This is another fulfillment of an assignment for my Book of Mormon class. I hope you will find it interesting and not offensive.
One of the things that helped me decide to become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was a key point in what we call “the plan of happiness.” It is the idea that all people who have lived on the Earth chose to come here, and all knew before they came that they would be tested.
This drew me to the church because I had felt many, many times that the struggles I had in life were not deserved; I believed I had not sinned enough, as a small child, to earn the abuse I suffered early in life and for what seemed like a very long time.
I believe that many who are abused try to gain back some control in their situation by convincing themselves that they must deserve punishment. This is often a tactic of abusers, too; if they can justify their actions, they have more power in the relationship.
I had a sort of epiphany when I saw the movie “Good Will Hunting” for the first time. There’s a scene in which Robin Williams’ character tells Will that the abuses he and his mother suffered were “not his fault.” At the time, I was angry on Will’s behalf, but I also cried. Years later, this became a theme in my own psychological therapy.
Among the scriptures that refer to this idea that mortal life is a test are:
Abraham (From the Pearl of Great Price) 3:24-25 “…We will make an earth whereon these may dwell; 25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.”
2 Nephi (Book of Mormon) 2: 21” And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.”
Alma (Book of Mormon) 12:24 “…There was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.”
Doctrine and Covenants (D & C) 29:43 “And thus did I, the Lord God, appoint unto man the days of his probation—that by his natural death he might be raised in immortality unto eternal life, even as many as would believe;”
This is a passage I really love, too; it’s about the innocence of children. D & C 29:46-47 “But behold, I say unto you, that little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten; 47 Wherefore, they cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me;”
This passage proved to me once and for all that I was an innocent child, born to someone who chose to hurt others. God had to honor my Father’s agency, because he honors everyone’s free agency. It was our free agency that brought us to this mortal life, and it is our exercise of free agency here in mortality that determines our destiny after Judgment Day.