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I am a member of the church. I have had depression and chronic fatigue since I was 11 years old. I’m now 55. Medication does not seem to help. Could you please help me understand a couple of things?

1) What can I learn from these illness’s?

2) Why would I choose this in the pre-mortal life? I guess I am wondering what kind of a spirit I was to choose this life?

3) It is difficult for me to learn and remember things. Will what I have read stay in my brain and count as knowledge in the next life?

I have a strong testimony of the gospel and live worthily of all the commandments. Thank you for your help.

Jan

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Jan,

I have had a few friends whose life struggles have been similar to your own. I sympathize with you and wish you the best. These three questions you ask cover a wide range, but the first two have the same answer: ask. The lessons your Heavenly Father would have you learn are best taught by Him and His methods. I can give you some things to ponder, but these lessons are ones that I’ve learned, not you. They were intended for my life, not yours. The Spirit has spoken of their importance to me, not you. Ultimately, these questions are about you. Your Father knows you from the beginning. He can tell you what your specific lessons are and what His plans are for your life. If your questions are not answered right away, you may want to ask for the essentials. Let me clarify.

President Henry Eyring’s father was a prominent scientist who drastically changed the models used in the world of chemistry. He was a faithful Latter-day Saint who struggled with the doctrine of a literal resurrection. We live in universe where entropy reigns and atoms are used, reused, and reused again. How, he wondered, can they all be brought back together in the proper order? How are these recycled elements to be organized if they belonged to multiple persons at some point during mortality? He never got an answer to his questions; instead, as he sat pondering, it became plain to him that the Lord truly has the power and the order to make the resurrection a reality. He was not told the how, he was told it was true – and THAT was the knowledge that he really needed.

1) You can learn “that the works of God should be manifest in” you (John 9:3). You can see that those healthy, happy individuals in church that have it all usually don’t, and still yearn for saintly company and nourishing by the good word of God. You can learn that God doesn’t ask for it all, he asks for your all – whatever that may be. You can learn that magnifying your calling doesn’t mean to increase work, but rather to do everything the Lord asks of you (if the Lord only asks you to share a brief message and a testimony, you don’t need to bake cookies and make a bookmark to remember the lesson by). You can learn that if you can’t emotionally or physically make it through the day without calling upon God for assistance; you can’t make it spiritually through the day without also inviting Him into your home. You can learn patience as you help others understand your struggles for the first time. I had a friend whose Bishop thanked her for the many conversations they had about her struggles because he was then better able to help some shyer members who faced the same challenges. You can learn to be more forgiving of others when they fall short of your expectations because you understand what it’s like to have a willing spirit with weak flesh.

mormon-prayerUltimately though, through pondering and prayer, you need to find out from your Father what you need to learn. Alternately, you can ask what blessings you have already received through your trials.

2) I don’t know that we got to pick our specific trials before this life. I don’t know that we were fully screened on the specific conditions an individual is born into. I do think we had a general knowledge of how things are and what ills are possible. If that’s the case, then you were willing to take your chances to be like your Heavenly Parents. A body is a body is a body. And in the timeline of eternity, you can endure passing moments of hardship for the glorious award that awaits.

If you actually chose these trials for yourself, you probably had some additional insights into your character. I can imagine Paul seeing that he was to be called to the Apostleship after a lifetime of preparation. He would be trained to appeal to both the Greeks and the Jews. Knowing himself, he would grow concerned that he would lose his elect position from pride, and requested a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him humble. Perhaps the situation is similar for you.

Regardless, to answer this question I would need to cease somnambulating and see behind the veil. I cannot do this for you, but your loving Father can teach you about your true character. Ponder, pray, and read your patriarchal blessing to learn who you really are and what your gifts are.

3) The knowledge we are to take with us in the next life is saving knowledge. It is light and truth. It is not facts and scriptures we have memorized throughout the course of our lives. It is the divinity and scripture we have lived in our godly walk. God cares little whether you can tell Him what the two great commandments are compared to showing Him that you love Him and your neighbor.

-Gramps

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