Heaven is Full of Jerks

Heaven is a funny place in our theology.

We understand that we will see the same social relationships and individuality of souls in heaven as we do here below; indeed we teach that home is quite literally a heaven on earth, as the form of sociability carries forward to the next realm. Mormons essentially believe, it seems to me, that Heaven is one big family reunion, with eternal chains of familial salvation running from us to Adam.

I am elated and horrified by this concept. Look around at your family, your ward, at the blogs you frequent. Now assume for a moment that each person you meet has a roughly equal chance of being in heaven along with you. Yes, I realize that’s a big assumption, but play along. The relative that grates on you, the insufferable boor at the Ward Talent Night, the blog admin who snarks at you and impudently bans you — mormonism requires you to confront the idea of spending eternity with each of them. You liberals, who cringe at the preachy, self-righteous conservatives parroting Church leaders all the time: welcome to Heaven. You conservatives, meanwhile, had better get used to hanging out with the long-haired socialist liahona peaceniks you disdain. There are many mansions up there; were it not so, Jesus would have told us.

The sociability of heaven is particularly difficult with respect to our family relationships. “Families are Forever” is cold comfort to those with difficult or distant family members; what is heaven if you’re stuck there with the mother who drove you to bulimia or the father who never had time for you while alive? Those with family members who have gone astray are similarly perplexed: what is heaven without those you love?

The question of personality and individualism in the afterlife is not entirely obvious. Some argue that the act of leading a Christlike life tends to efface differences of opinion and shades of personality. I agree with that notion, but I do not believe that acting in a Christlike manner equates to homogeneity of personality. Certainly, our mormon interpretations of what it means to be Christlike will inevitably focus on praxis, and less on attitude or overall personality. In the mormon world, it’s entirely possible to conceive of someone living a Christlike life who nevertheless happens to be a jerk (after all, as the Bloggernacle tends to illustrate, one person’s jerk is another person’s personal hero). We need to be prepared for a heaven filled with such Holy Jerks.

The concept of jerks in heaven is distressing, to be sure, but the alternative sounds even worse to me: a heaven without diversity of culture or thought. I yearn for a heaven with music, art and humor of all kinds, and innately I realize that such a harvest cannot come from a single kind of plant. If we are prepared to accept a Heaven with such bounty, perhaps we need to also accept a heaven where the divergent artists, musicians, comedians and personalities can also dwell. This may be the real challenge of living after the manner of Christ.

Comments

  1. My first thought is that I would welcome the jerk who is a regular giver of service. The parable of two brothers comes to mind, preferring the one who walks the walk. That said, I don’t know how often we will encounter holy jerks in this life and so I don’t know how often we would encounter them in this life.

    I don’t know that internet analogies are the best approach for this concept anyhoo. Talk is cheap, as the saying goes, and it is pretty much all we have going on around here.

  2. So I guess I should say, “See you in Heaven, Jerk!” as opposed to what I usually say! :)

  3. Latter-day Guy says:

    “‘Families are Forever’ is cold comfort to those with difficult or distant family members.”

    Don’t forget though, we will have the vastness of space for necessary escapes! (Not to mention–I hope, I hope–occasional jaunts to the terrestrial/telestial kingdoms to visit friends, play some poker or have a coffee.)

  4. As my family members have heard me say many times over the years that I’m counting on there being many mansions in heaven…with tall stone fences, big, broad yards…and yes, perhaps even with some hounds to let loose on the occassional unwanted guest. This vision of the afterlife has always sustained me while attending the odd family reunion. Let me stress “odd” and rest assured, I am under no misconception that the feeling isn’t mutual.

    Seriously, by definition for each of us to be unique means we are all different. That means we are very unlikely to want to spend eternity with the universe of humanity. Why pretend we will? I love them all – preferably from a distance (and a tall stone fence).

  5. The scariest pseudo-doctrine in Mormonism is the one where we will all look the same come eternity. It’s almost as terrifying as the Del Parson First Vision picture with the God/Jesus twins.

    Well done, Steve, for presenting an alternate view.

  6. I think if I’m lucky enough to even get my big toe in the door of “heaven” (I presume you mean the CK), I, and everyone of us, will be so overwhelmed with the love that’s pouring forth from being in proximity to Heavenly Father, that all our own jerkiness and our judgement of other’s jerkiness will be eradicated. That doesn’t mean we’ll lose our personalities, but when our entire vessel is being filled with love, there just won’t be room for obnoxiousness. At least, I’d be so happy to be there, maybe I just wouldn’t care if you were totally a pain in the …I mean a bee in my bonnet.

