The Psalm of Nephi (Part 5/6) – Nephi’s Resolve – 2 Nephi 4:28-30

You can read 2 Nephi 4:26-30 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • 2 Nephi 4:15-35 comprises what is commonly referred to as The Psalm of Nephi.
  • Nephi feels sorrow because he has allowed sin into his heart.
  • Nephi remembers and praises the Lord.
  • Nephi forsakes his sin.
  • Nephi resolves to do better.
  • Nephi petitions the Lord.

Nephi’s Resolve

This is the fifth part of the study of the Psalm of Nephi. You can read:

Before we start this post—a quick recap. First, Nephi grieved as he recognized his sin and the subsequent loss of the Spirit. Nephi’s sorrowing was poignant and genuine, but he didn’t allow himself to wallow in it. Instead, he stated: Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. After making this mental shift – he began to rejoice in the Lord. His rejoicing led him to ask him a few questions that help to buoy him up and motivate him back to righteousness.

Today, we will study what comes next – Nephi’s resolve.

In 2 Nephi, we read:

“Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.

Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.

Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.” – 2 Nephi 4:28-30

Now that Nephi has dug himself out of the hole of pity caused by sin, and after rejoicing in the Lord, he has a renewed sense of commitment. He has hope and resolve.

I think that this is a really important part of the Psalm of Nephi. When we think of repentance and the process of confessing and forsaking sin, for some reason it always sounds so sad to me. I think that there is some part of me that thinks true repentance is only a small step off of that part of the self flagellation we see in the movie The Davinci Code committed by that Opus Dei priest.

I have never purposely hurt or cut myself – to pay a penance or feel sorrow for my sins. But there is a part of me, I must admit, that misunderstands the nature of the Atonement. There is a part of me that thinks repentance should be grueling. There is a part of me that thinks I need to suffer, suffer, and suffer if I’m truly sorry for my sin.

There is a part of me that focuses only on the “Oh wretched man that I am,” part of Nephi’s psalm, while ignoring the following 18 verses of rejoicing, recommitting, and hope.

I know that I already touched on this concept in an earlier blog post, but I feel it is important to bring it up quickly again.

Repentance shouldn’t end in sorrow or pain. When we truly repent, we should feel reinvigorated, hopeful, and excited about recommitment.

Think of Alma the younger’s experience with repentance and conversion. He saw an angel while he was out persecuting the members of the church. He then was in a comatose state for three days. We read of his experience:

“But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.

Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.

Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.

Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.

And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.” – Alma 36:12-16

Alma experienced great sorrow. But notice what he says. He was experiencing the pains “of a damned soul.”

And the thing is, we aren’t damned. We don’t have to experience this kind of hopeless grief caused by our sin. We don’t have to be tormented. Yes we sin. And yes, this is how we feel when we are left alone with our sins. But the thing is: we haven’t been left alone.

We have been forgiven.

The Savior, Himself, stated:

“For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;

But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;

Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—

Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” – Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-19

We have been forgiven! Is suffering connected to sin? Absolutely! The Savior described his experience in suffering for sin. It was so painful it caused him God to tremble.

But do we have to “suffer” in order to be forgiven? No! At least, not necessarily. This is why Christ suffered. So that instead, we could repent.

The suffering that Alma felt was the sorrow of a damned soul. It was not godly sorrow that led to repentance. His sorrow was hopeless torment. He wished to be “banished and … extinct both soul and body….” Thankfully for him, he had been taught about the hope offered by Christ. He continues with his experience:

“And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.

Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.

And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.

And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” – Alma 36:17-21

Now look at this!!! Alma, when he thinks of the Savior and then chooses to express Godly sorrow, he repents. He stops with the self hatred. He is filled with the pure love of Christ. He experiences exquisite joy.

orchid tree

Back to Nephi.

He doesn’t wallow in self-pity. And now, after changing his focus and rejoicing in God, he recommits.

Nephi’s resolve:

  • Awake!
  • Don’t droop in sin – don’t get discouraged.
  • Rejoice in the Lord.
  • Don’t give the enemy a place in our hearts.
  • Don’t anger because of enemies.
  • Don’t let strength slacken during adversity.
  • Rejoice in the Lord!
  • Praise the Lord! He is the rock of our salvation.

mountain in ut

I’m so thankful for Nephi’s example. I know that I need to follow this example in my own life. When I’m feeling down and out – whether it’s through sin or through some adversity, I need to do what Nephi has done: remember the Lord, rejoice in Him, and then recommit.

The Psalm of Nephi (Part 4/6) – Nephi’s Analysis – 2 Nephi 4:26-27

You can read 2 Nephi 4:26-30 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • 2 Nephi 4:15-35 comprises what is commonly referred to as The Psalm of Nephi.
  • Nephi feels sorrow because he has allowed sin into his heart.
  • Nephi remembers and praises the Lord.
  • Nephi forsakes his sin.
  • Nephi resolves to do better.
  • Nephi petitions the Lord.

Nephi’s Analysis

This is the fourth part of the study of the Psalm of Nephi. You can read Part One – Nephi’s Grief – here. You can read Part Two – Nevertheless – here. You can read Part Three – Always Remembering – here.

Can I just say how much I love the Psalm of Nephi. It is perfect and appropriate for me in my life currently. I’m going through my own struggles right now. I’ve shared some of them in past posts. Today, as I write this post, I’m sitting on the couch. I’ve been parked on the couch or on my bed for the better part of a month now – trying to conserve energy because my heart has been giving me trouble.

Yesterday (which was actually in October), I was really struggling. I started off the day feeling positive and hopeful. I was on my way to see the EP (a cardiologist that specializes in the Electrical component of the heart). I guess I had a hope that he would have an answer to my dizziness, shortness of breath, and chest pain.

This was my first appointment with the EP, so I don’t know why expected much, but whatever it was that I wanted didn’t necessarily happen. The appointment wasn’t bad, it was just another appointment where I explained how I felt and then tests were ordered. I’m scheduled to wear a Holter monitor (or event monitor, I can’t remember which one I’ll be wearing) for ten days. I’m also scheduled to have a tilt table test.

When the doctor mentioned the tilt table test, my heart sank. I’ve had that test in the past, and I really hated the experience. I never wanted to go through that again, yet here I am. Of course, this is an irrational response. The tests are important – they will help the doctor to know which action to take.

Finally, I’m scheduled to meet with the doctor in three weeks’ time – to go over the results of the tests.

On my way home, and throughout the rest of the day, I had a positive feeling about the doctor’s visit. The NP or PA (I can’t remember which) that I met with before talking with the doc was so nice. He listened. Not only that, but he seemed to comprehend what I was talking about. He wasn’t rushed. It seemed like he believed me and had confidence in me. Sometimes doctors give off a skeptical air. I have been going through that a lot lately. When you are a woman in her forties with good heart health, good cholesterol, good triglycerides, good thyroid, and good arteries, then it is hard for doctors to conceive why you are having chest pain! This is frustrating because the symptoms I’m experiencing are real. We do have to be our own advocates sometimes!

Anyway – though I can get frustrated, I left feeling pretty hopeful. I knew that the doctor wasn’t telling me I was crazy. I knew that he needed to simply get information. He needs to see the problem enough to know how to fix it.

