a pathway to exaltation, an individual pathway for each of us.  Understand that the pathway the Lord provides is not some general path he provides every person.  Each of our paths is individually tailored to our needs and desires.  He knows us deeply and individually and the opportunity he provides is individualized to our spiritual nature.  That nature we possessed when we came to this earth.  It is because of our pre-mortal life that the Savior knows precisely what to provide for us in mortality.  He provides us a path with the greatest opportunity for success and for our greatest happiness.

Now if we assume that every individual is provided a perfect pathway in mortality, then we must consider the mortality we currently see as part of that pathway.  If we have mental illness then it was part of the plan.  If we made choices that led us to mental health problems, while we might have rejected an opportunity to avoid mental illness, the Lord can still use our choice to our benefit.  He can make our mistakes part of the path of experience.  That is if we choose to take the opportunity he provides to make those mistakes learning experiences.  In other words, we choose to repent and move forward on his terms.  If we do not repent of these misadventures in life, they eventually provide a pathway that does not lead to exaltation.  Eventually the opportunity door closes and we are judged based on our actions.  Repentance is not an eternal thing in the sense that we can repent forever.  We are within a probationary timeframe where the merits of the atonement and repentance are provided.  At the end of the probationary period, that door will close and those open doors will shut permanently for us.

But what I am trying to state in perhaps far too many words, is that our life has been planned meticulously.  No detail was left to chance.  The Lord knows us completely and continues to provide opportunities even when we do not listen to him.  This means for me, that my mental illness, autoimmune diseases were actually part of the plan.  They have design and purpose.  Although I admit that many times I do not see that purpose in the slightest.  If mental illness would be detrimental to my exaltation, the Lord would never have given it to me.  He cannot.  That would be against what he has said.  It would also be unjust and that is something the Lord cannot be.  So my life circumstances have been provided to my benefit and that is true to every person who is living upon the earth.  Now many struggle to see how living in a refugee camp or growing up in an abusive home, having an abusive spouse, or the many other evils could be what the Lord provided.  The Lord allows for evil as he must.  He must allow others to choose their opportunity or another path.  When they choose another path including an evil one, he cannot interfere with that decision.  But he can provide a healing path for the one who is injured, a path where one is completely healed from any harm caused by another.  Meaning the Lord can and does make up for the evil choices of another that would affect our exaltation.  He does not allow another person to derail our chance at living as he does.  That is part of the Atonement of the Savior and it is given as a free gift to those who choose to take it.  Can another’s evil actions derail us?  Certainly, but not if we choose the many opportunities the Lord gives.  He gives healing and greater opportunity to those who live under difficult circumstances and are deeply affected by the evils of another person.  He makes up the difference.

That is the key to understanding our illness, our life here in mortality and our eventual opportunity for exaltation.  The Lord will provide if we continue to accept the choices afforded us by his atonement.  Yes that means he fully understands the nature of the illness and allows it to occur to teach valuable lessons.  But those lessons don’t become lessons unless we continue to choose the Savior’s path.  I have always loved 1 Nephi Chapter 17 of the Book of Mormon.  It is here that we find the greatest clarity on this subject.  Nephi, Laman and Lemuel have each traveled the exact same course to a small oasis they called Bountiful.  They have traversed the same sandy inhospitable Siani Peninsula over a period or eight years.  They have had serios privations and trials and troubles that come to a nomadic family.  However, each of them view that road very differently.  Nephi sees the opportunities and the blessings he received during that journey, and Laman and Lemuel saw no value whatsoever.  Their difficulties and opportunities did not seem to them as opportunities but simply a painfully road that didn’t have to be.  They could have been happily in Jerusalem rather than hiking a dusty trail.  Their happiness was not in this pathway that the Lord had chosen.  Their happiness was a past life they had been forced to leave.  

The Lord’s chosen pathway for us is not likely going to be some beautiful vista along a high mountain path that never changes elevation and is consistently warm and sunny.  When I say opportunities for exaltation, I mean experiences that we need for exaltation.  Those type of experiences are for the most part through muddy, cold, rain-filled bogs, trails that are steep and winding with little view of the path ahead, That trail may include the occasional beautiful mountain vista coupled with the knowledge that another mountain exists and that our trail continues through another steep valley.  That the fog will eventually lift and that the cold wind will eventually be warm and pleasant.  The Lord’s opportunities are rarely easy and that is why we each suffer the way we do.  The Lord has chosen for us a difficult path and we are asked to walk it.  We are asked to walk it to the best of our capacity and ability.  We are not asked to walk it alone as the Savior will provide ample company for us.  But we must walk it, our steps must be our own, our choices our own, the pathway our own.  The key in all of this is to remember that the Lord knows what we need for exaltation and if our pathway leads through mental health challenges then with the Lord’s help we do our best.

Now I am going to switch things up and be a little more personal.  Sometimes in our lives the Lord is going to allow us to see ahead on that path we must travel and that might be a difficult moment.  But it also might make the pathway a little easier to bear.  I was preparing for church this morning and was doing my normal pondering.  Really I just turn on some spiritual music and listen while I get ready.  It helps revelation to flow if the Lord has something I need to hear.  This morning I had one of those moments of revelation that I admit was perhaps difficult to hear but for me it was needed.  I was listening to a song and the words of that song began to feel as though the Lord had something he needed me to hear.  Often when this happens the words become clear as if someone else is speaking them.  As I listened I could feel the intent and what the Lord wanted to me hear.  I have been praying for several weeks that I might receive healing and help.  I wanted to be done for a season.  I have no doubt each of you might have done this.  My personal method is to ask the question and then to wait for the answer.  It doesn’t always come the same time or way but the Lord eventually lets me know the answer.  This morning the answer in the song was unmistakable, for now no healing and maybe not for the rest of your life.  That was disappointing but the song also noted that I would have what I needed and the Lord would provide strength as I needed it to accomplish my work here on the earth.  The weaknesses I possessed would not hinder me accomplishing my mission or doing those things I needed to do nor would it cause me to miss out on my exaltation as long as I continued to choose the Lord’s path for me.  Yes I was disappointed but comforted in the answer.  One of the most important things about revelation is that we must accept all of it.  We cannot pick and choose what we hear from the Lord, although I admit we are tempted from time to time.  That is the answer to a continual receiving of revelation that we accept all the Lord has to give.

I hope in my rambling discussion today that you get one thing.  The Lord is intimately involved in your life and he is consistently providing opportunities for exaltation according to our ability and capacity.  While our mental illness may feel problematic and counterproductive you are in the Lord’s hands, often accepting that you are will bring your far greater understanding and happiness.  May the Lord bless you this weak to see him.  Until next week do your part so that the Lord can do his.