  7. D. Fletcher says:

    I like to believe in that part of our doctrine that puts a far greater emphasis on our relationships here in the mortal world.

    Make friends with that person in the ward you think is a jerk.

    That’s the gospel, not some weird class distinctions in the kingdoms of the next life.

  8. D., I tend to agree, but no matter how much we do in the here-and-now we’ll have some personality issues to consider in the next life.

  9. So, does that mean the phrase “what a jerk” is now the equivalent to “God bless” ??? :-)

  10. D. Fletcher says:

    You know, I don’t even care about the next life. I’ve just seen “heaven” used as an excuse for every kind of judgmental behavior in this life, every kind.

    The Gospel is about living up to the standards of Christ in *this* life, not about waiting to see who’s still wacko in the next.

  11. LOL, D., I can get behind that view. Obviously this is just casual musing, which is not requisite for living a happy life.

  12. On a more serious note, can we expect to have joyful relationships in the next life if they are less than pleasant in this life?

  13. Steve Evans says:

    Jim, precisely. The crux of the problem is that the relationships may well exist in heaven even if they are less than pleasant in this life.

  14. It seems to me that if I can’t get past the jerk next door and learn to love him here on earth, I won’t be with him or anyone else in the celestial kingdom anyway. If I can’t get along with my family here on earth, it won’t matter that they’re not near me in the eternities because I won’t get to the CK anyway.

    MRKH

  15. Steve Evans says:

    Mark, I would agree that if you have stumbling blocks in the forms of jerks, that could be a bar to repenting, etc. as would be needful. But that’s not quite what I’m getting at.

  16. It seems reasonable to suppose that heaven will be what we make it.

    “You may now be inclined to say, ‘We wish to hear the mysteries of the kingdoms of the Gods who have existed from eternity, and of all the kingdoms in which they will dwell; we desire to have these things portrayed to our understandings.’ Allow me to inform you that you are in the midst of it all now, that you are in just as good a kingdom as you will ever attain to, from now to all eternity, unless you make it yourselves by the grace of God, by the will of God, which is a code of laws perfectly calculated to govern and control eternal matter.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3: 336)

  17. But Steve, our unpleasant relationships might not continue in the next life. My understanding is that we will be only with those that we want to be with and vice versa. Is that not the case?

  18. Steve Evans says:

    Jim, if you can point me to a scripture that says so, I’ll believe you.

  19. Is this on the assumption that we go straight from our earth lives to a degree of glory? Not likely. As I’ve told my children many times, I think mortality is pre-school. We’ve learned earthly lessons which we’ll share (and will be able to share in new and remarkable ways) while we’ve been hurting, offending, or helping each other. But the concept that we die and the next moment find ourselves crowned with Celestial glory is silly. I think we’ll be told that we did our fingerpainting very well, and now we get to learn how to mold clay. After more creative periods (and who can guess what those would entail), we might be ready for further associations. But no, it won’t be like going to church and barely tolerating the right wing nag singing her own aria during the sacrament hymn.

  20. Steve Evans says:

    Margaret, interesting insight. I guess I did use that assumption, because I have no teaching to the contrary. Your view of the afterlife is decidedly less sexy, but definitely more real and in keeping with what’s been heretofore done with us.

  21. Just because I didn’t mention the Celestial Sex Education classes doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Have faith.

  22. Scripture no, but this quote from an apostle, yes:

    “…an eternal bond doesn’t just happen as a result of sealing covenants we make in the temple. How we conduct ourselves in this life will determine what we will be in all the eternities to come. To receive the blessings of the sealing that our Heavenly Father has given to us, we have to keep the commandments and conduct ourselves in such a way that our families will want to live with us in the eternities.” Elder Hales

    I’ve read others and can produce those if you’d like, but this one comes to mind….

  23. One of my favorite verses reads:

    Doctrine and Covenants 130:2
    And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.

    This post gives a whole new edge to that verse that I hadn’t pondered previously.

    As I clipped and pasted this, I was tempted to leave the footnote letter “a” before the word “sociality” so that it would read “that same asociality which exists among us here …”

  24. How do I put this delicately? Um: I think the jerk problem won’t be an issue in the CK because *I* won’t see them as jerks. Once that whole through-a-glass-darkly thing is gone, I will recognize that Bro. Fakeypoo’s bombast stems from a deep love for his family, and Sis. Nutjob’s xenophobia is really just, um… OK, she’ll have dropped the racism by then, I’m sure.