Fast forward to last night. I was overcome. Overcome with doubt, fear, and frustration. I was overcome with impatience. Three more weeks of tests and waiting!?!?! I was overcome because I just want to get back to normal life. I want to actually interact with and homeschool my kids (right now my husband and oldest daughter – who is graduated – are doing the load). I want to be a mother to my family. I want to go outside and run. I want to do yoga. I am an active person, and I’ve been nearly bedridden. I want to do those things now! I want the fix now! I want to get back to life and I want to get after it!!!

Being overcome led to more doubts, more fears, more frustration. I lost hope and cheer. I was “down in the dumps.” I tried not to dwell on it too much. I knew that I couldn’t really solve the problem last night. Instead, I could distract myself from it for a little bit until I was in a better state of mind. So I did (by looking at pretty quilts and funny comics). Then I went to bed.

NOW…

It’s morning. I feel happy. I feel hopeful. And I feel overwhelmed by the tender mercies of the Lord. I am studying the Psalm of Nephi just as I’m going through my own harrowing experience! The Lord is helping to direct my path – so I can learn to persevere and overcome temptation and sin. So I can learn how to stay “of good cheer.”

okay. So onto the scripture study.

So – as a quick recap. First, Nephi grieved as he recognized his sin and the subsequent loss of the Spirit. Nephi’s sorrowing was poignant and genuine, but he didn’t allow himself to wallow in it. Instead, he stated: Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. After making this mental shift – he began to rejoice in the Lord. That brings us to where we are today.

Nephi Asks Himself a Few Questions

After recounting all of the experiences he has had with the lord, Nephi asks himself:

Question One – If I have seen so many great things, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?

This is a good question to ask. If you are going through a hard time, then do what Nephi has done – remind yourself of your testimony and experiences with the Lord. Then ask yourself, if I have this testimony, and I have experienced these great things, then why should my heart weep?

Maybe I should have read this last night.

Why should I let my heart weep? I know that the Lord is involved in the details of my life! I have experienced too many tender mercies, too many miracles to deny this fact. The Lord has always helped me to find a way through every problem. I have been living deux ex machina, as He keeps providing miraculous fixes from out of nowhere in my life.

I may not be done with my trial yet, but I know that the Lord is involved in these details of my life, and His involvement is helping me get through every step. Everything is hard, but everything keeps working out in the nick of time.

So why should my heart weep? There are physical impacts on letting my spirit sink. It is stressful to my body. And then my physical, mental, and spiritual resolve all slacken. And this, just because of the trial I face now…when I know that the Lord will deliver me in due time – just as He has every time!

Question Two – And Why Should I Yield to Sin, because of My Flesh?

Another good question. Why should we yield to sin? Yes, we are beings of flesh, but we are also spirit sons and daughters of God.

We don’t have to be subject to the irrational whims of the flesh.

Of course, it isn’t easy, but there are evidences of people putting mind over matter all the time.

In fact, I would wager that anyone who is reading this can think of a time in their own lives when they have put their minds and wills over the urges of the flesh. Nearly every good thing in life requires such discipline.

I will mention my own experience – the one that comes first. Years ago, I ran a marathon. That was mind over matter to the nth degree for me. No one really, naturally wants to run a marathon. Pheidippides himself didn’t set out to run 26.2 miles for fun. He had a message to deliver. Everyone reaches a point in the marathon where their body is asking, “why are we doing this? This is too hard. Stop! We can’t do this. Sit down! Eat a taco!!!”

But the matter, our bodies, our natural man isn’t always all that smart. And our natural selves also aren’t always right. This part of us is not considering the whole picture. So, our higher self has to remind the amygdala: Fear not! Don’t worry! We’ve got this. We won’t die. We’ll cross that finish line. And we’ll be really happy.

Nephi’s flesh is what enticed him to anger against his brother. It was the primitive, amygdala at work – telling Nephi to be afraid. His brothers wanted to kill him.

And was this message completely unwarranted? No! Of course not! It’s interesting, we do need to listen to the flesh a little bit. But we just can’t use the flesh to justify sin! Laman and Lemuel were a real threat. In fact, 2 Nephi 5, we will read that Nephi flees from them. So – it’s not as if the flesh was giving Nephi this completely unreliable story. It would be so much easier to put mind over matter if “matter” didn’t make at least a little bit of sense.

We just have to remind that part of our brain, that part of our flesh that God is in charge. That we have trained for this. That we will actually be okay. We have to refrain from sin, and instead lean upon the Spirit to find the solution that will actually set us free and keep us safe.

Question Three – Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul?

Another good question to ponder when in the throes of sin and temptation.

If I would have asked myself this last night, I wouldn’t have been so forlorn.

I mean think about it. What was the purpose of me giving into temptations? Did it make my situation better? Was worrying and fretting and getting frustrated with God a good use of my time last night?

NO!

Giving into these temptations only helped Satan. He tempts us to go down this line of thought so that then then we will leave the door open for him to enter into our hearts and destroy our peace.

That’s all that was accomplished last night as I worried. I just kept worrying and worrying.

It’s so hard.

I realize that sometimes we worry because we have no solution and we need one. That was my worry last night. I felt trapped. And last night, there was no “solution” available – not yet. If I had not given into temptation, there still wouldn’t have been a solution. Right now, I’m just supposed to wait. Last night, I was just supposed to wait. Get rest.

It’s hard to wait. We talk a lot about distractions. Usually in a negative sense. While I’m not a proponent of distractions, they are really helpful in situations like these – when we just have to wait. It’s easier to be patient if we will distract ourselves from the waiting…Of course, we need to be sure that we are distracting ourselves with good things – things that will lift our spirits and bring us peace and joy as we wait.

In any case, it’s best not to give into temptation. We don’t want to let the adversary into our hearts. He only seeks to destroy.

Question Four – Why am I angry because of mine enemy?

This is an interesting question for Nephi to ask. In one way, it seems justifiable for Nephi to be angry because of his enemies (his brothers!)…they wanted to kill him!

But really, why was he angry? He knew that God had power to save him. He knew that his enemies were his enemies!

As I study this, I realize – who is the enemy? Is it Laman and Lemuel? Or is it the adversary?

In any case, why give up our precious peace of mind, contentment, joy, focus, or concentration? Why hand that over to someone who wants to destroy us? Why hand that over to Satan???

Personally, why did I let my enemy stir me up last night? Why did I give in to self-pity and pride? The devil doesn’t support his children. He stirs us up to anger, and then leaves us stewing. He doesn’t comfort us or calm us. He just increases the pain.

What’s the point? Why be angry? Why give in to his temptations and let our enemy have place in our soul???

***

This is a long post. It is personal. I hope it is helpful to someone. I’m not trying to unload my problems onto you, but I’m trying to study the scriptures. I’m also trying to illustrate the concepts I learn in concrete ways that might also help anyone reading this blog. Thanks for sticking with me!

The Psalm of Nephi (Part 3/6) – Always Remembering – 2 Nephi 4:20-25

You can read 2 Nephi 4:20-25 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • 2 Nephi 4:15-35 comprises what is commonly referred to as The Psalm of Nephi.
  • Nephi feels sorrow because he has allowed sin into his heart.
  • Nephi remembers and praises the Lord.
  • Nephi forsakes his sin.
  • Nephi petitions the Lord.

Always Remembering

This is the third part of the study of the Psalm of Nephi. You can read Part One – Nephi’s Grief – here. You can read Part Two – Nevertheless – here.

