I'm going to begin back in my high school days. I'm going to begin with a man named Vance. Vance was in my ward, and he was much, much older than me. In fact, he was so much older than me that if he hadn't been born with Downs, I never would have really noticed him at all. His favorite thing was to bear his testimony on Fast Sundays. He also had a favorite spot in the hallway where he would say hello and shake hands with every person who walked past. He brought a very special spirit to the ward. At some point in my years in this ward I was told that in Vance's patriarchal blessing he was told the exact reasons he was sent to earth in the body he came in. (I was told the specific reason too, but feel it's just to sacred to be publishing to the public. If you want to know, email me.) But, the main point is -it was by Divine design that he come to earth as he did. God does not make mistakes.
Vance was at church, Will was at school. I do not know what the medical terms might be for whatever it was that Will was born with, but that he was born with specific physical limitations was more than obvious. Will's favorite thing in the whole world I think was to listen to violin music. I believe that he had memorized the faces of every person who had ever carried a violin case on campus, and during lunch he would chase these people down and ask them to play for him. My best friend happened to be one of these people. I'm sad to say that more than once we would see him, and quickly change direction -only to have him, running at his full limped speed, chase us down. We were always very nice, and would visit with him for awhile. He was almost impossible to understand -his speech was slow, and came with a lot of spit and drool -which he would occasionally wipe away with his hand, which was curled and twisted in the same way you might find on a ninety year old with severe arthritis. Aside from these physical limitations, his eyes were always what got me. They were perfectly intelligent. I often thought about his mother, and what she must have felt for her son. I also thought about the day that I would meet up with Will in heaven, with his perfected body and how much I hoped there would be violins for him to play there. I remember feeling so strongly that he was meant to be the way he was. He taught me something about kindness, and about doing for others things they can't do for themselves.
Also in high school I read the book, Embraced by the Light. In some ways, this book completely changed my way of thinking. If you haven't heard of it, it is written by a woman who had a near death experience. A lot of what she writes in this book, I have been taught and know to be part of the gospel I so fully believe in. The rest made sense to me, and felt good, and I take most of the book as truth. I really do.
I really, truly believe that our loving and perfect Heavenly Father has very real and very specific plans for our lives. Right down to the smallest little details, like the body we are given, the family we come to, the people we meet, and the jobs we have, when we marry, when we have children... and I also believe that before we were sent here, we were fully aware of these specific plans -and we chose them. We had the whole picture, and we signed off on it. Yes, Heavenly Father, I agree. I will do these things, and I will endure those. Truly. I believe that as we stood there with the angels in heaven, and with our Father and our Brother, we agreed. We knew his love and mercy and grace, and we had complete faith.
Some of us, like Vance had proved our faith sufficient while still in heaven, we came for a body and to teach others, as Will taught me. The rest of us are still on trial, if you will. We chose first, and now it is for us to live and to endure. Luckily, as Elder Holland reminded us -we do not have to walk it alone. Heaven leads and guides and holds us the whole way through. Men are that they might have joy. Joy is only understood when compared to sorrow. There is divine plan and purpose in all that surround us, in all that comes to us. I sincerely believe this.
Hope you all have a fantastic Tuesday. By the way, this is my 200th post. Crazy, huh?