Meaning of Life on Earth
There is a lot that I don’t understand about my life, but I’m grateful to know the most important things about the meaning of life. These simple truths are taught as “the plan of happiness” within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called the “Mormon Church” by the media). I have found great happiness in my life knowing that there is purpose in my life. We are each sons and daughters of God, and He sent us to earth for a purpose.
Last year, I went camping outdoors with some friends during the fall. I was surrounded by swirling autumn leaves and bright blue skies above the reddish mountain as I listened to Dieter F. Uchtdorf on the radio saying “Our Heavenly Father created the universe that we might reach our potential as His sons and daughters” (“You Matter to Him,” Ensign, October 2011). It’s hard to describe how close I felt to God while looking at His creations and the beauty around me, but I can say it was an overwhelming feeling of love, calm, and happiness. I’ve also felt this feeling as I’ve learned more about the meaning of life within the scriptures and as I’ve talked with Heavenly Father in prayer. I know for myself that He wants me to succeed in life and to be happy.
I’ve had many challenges in life, ranging from the death of my grandmother, a genetic terminal illness that took my mother, multiple surgeries, and of course just struggling through graduate schooling and the dating scene. Fortunately, the knowledge I have of the plan of happiness has given me a lot of hope and perspective as I’ve faced these circumstances. I would never wish such experiences upon anyone else, but I recognize that they were a necessary part of my journey here on earth and ultimately brought me closer to God. I was able to find happiness during such hard moments as I remembered the meaning of life—who I am and why I’m given such experiences.
Meaning of Life Taught during our Pre-Earth Life
Before we were born, we lived with God as His spirit sons and daughters. He presented to us His plan of happiness, which outlines the meaning of life. He offered us the opportunity to come to Earth, to get bodies, and to have experiences that could help us reach our potential as His children. Modern prophets teach us that “In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” 1995).
We don’t remember this part of our lives because that’s part of the test. One wouldn’t learn very much if a teacher told them exactly what was going to be on the final exam and they knew all the answers beforehand. We are living by faith and don’t remember our pre-earth life simply because God respects the right we have to make our own choices. I’m grateful that modern prophets and the scriptures teach me more about the meaning of life so that I can live by faith and choose for myself whether or not to return to God.
Meaning of Life: Happiness Achieved through Christ
Adam and Eve were the first children that God sent to the Earth. He told them to not eat from one tree (the tree of knowledge of good and evil) but knew that it was a necessary part of His plan of happiness for them to do so. Once they had eaten of the fruit, they were able to have children (allowing the rest of us to come to earth and also get bodies) and were able to experience joy and sorrow (2 Nephi 2:22–25). However, as a consequence of eating this fruit, they no longer had immortal bodies; they could die, and they were cast out from God’s presence for disobeying Him.
Fortunately, God prepared for the Fall of Adam and Eve, and it was all part of His plan. He sent us His Son, Jesus Christ, who came to earth and offered us two gifts. The first one is a free gift to all; everyone will receive a perfect, resurrected body. This means that the body and spirit will never be separated again after death and the resurrection (Romans 6:9). The second is the marvelous gift of the Atonement and the choice to use that power to repent so that we might again return to God’s presence, but this gift depends upon whether or not we choose to accept it. Christ is the center of the plan of happiness, and we can only return to God’s presence because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice for us.
After our earthly lives, our actions we will be judged as we stand before God. Those that lived good lives and chose to accept Christ as their Savior will have the opportunity to live with God again. My personal and favorite part about the plan of happiness is that I can also live with my family after this life. The meaning of life is simple: we were sent to this earth to be happy and to prepare to return to live with God again, progressing eternally. I can’t imagine the eternities without my loved ones and am forever grateful to my Savior for the opportunity that I may have to be with them after this life.
More about Life before Life
Rebecca Bishop is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormon” woman). She is in the process of being published in the Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies.