As I reflect on the emotional earthquakes in my life, I am reminded of a prompting I received to help me heal many years ago, long before I understood anything about the abuse my sons were experiencing. I was married in the temple and I had taught seminary for four years. I had studied and taught the Old and New Testament, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. I had the appearance of being a reasonably functioning adult with a strong faith and a servant’s heart.
I had recently been called to be the Relief Society president in our ward and I was overwhelmed with the responsibility. I understood it was important for me to serve with love and compassion. I was pondering how to fulfill this responsibility as I awoke one day. The room was quiet and all the sudden, I heard a voice in my mind as clearly as though someone was right in the room with me. The voice said, “Physician, heal thyself.” It felt like my heart stopped and I could barely breathe. As those words cascaded through my mind, I could feel my whole body vibrating with the feeling that something important had just happened.
What I didn’t realize then, was a truth that is best described in a talk given by Wendy Ulrich, Ph.D., “Lord, I Love Thy Holy Habitation” as she describes what today is referred to as “generational toxic cultures”:
“We are products of an ancestral heritage that may include both access to spiritual blessings, and the blinding, wounding legacy of unrighteous traditions of fathers and mothers. In fact, these traditions are part of what we may have to let go of so that we can claim our birthright in the family of God as we engage in the two mortal acts of single greatest worth to our soul: to repent and to forgive. As we repent of the sinful ways we have learned through our experience with our culture and with prior generations, I believe we help release our ancestors and others who have helped shape the culture we live in from spiritual prisons of regret and remorse which they must experience as they see their sins perpetuated in our lives. As we truly forgive them, we may also release ourselves from the bondage of our own self-loathing.”
The Healing Powers of the Atonement
In the 40 years that have passed since I heard, “Physician, heal thyself,” I have spent many hours learning, pondering, falling down, getting back up, praying, and seeking the guidance of the Spirit as I’ve found my way to the cleansing, healing, enabling, loving power of the Atonement.
What I’ve learned about the Atonement is that it not only heals me of natural consequences of my sins, it also heals me of the sins of others as they have touched my life. Most importantly, it heals the hearts and minds of those that my choices have harmed.
I believe the life experiences each of us have are developmental stages that we must go through in this journey through mortality. As difficult as life seems, Heavenly Father sent us here on purpose. He knew the value of experiencing adversity and an opposition in all things and how it has the ability to strengthen us as we cling to the mercy seat and become willing to claim the restorative power of the Atonement.
Not only do we carry the physical DNA of our ancestors, some research is finding that we also carry their emotional DNA. This research suggests any unresolved emotional issues are carried into the following generations until it is healed. Not only do we do spiritual proxy work in the temple for our departed ancestors, we can also do emotional proxy work for them. I have come to understand that is part of the meaning of Malachi 4:6:
“And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
In his book The Uses of Adversity, Carlfred Broderick relates when he was a stake president, a woman who was a victim of incest in a terrible childhood came asking for answers about what she had done that was so bad in the premortal existence that she didn’t get to be born into a healthy and loving family. He admitted he didn’t know the answer to what seemed like such an injustice for a child to have to endure. As he laid his hands on her head to give her a blessing of comfort, he heard himself saying words that could only have come through the spirit. As I read these words (I knew that blessing was also meant for me), I could understand my childhood and the healing task before me. He said:
“The Lord inspired me to tell her, and I believe with all my heart that it applies to many in the kingdom, that she was a valiant, Christlike spirit who volunteered (with, I told her, perhaps too much spiritual pride) to come to earth and suffer innocently to purify a lineage. She had volunteered to absorb the poisoning of sin, anger, anguish, and violence, to take it into herself and not to pass it on; to purify a lineage so that downstream from her it ran pure and clean, full of love and the Spirit of the Lord and self-worth. I believed truly that her calling was to be a savior on Mount Zion: that is, to be Savior-like, like the Savior to suffer innocently that others might not suffer. She voluntarily took such a task with the promise she would not be left alone and abandoned, but he would send one to take her by the hand and be her companion out into the light.”
Proxies to Heal and Eliminate Pain
I’ve come to understand I stand in proxy for the generations who have died with their pain and their fear still inside. They are crying from the grave for the hearts of the children to turn and heal the pain that saturates this world.
It is the mission of these last days to prepare for the Light of Christ within each of us to come forth. We are to remember who we are and why we were commissioned to be the generation who heals the pain of this dispensation. We are to be bridges of love and understanding linking the generations.
The plan of salvation is based on laws which were decreed before the foundation of this earth was laid. The laws are unchanging. They operate whether we understand them or not; whether we are obedient to them or not.
The laws are non-judgmental and they are no respecter of persons. The laws cannot be broken. We can break ourselves trying to bend and distort them for our own purposes, but the law is still the law. We are free to choose our own actions, but we do not choose the consequences of those actions. The law of cause and effect has already decreed the consequences. Love is the power of the law.
