Cover image: Yongsung Kim, “Dancing On Water,”https://havenlight.com/.
In everyone’s life there are unexplainable situations and feelings that defy description. We might meet someone that seems oh, so familiar, and we may catch a glimpse of pre-mortal agreements or promises. Have you had such a glimpse?
The Pre-mortal Promise of Becoming a Widower’s Second Wife
Marsha Russell shared her poignant story of a pre-mortal agreement. She writes,
“My daughter had three children when she passed away. The youngest was just 9 months and the other two were 3 and 5. You can imagine that my son in law was quite anxious about how he was going to care for these little ones and so he immediately began dating and was married four months after our daughter’s death.
“Our new “daughter in law” (as we called her) was a little distant in spite of our attempts to befriend her. One day she came to me and asked to speak with me in private. She recounted to me a dream she had. She said,
‘I dreamed that your daughter was following me and I tried my best to hide from her. She just laughed and said that she knew where I was and there was no use trying to hide! She then said that she needed to talk with me about the kids. I started complaining about Ben (our son in law) that he wasn’t proactive in helping and your daughter said not to worry about him. Your daughter said “‘We can do this if we work together. We’ve been prepared for this. Before we came to earth you knew this, I knew this, Ben knew this and my parents also knew this would happen.”
It was then that my eyes were open and I realized that she didn’t hate me for marrying her husband so soon after her death. That there was no competition between us. We were sisters and she was there to help me.’
“After her dream this new “daughter in law” became like a daughter. Our whole relationship changed.”[i]
Before this mortal life, there was definitely discussion and planning between Marsha and her “daughters.”
The Glorious Reality of What We Once Agreed To
President Kimball conveyed this concept this way,
“Remember, in the world before we came here, faithful women were given certain assignments while faithful men were foreordained to certain priesthood tasks. While we do not now remember the particulars, this does not alter the glorious reality of what we once agreed to. You are accountable for those things which long ago were expected of you…” [ii]
Kindred Sisters Forever
Ava Holly shared a beautiful pre-mortal glimpse of her “kindred sister,” Kathryn. Shortly after they met in 1982, Ava had a spark of memory opened. She writes,
“One evening, Kathryn and I attended a meeting together at our Stake Center. As we stood outside talking and crying, we hugged. I remember looking up into the sky and the starry night and it was almost as though I was taken back to a different time and place. Being a new member, I did not understand the significance of that experience until years later.”
Over time both Kathryn’s family and Ava’s family moved to different states, but before Kathryn left, the Ward gave them a going away open house. Ava continues,
“As Kathryn and I stood talking, she asked me if I remembered that night outside the Stake Center, and I told her I did. She told me that the Spirit had revealed to her that we were kindred sisters and that we knew each other in the pre-mortal world. I realized that was also what I had felt, and told her I had experienced the same “remembrance” of our previous life together.”
These two friends stayed as close as they could over the next few years. At one point, Ava had a devastating thing that occurred in her life and she began to have anxiety attacks. She writes,
“One morning as I tried to get ready for work, I could not control my sobbing. I remember looking into the bathroom mirror and I looked so sad. I cried out loud,
‘Heavenly Father, I need a friend to talk to.’
“The phone instantly rang, and Kathryn was on the other end of the phone. She said to me,
‘Ava, are you all right? I had a dream about you last night. When I looked into your face it was so sad.’
“Of course, the tears flowed and I was able to tell Kathryn what had happened. The bond I feel with Kathryn knows no time (pre-mortal and eternal). Despite the fact that we have lived away from each other for many years, we always have felt that love and connection.[iii]”
These women made promises to connect and to help and support each other in this probation. Those promises kept have made all the difference in their lives.
Neal A Maxwell taught a lot on this subject. He wrote,
“Brothers and sisters, the degree of detail involved in the covenants and promises we participated in [pre-mortality] may be a much more highly customized thing than many of us surmise. Yet, on occasion even with our forgetting, there may be inklings.” [iv]
“Like An Electric Shock”
Truman Madsen often recounted the story of Hugh B. Brown walking down 3rd Avenue in Salt Lake City one day “and seeing a man approach. He seemed to recognize him. As they were side-by-side, it was, he says, ‘like an electric shock.’ Both walked a few steps further, stopped, turned around and stared. Then they walked on. President Brown later learned that this was Orson F. Whitney, who became a member of the Council of Twelve. ‘I am as certain as I live,’ he said to me, ‘that I had known him in the pre-mortal world.[v]
These men were destined to work together in the councils of the Church, and their spirits soared as they met, because they knew they knew each other and promised to work together in spiritual leadership.
President Joseph F. Smith described this occurrence perfectly when he said,
“But in coming here, we forget all, that our agency might be free indeed, … But by the power of the Spirit,…we often catch a spark from the awakened memories of the immortal soul, which lights up our whole being as with the glory of our former home. [vi]
Finding Forever Love in this Life Alan Fleming shared a striking spark of profound memory he had in meeting his wife. He writes,
“I first saw my wife when I was engaged to another girl. We were at a YSA activity when she walked in and I thought “What did I get engaged for? I would love to take her out on a date.’ Well, three months later my fiancé wanted to break up the engagement. I asked why. She said, Because of the way you keep looking at Margie Cockburn.’ Like a true male I replied, ‘What way!’ Well, I finally at a church dance asked Margie up for a dance. When we looked into each other’s eyes, we both knew! A month later I proposed and six months later we got married. We have been married for 40 years.”[vii]
They happily acted on the promise they had made eons ago…
What covenants or promises might you have made? Did you covenant to help an eternal companion overcome the fiery darts of the adversary? To raise a difficult child who would need additional love? To live a faithful life despite physical, spiritual or financial challenges? To support and help a particular friend?
Our spirits remember the profound agreements we made in our pre-mortal life. Sometimes a spark will awaken that memory and we will receive clarity about what we must do in this life. Those glimpses are some of our sweetest experiences, because they tie us into what God wants for us. Have you had a glimpse?
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[i] Marsha Russell, personal correspondence. Used with permission.
[ii] Spencer W. Kimball., The Role of Righteous Women, October 1979.
[iii] Ava Holly, personal correspondence. Used with permission.
[iv] Neal A. Maxwell, “Meeting the Challenges of Today” Oct 10, 1978. Italics added.
[v] Barnard N. Madsen, The Truman Madsen Story, p. 333.
[vi] Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrines, pp. 13–14; emphasis added.