Rebirth & Eternal Amnesia
Over the last few months, I've been seriously reflecting on my eternal identity. Not in the typical, "am I a child of some grand Creator?" sort of a way, but rather, I ask, "Who in the actual heck was I before I was born?"
One of the more interesting doctrines of my faith (LDS - Mormon) is the belief we lived with God before this life. That we were individuals with identities, determinations, and dispositions (some good, some evil, most somewhere in between). Then we came to this world and forgot it all.
Whether you believe similarly or not, it's a fascinating idea to explore. If we say that we did exist in some ethereal form before we came to this earth, how long were we there? Centuries? Millenia? Endlessly? And if so, how much are we really the people we know ourselves to be?
Think about it. If I have been Trevor for these last 28 years, but someone else for an eternity before, am I really Trevor? Maybe I'll eventually get over this amnesia and return to who I used to be after I die, this whole Trevor business nothing but a short-lived dream. Or on the other hand, maybe I won't ever remember, and that version of me is lost forever to something else that God wants me to become.
Is rebirth becoming who we once were?
This all comes back to some doctrinal implications I've been thinking about: what it means to be born again, something made necessary by the fall of Adam:
"Now we see that Adam did fall by the partaking of the forbidden fruit, according to the word of God; and thus we see, that by his fall, all mankind became a lost and fallen people" (Alma 12:22).
And so the Savior teaches we "must be born again" (John 3:7) to enter the kingdom of God.
Consider my pre-earth self, who we'll simply call pre-earth Bill. If my current self, Trevor, being born on earth was in some way the dream or death of bill, then could the purpose of my rebirth through Christ's atonement, baptism, and repentance to become Bill again? Or at least more of Bill and less of Trevor?
Why it's worth the thought
It is vital to understand who we are and who we want to become to find lasting happiness, both in the short term and throughout the course of our lives.
Seeking that understanding took me from being a naive teenager through years and years of schooling to eventually discovering this life of writing I love, a gut-wrenching journey over a decade that helped me find the happiness I now treasure. I doubt I would ever have become as happy not having gone through that difficult trek to look into my soul like that and challenge myself and my beliefs.
We have only one life to live, love, and experience this world. If we let ourselves drift unknowingly, we will struggle to find that deep, personal joy everyone seeks deep-down in one way or another.
In the faith that we were someone before we came to this earth, is it not worth considering in that self-reflection why our former selves, our dozing eternal selves, wanted to come to this earth in the first place?
To reflect on whether we should have eyes on eternity down the road, not just on the day-to-day wants and needs we have here and now.