    I think jerkiness is kind of a mote-beam problem. I used to live in a ward that was for me, quite literally, heavenly. I LOVED my ward for the first (and as yet only) time in my life. Quorum discussions were lively and intelligent, social activities were warm, fun, and well-attended, and the ward and stake leadership was humble, thoughtful, loving, and appropriately delicate. I had a testimony of the gospel before; there I gained a solid testimony of the Church.

    My current ward? Not so much. Or at least, not at all until I was called into a leadership position and, wouldn’t you know it, they suddenly got a lot better. As I started praying to learn to love those in my stewardship, surprise-surprise, I started to love them. Even the scary right-wing types and the hipster too-cool types and the self-righteous food-storage alarmists. I am geniunely happy to see them. Frankly, I’m shocked at this.

    There are still more than I few I’m struggling with. They are jerks, still. But I don’t think that it’s their fault. Once I break through with _something_ I’ll stop seeing them as jerks and start seeing them as friends.

    Another way: is there anyone that God would be geniunely annoyed with in heaven? Will he want tall fences and wide yards to keep Sis. Yellatherkids at a safe distance? I sure hope not. And my guess is that to make it there, I’ll have to see things like he does.

    I hope this doesn’t come across as call-to-repentance-y. You wondered about jerks in heaven and I don’t think there will be, but I do think that there will be plenty of room for individuality and self-expression and even disagreement. But I think in the CK I’ll have the same capacity for love as God does, and when you’ve got that much compassion and understanding, jerkiness simply disappears.

  25. terceiro, not call-to-repentance-y at all, and a good comment with great ideas. Thanks much.

  26. I don’t think there will be jerks in heaven. We will be perfected beings, and by definition will treat all with fairness and love. Also, we will beyond being offended. Brigham Young taught us that a true Latter-day Saint does not get offended.

  27. MR, when’s that gonna happen, again?

  28. In the perfect oneness with Christ, we should be past getting offended in this lifetime. As a perfected being we will certainly be at that point.

    Who couldn’t get along with a perfected being, especially if you were perfect yourself?

  29. Margaret, I’d like to go ahead and put my name on the waiting list for that one….

  30. I don’t want diversity. I want everyone to be like me. It’s way more heavenly that way. That might put me in telestial areas but you know, so long as people think like me I’m happy with that.

    You think I’m kidding.

  31. Jim (29),

    I think I’d want to know something about my classmates and instructor first.

  32. amri: if everyone is just like me (you), then who will I argue with? Hanging out with a bunch of yes-(wo)men is boring. And if they’re just like me, then they’ll all be boring in the same ways I’m boring, and heaven will sound a lot like the vultures in The Jungle Book: “What do you want to do now?” “I dunno; what do you want to do?” Except without the moderately interesting (to my american ears) Liverpudlian accents.

  33. through-the-glass-darkly

    Does that mean we have to go through the looking glass?? :) Couldn’t resist?

    terceiro – 32 – I agree, particularly since without the accents they would sound something like Keanu Reeves, and a bunch of Keanu Reeves in heaven is one boring place!

  34. Adam Greenwood says:

    I’m one of those who thinks that our end-state probably is to be pretty identical. I can’t understand why that bothers people.

    Here’s a good debate on the topic:

    http://www.newcoolthang.com/index.php/2007/05/god-as-a-person/391/#more-391

  35. Adam, it only bothers people to the extent that becoming identical means being like someone other than one’s self. To the extent that everyone becomes like me, I’m cool with it. Amri also seems onboard with the concept.

  36. Even the scary right-wing types and the hipster too-cool types and the self-righteous food-storage alarmists.

    I had to laugh at this. Those types are sooooo ubiquitous that learning to love them is a full time job no matter what ward you’re in. I could add to that list, btw. What about the guy who has so many comments in EQ or GD class that the lesson never gets past the first section in the manual?

  37. D. Fletcher says:

    So we’ll all be blond and funny?

    Ok, I might be converted…

  38. D., we’ll all be extremely good-looking and successful, as well. Remind me, btw, to email you a vid of the kids.

  39. D. Fletcher says:

    Hey, Steve, could you email me a video of the kids?

    And by the way, I need money. I take PayPal.

    P.S. Seriously, one could do a LOT worse than have Steve and Sumer as God and Goddess.

