Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Days 2-3 of BOM Challenge: Three lessons I learned from Nephi - pep talks, knowing, and not heeding.

For days two and three we read 1 Nephi 4 through 10. 

Today I tried studying at the gym with headphones playing soft piano music to drown out the yucky music there. Although my handwriting looks rough, it worked pretty well on the elliptical and leg machines. I love multi tasking so it works for me. I'm hoping to find a used elliptical soon so I can work out at home instead. 

Nephi is amazing. I want to be like him. I am seriously excited to meet him in heaven. And thank him for the bazillion ways his writings bless my life. Here are three lessons I learned from him today. 

First, I absolutely love the pattern of pep talks Nephi gives his brothers every time they lose faith. We can give ourselves the same pep talk any time we need one. It goes like this: 

  • God is more powerful than this problem (insert your current problem). 
  • Remember God has helped us and our ancestors before (insert specific examples here). 
  • I know God wants us to do this, so we can 100% count on His help. I know He will help us now, so let's move forward. " (See 1 Nephi 3:15-21; 4:1-3; 7:8-15; 17:23-51.)

The time I had to give myself this pep talk the most was 3 1/2 years ago when the Lord prompted me that we should start homeschooling our children. I was absolutely terrified and overwhelmed at the thought. Nephi's pep talk pattern helped us gain courage and strength to do something very challenging and out of our comfort zone. We did two things: 
1) We invited each child to ask for their own personal witness from God that this is His will for him or her. Just as Nephi received his own witness (See 1 Nephi 2:16) that made ALL the difference for us. As soon as we know something is God's will for us, we know with 100% surety that He will help us do it. 
2) We created our own list of ways God has helped our ancestors, people in the scriptures, others, and ourselves through challenges that seemed impossible. God can make the impossible become possible. I still keep this list in my planner to boost my faith when needed. Click here to see my list. 

Second, when you know God asked you to do something, you move forward even if you don't know how it's going to work yet. 

After two failures to obtain the brass plates from Laban, two incidents of Nephi's life being threatened, and two times having his brothers want to give up and go back, Nephi would not give up. He had a witness from the Spirit, he knew that God needed them to get the plates, and that God wouldn't command something without making a way for them to accomplish it (See 1 Nephi 3:7).  "And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do. Nevertheless I went forth" (1 Nephi 4:6-7). This really touches my heart! 

My lesson: I can get my own witness from the Spirit of God's will for me. Then once I do, I can move forward with confidence even when I have no idea how it's going to work. This story gave us the strength to do just that when the Spirit prompted us to homeschool. This applies to anything challenging: a new baby, a new calling, moving homes, a change in career, education, and so on. 

Third, which group do I belong to in Lehi's tree of life dream? 

All four groups of people in this dream started on the path that led to the tree, which Elder Bednar said meant they represent baptized members of the Church (I'm still looking for this source). Let's see what each group did and where they landed.  

Group one: Never found the iron rod, and when the mist of darkness came, they wandered off and got lost. (See 1 Nephi 8:22-23.)
Group two: Grabbed the iron rod (the word of God), clung to the rod (think of a sheet of fabric softener clinging to a shirt, easy to flick off), and partook of the fruit of the tree of life. But when they noticed people in the great and spacious building mocking them, they were ashamed and fell away into forbidden paths and were lost. (See 1 Nephi 8:24-28.)
Group three: This group grabbed the iron rod and "continually holding fast to the rod of iron until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree."  Notice they never let go of the iron rod. Notice they fell down so they were there to stay. They didn't heed the mockers in the great and spacious building. Lehi said "For as many as heeded them, had fallen away." (See 1 Nephi 8:30, 34.) 
Group four: Seeming to only care about joining the mockers in the building, they either drowned in the fountain, wandered off in strange roads, or made it to the building and joined the mockers, criticizing those who were eating the fruit. (See 1 Nephi 8:31-34.) 
The two main lessons I gain from contrasting the four groups are:  

  1. I must hold to the rod constantly "every day, every day, every day" (See Elder Pearson's recent conference talk). 
  2. I must keep my eyes on the tree, NOT on the building. Those are not good odds - "as many as heeded [the mockers in the building] fell away."  That sounds like 100% odds to me. It's not worth the risk of falling away. 

What does not heeding the great and spacious building look like to me? 

Avoiding mainstream worldly media, because that is the epitome of mocking everything godly - virtue, godly values, God, marriage, family, honesty, respect, modesty, morality, fidelity, and so on. 

President Boyd K. Packer stated, "Largely because of television, instead of looking over into that spacious building, we are, in effect, living inside of it. That is your fate in this generation. You are living in that great and spacious building" (“Lehi’s Dream and You,” BYU Devotional Address, January 16, 2007). 

President Packer seems to be saying that worldly media like television are a lot of what the great and spacious building is made of, so it makes sense to me to avoid it as much of it as possible. Click here or here for my thoughts about that. If we follow the media standards in For the Strength of Youth, it becomes much easier to follow the rest of the standards like honesty, modesty, chastity, and respect toward family and friends, because we aren't being taught the opposite by mainstream media. Just my two cents about the great and spacious building!   

What are your thoughts about lessons we learn from Nephi and the tree of life dream? Feel free to leave a comment below. 


Megan said...

I've always wrestled a little with the wording of that verse about clinging because to me the word "clinging" has the connotation of cling-stone peaches (which, if you've ever done canning with even semi-cling fruits, you know those pits are not easy to get off!) or clinging on for dear life. I appreciate the imagery of static cling, and of Elder Bednar's talk about scripture study that made me think they only clung to the scriptures when they were in times of trial but not in everyday life.

I shared this on the FB post, but when it says the holding fast group fell down at the tree, it made me wonder -- was it exhaustion from the intense road it took to get to the tree? Or more like falling down at the Savior's feet in humility and gratitude for all He's done for us? Both interpretations cause me to ponder. :)

Becky Edwards said...

Megan, I love your thoughts about this story. I had the same question about clinging until I came across the fabric softener example, which made sense to me. Clinging obviously meant less intense holding than holding fast. I tend to think it was falling at the Savior's feet out of worship, gratitude, and humility. When we truly yoke ourselves to the Savior, His power can make our burdens lighter and we won't be as tired as if we tried to do this all alone. This video clip by Wendy Watson Nelson makes that point beautifully.

Tami said...

To me, clinging also sounds like a fear-filled, energy-sucking grip that is impossible to maintain long-term, so you start to slip, then readjust your grip, maybe let go with one hand to wipe away the sweat ... etc. I get a real sense of fear and the physical effects of fear when I read that. Also, the book Falling To Heaven has changed my whole outlook! When we are meek, submissive, "low", we are lifted spiritually. When we are lifted (in pride, etc.) we fall spiritually. It's a great book!