Friday, April 22

Premortal Character Creation

I had a conversation with someone the other day about the pros and cons of life and how they always even out for each person in the end. Everyone has different trials and blessings and circumstances and opportunities, but "all things work together for the good of them that love God and serve Him."

In another conversation someone mentioned that we don't choose our trials or temptations. "At least in this life..." was my response. And the mixture of the two brings an interesting view to mind.

I've definitely played my share of games - video, computer, card, board, imaginary, role-playing, you name it. One of the first steps in taking part in many games is "character creation" - the customization of a persona to represent me in the game. Some games, like Monopoly, give me a very small range of choices. I can be the dog or the shoe, and not the same as someone else. Card games, I choose who to sit by. Other games provide a framework to create a character in the game world that fits a certain role.

Probably the most famous example is Dungeons & Dragons. And that's the example that comes to mind.

Dungeons & Dragons is the stereotypical role-playing game - where players can do literally anything within the framework of the game because it's mediated by a third party who arbitrates the rules as time goes on. Players are usually in groups and can be doing anything in the game world from walking down a crowded city street to flying through space. It's essentially an imaginary game with rules that are enforced using probabilities and random dice rolls.

Creating a character for D&D is simple at a glance.  In one style, players have a number of "creation points" that can be used to purchase attributes. Exceptional charisma costs a few more points. So does higher intelligence or a royal background. But I can also "purchase" not-so-desirable characteristics - anything from being colorblind to allergic to human hair - and with each "purchase" of deficits, I'm actually credited more points to spend. The most expensive, desirable attributes actually cost far more than the initial allocation of points, which means that characters with those traits will indubitably have a host of trials to go along with them. But, in the end, everyone will spend all the points, and the game begins.

I just wondered how real lives were created and designed before this life... and the thought of sitting around a massive table, creating the persona that I would assume here, with costs for talents and credits for trials, made me laugh. I only played D&D a few times, and those few times I had way too much fun creating characters with dozens of outlandish traits. I could definitely see myself looking at life, reading the instruction manual that told about the potential benefits and drawbacks to individual characteristics in life, and choosing the blessings and trials I have today.

In reality, though, designing life is much simpler and less prone to error than choosing random propensities from a rulebook. God knows me. He knows who I am and knows the exact things I need to return to Him... and that is the sum total of my life. Everything I write about here at (Gay) Mormon Guy wasn't random, or caused by some mysterious outside interplay. If my needs weren't obvious to me before this life, they were to Him, and my life was created, with all of its awesome blessings and interesting trials, for me and my good... because God loves me and wants me to learn to be happy... to grow stronger and stronger in faith and return to Him someday.

Whether or not I chose my trials in life before I came here, God has the power to determine what will happen. He could make me smart, handsome, popular, rich, famous, spiritual, wise, and every other good thing... and He could take away my trials in an instant. But He doesn't... because He loves me more than that... because He wants me to become the man He sees in me. Life isn't about perfect character creation. It's about living in an imperfect world, in an imperfect avatar, and learning to become and change into perfection through Christ. It's a journey, and I'll meet things far worse than dragons on the way. Bur God is with me, and at the helm of my life. He's in control. And for that, I am eternally grateful.


  1. You have some really wonderful insights in this post. It is so important to remember that our Heavenly Father knows each of us better than we know ourselves and that He knows exactly what trials and triumphs we need to be able to return to him. Thank you for that reminder.

  2. A few weeks back, we were talking about something in the EQ (Elder's Quorum) about struggles, addictions, and the like.

    Lately, (ever since being called to teach the course 15 and now being a ward missionary) I have had these very insightful, poignant, yet simple impressions. This particular Sunday in EQ, my mind recalled the scene of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.

    Many believe that this was Christ's fourth, and last temptation. Here, he was alone. His disciples were asleep. It is at night. My impression and what I related to the Quorum was not so much about the significance of the Garden of Gethsemane as we understand it, but the way Christ had two personages come to him. One is Satan. The second is an Angel.