So – as a quick recap. First, Nephi grieved as he recognized his sin and the subsequent loss of the Spirit. Nephi’s sorrowing was poignant and genuine, but he didn’t allow himself to wallow in it. Instead, he stated: Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

The shift – from feeling grief to remembering God, was critical. Satan can tempt us to self-loathe and even self destruct when we feel the grief and sadness that accompanies sin. He wants us to forget about our Savior.

Isn’t that interesting. It is what we covenant to do. Always remembering Him, I’m finding, is so much more than some chore or commandment. It’s the secret! It’s the secret to repentance, joy, and hope in life.

This is what Nephi does next. He goes from grieving his sin to remembering God, to rejoicing in Him.

Nephi stated: I know in whom I have trusted.…Let’s see who that is.

Verse 20 – Support, Guidance, Preservation

“My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.” – 2 Nephi 4:20

Nephi took the time to remember that God supported him. We have the record. It may be an abridgment, but we have enough to know that indeed, God supported Nephi, Lehi, and their entire family.

The Lord led Nephi’s family through the wilderness with the Liahona.

Not only that, but we know that Nephi was preserved when they were traveling on the water. First of all, the Lord taught Nephi how to build a boat. Then, the Lord preserved them, even when Nephi’s brothers started getting naughty.

Verse 21 – Filled with Love

“He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.” – 2 Nephi 4:21

Nephi remembered a time when the Lord’s love so filled him, his flesh was consumed. I have a few ideas on when this could have happened, but I’m not completely sure. Maybe when Nephi saw the vision of the tree of life? Maybe when he was with his brothers and shocked them.

The real point is, Nephi’s spiritual experiences were also physical experiences. He knows God’s love – not only in his mind and heart, but even physically.

Nephi took the time to remember these experiences here.

Verse 22 – Confounded Enemies

“He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.” – 2 Nephi 4:22

Nephi remembered a time when the Lord confounded his enemies (his brothers!) – and caused them to shake. We can recall this as well – when Nephi was commanded to build a boat, his brothers argued with him and tried to cast him into the sea. The Lord filled Nephi with power, commanded Nephi to stretch forth his hand, and when Nephi did, his brothers quaked before him.

During this prayer, the Psalm of Nephi, Nephi took the time to remember when the Lord empowered him against his enemies. (Not only is this a good experience for Nephi to remember, but it has direct application to the problem that Nephi was facing. Nephi didn’t need to get so angry or worry about his brothers. The Lord would protect Nephi as long as Nephi continued to be faithful and quality for the companionship of the Spirit.)

Verse 23-25 – Listened to Prayers, Gave Revelations

“Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.

And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.

And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.” – 2 Nephi 4:23-25

In these verses, Nephi recalled the times that he prayed to God, how the Lord listened to him, and then how the Lord answered his prayers. The Lord revealed to Nephi. The Lord sent angels to teach Nephi. And Nephi is reminding himself of these experiences.

Application

Okay…so as I write this, I’m thinking about the act of remembering. Nephi is remembering specific experiences he has had with the Lord.

I think that I have made a mistake when it comes to remembering the Savior. There is a primary song that sometimes plays through my head during the sacrament:

“It shouldn’t be hard to sit very still
And think about Jesus, His cross on the Hill;
And all that He suffered and did for me;
It should’t be hard to sit quietly.
It shouldn’t be hard, even though I am small,
To think about Jesus, not hard at all.” – To Think About Jesus

When I think of “always remembering Him.” I think of this – thinking about Christ’s life, His suffering, His death. I think of remembering that He created this earth. I think of remembering what I have read in the scriptures.

Those aren’t bad to think about. But they are abstract. And, you know…I’m not sure it is always a strong enough experience to really change my heart when I’m sorrowing as Nephi sorrowed.

When Nephi remembered the Savior, he didn’t think abstractly about the Savior. He thought of his own personal spiritual experiences. He remembered the interactions he had with the Savior and His spirit.

Perhaps it is helpful for you (and for me) to take a moment right now to do that. Think of a spiritual experience that you have had in the past. Think of the circumstances. Think of your pleading. Think of His help. Think of how you felt. Maybe even take a moment to write down as much as you can about the experience.

I’ll share a simple one. This is recent. In the summer and into the fall, I was having heart issues. To make matters worse, I’m also having issues with my insurance provider. Back in October, my cardiologist ordered an angiogram. It was scheduled for a Wednesday morning.

I arrived at the hospital, fasted, at Six AM. I checked in and sat down. Situation normal. About fifteen minutes later, one of the hospital staff called my name. She explained that the insurance had not approved the procedure! She asked if I knew. I told her I had no idea. That this was the first I had heard about it.

She kindly explained that sometimes mistakes are made. She told me to keep waiting, as she tried to get in touch with my insurance company and the doctor’s office.

So I waited.

I had to wait a while because it was so early – neither the insurance company nor the doctors offices were open yet.

I waited. And for the most part I waited patiently. But inwardly, I was frustrated. The heart situation was stressful enough, why did the insurance have to be a bother? Why couldn’t this be easier??? Why did the Lord let this happen? You have to understand, at the time, my family and I were already under great stress. This just threw me over the edge.

Of course, I knew that it was asinine for me to blame God. I also knew that I needed to trust Him. I said a silent prayer to apologize, then started looking up funny memes to put me in a better mood.

Eventually, it was discovered that the doctors office would have to try again to get the insurance company to approve the procedure, but that would take at least another day. I explained to the hospital staff that I was having chest pain. She immediately talked to my physician, and it was decided to admit me through the ER.

I had the angiogram.

After the procedure, my doctor chatted with me for a moment. It was disconcerting because he came to a conclusion that seemed so far off from the problem. To his credit – I had been under the care of the Nurse Practitioner. This time I didn’t get angry with God. I just knew that I needed to be my own advocate with the doctor, and that if necessary I would simply get a second opinion.

At 11AM, about ten minutes after the short chat with the doctor, my nurse practitioner happened to walk by. A rep had brought some free lunch to the cath lab, and so they called my NP to come by and get some – even though he was at the offices in the next building. I smiled at him, and when he recognized me, he stopped to chat.

I told him the results – that the angio is normal. “Great!” he said. “You’re heart is healthy, and the problem is electrical. Maybe it is just a pacemaker you need!”

His response was exactly what I had been expecting! I felt comforted. As I reflected on this experience, I realized had my angio been performed as scheduled, then I wouldn’t have seen my NP – I would have been out of the cath lab long before 11 AM.

I recognized the tender mercy. Not only was I getting a procedure that I needed performed to help the doctors discover my condition, but the Lord was also throwing in a tender mercy – I would be able to chat with my NP, who was updated on my whole history.

I knew that the doctor would have come to the same conclusion later, but it would have been after I went home. The Lord spared me from stress (and finding a new doctor). I recognized that the Lord really loves us and is involved in the details of our lives. We just need to trust Him.

***Now***

The point of sharing this experience didn’t have to do with the experience. Instead, it was about the act of remembering. As I wrote that experience down – and really remembered as many details as possible – I was reminded of the great love that Heavenly Father has for me. I was reminded of the miracles and grace that I experience in my daily life. My love grew for Him as I remembered His love for me.

Remembering the Savior and the experiences we have with Him helps us to feel hopeful and happy! It changes our moods. It reinforces the good experiences we felt originally.

