My brain hurts

We love to talk about immortality and eternal life in this church, particularly in conjunction with our temple worship. But does anyone ever actually try to contemplate immortality? It makes me ache mentally when I try to wrap my mind around the concept. My husband thinks I’m strange -(for more reasons than this, let me assure you) – when other people get goosebumps talking about living with their families and God forever, I more often feel like I am suddenly being slurped into an endless pit. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the ideas of Progress, Truth, Love and everything else that is supposed to go along with living with God forever. I just don’t understand it. Am I the only one who feels like the bottom drops out when I try to actually THINK about all these things we talk about in the church all the time?


  1. According to that, I’ve spent 11 and a half years sleeping…

    So why do I still feel tired? ;)

  2. Am I searching for higher meaning, Steve? I have loads of meaning in my current life – family, friends, work, art, sports, church (not necessarily, ahem, in that order of priority) – I guess I sometimes wonder if I have too much meaning in this life and not enough in the one to come. When people go on and on in church, and perhaps I am reacting to the current NYC temple frenzy – about the hereafter and what it will be like (white upholstery, anyone?) I just short-out.

  3. Ann,

    Do you mean to say that your belief system tells you that you can only impact this life? I’m just curious how you arrived at that conclusion–if you recognize your statement to be no more based on fact than any other statement speculating about effect our actions in this life will have in the hereafter or if you meant to say that you have no idea whether your actions in this life will impact the next and so you choose to focus on the here and now.

    Christina–I find it interesting that the bottom drops out from under you when you contemplate immortality. Immortality seems as natural to me as breathing or liking Nutella. For me, the reverse is true–the idea of my separate, cognizant self ceasing to exist seems foreign.

  4. Caveats:

    1) This may be more relevant to your prior post on the meaning of life.

    2) Love, charity, happiness, family, procreation, dwelling-with-God and more are all vastly morally superior reasons to hope for eternal life.

    3) Maybe I’m just a ramblin’ man at heart.

    But, check out one of my favorite websites:

    (Sorry, I don’t know how to insert links — always something new to learn)

    There’s a lot of creation to see, and living forever doesn’t seem so overwhelming to me when there’s always likely to be another galaxy over the next hill to explore (let alone create).


  5. I can understand that feeling. For me, I sometimes feel frustration because of this veil between us and whatever’s coming, while at the same time I’ll sometimes use the veil as an excuse to not think too much about “the Eternities”.

    Part of the problem is the combination of the scope (eternity) and the relative lack of information (i.e., Man’s Search for Happiness – style celestial kingdoms). When you take an already-thin description and stretch it out over eternity, it kind of freaks me out.

  6. Kristine says:

    I don’t understand it either, but I can be happy about it when I think that eternity is long enough to learn to be a really good oboe player, and cellist, and timpanist, and French horn player, and… (you get the idea :))

  7. I know, it just doesn’t function.
    I hate to do the winding, whining existential thing, but the fact of existence floors me. And it is scary. Why is it scary?

  8. I think that an eternal “this life,” except with all-powerful dominion over our children and spirit children in a chain going back to Joseph Smith and Adam (but only if you’re a guy), sounds pretty tedious.

    Maybe I’m just not celestial material.

    I like to pretend that eternity will be something like in the movie “Defending Your Life,” and that I have learned to overcome fear and will move to places beyond next time.

    I am greatly comforted by the solid knowledge that my beliefs are irrelevent to the facts of the matter. It is what it is, and short of dying and finding out for sure, there’s really no way to know what’s coming. That helps me to keep a “this life” focus, which is the only life I can impact.

  9. I would also suggest that you all check out this link, which will make you feel better about things:

  10. Kingsley says:

    Is it easier to think about not existing than to think about existing forever? My mind boggles at both. Also, I find that when I am momentarily free from the curse of Adam (i.e. relaxing in a beautiful place, surrounded by loved ones, rather than earning my bread by the sweat of my brow in basic isolation), it becomes much easier to imagine endless life, & much harder to imagine permanent death. & I love Kristine’s idea of having endless time & resources to pursue what you love.

  11. Mat
    They both seem foreign. No one wants to not exist (not that it would matter if it came to that, because you can’t care if you don’t exist), but I just can’t understand existing forever. Immortality seems like a wonderful doctrine, a great theological point, but I don’t understand it.

  12. Mathew, my belief system tells me that the only life I know I can impact is this one. The next one…well, it is what it is, and I can’t affect what it is in any way. My behavior here may have some impact on my eventual placement there, but it won’t change what it is.

    For example, believing that we will all live in celestialized glory with those we love most can’t make it happen if the reality is that there is no afterlife, and after, we’re just dead; or if we are sent back to earth over and over again until we learn to overcome fear.

    I can have a direct impact on what happens tomorrow in this life, to some extent. Maybe what I do in this life will affect the next. But the nature of Afterlife is out of my hands. So I don’t think about what it is.

    Hope is good. I try to limit my thinking about the afterlife to hope.

  13. The one that gets me is the question of why anything exists at all.

    Why do we exist? Because God Exists.

    Why does God exist? Why does the universe exist? what right does anything have to exist at all?

    I usually stop thinking about it after a half hour or so…

  14. You kind of touched on this in your prior post, when you started asking why we need to be good, why do we need to love — you’re searching for a higher meaning, even though you don’t want/mean to.

    I’m not sure there is one, if that makes you feel better. I’m content with the feelings of the Spirit and love and companionship I feel from others, as-is. If that could go on forever, that’s all I’d need. That, and golf. In any case, the shudders you feel, I feel them too — but they’re partially mixed with feelings of revulsion when people start waxing overdramatic about hie-ing to Kolob, etc.

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