In the months following my father's death last June, I've had so many pondering's and musings regarding life, pre-mortal life and the eternities. I think in a way, I've inherited my Dad's gift for pondering, I often find myself lost in thought about a very specific thing. My Dad was always that way; growing up, it wasn't uncommon for me to see him sitting in the kitchen with his elbows propped on the table, his hands clasped in front of his chin, staring out the window in front of him. He came out to Utah in February 2012 for Owen's first birthday, and as we drove around the city, I could see him marveling at the mountains, and at one point, I asked him if he ever thought about grandpa, his own father. He responded with a gentle nod and, "I think about my ancestors frequently.". That line has stuck with me, and I had never really pondered my ancestors before, but since losing my Dad, I think about him, and my other family members who have passed on quite a bit actually.
I am still healing from my Dad's long and painful journey to death. I never knew how deeply I could be affected by something. It has changed my life, and my perspective on quite a few things. It has caused me to think a lot about life, pain, suffering, fairness, choice, consequence, and so many other things. I think sometimes if he hadn't suffered so much for so long before he died, I might not have questioned the things I did about why such a good, hardworking, loving, patient, honorable, priesthood holder had to endure such a terrible end, such horrific suffering. And it has caused me to think about the millions and millions of babies and children and grown adults who have had to endure similar horrific trials when it just doesn't seem fair. Why sweet, innocent children are beaten by their own parents each day, why babies are abused and neglected, why the suffering seems so great for so many good people, or innocent children.
I've pondered this concept so many times since Dad started to get sick, and as a result, I stared seeking out blogs of people in similar situations. A few months ago, I stumbled across a blog, and the writer of this blog, a grown woman in her thirties or forties and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints related her own quest for this answer. She shared that as a child, she was subjected to horrific abuse in her home for quite some time, and as an adult, she often wondered why it was that she *specifically* was chosen to endure that trial. She had a solid knowledge of knowing she chose to come to earth to be tried and tested, but her experience had rocked her to her very core, and she didn't understand why the Lord had chosen her to endure that trial specifically. She prayed many times to know the answer to this question, and the answer she received was that she had chosen that trial.
She was impressed quite strongly that while in the pre-mortal world, she had been asked what it was she wanted to learn while here on Earth. She told her Heavenly Father that she wanted to learn these (I don't remember) specific things associated with this (awful) trial. She had chosen what she wanted to learn and had been given the trial that would teach her those things.
This concept seemed so refreshing to me at the time when I read it. Of course, I've always known that we chose to come to Earth to be tried and tested and we agreed to that suffering when we agreed to come here. But it didn't tie up those loose ends for me...such as why certain people are chosen to endure such awfulness, and why others seem to have a seemingly....easy (dare I say) life. I just can't imagine that our loving Father in Heaven is up there tossing whatever He pleases our way...that's just not the way we've been taught that it works. He never forced anyone to come here to Earth, and I just don't think He's forcing whatever trials He sees fit on whoever He wants. I think that there is more to it than that. I love what we've been taught in church as a foundation, but there is so little that we actually know and understand about God's eternal plan, that wouldn't it be feasible to think we may have been given more than jut that one choice?
This idea made everything click for me. It made everything make sense. It made all of my Dad's suffering make sense, finally. It makes all of the suffering that all those sweet, innocent children endure, make a little more sense to me. Thinking that maybe, just maybe, we had a say in what kind of trials we would have while here on Earth. That it's not all a big free-for-all. Knowing that I made the choice to endure what I did, makes me feel like perhaps I can do this. Knowing that while I don't remember choosing the trials I did, I knew what I wanted to learn, and that same spirit that chose those trials in the pre-mortal life is here in my body right now, that helps me feel like maybe I'm not a victim in everything. That maybe I don't have to feel like I just drew the short straw and well, that's life! Knowing that I had a choice, well, that makes all the difference to me.
I had a girl in Sunday School the other day who was pretty adamant that there is NO WAY she would have *ever* chosen the trials she has had to face. And you know, I can respect that. I get it. In the midst of watching my Dad drown in his own secretions with exopthalmia (his eye bulging out of his socket) because the tumor in his head was causing so much pressure, and hearing him gurgle out his last "I love you's" to his wife and five children, I would have sided with her. Ain't no way I would have EVER chosen THAT trial!!! But as mortals in the midst of of enduring, it's hard to see the forest through the trees. Having come through it, I take comfort in knowing there was more of a choice than I ever realized before, and it helps me be...OK with things...finally. After almost one year, I am finally coming to grips with my Dad's illness and death, all because I know there's more than once choice.