I’m so grateful for Nephi’s example. When we are experiencing sorrow – whether it is from our own sin or from other thing that has happened to us, we can choose to remember in whom we have trusted. We can choose to remember our Lord specifically. We can think of the experiences we have had where we have felt his love, his guidance, his protection, etc. We can let those experiences re-root themselves in our souls. As we do so, the joy and love of Christ fills our hearts – immediately. No longer do we droop in sin, but we will begin to feel the joy that comes from rejoicing.

The Psalm of Nephi (Part 2/6) – Nevertheless – 2 Nephi 4:19

You can read 2 Nephi 4:19 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • 2 Nephi 4:15-35 comprises what is commonly referred to as The Psalm of Nephi.
  • Nephi feels sorrow because he has allowed sin into his heart.
  • Nephi remembers and praises the Lord.
  • Nephi forsakes his sin.
  • Nephi petitions the Lord.

Nevertheless

This is the second part of the study of the Psalm of Nephi. You can read Part One here.

In Part One, we studied the opening of the Psalm of Nephi. He is grieving because of his sin.

Today, we find a turning point. Since today’s scripture study is a single verse, I’ll just include it here:

“And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.” – 2 Nephi 4:19

My Heart Groaneth

At first in this verse, we are reading more of Nephi’s grief. When he desires to rejoice, he can’t. Instead, his heart groans. And why? Because of his sins.

I understand this. I’ve experienced this. I have committed sins, and I know that I will continue to commit sins. I know the sorrow that accompanies a sin against God.

Now, I feel like I want to investigate this further. I actually think that Satan uses this opportunity—even while we repent—to tempt us (obviously…he never stops hunting us down). Satan doesn’t want us to experience the hope of repentance and the miracle of forgiveness. Sometimes, he thwarts are attempts before we even begin. However, it is also safe to assume that he tries to thwart our repentance and then joy even during the process.

Now, I don’t mean to say that he is sitting in your ear, tempting you as you pray. I don’t know. But what I do mean to say is that often Satan is able to deceive us long before we are faced with the opportunity to make a choice. He deceives us by getting us to misunderstand the world around us, the gospel, etc. If he can distort our paradigm in which we make the choice, then he doesn’t have to work to hard on us.

For example – think of the Garden of Eden. When Satan tempted Eve, he didn’t boldly proclaim, Eat the fruit. Instead, he helped her to see that it was good for food. He caused her to misunderstand the implications of the fruit. He blurred Eve’s perceptions so that truth was mixed with falsehood, and she couldn’t really see the difference.

Eve wasn’t rebellious. She didn’t partake of the fruit because she hated God. She had bad information. Based on the bad information, she made a bad decision.

Satan employs the same tactics today. If he can give us a wrong roadmap, then he doesn’t have to tempt us – we’ll get ourselves lost. Therefore, it is important for us to study the gospel and pray for discernment.

So – back to Nephi and the groaning of his heart. It is probably important for us to understand appropriate sorrow and the role it plays in our lives. I think that Satan tries to cloud our understanding of Godly sorrow and repentance, so that we will unwittingly make mistakes and continue in misery.

About sorrow, Paul teaches:

“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” – 2 Corinthians 7:10

So, here we learn that there are two types of sorrow. Godly sorrow will lead us to repentance. Worldly sorrow only leads to death.

Let’s think about that some more. When we feel godly sorrow – sadness because we have done something that has put us at odds with Him; because we have cut ourselves off from Him, then we will be motivated to repent.

Remember – repentance is the work of turning ourselves to the Lord. I like to think of it as recalibration. Godly sorrow will inspire us to correct our courses, and then, as we repent, the natural outcome will be an increase of joy and hope. Recall Adam and Eve after they partook of the fruit:

“And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.

And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.” – Moses 5:10-11

Their transgression led to sorrow, which led to repentance. Though Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, they faithfully did as the Lord taught them. They multiplied and replenished the earth. They gave sacrifices to the Lord as He had instructed. They kept their eyes single to God – which resulted in hope and joy despite their sin.

This is the miracle of forgiveness. Godly sorrow helps to pave the way toward such a miracle in our lives. So, though we may feel sorrowful for a moment, the Lord will bless us even in our times of sorrow as we repent, and we will be filled with joy. It’s an amazing blessing.

Worldly sorrow, on the other hand, “worketh death.” Does this mean that if we feel worldly sorrow then we’ll be pushing up daisies within days? Maybe. Maybe not. Regardless of our physical life or death, worldly sorrow will keep us separated from God, which is spiritual death. This is misery. This is discouragement. This is despondency.

Worldly sorrow offers no solution or hope. It will only engender feelings of hatred – sometimes that hatred will be inflicted on the self or on others. In any case, it’s pretty terrible.

We read of an extreme example of such worldly sorrow in the Book of Mormon:

“Thus there began to be a mourning and a lamentation in all the land because of these things, and more especially among the people of Nephi.

And it came to pass that when I, Mormon, saw their lamentation and their mourning and their sorrow before the Lord, my heart did begin to rejoice within me, knowing the mercies and the long-suffering of the Lord, therefore supposing that he would be merciful unto them that they would again become a righteous people.

But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.

And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives.” – Mormon 2:11-14

Yes, we can feel sorrow when we sin. We ought to. We distance ourselves from God – the God whose nature is a nature of happiness. But when we feel Godly sorrow, He will comfort us. He will not allow our sin. He can’t. But He will offer a way for correction and atonement. We will feel joy and peace because of the opportunity to repent.

But sorrow is tricky. And when we feel sorrow for sin, I think that Satan can see a little gap for his entrance. He can tempt us to get lost in sorrow. He can tempt us to let that sorrowful emotion escalate to enmity. He can also tempt us with feelings of shame—that there is no hope for us. That the Atonement cannot help us. That we are worthless creatures because we are imperfect. He tries to get us to misunderstand the value of sorrow because then we are more apt to get lost in the misery of sorrow and shame rather than hopeful in the joy of repentance.

I’m sorry. I feel like I’ve been blabbing on and on about this for a while, but the set up is necessary. This is why I really love 2 Nephi 4:19.

I have gotten snared by Satan before. I remember once I was feeling down in the dumps. I was taking stock of my life – in a prayer – and I was apologizing. My house was a mess. I was overweight. I was feeling lonely. Etc. I can’t really remember everything, but I do remember noticing every flaw, every fault. I had no self control. I had no will power. I just couldn’t get things to work in my life.

I was apologizing for me in my prayer. The more I prayed, the worse I felt. I finally finished the prayer feeling like I was carrying a 1,000 pound weight…I wondered why do I pray when I just feel so terrible afterward.

I went out for a run afterward, and I was listening to a conference talk. I don’t really remember what the talk was about, but I do remember that the Spirit (thankfully!) spoke to my soul. The reason I felt so terrible after that prayer was because THE SPIRIT wouldn’t say Amen to it. Everything I was saying, my worldly sorrow and self-pity drove the Spirit away. I may have thought I was praying, but the Lord didn’t see it that way. His Spirit will not bear false witness. If it had let me feel better after a prayer of so much self-loathing, then it would have been lying.

I learned if I wanted to feel better after prayers, then I needed to be saying the things that would be sanctioned by the Spirit of God.

And this is where Nephi comes in.

He’s feeling pretty terrible (O wretched man that I am!). He is frustrated by his yielding to sin. He knows better. He is identifying his weakness and sin.

His heart was groaning.

