We lived before we were born, and we chose to participate in this mortal experience. That knowledge gives perspective to our mortal journey.
In a September 1830 revelation, the Lord shared with Joseph Smith the origin story of the devil and his followers:
He rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency;
And they were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels.Doctrine and Covenants 29:36-37
Who were these “hosts of heaven?” They were sons and daughters of God, our brothers and sisters. The war in heaven described by apostle John was a momentous event with eternal implications, but for us at the time, it was personal. (See Revelation 12:7-9.) Real people made important decisions about whether to follow our Heavenly Parents or whether to reject their plan for our progression. (See “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”)
We can’t remember our life before birth, but we know that we were given assignments, missions to perform in this life. Alma spoke of people being “called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works” (Alma 13:3). So even while we were in the presence of God, we were capable of making choices, of exercising faith and doing good.
Imagine the decision to come to earth, to lose all memory of our prior existence, and to endure the hardships of mortality. I love the way Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf described that decision:
In that sacred place, surrounded by those you knew and loved, the great question on your lips and in your heart must have been “Will I return safely to my heavenly home?”
There were so many things that would be out of your control. Mortal life would be hard at times, filled with unexpected bends in the road: sickness, heartbreak, accidents, conflict.
Without a memory of your previous existence—without remembering that you once walked with your Father in Heaven—would you still recognize His voice amid all the noise and distractions of mortal life?
The journey ahead seemed so long and uncertain—so filled with risk.
It wouldn’t be easy, but you knew it was worth every effort.
So, there you stood on the edge of eternity, looking forward with unspeakable excitement and hope—and, I imagine, also with a degree of worry and fear.
In the end, you knew God would be just—that His goodness would triumph. You had participated in the great heavenly councils and knew that your Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, would provide a way for you to be cleansed from sin and rescued from physical death. You had faith that, in the end, you would rejoice and join your voice with a heavenly chorus singing praises to His holy name.
And so, you took a deep breath …
And a great step forward …
And here you are!“Your Wonderful Journey Home,” General Conference, April 2013
Today, I will remember that my life didn’t begin when I was born. I chose to follow God’s plan and come to earth. I took a leap of faith. I will also remember that I was given callings in that premortal existence which influence my opportunities to serve today.