I was just having a discussion with a few friends and the question came up about whether spirits choose their families. Is this so? If so why do some choose to go to families where they will be abused or go to broken homes etc. Your comments will be most helpful.
PS Thanks for the help on the question regarding the gift of the holy ghost.
Ant., from Lancashire, England
There are no scriptures that directly indicate such a freedom of choice. However, there is no doubt that the righteousness, faith and integrity of premortal spirits influence when they come to earth, and presumably into what families they would be born. For instance, we hear that the most righteous spirits have been reserved to come forth in our day, that they may overcome the great evil that exists on the earth and help to prepare the kingdom for the second coming of the Savior.
A phrase in my own patriarchal blessing bears directly on this subject-
“As you go forth and seek for the companion for your life’s work seek the Lord to guide and direct you that you might find the companion who will be most suitable for you, with whom you may go forward and accomplish your life’s mission, with whom you may establish in your home the proper environment for the training and for the development of the choice spirits waiting to come upon the earth that they might come through the proper lineage to which they are entitled and receive the proper training and environment to prepare them for this great latter-day work.”
Concerning spirits that are born in adverse conditions and less than ideal circumstances, let me tell you a modern fable-
“There were two spirits waiting to come to earth. One was valiant and true, who had distinguished himself in promoting the works of the Savior and helped to expel from heaven the followers of Satan. The other was a weak spirit, one who was nearly cast out because of his disobedient and selfish attitude.
“The weak spirit was assigned to be born in the shadow of the temple, the son of an Apostle. He was raised in the best of environments, taught the truth with inspiration and supported and sustained in all his righteous decisions. As he matured he was honored by society, accepted responsible positions in the Church and rose to prominence in the community. When he finally passed away the heavens heaved a sigh of relief, and the Lord remarked, “How close we came to losing him on so many occasions!”
“The valiant spirit was born in the dregs of society; knew nothing of eternal truth; was taught all the evil of the world by family and associates. All the options that were open to him were choices between greater and lesser evils. Yet he struggled to make the most of a terrible situation, always choosing the most righteous options that were open to him. He felt compassion for all the downtrodden and depressed that were part of his environment. Finally, he was condemned by society and put to death. When he returned to the spirit world the Father said to him, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Thou hast been faithful over a few things. I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.’
“This valiant spirit, by the things that he suffered, learned compassion for others, understood by his own experience the great difficulties and injustices that many struggle to overcome, and he learned something of the great suffering experienced by the Savior as he gave himself for the ills of all mankind. He was prepared by his suffering ‘to be made a ruler over many things’.”