Nevertheless

I don’t know about Nephi. I don’t know if he was tempted in this moment, but I know that I have said more than one prayer where my heart groaned. The example that I shared above is where my heart groaned and groaned and groaned. But at some point, I forgot God.

In verse 19, the timber of the prayer changes. Nephi utters the words: nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. Nephi may not be perfect. He may give into sin. But he has always trusted God.

Instead of going down a spiral of self-loathing and heart groaning, Nephi makes the choice to stop! He chooses to be confident in his trust in God. He chooses to remember God.

This phrase, nevertheless, I know in whom I’ve trusted, is the moment when the momentum shifts from a downward spiral into hope. There is still more work to be done, and we will study more of Nephi’s prayer in blog posts to follow. But verse 19 is a pivot point.

This is a long post, so I’ll wrap up. But I wanted to take the time to recognize this verse and the pivot that Nephi made. I don’t know everything about Nephi, maybe one day in the sky we’ll be able to talk to him. But I know how I am. I know that Satan will do all he can to be sure that if I sin, I won’t kneel down and pray. And if I do kneel down and pray, he doesn’t give up. He wants us to feel so terrible that we doubt the efficacy of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

It is easy for me to get caught in this trap…and when I feel tempted to go down the path of self-loathing and worldly, inconsolable sorrow, then I repeat the mantra: nevertheless, I know in whom I’ve trusted.

That phrase – it’s a game changer!

The Psalm of Nephi (Part 1/6) – Nephi’s Grief – 2 Nephi 4:15-18

You can read 2 Nephi 4:15-18 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • 2 Nephi 4:15-35 comprises what is commonly referred to as The Psalm of Nephi.
  • Nephi feels sorrow because he has allowed sin into his heart.
  • Nephi remembers and praises the Lord.
  • Nephi forsakes his sin.
  • Nephi petitions the Lord.

Nephi’s Grief

This is part one of a five part study of 2 Nephi 4:15-35 (The Psalm of Nephi).

The psalm of Nephi is a really tender moment in the scriptures. I love the Book of Mormon. I really do. I love all of it. I love the stories, the doctrine, the Isaiah chapters, the war chapters, the visitation of the Savior, the Book of Ether, and the warnings from prophets who witness the fall of civilization. I love it.

I feel like the Psalm of Nephi is one of the most intimate things that we read in the Book of Mormon. We have been studying Nephi for a while. We have learned a lot about him, but throughout 1 Nephi, we are getting a pretty quick overview of what happened over the course of 8 years. We read about a lot of events, but there isn’t a play-by-play of how Nephi felt.

This is to be expected. The record is an abridgment. And it was physically difficult to engrave on the plates. We have what we need.

But I am so grateful for what Nephi included here in chapter 4. It is personal. It is emotional. It is real. And we can learn a lot from it.

So – today, we are studying the following:

“And upon these I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children.

Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.

Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.” – 2 Nephi 4:15-18

So – we begin with Nephi’s declaration of the things that he loves. He loves the scriptures. He loves God’s words. He loves the principles, commandments, and laws of the Gospel. He ponders them continually.

When I read this in the context of the entire chapter, I realize that this is a set-up.

Nevertheless

Or – in other words – despite, notwithstanding, even though…he loves God, the principles, commandments, and laws – and even though God has been so good to Nephi, He feels wretched.

And why? Well, because of his sins.

This Isn’t False Modesty

I’ve been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints my whole life. I’ve gone to years of church services, Sunday schools, scripture classes, etc. It seems like I’ve had experiences over the years where someone would admire Nephi when reading this verse…

Wow. If Nephi thought he was wretched, then what am I?

I’m not sure what the intent of such comments were, but I know that I’ve heard some kind of sentiment like this repeated. And what follows – maybe a call to feeling wretched? I’m not sure.

I guess what I’m saying is, I think that I have made the mistake of admiring Nephi because of his exclamation: O wretched man that I am! I’ve forgotten that this was only the beginning.

Not only that, but I am afraid that admiring this part of the psalm, without really studying the rest may result in repeating this because…well because it sounds good, and humble, and modest.

Anyway…what I really want to say right now is that I believe that Nephi meant what he said here. I don’t think that this was an exhibition of false modesty. I don’t think that he was trying to impress us with his humility.

Instead, I really think that he felt wretched.

And we see why. Think of Nephi. He has had experience after experience with the Lord. He has seen an angel. He saw the vision of the tree of life. He was taught how to build a boat. He made it to the promised land. He has spent years studying, praying, pondering. As he said: He delights in the things of the Lord.

The point is He knows peace. He knows what it is like to have the Spirit with Him. He knows joy, comfort, and contentment – even in the midst of trial. He knows hope.

Nephi also understands how joy, comfort, contentment, peace, and hope work. He knows that He has to be living in such a way that he can qualify for the companionship of God’s Spirit. Only the Holy Ghost can fill us with joy, comfort, contentment, peace, and hope. Nephi knows that as He keeps the commandments and statutes of God, then he will be filled with the Spirit of the Lord and these good feelings will fill his soul.

Not only does Nephi understand how the Spirit and its accompanying joy work, but for the most part he lives worthy of it.

We have read Nephi’s testimony:

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.” – 1 Nephi 2:16

Nephi was living worthy of the companionship of the Spirit, which means, he had the companionship of the Spirit.

So – think back on times when you have been filled with the Spirit. I’ll do the same. If I try to describe my feelings in these circumstances then, I would use words like: joy, hope, clarity, peace.

Why Is Nephi Feeling Wretched???

Now, we know that Lehi has died. We know that Nephi is the prophet. And we know that Nephi is a righteous man. We know that he is close to the Lord and that because of his closeness than experiences we have experienced with the Lord would have been similar. Nephi was accustomed to joy, hope, clarity, and peace.

We know this. This is the purpose of his statements in 2 Nephi 4:15-16. He loves the Lord. He loves spending time thinking about the gospel and the scriptures. Nephi delights in contemplating the things of God. And, over the years, in the wilderness and then in the promised land, he has had ample opportunities to ponder the things of the Lord.

However.

Having the closeness of the Spirit isn’t one and done. It is a consistent effort. Just because Nephi once qualified for the companionship of the Holy Ghost doesn’t mean that he never has to work for it again.

In fact, it seems that once we have had these positive experiences with the Holy Ghost, we have to work just as hard (if not harder) to maintain them. Not only does daily life and spiritual entropy play into the need to maintain companionship with God’s spirit. BUT Satan actively works against us when we have these experiences.

And of course, Satan actively works against Nephi.

Back to the question above. Why is Nephi feeling wretched? Because when he chose to be angry, he lost the companionship of the Spirit. He got angry with his brothers.

The feeling of anger and peace cannot coexist. God’s spirit cannot dwell in an unclean place. The Spirit leaves and then Nephi hates how he feels.

And you know, as I study this, I think it is a little more than that. Nephi genuinely loves the Lord. I suppose it has also hurt Nephi to know that he has given into anger. It hurts Nephi to know that he has offended the Lord and His spirit.

I think that Nephi’s wretched feeling was absolutely genuine and understandable when we really ponder the type of person Nephi was and the experiences he had had over the years.

What gives???

Now…as I ponder this, I can’t help but think what’s the deal??? I mean, of course Nephi got angry with his brothers. They were the worst! And man, didn’t he have every right to?

