Friday, August 10, 2007

(untitled 178)

The concept of an afterlife terrifies me, and for a member of the LDS Church, that's pretty unusual, I think. LDS doctrine states that members who have striven to follow Christ in their lives will be rewarded with exaltation - essentially, assuming godlike powers and having the opportunity to create worlds of one's own. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right?

For some reason that I cannot for the life of me figure out, it terrifies me. I lie awake in bed at nights, breaking out in cold sweats and having panic attacks. The notion that I will endure forever - absolutely, unequivocally, irreversibly forever - scares the daylights out of me. The trouble is that the converse scares me just as much. I cannot fathom nonexistence. If possible, that scares me even more than living forever. There aren't any other possibilities - one can only exist or not exist - so I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place here. I've tried everything I can think of to solve the problem, but nothing's working. I've prayed, fasted, studied the scriptures, all without improvement. Then, a few nights ago, something amazing happened. I was worrying about what I would do for a job in the fall, when I had an image of myself flying back, back, back from the Earth. I could see the timeline of my life, and I was struck by how small and insignificant (eternally) events here on Earth were. It disappeared quite as quickly as it came, but it did wonders for my perspective.

Everything looks different out here.

6 comments:

Thirdmango said...

I don't have a fear of the afterlife as much as I have a fear of death. I don't wanna go to the afterlife, cause I like it here.

crittersherwood said...

It scares the willies out of me when ever I think about eternity. What do you do for eternity? What do you do when you're done with that? Ow, head hurts. I need to go play a mindless game now...

zookeeper08 said...

What an experience. Thanks for sharing it. Does help put some of our troubles here and now into an eternal perspective, doesn't it?

Oh, and FWIW, I'm not scared of dying or the afterlife, I just don't want dying to be really painful, wimp that I am. (Although, giving birth like I did, maybe I'm not such a wimp after all?)

Guess the operant word here, Optimistic., (beyond "Optimistic") is "faith". It will all be ok.

K.

lanada said...

everything looks perfect from far away.

Austin said...

You've got a great blog, my friend.

Nectar said...

I was talking to my Elder's Quorum President one day about the meaning of time. Alma 40:8 came up, "Now whether there is more than one time appointed for men to rise it mattereth not; for all do not die at once, and this mattereth not; all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men."

I took a more figurative interpretation of this scripture, but he took it literally. I will always remember him saying that he sincerely hoped it was literally true, because the thought of eternity scared him to death. It helped him to think that after death we will no longer have a concept of time.

I had a hard time understanding how eternity could be scary. I think now it has to do with the uncertainty of what happens "in the end." Sort of like falling through space. What happens at the end? But there is no end, so your anxiety about meeting your end will grow and never end. Your anxiety for the future will be infinite.

Well, I'm glad you had some comfort in your vision. Perhaps thinking about time not measured unto God will help you. It's a mortal thing.