    The more I talked about this, the more I came to the realization that addiction to any type of unhealthy behavior (for me, it was Smoking), is quite a struggle and battle. The battle is to overcome the natural desires we have. The propensity to light up and take a drag (for those who smoke). Others, Alcohol is their vice. Some, promiscuity, and the list could go on. Those who truly struggle and battle, they are alone and are under severe spiritual attack because Satan is right there whispering in our ear. One more cigarette won't hurt. Take another hit of the weed, it will help you relax. You had a stressful day and so pour another glass, you are relaxing.

    The point here is that a new revelation, for me, came about that we all have that one major thing we have to struggle, to overcome, to bring into subjugation of the will, authority, and obedience of the commandments of God.

  3. This is kind of funny in the sense that I was just thinking about this, sort of. Well, about how both good and bad things happen to each of us disproportionately for reasons only God knows, but we don't fully understand (yet).

    I've come to realize the past few days, that what we want to happen, no matter how badly, doesn't matter. God lets things happen at the right time...when they're ready to. And only He knows when that is.

    All that there is for us to do is be open to learning the lessons he wants us to learn to make us better. I'm slowly learning to do just that.

    I guess this post really struck a chord. A good one at that.

  4. My goodness, you sometimes pick examples that leave me reeling with laughter, and this is definitely one of them! I've played D&D since childhood (maybe 6 years old?) and this comparison made a lot of sense to me.

    I think it's possible that God said "You can have this one big trial, or these three little trials" and we made our choice. Then he'd say "Okay now you get this one and this one, then you can chose from one of these three addictions that will be offered to you." and we chose again. Moving down the list we made some choices, he put in ones that occurred from previous ones, and so on. Until we looked at the map of our life and saw all of the little blue squiggles of blessings we would have, the red squiggles of temptations/trials/struggles, and the green line running down the whole thing (being the Spirit we could have with us to help out).

    We signed it, God signed it, and the trials we'd have to mold us into the person we need to become were set in stone. Wouldn't that system make sense? He can tweak it based on the choices we make, and ultimately we become the perfect person he intended us to be, but there are multiple roads and junctures where things split and re-combine.

    That's why we've been told that we may not have one person we were destined to marry, why any righteous LDS member can have an eternal marriage to any other righteous member and make it work. Because ultimately God is the GM, and he can railroad the outcomes if he needs to, within the limits of our agency.

    I hope that made sense, and that what I'm trying to get across came out clearly! :)

  5. Ifwecouldonlysee, that is a good analogy. But as I have come to understand trials, at least the trials of the body (bi-polar, ADD,SGA,etc. and heart disease, predisposal to Cancer etc.) it seems that Heavenly Father sometimes leaves nature to itself. Meaning, if your mom has clinical depression, you may be born with a predisposal to that illness. I don't think every minute thing was set in stone during premortality. All the major things were, like your family situation, friends, your spouse or spouses, children, your main mission on earth, but I think when you speak about the mortal body, a lot of things come into play. Like the mother's or father's agency (if one of them smoked when you were in the womb therefore pedisposing you to asthma). Or for instance say your "bachelor" great uncle was known for his great dramatic performances at the local theater and was well loved by the ladies, but never managed married one of the said ladies. There could be a hidden "gay gene" in your family line. Not saying all gay people are into theater, this is just an example. Anyway, by carrying this gay gene you might have a child who is SGA. I have bi-polar disorder II and my mom is a recovering alchoholic, which usually means she of had a mood disorder and used alchohol as a means to self medicate. So I may of inherited my disoder from her. Oh, also she is gay. My point is that I think Heavenly Father leaves some things to "chance" or nature, eventhough he knew what the outcome would be. He may of told us what to expect, but I don't think we chose every trial in this life. I hope this makes sense!

    1. Anonymous:

      I don't believe in chance. God is omnipotent, and what little I know of omnipotence from a degree in physics, He knows everything. There is no such thing as chance, or leaving nature to itself. It's like saying that you "let the dominoes fall down" when it was you who set them up in the first place and pushed the first one in the line. Whether it's gravity or your finger pushing them over, it's the exact same thing.


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