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What is heaven really like? Is it truly worth attempting to attain? I think that’s a legitimate question to ask ourselves. Is heaven really where we want to be? I did a video a while back where I spoke of some of my friends who are not members. We had some really intense gospel conversations as they are devout in their faith, and I asked them very bluntly whether they believed we were going to hell. They answered in the affirmative. In fact, they answered with these words: “Yes. We believe that if you died right now, you would go to hell. We don’t think you’re bad people or anything, but we don’t believe you could go to heaven.”
Now this was so immensely fascinating to me. They believed we were good people, but they also believed that God would be willing to throw us into a fiery pit for eternity.
Now, as much as I do not want to sit in a lake of fire forever, I’m not so sure heaven could feel like heaven if my Eternal Father was that kind of a Being. I imagine being on the other side of the fence with my friends who are devout Christians. I die, and Heavenly Father gives me a nice robe and singing voice and I go and sing divine praises to Him forever. Not so bad, right? But if I truly was myself, the same person I am in this very instant, I think I would actually have a very difficult time worshipping a Being who was willing to throw good people into the fire because they didn’t get His guessing game correct. That makes no sense to me. I believe I would feel extremely uncomfortable praising Him (though not so much that I would say anything because I don’t want to sit in a fire and that’s apparently my only other option). It almost sounds a bit like a cruel dictatorship to me.
I bring up my friends for a second time because it is a fantastic intro into what I want to talk about today. I believe very sincerely that heaven is far more logical than we realize. When Heavenly Father says He is a perfect judge, He means it. When He gives us a commandment, it’s not arbitrary.
Let’s talk about a couple of verses given to us through Joseph Smith that teach us about the nature of heaven. I feel like, for this post, I should reiterate that what I teach often reflects my own experiences, opinions, and views. I can work very hard to align exactly with church doctrine, but nobody is perfect. Please take that into consideration.
It feels like heaven
I want you to imagine a perfect friend group. If you could choose exactly what you wanted in this friend group, what would it look like? If you really want to get a lot out of this post, pause it and really think about what it would look like.
For me, I actually have a friend group that resembles very closely what I would ask for. There would be a lot of humor; we would be laughing all the time. We would love watching movies together and going out to dinner. We would always assume the best of each other and there would be a genuine desire to spend time together. One small story illustrates this perfectly.
I have a friend with a tattoo. Tattoos can be a bit of a taboo in the church, but I had a sincere question about it. I was worried about asking her because I didn’t want her to think I was judging her for this tattoo, but I really did want to ask.
So I did. I asked her about the tattoo, but I also prefaced it with my long explanation of how I didn’t want her to feel judged. She actually laughed at my little preface and said, “Autumn, I think that at this point, even if you had meant to offend me, I would have missed it because I just assume you don’t feel that way about me.”
That. That is one of my favorite characteristics about my friend group. There is sincere enjoyment and care between us. I am extremely blessed.
Now imagine we have a new couple that moves in right next door. We start inviting this new couple over to spend evenings with us, but this new couple doesn’t seem to like one of my other friends. There are a couple of snide comments occasionally. There are times when this new couple is planning a night and tries to leave out one of our friends. It’s causing a little bit of tension because it’s a difficult situation to handle. Our old friends even start to feel a little hurt that we keep inviting over this new couple. We try to stick up for our old friends, but it just intensifies the tension.
What happened to my happy friend group?
Doctrine and Covenants 132:21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.
Heavenly Father has pretty high standards for those who will qualify for the celestial kingdom. Sometimes that can be difficult to swallow. It can feel like He is leaving people out. However, if He lets anyone in, heaven no longer feels like heaven. I don’t imagine it’s easy for Him. He loves all of us. He aches for us to return to Him. He could let us in but at what price? What would be sacrificed if everything was chaos?