    Those parties will be a BLAST.

  40. And now we know why it’s so important to learn to forgive.

  41. Heaven is eternity spent with the kind of people you are most comfortable with. Heaven for the liberals will be eternity among liberals. Heaven for conservatives will be eternity among conservatives. Both groups would agree that intermixing the two would be hell, not heaven.

    But no worries. Since only those that can abide a celestial law will obtain celestial glory, all the “jerks” that refuse to repent and embrace its requirements get to spend eternity with all the other jerks who don’t…which just might be their idea of heaven after all. :P

  42. #4 – TyB: Did you go to Wilson when my dad was the custodian? Are you that TyB?

  43. I figure the endless creations are big enough that I will be able to choose my associations – you know, living just close enough to visit if I want to visit but just far enough away that nobody expects me to be able to visit. I’ll zip past the space inhabited by the jerks and park for a while with kevinf and m&m and MCQ & Julie – and stay overnight with Steve until I get on his nerves and he kicks me back to my own space.

    I think I will be busy enough that I won’t have to worry about associating with jerks – unless my wife insists. Then I’ll do what I do now – whatever she tells me to do.

  44. D. Fletcher says:

    As I’ve said before, a little Queen-Anne style bungalow on a quiet culdesac in the Terrestrial Kingdom will suit me just great. Some nice meals, great one-on-ones about books and art, friends over for cabaret singing, and using my personal time performing eternal service as a ministering angel.

    I don’t need my own earth — too stressful and time-consuming, and the people who’ll be there don’t want me around anyway, since I’d just be in the way.

  45. But D., it can’t be the Celestial Kingdom without you around to play the hymns!!

  46. D. Fletcher says:

    Ok, you’ve just made me cry.

    I suspect, as a Ministering Angel, I’ll be working the Celestial Kingdom. Like, as a *gig.*

    Don’t worry, you’ll see me around.

    :)

  47. The point is, just as the father and the son are one, we become one with them. We are separate and distinct, but totally of one mind in the eternities.

  48. Ray, us jerks will be watching you zip by us on your way to visit your friends. Ironiclly, our thought will be “There goes that jerk, Ray.”

    ;-)

  49. Kyle

    If Ray and all of his friends are in the celesital kingdom and the jerks aren’t, then I doubt they’ll cross paths much anyway. :)

  50. If “of one mind” you mean the same objectives and desires and motivation, MR, I can buy that. If you mean thinking the same thoughts and having the exact same personalities and speaking in the same annoying monotone no matter the situation, I also don’t want to be Keanu Reeves. Protestantism essentially teaches that; I don’t.

  51. Kyle M, I love it – mutually acceptable jerkwadiness.

  52. This post is kind of a cross between Mark Twain’s religious writings and Joseph Smith’s comments about how he wasn’t perfect and that the Lord was going to save the saints in spite of their imperfections, so that Heaven would not be an empty place.

  53. Dude this discussion reminds me of French philosophy class. Huis Clos anyone? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Exit “l’enfer, c’est les autres.”

  54. et le paradis, egalement. As a missionary we would call it, “enfeck.”

  55. Hey now…are you saying Keanu Reeves won’t be in heaven or just people who sound like Stephen Hawking? Well….pphhhhhpppptttt!

    Luckily the scriptures only specify one heart and one mind with no indications of one vocal quality, personality (dodges flying Ray) or architecture (smiles at D. Fletcher). The key will be submitting willingly and completely to the heart and mind referred to.

  56. Chris Laurence says:

    Probably the most important talk given was President Hinckley’s talk about anger in the Priesthood Session. It was also the most easily forgotten. Within hours of delivering it, Senator Reid is being pilloried by our fellow saints across every blog mentioning him. I’ll say that I’m a Republican, not that it matters, because I suppose I’m guilty of treason for finding admirable things in a man who converted to Mormonism, raised a family where all were married in the temple, and went to BYU to boot! When I see this, it seems that we as a people have a long way to go.

    It’s happening in the Republican primary as well. Won’t it be great if we make ourselves notorious?

    Maybe President Hinckley’s just trying to make heaven a nicer place when he gets there. Will there be road rage on celestial freeways?

  57. Aaron Brown says:

    I look forward to my mansion in the Celestial Kingdom. It’s going to have a big moat around it, and none of you losers are gonna be able to cross the drawbridge unless I find your company stimulating.

    Aaron B

  58. “You conservatives, meanwhile, had better get used to hanging out with the long-haired socialist liahona peaceniks you disdain.”