Let’s think of Laman and Lemuel and everything (that we know of) they have done to Nephi:

  • Beat him with a rod
  • Tied him up to die in the desert.
  • Complained against him when he broke his bow.
  • Complained against him any time that they could.
  • Tried to stir up their siblings to murder him and also Lehi; and were only stopped when the voice of the Lord warned them.
  • Mocked him when he attempted to build a ship.
  • Tried to throw him off a cliff into the depths of the sea.
  • Tied him up on the boat – for days – until they were in a terrible storm that threatened all of their lives.

That’s a quick summary. (Aside: why is it that people thought Nephi was annoying. How is this treatment by Laman and Lemuel not seen as “annoying”???)

Anyway – think about those things. How would you feel? Angry???

Doesn’t he have every right to be angry? His brothers were the worst. Here they are, again, threatening Nephi. He gets angry, and then the Spirit leaves him? The Spirit is so sensitive! Why didn’t the Lord have more patience with Nephi???

What gives?

The Spirit IS Sensitive

I can’t answer the question to “what gives?” And honestly, it doesn’t matter. What matters most is living worthy of, qualifying for, and then listening to the companionship of the Spirit. This is the secret to life. This is the secret to our success in this life.

So, if we want to really succeed in life, then we need to live worthy of the Spirit no matter how sensitive it is.

Satan is still trying hard against Nephi. Imagine what would have happened if Satan was able to get a hold of Nephi’s heart now. If Nephi gave in to Laman and Lemuel, and if Nephi didn’t repent and turn to the Lord, then the Nephite civilization would have ended before it even started.

Satan is always campaigning for our misery and destruction. So, we need to learn to be sensitive to the Spirit, which is also sensitive, so that we can overcome the adversary.

Back to Nephi – it didn’t matter if Nephi had every right to be angry with Laman and Lemuel. The fact is, he didn’t have that luxury. He needed to get close to the Spirit again because it would be time to act. Besides that, Nephi loved the Lord too much to jeopardize his relationship with God just because he had every “right” to be angry with Laman and Lemuel.

Anger wasn’t worth it.

God knew this. The Spirit knew it. And when Nephi lost the companionship of the Spirit, he knew it, too.

Delight – 2 Nephi 4:15-16

You can read 2 Nephi 4:15-16 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi writes the things of the soul and the scriptures on the small plates.
  • His soul delights in the scriptures.
  • His heart ponders the scriptures.
  • He writes the scriptures for the learning and profit of his children.
  • His soul delights in the things of the Lord.
  • He continually ponders on the things that he has seen and heard.

Delight

We learn a little bit about Nephi and what he likes in these verses:

“And upon these I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children.

Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.” – 2 Nephi 4:15-16

Nephi likes the scriptures. He likes pondering the scriptures, writing them, and teaching his children. Nephi soul delights in the things of the Lord. His likes pondering them continually.

I don’t think that Nephi is bragging here. (In fact, this is actually an interlude to a frustration that he has with himself. He loves the Lord, He loves the truth. He loves the principles of the gospel. He writes about them. He has been taught by God. He teaches his children…YET he struggles! We will talk about this next time.) For now, I just want to think about these things that Nephi likes and learn from them.

A Different Direction

You know, when I started this blog post, I thought that I’d go through this list of things that we could learn about Nephi, the things of the Lord, pondering, etc. At first, my intentions were going to be really scripture-y and impressive.

But, this is my actual scripture study, so I sincerely try to follow the Spirit as best as I can. Usually, it means real “scripture-y” scripture study. I love that. I really do love diving deep into the scriptures and learning what I can. I love pondering the things of the Lord.

I mean, I’ve been looking forward to these verses for a while! Because, like Nephi, I really like pondering the scriptures.

But…that’s not what’s happening for me today. The Spirit seems to be pointing me elsewhere.

Sharing Time

Okay. This is a personal blog. I’m going to be personal. You have been warned in advance.

I write these blogs a few months before they actually publish. So I’m writing on October 19th. Since September 27th, I have been experiencing heart attack symptoms, but no heart attack (I’ve gone to the ER, etc.) I have been seeing my cardiologist, and now I have an appointment to see an EP (Electrophysiologist – who specializes in the electrical workings of the heart). I have some electrical heart problems. I don’t want to get into that right now.

The point is – since late September/early October, I’ve been basically sitting around all day. Any time I’m getting too much activity, and my heart rate goes up, I start to have really acute and painful chest pain, jaw pain, left arm pain, neck pain, indigestion, palpitations, etc. It’s actually a little scary.

I don’t know what is going on exactly, but I know that I have to remain somewhat inactive until my doctors can sort everything out – which I also feel comforted – will be soon.

Anyway!

Having these kinds of physical experiences can be alarming. They also give you the chance to really think about what is important.

Life really is precious. Most likely I’ll be getting a pacemaker or something that can help my heart. And then, I’ll be fine. But I realize that if it wasn’t for these modern times or technology, I wouldn’t have much time left on earth.

The fact is, none of us know how much time we have left on earth. I am truly grateful for this health scare because it has given me the chance to really think.

And here I am, studying the scriptures today. I know that very soon, my heart will be rectified. And even now, before it is rectified – I don’t want to waste a single precious day of my life.

Prioritizing

So how do we do that? How do we live our lives in a way that we don’t waste them? Do we “live every day like it’s our last?”

Probably not quite that. Usually people say that, or shout “YOLO!” to excuse bad behavior. (Think: eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!). So – we want to be aware of our mortality, and take advantage of our living days. But we don’t want to take it to an extreme that we are wasting this precious life on bad decisions.

So – then on the other hand – we have a lot of people who are “putting off” living life. Maybe it’s because we have to earn a living. Maybe we “put off” life because we have chores to do. Maybe we just end up putting off life because we are distracted by the crazy pace of this world. No matter the reason, it seems that when we put off living our lives, we don’t feel all that happy.

Now, I am willing to guess that most of us have some days where we shout “YOLO!” and then do something crazy. (My teenage years!) I also think that many of us lack the motivation to act, promising ourselves that we will “start tomorrow.” Often, we bounce between the two. But the real goal is to live with purpose. To me (and for the purpose of this blog), this means that we will have the right amount of chores (we need to live) and also activities that nourish us.

ANYWAY! You get the idea. I don’t need to get into all of that here. It’s just background and set up.

The thing that is hard for us to do is prioritize. We have chores we need to do. That’s a part of life. And there is value in it. Additionally, there is so much that can pass us by if we aren’t willing to love life enough to get after it.

I don’t know how to help you prioritize, but maybe just start with a clean slate.

My life is a clean slate right now.

My family and I intend to move off of the mainland soon. We have no home. We have no beds, shelves, or furniture of any kind. We have no dishes, cutlery, towels. We have no winter coats, we have small wardrobes. Our family of six can fit everything we own into the back of an SUV with room to spare.

Our living conditions felt extreme enough, but now, I don’t have any obligations because of my heart. I sit and stitch and watch Netflix. I have time to think.

Soon, I’ll have a new lease on life with my heart. Soon, we’ll have a home and stability. And I’m so grateful for this chance I have to think of what will fill my slate before it gets overloaded with junk.

I need to prioritize now before my life just starts filling up and I find myself crushed by the “junk” of life.

So back to the scriptures

So…back to the scripture. We read what Nephi loves. And I feel the Spirit guiding me to ponder – what do I love? What do I delight in?

I have discovered that the things I like can be boiled down to a few topics:

Creating. Learning. Loving. Living.

