Where did I come from? Why am I here on earth? Where am I going when I die? These three questions have intrigued philosophers and ordinary people for centuries. If we don’t know why we’re here, we have difficulty making sense out of life or getting from it what God wanted us to get. The answer to the question is a fascinating one that has its roots in our life before life.
God created our spirits before we were born. But He didn’t send us straight on off to Earth with no preparation. Instead, He allowed us to live with Him, as spirits, for a while. This knowledge can make more sense of the diversity of lives into which children are born. Because we lived with God for a time, He came to know us and we came to know Him. We learned, developed personalities, chose how obedient we wished to be, and gained talents, strengths, and weaknesses. Our placement on Earth is not an accident. It is designed to help us become exactly what we need to be if we treat it as such. Every trial can strengthen us—we’ve seen that people born in the most trying of circumstances have sometimes used those challenges to do amazing things. Even being born into privileged circumstances can be a trial if we treat it incorrectly. We’ve all seen children who seem to have everything grow up to have troubled lives.
When it was time for us to come to Earth, we were ready. We already knew what God had in mind for us. Most of us were excited, but some, predictably, were not. Even then some people wanted guarantees, safety, and ease. And as is today, there are always people willing to promise it, even when it isn’t possible. Lucifer suggested to the gathered crowds that He could make it so we’d all get safely back to Heaven. The problem was that justice required us to live perfectly, without sin, which is not possible for mortals. God, naturally, had that all figured out, but Lucifer worked to convince us God’s plan was too hard and too risky and that we’d be better off overthrowing that plan.
Lucifer’s plan required us to turn over our agency—our right to choose—to him. He would make all our decisions for us. He’d control every second of our lives so we couldn’t make any mistakes. Naturally, there was a price—we had to agree to worship only him from that moment on. You’ll notice his plan did not require him to suffer in any way. He was willing to work, but not to suffer.
Fortunately, most of us were too smart for that plan. Most of us loved and trusted God too much to want to overthrow Him and replace him with a power-hungry and controlling Lucifer. While one-third chose to follow Lucifer, but the rest stayed the course, risks and all.
God’s plan was this: We’d come to earth without being able to remember our previous lives. This would allow us to have to rely on faith, which is a powerful skill. We would gain bodies and families. We’d have experiences and trials. From all of this, we would learn, grow, and be tested. We’d find out how much God means to us when He isn’t standing right here where we can see Him. Our trials and experiences would help us to grow. The families we gained would be ours forever.
God loves us so He did not send us here empty-handed. Our coming-to-earth package included the Light of Christ and visits from the Holy Ghost, both of which could help us recognize truth when we heard it. They would help us to make good choices, but only if we chose to pay attention. We could receive comfort and strength in our trials if we asked for it. We’d have commandments to obey, but we’d be free to obey or not—but we were not free to choose the consequences of our choices. And there are consequences, both in mortality and in the eternities. God would eventually give us scriptures that would teach us the commandments and we would be expected to obey them if we wanted to return home.
The purpose of life then is to receive families and bodies, to attend a boarding school of sorts, and to become everything we can possibly become. The most important purpose of life, of course, is to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and to do what is necessary to return home to God.
He is waiting for us, cheering us on, and helping us to get back home. All we have to do is ask for His help.