Since my religious disaffection from the Mormon Church, I have had to come to terms with the fact that I am going to die.
For the first time in my life I realised I was going to die. Up until my religious epiphany, until I realised my belief system was just a fictitious fantasy, I had believed I would never physically taste of death.
As a child & teenager in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I had absorbed all the Mormon teachings that talked about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ when thousands of righteous people would rise up to meet the returning Messiah as he came down out of the sky. I believed it so literally that I believed I would be among them.
Because of what I was taught in Primary, Sunday School, MIA Youth group, Seminary, and in my Patriarchal Blessing, I was absolutely convinced I would never taste of death, but that my body would be changed & immortalised in the ‘Twinkling of an Eye’, like it says in the scriptures.
“Translated beings are faithful servants of the Lord in the flesh who have been translated in order to continue serving in a protected, restful state until they are resurrected. Translated beings never taste of death; they never endure the pains of death; they have undergone a change in their bodies, “that they might not suffer pain nor sorrow save it were for the sins of the world” (3 Nephi 28).
Translated beings have been “sanctified in the flesh, that the powers of the earth could not hold them. They are as the angels of God, ministering to whomever they will” (3 Nephi 28). At the Second Coming of Christ, they will be changed in the twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality to inherit exaltation in the Kingdom of God. After their ministry as translated beings, all translated beings receive what amounts to an instantaneous death and resurrection.”
“Latter-day Saint scriptures speak of a unique class of beings, persons whom the Lord has ‘translated’ or changed from a mortal state to one in which they are temporarily not subject to death, and in which they experience neither pain nor sorrow except for the sins of the world. Such beings appear to have much greater power than mortals. All translated beings will eventually experience physical death and resurrection (MD, p. 807-808). Translation is a necessary condition in special instances to further the work of the Lord.
“Translated beings are not resurrected beings, though all translated beings either have since been or yet will be resurrected or “changed in the twinkling of an eye” to a resurrected state (3 Ne. 28:8). In effect, this last change is their death, and they therefore receive what amounts to an instantaneous death and resurrection. Resurrection is a step beyond translation, and persons translated prior to the resurrection of Christ were resurrected with him (cf. D&C 133:54-55); it is expected that those translated since Christ’s resurrection will be resurrected at his second coming.”
Because of a combination what my Patriarchal Blessing says, and because of my whole life experience in the Church, I ‘KNEW’, as well as I knew I was alive, that I would not die in the normal way.
I really felt I was special! I had been told I was ‘Special’ my whole life, that I’d been reserved till the Last Days for a reason.
Mormon Priesthood Leaders have a tradition of ‘bigging up’ young people to make them feel important.
“For nearly six thousand years, God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the Second Coming of the Lord. Every previous gospel dispensation has drifted into apostasy, but ours will not. True, there will be some individuals who will fall away; but the kingdom of God will remain intact to welcome the return of its head–even Jesus Christ. While our generation will be comparable in wickedness to the days of Noah, when the Lord cleansed the earth by flood, there is a major difference this time. It is that God has saved for the final inning some of his strongest children, who will help bear off the Kingdom triumphantly. And that is where you come in, for you are the generation that must be prepared to meet your God.” ~Ezra Taft Benson
Every calling I received in the Church added to my belief by reconfirming that I was Called of God for a ‘Special Purpose!’ I was called to serve on the Stake High Council at the very young age of twenty one, then called onto the Stake Young Men’s Presidency, Stake Mission Presidency, and bishopric, then later called as a Bishop. All ‘proving’ to me I was ‘Special!’ And confirming my belief that I would witness the Saviour’s Magnificent & Majestic Second Coming, & thus escape natural death.
Having my belief system shattered was a very painful experience for me. Every belief about the world was seen through the lens of the Mormon belief system. Every major decision I made was tested against the Mormon paradigm. In fact I used God as the ultimate arbiter of what was right & wrong, but also whether it was right for me & my family.
All through my life I have made decisions based around the ‘fact’ that I couldn’t die! I had received the divine reassurance that I was saved till the Last Days, and would be saved from death so I could meet my Saviour in the flesh.
I have to admit that I took some small risks with my life because I knew God would protect me. Nothing too serious, but I did believe I was safe whilst rock climbing & driving a car. God had told me personally in my Patriarchal Blessing!
The delusion of relative ‘immortality’ extended to my belief that a personal pension wouldn’t be necessary as I believed The Second Coming was imminent!
My belief in my God was so complete that I ‘knew’ He would look after me, no matter what.
As I swallowed the (initially) bitter pill of truth about the Church & God I loved more than life itself, I also had the humbling experience of realising & coming to terms with my mortality & connection with rest of humanity.
Coming to realise this eventually became empowering as I developed a deeper understanding of others & an increased compassion for the rest of humanity.
Mortality has taken on a very new & different perspective. For the first time in my life (46 years at that point) I started living life with a focus on this temporary existence, instead of viewing it as just a preparatory stage for a better & more permanent afterlife.
I had always been prepared to sacrifice anything & everything in this life in order to qualify for a life in the Celestial Kingdom of Heaven with God & my family. My focus & priority was definitely on being worthy of Eternal Glory rather than making the best of this one life. I was prepared to ‘Endure to the End’ in hopes of a far better afterlife. I ‘knew’ God would Bless me for my Sacrifice if I put Him & His Kingdom (the Church) first.
I sacrificed time, energy & finances for eternal blessings. Time with family & friends was put on the alter because I knew mortality would just continue & I would have an endless eternity to spend with them in Heaven later.
Now I know I’m mortal, I feel this life is more precious, more treasured than ever before. And, though I don’t fear death, I accept it as a matter of fact, it is a reality from which I will not escape & I do not wish to rush towards, but in accepting it I feel it helps make this life more valuable because it puts it into context.
Mortality is a Rare Treasure to be grasped firmly & enthusiastically with both hands so that every ounce of potential to Live, Love, Learn & Leave a Legacy of good works for the benefit of humanity is achieved!
Truth about my mortality has set me free to realise my potential!