Creating

I delight in creating. Creating can be done in so many ways – the arts, movement, a dish, a garden. Creating brings me joy, and in a way I think that I could argue every topic (creating, learning, loving, and living) are just different ways to create…But we’ll just go with this for now.

If I have a blank slate that needs to be filled with only the essential, then creating would be one of the first things to be included.

 

superstar medallion quilt
I love to quilt. I love color. I love cutting up fabric to sew it back together and make a quilt. Oh – and besides – quilting is a great way to not only create, but serve. Who doesn’t love a quilt??? Each measurement, cut, and stitch is done with love.
velma
Writing. Here is a picture of an illustration for a book I wrote for my kids.
the messiah
Singing in choirs. I’m not a soloist, but I like to sing praises to God – and the Messiah is my all time favorite.
stitching
Stitching! I love embroidery. I love wool. And I LOVE the beautiful materials for embroidery – hand dyed silk, cotton, wool. So much joy in this!!!
log cabin
Color. This is part of why I love quilting. I just love playing with color.
drawing
Drawing. This is the sketch for the cat that I painted above.
granny sqaures
Crochet – again it’s all about fun colors and keeping my hands busy. Well, and making.
coneflower
See how pretty!!!
clair de lune
I love playing the piano as well. It quiets everything down in my mind.

Learning

I also love learning. Really, I do. My heart skips a beat when I have an epiphany. (hmmm…really need to get the heart metaphors figured out these days!) In all seriousness, life is richer when we obtain more knowledge. Knowledge of God is eternal life. And God – He is in everything. I love, love, love to learn. And I know that it can be done in a myriad of ways.

 

nature journal
Hiking, observing, drawing, and identifying are things I really like to do to learn. These practices have helped me to enjoy every place I’ve lived. Pictured above: A little wildflower called Globemallow – in Phoenix, AZ.
homeschool prep
This is what homeschool prep looked like one year. I love the whole process – finding books, buying books, and then piling them up. Of course, best of all, is actually reading them with my kids and learning! I have learned so much while homeschooling my kiddos.
provo temple spire
The temple is a place of learning. This is the Provo City Temple.
gilbert temple side
I’ve been fortunate to live in various places throughout the country that have had temples relatively close by (the farthest I’ve lived from a temple was 238 miles – a four-ish hour drive). What I’ve learned through regular temple attendance cannot be quantified.
sleeping baby monk seal
Learning through observation in the various places we’ve lived included moments like these – seeing a baby monk seal snoozing.
aristotle
Aristotle – not that I know much about this guy…but I admire his dedication to knowledge.

Loving

This might be a strange “topic,” but one of the things I delight in the most is the act of delighting. Not sure if that makes sense!

I delight in loving experiences, family, friends, and life.

 

rose hips2
Rose hips collected after a hike. I love rose hips. I don’t know why. They are beautiful. There isn’t really a time when I hike or walk that I don’t find something to put in my pocket. Even though I don’t end up doing much with these collections (seeds, shells, leaves, etc), I think the very act makes me love everything even more.
hornstra farms ice cream
I love this boy. I love ice cream. I love experiences like these. I love Hornstra Farms in Norwell, Massachusetts. (Trust me – AMAZING). And taking the time to delight in my love for my son, ice cream, and Hornstra farms increases the delight!
Christmas Goodies
An important aspect of loving – is serving. Here is a plate of Christmas goodies we delivered one year. I also delight in goodies. So baking and then taking goodies to loved ones is a double delight.
christmas
I delight in being a mother. I really love creating moments like this for my kiddos. Isn’t this just magical?
basil and parm
There is nothing more delightful than parmesan cheese and basil…the possibilities AND DELIGHT are endless. Better yet – invite loved ones over and enjoy an amazing meal together. (Yes…I have Italian blood).
bake sale with chase
Not only are there cookies and one of my children in this photo, but I was able to delight in the delight of my children. My daughter, Sasquatch, is a business minded mini-entrepreneur. We had a bake sale one day (success!), and she was so happy. It took time and effort from me and everyone else in the family, but the rewards far exceeded the cost.
grand canyon and fam
I love delighting in this earth with my loved ones. I love showing them the things I love. Exponential delight.
tiger and panda
I love seeing my kids develop loving relationships with each other. These two fill my heart with joy. This pic is at least 10 years old. They grow too fast! My heart delights in the love they have for each other.
Rex
This is my youngest after he ate ice cream for the first time. I love showing my love by spending time with my children. And look how I was rewarded!
me and sasquatch
Me and my little Sasquatch. The days when she snuggles on my lap and sucks her “thumby” are long gone. But I delighted in simple moments like these. And I’m grateful that I have been blessed with so many of them.
halloween
A bunch of happy kids on halloween. I love them. And I love being able to love them! There is so much love in this world around us. I prefer love and beauty.

Living

The other things that I delight in are what I include in the “living” category. They are the things that we do that help us enjoy life. They are the things that we do that are worth every breath and heartbeat. I want so much of this in my life. I want to be sure that the non-living idols and distractions of our time are not sneakily sucking my life away from me.

the beach
My soul delights in the beach. Sunrises. Sunsets. Ocean spray. Sea shells.
walking in midway
My soul delights in summer days. This was in Midway, Utah – one of my favorite places on earth.  I loved walking through town and seeing swatches of flowers along fence posts.
sunflower blooming
My soul delights in the small miracles we pas every single day. Here is a series of pictures of a sunflower getting ready to bloom.
purple mustard
My soul delights in beauty. Instead of seeing random weeds, I choose to see purple mustard blooming in open fields. I love to bend down, inspect, and glory in the simple blessings God has given us. I’m not always the best at this, but I’ve learned that it makes all of life more glorious.
oak leaves
My soul delights in leaves, seasons, nature. I thank my Heavenly Father that He has instilled in me a need for movement. These leaves were collected on one of my many walks when we lived in Park City. Walking is kind of a secret to life. Walking makes this world a delight.
hiking with family
My soul delights in exploring the world around us. My family and I took a hike one summer evening in Moab, Utah.
hiking
Even hiking in the desert can be a delight!
collected leaves
My soul delights in color! Look at the treasures I found while on a run – when we lived in Massachusetts. Red Oak leaves, Orange and scarlet maple leaves, neon yellow gingko leaves, and a dark green sassafras leaf.
clover in a crack
My soul delights in noticing the small and simple things. My soul delights in the perfect imperfections. My soul delights in a plucky clover growing in the crack of a brick path.
blue flax and sweetvetch
My soul delights in wildflowers. You can find them anywhere – in fields, on roadsides, and in yards that have been fertilized and treated. They are in cities, on mountains, in forests, and on beaches. This is a picture of blue flax and sweet vetch. If you aren’t careful, you might run right past them. Or, if you choose to delight in them, you can find them even on the most difficult path.
baking
My soul delights in cannoli.
as seen on the run
My soul delights in short runs, long runs, fast runs, slow runs. Running – putting foot to ground – can be like a prayer. It’s especially rewarding when you can run in places like this.
Playing in the Ocean
My soul delights in the example set by our children. Look at how unabashed they are in life! Sometimes I forget to splash the water, move my body, laugh, and smile. But children remind us to live in the present and delight in life, itself.