Our mistakes will not count against us if we hold to the atonement of Jesus Christ because He paid the prices for us, for all of us, for every single human who walked the earth. The mistakes are gone. But. Who we have become as a result of our choices still remains, and that will be the determining factor in who gets to go to the celestial kingdom. Will you abide by His law that calls for us to love Him and each other? Will you contribute to or detract from the “friend group?”
Doctrine and Covenants 131:4 He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.
So one of the blessings of living in the celestial kingdom is the ability to have children. Whether or not this sounds heavenly to you, depends on the person. However, let’s talk about why this is such a key element of living in the highest glory.
Let’s pretend we’re all in heaven now. What does your “day” look like? What do you do with your time? You don’t have to earn a living in order to avoid homelessness or starvation. You have everything you need, unlimited “funds” to do whatever you like, and unlimited “time” to complete whatever you like.
If it were really up to me, I imagine that I would spend a couple days sleeping. I’d probably like to go to the beach for a couple weeks, maybe spend the next couple weeks in a cabin. I’m imagining the Twilight series if I’m being honest. Super beautiful and indestructible in my new resurrected body, I can run really fast (maybe fly?), play some sports, spend time with the person I’m in love with.
But I think it would get old, right? No matter how much you love the piano or the beach or baseball, I imagine that life would get pretty dreary.
So we have now spent 85 billion “human” years in heaven. You have perfected both the piano and surfing. You have learned everything there is to know about physics, chemistry, biology, music theory, everything. There isn’t anything left to learn. Now what do you do?
Well we can learn a little bit from the immortal vampires from Twilight.
One of the vampires, Rosalie, is obsessed with her appearance and past and she doesn’t really seem that happy to me. She has moments of happiness with the person she loves, but she still aches for missed opportunities. Another vampire, Carlisle, is a doctor who works to save lives and serve people; he seems pretty happy. Edward talks about how his life was unendingly bleak until he met Bella, this ridiculously fragile and imperfect human being. He talks about how his life suddenly has color when he meets Bella.
So we have these vampires, and let’s imagine that they live in a world that only has vampires. Edward’s life is once again colorless. Carlisle has no one to serve because nobody really needs service. There are moments of happiness, but every single day gets a little more boring than the last.
What kind of eternity is that?
But then you bring this little tiny spirit human into existence. They have so much potential ahead of them. They have new things to experience and hard lessons to learn. There will be tears and frustration, but there will also be exhilarating moments that they have never before experienced. You once again find life living through them.
Think about something as simple as walking. We’ve all pretty much mastered walking. Sure, some of us still trip every now and again, but walking is no longer very exciting. However, do you know any parent out there who is not overwhelmingly stoked when their kid takes their first steps? Do you know any parents who think, “Yeah yeah cool. Been there done that. Whatever.” No! They’re so happy.
Opposition in all things is important. When we no longer experience opposition, life can get pretty gray. That’s why eternal increase is so important. That’s why Heavenly Father loves us so dang much. He’s done it all. There’s nothing left to experience. He lives and breathes for us. We are His entire purpose.
Heaven is logical. It makes sense. Heavenly Father’s judgement is perfect. There are reasons why He has standards for the different kingdoms. There are reasons why there are multiple kingdoms. There are reasons why children are so important. There are so many principles in these sections that make sense. Heavenly Father isn’t making this stuff up. He’s not giving us rules for fun. All of the things He asks us to do is to push us to be a little more prepared to find happiness in the eternities where we will most assuredly find ourselves.
I’m grateful for a Savior who paid for my sins so that they no longer count against me. I’m grateful that He has prepared a place for me if I can change myself enough to not detract from heaven. I’m grateful that He taught me these things so that I can live happily forever.
I know that just because something makes sense doesn’t make it true. These things make sense to me. I cannot necessarily say I know that they are true, but I really do believe they’re true. The more I walk this path, the more wisdom and sense I find in it. I feel little assurances as I go along even if I do not yet know. I believe it’s all true.