    Ahhh, I actually don’t mind these guys too much. The libs I can’t stand are the ones who think that anyone who disagrees with them must be a toothless moron.

    But what’s worse, I’d hate to stuck in heaven with a trigger happy orthodox conservative numb nut who’s ready to shoot down the slightest intimation of speculation–all to keep me from slipping off the road to salvation. How comforting.

  59. psssssst Chris…I think Aaron missed that one. :P

  60. As someone who’s found the idea of heaven nauseating ever since I was in Primary, I must say that Steve’s version does have a certain bracing, lively appeal.

  61. Steve Evans says:

    Chris L., meet my friend Jack. Thread Jack. Stay on topic of beat it, jerk.

  62. Steve Evans says:

    Eve, I’ll admit it’s bracing. Our friend who mentioned Sartre wasn’t far off. Hell may be other people, but heaven is too — that is, we can’t escape society, no matter our status before God.

  63. “We must be nice! I do not believe there will be anyone in the celestial kingdom that is not nice.”

    Hartman Rector Jr., “The Resurrection,” Ensign, Nov 1990, 76

  64. I look forward to my mansion in the Celestial Kingdom. It’s going to have a big moat around it, and none of you losers are gonna be able to cross the drawbridge unless I find your company stimulating.

    Aaron, give it up, we’ll just get in using a large wooden rabbit.

  65. Sounds like Heaven is facebook without the ability to ignore friend requests!

  66. First of all, hello to all of you whose thoughts I have read so often over the last year and a half. This will represent my first post, but I have followed the action for some time, now.

    I post now because this is a topic that has resonated with me for over a decade. Listen to how the thought arose in me: mid nineties, a small chapel in a costal Chilean town. My mission companion, whom I dearly loved, stood across a ping pong table from me (on P-day I hope! – though I can’t remember :-) ) and we were filled with glee as we reveled in our good-natured, but intense competition and oneupmanship. The thought occurred to me then: I find great enjoyment in this activity, and part of that enjoyment comes from the fact that at any given moment, one of us will make an error in our game. That led me to my next thought: will perfection of the sort we believe is representative of celestial remove the individual distinctions within us to the point that a game of table tennis would be meaningless? Will chess hold no joy because I know all possible moves, period!?

    Now, that was an admittedly inauspicious beginning to what is a very interesting ongoing conversation in my head. I thank you, Steve, for introducing a new element to the thought–“heavenly punks.” :-) I don’t know that I agree with this particular addition, though. I’ll have to think about it, but the jerk part of the topic doesn’t necessarily follow from the individuality argument. Jerk is a label we use to mean unkind, uncaring, thoughtless of others’ feelings, selfish, etc. In order for someone to be considered a jerk, one of two things is true: either the individual is truly acting in one of the described ways and is accurately perceived, or he is misperceived while acting nobly. Either scenario seems unlikely in a realm where the perfection I associate with celestial society prevails. Misperception of this sort should be non existent and the behavior set that would be accurately labeled as “jerky” should be similarly absent in the celestial figure.

    So, while I wholeheartedly agree with the assertion that celestial perfection is not equal to the eastern concept of being swallowed into the whole or whitewashed by the Divine personality, neither do I believe that our doctrine of preservation of identity somehow represents a pass on the requirement to perfect our character.

    Forgive me if I misinterpreted the thought in any way.

  67. Steve Evans says:

    B lsgett, nothing to misinterpret. I don’t believe that following death we will immediately have the totality of perception required to achieve the comprehension you describe, although it’s clear that seeing clearly and being seen clearly are part of what Heaven means. I was just musing.

  68. StillConfused says:

    Random Stranger: So you live in Utah?
    Me: Yes
    Random Stranger: So you one of those Mormons?
    Me: Yes
    Randome Stranger: Oh, so you are going to try to convert me then huh?
    Me: What makes you think I want you in my heaven.

    I have actually said this before. Terrible I know. But this article proves my point.

  69. I think there’s a lot more between this life and the celestial kingdom. We’re in kindergarten now, like Margaret said. When we grow up, we’ll appreciate each other a lot more, I think.

    If all of us were sorted into homogenous groups, what would heaven be like for me, a xenophile?

    And if families can only be saved together, where does that leave single people who grew up with abusive families? Assuming I get that far, will someone please adopt me into their eternal family?