The plan of salvation is simple:
1. As individuals, we participated in the Grand Council wherein we were asked to sustain the plan in order to gain experience which would allow us to become like our Heavenly parents. These experiences would provide the opportunity to learn wisdom and self-mastery.
2. In a world of absolute love and harmony, a world of no limitation, we were taught the importance of learning through opposition. We were taught the importance of advancing into the realm of experiential learning. We were taught that we would learn wisdom from the things we experienced.
3. Another very significant key to the learning experience was that we would not be allowed to retain our memory or who we were or where we came from. The quest for the answer to these fundamental questions would be central to the motivation to move forward through the experiential process. The nature of opposition is for us to determine what moves us forward toward those answers and that which moves us backward or blocks our progress. The realm of opposition provides many ways to avoid moving forward. It gives us the opportunity to choose and evaluate the results. Ultimately, making mistakes is a valuable part of learning what works and what doesn’t work.
4. We were promised two gifts which would be essential to our success. We would be allowed to choose whether we wanted to receive the gifts. These gifts would have the power to ensure our success in completing the experiential learning and returning to our source with wisdom and self-mastery. Our willingness to receive these gifts would be dependent upon our ability to quiet the turmoil and confusion which would be generated by the opposition in our laboratory of learning.
The first gift is the Holy Ghost. The Spirit cannot teach a mind that is not quiet. Laws of Love do not operate in chaos. Having an untrained mind is like having an untrained dog. We can choose to develop the ability to quiet the inner dialogue and provide a space for inner peace. Spirit enlightens us and peels off the layers of fear which saturates this laboratory of learning. The Spirit teaches only love, and love does not compel obedience through fear. The Spirit teaches us to trust the plan, to choose to quiet the resistance to the process.
The second gift is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Atonement gives us permission to risk learning through experience. It is a gift to all mankind. It allows each of us to learn in the way that teaches us. It allows us to let go and choose again. All we have to do is receive the Gift and it restores us to love.
Our Laboratories of Learning
Once we understood the plan of salvation, we were allowed to choose if we wanted to proceed into the learning experience. The only way we could proceed was to leave our heavenly home. The one thing God could not provide us in our this home was a place of learning in opposition and limitations, so He created the perfect environment for gaining wisdom, a place to create our own results and choose.
I love this quote from President Nelson:
“Our doctrine is not complicated, or convoluted, or complex. It’s so simple: Love God and love your neighbor.”
This generation is referred to as the last generation in this laboratory of learning. The earth has completed every phase of its existence except the final phase — the phase of healing the fear and pain! Our generation has access to more technology, more awareness, more tools for healing the body, the mind, and the soul than has ever existed in any other. It is our mission to utilize these tools to heal ourselves so we will be able to assist in the healing of all the generations who left this planet without knowing how to heal. We stand in proxy for those generations who, piece-by-piece, provided us with the tools. We are to take care to avoid getting so engrossed in gathering our tools that we forget to use them to build. We will be forever students AND we are to also become healers as well. We will help others heal. In this manner, we utilize the Light of Christ we were born with. We develop this light within ourselves and honor the Light of Christ within others.
In this manner, we fulfill the commission to turn our hearts to the fathers. Each generation is indebted to all the others or the ability to rise in the morning of the First Resurrection. Nobody “wins” unless everybody wins. The idea of unconditional love is that we don’t go home without bringing everybody home! We don’t give up on anybody. Nobody is a throw-away person. None can progress to wisdom and self-mastery while still engulfed in fear and pain. Ours is the generation endowed with the ability to be heal the pain. We cannot heal others beyond the level of our own healing. Hence, “Physician, heal thyself.”
I’ve contemplated that perhaps the final cleansing of the earth is not to be by the fire of an actual nuclear holocaust. Perhaps it is to be accomplished by the cleansing fire of the Holy Ghost as we restore the planet to love through releasing the fear and pain that is smothering the atmosphere around us. We do this through learning and living the law of love which is unconditional and extends to every soul who ever entered this laboratory of learning.
“Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic.” — Stephen R. Covey
Elect Lady… Daughter of Light.
Being a Bridge of Love, spanning the abyss between
confusion and fear to clarity and Love.
Feeling a surge of strength from above.
Sensing the need to release all fear of this dimension and reconnect
with who I am as God created me.
I am a reflector of the Light honoring my sacred contract
to be here to look into the eyes of others awakening to the desire to remember
who they really are as God created them..
As they see their reflection mirrored in my joyful, tear brimmed eyes
they begin the transformation into the realm of Unconditional Love.
by Sonja Lorrigan Hopkins
About Sonja Hopkins
Sonja lives with her husband, Dale, on Anderson Island, Washington. She and her husband are Church Service Missionaries serving in the Addiction Recovery Program, focusing on pornography and sex addiction. She is also a certified life coach and teaches "Life Skills for Emotional Self-Mastery" in her stake twice a month. She does not teach you only to process something traumatic done to you in the past; rather, she helps you learn to feel it, heal it, and LET GO of whatever you still do to yourself and to others in order to cope with what was done to you in the past.