HOW DID GOD DIVIDE US UP INTO FAMILIES?
Did we get to choose? I know God is big on agency. Did He call us one by one into his pre-mortal office for a discussion of our family options—like "Who will be your children when you go to earth?" I wonder; how did God divide us up into families?
Perhaps He asked Carol and Larry Fischer: "Are you willing to take a handicapped child? Your life will be stressful with him; it will take a lot of your disposable time, but he will bring a love and a sweetness to your home that you wouldn’t have in any other circumstance."
Did God ask my friend Carol Turner if she would take 9 great children who would love and support their mother through many years of being single?
I wonder if God counseled me in this way: "You are going to need to learn some things the hard way—things like patience, unconditional love and other lessons that will come from four children, I have in mind, who will question your teachings. " He may have asked, "There is no other way for you to learn these things—will you take some good, free spirited souls into your home and never give up?" I imagine he might have informed me that, "These children will all have artistic natures, can you support and inspire them in their creative endeavors?"
I say, "I see the picture God and I am trying but I am weak and selfish and I need your help."
Last week Mike left me a little note, something he is doing lately. In part it said: "...You are a great daughter. Mollie had a hard life and I think you may have been her greatest joy. Because of you, she knew she did something right. She knew you loved her and that she could count on you to the end, which she did." This note brought visions to my mind of my mother and God in heaven deciding that I would be her daughter—that I would be a joy after she made some very bad decisions in her life and then repented. It gave me comfort to hear my husband say these things. I hope I fulfilled God’s expectation of me for my mother. I did love her dearly. I never wanted to give her any pain as she had enough sadness in her life.
Years ago I heard a story by Carlfred Broderick, a nationally acclaimed family psychologist and Mormon. The experience so impressed me I bought his book with the story so I would have all the details. Brother Broderick was a Stake President at the time. A woman came to him for counsel in some difficulties she was having in her family.
"As she asked me for a blessing to sustain her in what to do with this awful situation in which she found herself, my thoughts were, ‘Didn’t you ask for this? You married a guy who really didn’t have any depth to him and raised your kids too permissively. You should have fought harder to keep them in church rather than letting them run off to racetracks.’ I had all those judgments in my head. I laid my hands on her head, and the Lord told her of his love and his tender concern for her. He acknowledged that he had given her (and she had volunteered for) a far, far harder task than he would like. (And, as he put in my mind, a harder task than I had had. I have eight good kids, the last of whom just went to the temple. All would have been good if they had been orphans.) She, however, had signed up for hard children, for children who had rebellious spirits but who were valuable; for a hard husband who had a rebellious spirit but who was valuable. The Lord alluded to events in her life that I hadn’t known about, but which she confirmed afterwards: twice Heavenly Father had given her the choice between life and death, whether to come home and be relieved of her responsibilities, which weren’t going very well, or whether to stay to see if she could work them through. Twice on death’s bed she had sent the messenger away and gone back to that hard task. She stayed with it."
"I repented, I realized I was in the presence of one of the Lord’s great noble spirits, who had chosen not a safe place behind the lines pushing out the ordnance to the people in the front lines as I was doing, but somebody who chose to live out in the trenches where the Lord’s work was being done, where there was risk, where you could be hurt, where you could lose, where you could be destroyed by your love. That’s the way she had chosen to labor." (My Parents Married on a Dare, Carlfred Broderick, p. 125-126)
Larry Barkdull in his new book , Rescuing Wayward Children, said the following:
Elder Neal A. Maxwell called family placement "divine appointment," (Institute for Religious Scholarship) or we might say divine positioning. This organizational method often calls for weak children to be placed with strong parents, strong children to be placed with weak parents, or strong individuals to marry into weak families. Why? To do the work of redemption. BYU professor, Catherine Thomas, said, "God may place spiritually challenging children in homes of spiritual and conscientious parents for their mutual benefit." (Alma the Younger pt. 1)
Possibly countless ages of divine premortal observation and planning determined our children’s mortal placement. Beyond every other consideration our children’s familial placement was meant to rescue them and to magnify their opportunity to advance toward exaltation. Even the difficulties they would experience could serve to save and exalt them. Heavenly Father’s house is a house of order! http://www.larrybarkdull.com/344/rescuing-wayward-children-2
Yes, I think we all met with God and signed up for a few things, some good some difficult. I had a friend once who said she thought God showed us highlight videos—that we didn’t really see the gritty stuff beforehand. But, maybe we did. Maybe he showed us who we were going to be after we "endured well"—after we were valiant in what we agreed to do in our pre-mortal visit. I like this picture of us and God dividing up the children knowing that we were going into some difficult situations—knowing that maybe we ourselves would be part of the problem at times, but that we could and would repent and make a difference—like Alma in the Book of Mormon, hopefully like me. I like this picture.