    The only thing I know for sure about all this is all losses will be restored and all lacks made up and then some, to overflowing. I got a strong witness of that once that I cling to. =)

  70. B. Isgett-

    Fabulously articulated!It would be impossible for either real, actual jerks or those that would misjudge to endure celestial glory. I also hope there is ping pong in heaven but I somehow doubt it!

    Steve, I also don’t think that upon death that any of us are “ready” to be placed in a specific kingdom permanently. I think that’s why it’s important for us to understand the doctrines that explain the difference between the spirit world and the concept of “heaven” as a final state of existence.

    MCQ-LOL!(beats spending eternity with the most foul, cruel and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on)

  71. Tatiana,

    I’m not sealed to my parents either (yet) but I am sealed to my spouse and my children. No adoption is necessary to be sealed to the family of your CHOICE rather than to the one of your birth *grin*

    The losses and lacks that were/are beyond our control will be restored to overflowing, it’s the ones that are within our control that we have to be careful of! :-)

  72. #42, Ray, I’m afraid I’m not that TyB. I attended Episcopal High School in Houston.

    At Episcopal, I had a long-running debate with the Pastor over whether when we arrived at the pearly gates we would see Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot celebrating on the other side – his examples. I told him that if that were the case, to paraphrase Lowell Bennion, Heaven would be an eternity in the sewer. He felt I was being unchristian (although too Episcopalian/nice to say so, so directly). For the purposes of this thread, I hope to be merely a “jerk”, which is to say annoying in my own idiosycratic way, probably even to those with whom I share DNA…but avoid the whole mass murderer automatically receiving the Lord’s mercy angle.

  73. “For the purposes of this thread, I hope to be merely a ‘jerk’, which is to say annoying in my own idiosyncratic way, probably even to those with whom I share DNA…but avoid the whole mass murderer automatically receiving the Lord’s mercy angle.”

    Well said.

  74. StillConfused … I got a kick out of that “what makes you think I want you in my heaven” line.

  75. Adam Greenwood says:

    Steve E.,
    I don’t want everyone to be like me. I don’t want to be like myself. I want to be like Christ and the angels.

    Ray,
    I’m not aware of that strand of Protestantism. I have no real reason to think that we won’t be different in trivial ways (like accent), though I have no real reason to think that ultimately we will be, either, but in my view its protestantism that wants to see the big gulf between us and God. We’re comfortable being pretty much like him.

  76. Steve Evans says:

    Adam, I hear what you’re saying and agree with the sentiment, so long as you want to be like Christ and the angels such as they actually are, regardless of how you currently perceive them to be. That leaves room for a whole world of possibilities, seeing through the glass darkly as we do.

  77. Adam Greenwood,

    Doesn’t our doctrine of eternal gender run afoul of the idea that we’ll all be alike? Men and women are assumed to have characteristics that are unique to their respective sexes, and we apparently will always be gendered, so I expect that at least some differences will persist.

    Another example – I take it that there will be music in heaven. Music only works when there are different voices that not only harmonize but offset each other. A choir full of tenors might be OK, but it would be a lot better with other voices around. I realize this example is something of a reach, and I wish I could express it better, but I hope you can get the idea of what I mean to express.

  78. Adam Greenwood says:

    Excellent point, Mark IV. How gender works with becoming like God I can’t say. Maybe the “individual” of the eternities is the couple, but I don’t know.

  79. A friend, the son of a former temple president, once shared something with me his father suggested to him. He said, “You know how before we came to this earth, we were all brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father?” Uh-huh. “We were brothers and sisters to our parents, grandparents, our kids…” Right. “Well, once our missions on earth are over and we go back, do you really think that dynamic has changed? That suddenly we’re parents and children to our brothers and sisters?” Um… I don’t know. “Well, this isn’t official, but… doesn’t it make sense that once we go back, remembering everything, we’ll be brothers and sisters like before?” What about families are forever? “Let’s put it this way: In this earth life we need each other to get back as close to Heavenly Father as we can– you can’t get there alone. But when you die, it’s going to be just you and the Lord there when you’re looking at your life.” Okay… “Just don’t be surprised if you’re still close to your parents and ancestors and children, but that the family structure you understand here might not be the same anymore there.”

    When we think of our earthly parents & siblings we can’t imagine them as anything but that. When we go back, it will be Heavenly Mother & Heavenly Father we’re looking up to, once again as all brothers and sisters. This life will have been just a blip, an exercise, a very brief rite of passage. Imagine that and it’s easy to imagine the rest.

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