I realize that this isn’t all that scripture-y of a post. But, it is just what I needed. I’m having trouble – sitting and not letting my heart get too tired out – it’s boring! It makes me feel like I’m wasting my life away. When I start to feel down about it, I feel tempted to think that God has abandoned me (to an extent).

The Lord, though He hasn’t delivered me, hasn’t abandoned me either. In today’s scripture study, I was reminded of what I love. I was reminded of what I like to do.

I feel inspired on what I can do now (there ARE things I can do now) AND how I ought to fill my life when I can again do the things that I would like to do.

***
This is one of the purposes of the scriptures – to help us, guide us, and comfort us during our afflictions. The scriptures have been a way that the Lord speaks to me – time and time again. I’m sure it would have been interesting to dive deep into what these scriptures in 2 Nephi 4:15-16 mean, but it was more meaningful to do as the Spirit prompted.

Thanks for coming along with me on this journey today.

Trouble in Paradise – 2 Nephi 4:13-14

You can read 2 Nephi 4:13-14 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • After Lehi’s death, Laman and Lemuel are angry with Nephi – because of the Lord’s admonitions.
  • Nephi was constrained by the Spirit of God to speak to them – most likely a warning.

Trouble in Paradise

Well, it shouldn’t come to a surprise to any of us that as soon as Lehi dies trouble brews between Nephi and his brothers. We read:

“And it came to pass that not many days after his death, Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the admonitions of the Lord.

For I, Nephi, was constrained to speak unto them, according to his word; for I had spoken many things unto them, and also my father, before his death; many of which sayings are written upon mine other plates; for a more history part are written upon mine other plates.” – 2 Nephi 4:13-14

Nephi Was Constrained

First of all, a quick reminder on the definition of the word constrained:

Constrain: (verb)
appearing forced or overly controlled

Before blogging the Book of Mormon, I think that when I read that Nephi was “constrained” to speak to his brothers, I underestimated the severity of this spiritual impression. I also underestimated, or even forgot, Nephi’s responsibility to God.

I’ve never been in the Nephi was an annoying younger brother camp. Mainly because I think that it is an over-simplistic view, and it doesn’t match with what we know about Nephi. I’m even the oldest in my family. I have plenty of younger siblings. They have all excelled in various ways beyond my capabilities. My siblings are smarter, funnier, and more successful than I am. And rarely am in charge. In fact, I was shorter than my next sibling by the time I was four.

In other words, my siblings were the ones that were “large in stature.” Not me.

This isn’t to say that I don’t lead. Of course I have been a leader in my family. I had to babysit when I was a kid (like every oldest child – no big deal). I had the opportunity to be a cheerleader and help get my siblings excited about something or the opposite. Usually, I just “led” my siblings to do weird things like make potty jokes and sing weird songs that would annoy the grown ups of the house.

Often, I did treat my siblings poorly. We fought from time to time – especially when playing video games. I know I started some of those fights. I certainly didn’t prevent many fights. And, there may have been more punching (on my part) than I would like to admit.

My point is, I don’t want to make it sound like I was perfect. I wasn’t. I tried to be a nice sister because I loved my siblings, but we were also real.

Anyway, my family didn’t have the dynamic of Lehi’s family. So, it’s hard to really compare my family with his.

But I want to say that, as an oldest sibling, I have never been bothered or jealous of the wins and successes of my siblings. I was proud when my sister went on a mission. I love that my brother is a great cook. I know that my other younger brothers are much funnier than me. It doesn’t bother me that I have a brother that runs, we share this love. I went to a simple state college, and was not threatened (instead excited) when younger siblings were awarded entry and scholarships to really good schools.

The successes of my siblings have no bearing on my self worth. I love them and rejoice in their wins. Additionally, I know that the Lord doesn’t have a limited supply of blessings. We don’t have to compete for God’s blessings or love.

All of this shapes how I feel about Nephi. I don’t think that he was trying to be some annoying “know-it-all” younger brother. He knew the Lord. He loved his brothers. He forgave them time and time and time again. He never exercised power over them.

Instead, he was constrained by God to correct them.

Let’s think about this for a second:

One
Nephi was a special witness of the Savior. In 1 Nephi 11, Nephi sees the vision of the tree of life and its meaning. Nephi sees the coming of the Savior. Nephi sees a vision of Christ’s life on the earth. After this experience, Nephi doesn’t merely have faith, he has knowledge. Even before showing Nephi this vision, the Angel warned:

“And behold this thing shall be given unto thee for a sign, that after thou hast beheld the tree which bore the fruit which thy father tasted, thou shalt also behold a man descending out of heaven, and him shall ye witness; and after ye have witnessed him ye shall bear record that it is the Son of God.” – 1 Nephi 11:7

The knowledge that Nephi both sought and obtained came with responsibility. He not only had to qualify for such knowledge with faith, but he also had to have real intent – meaning that he intended to live according to the knowledge that he received.

If Nephi wanted to be nurtured by the Spirit, then he had to nurture the Spirit in his soul. This is done by obedience to the whisperings and promptings of the Spirit that we receive.

So, Nephi couldn’t be a wallflower. He knew too much. He couldn’t stand back while his brothers were plotting to kill his father. He couldn’t just pretend that Laman’s and Lemuel’s exceeding rudeness were okay. The Spirit wouldn’t let him.

It wasn’t Nephi that wanted to correct his brothers, It was a commandment from God given to Nephi to go and correct his brothers.

Think of how this usually ends for Nephi: getting beat, getting tied up and dragged into the wilderness, nearly getting pushed off a cliff, getting tied up on a boat. Do you really think that Nephi enjoyed these experiences? Do you really think that Nephi liked correcting his brothers – knowing that it would result in abuse?

nephi-laman-lemuel-ropes-d61da2-gallery.jpg

Of course not!

I wouldn’t have wanted to be Nephi.

But Nephi always obeys the Spirit. He corrects his brothers. He does this out of his devotion to God. And probably his love for his brothers. (Even though eventually he refers to them as enemies. But hey – he loves his enemies!)

The point here is, because Nephi was a special witness of the Savior and because Nephi was a devoted disciple of Christ, he knew he had to obey, or then he would be sinning.

Two
Lehi reminded Laman and Lemuel:

“Rebel no more against your brother, whose views have been glorious, and who hath kept the commandments from the time that we left Jerusalem; and who hath been an instrument in the hands of God, in bringing us forth into the land of promise; for were it not for him, we must have perished with hunger in the wilderness; nevertheless, ye sought to take away his life; yea, and he hath suffered much sorrow because of you.” – 2 Nephi 1:24

Laman and Lemuel can think of what they want about Nephi. Modernly, we can deride Nephi and imply that he was a know-it-all younger brother. HOWEVER, without Nephi, all of Lehi’s company – both Lehi’s family and Ishmael’s family – would have died in the wilderness with hunger.

Nephi got the brass plates.

Nephi made a new bow and hunted food in the wilderness.

Nephi built a boat.

He wasn’t just some know it all trying to correct his brothers at every chance. He wanted to get out of the wilderness and get to the promised land!!!!!! He lived worthy of the Spirit, and that Spirit constrained him to admonish his brothers.

Admonitions

I really should probably have ended this blog post already, but I want to say one thing about the word “admonition.” When I read the following verse, I think that I have misunderstood it in the past:

“And it came to pass that not many days after his death, Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the admonitions of the Lord.” – 2 Nephi 4:13

For some reason, I don’t have the right connotation of the word “admonition.” I’m trying to think of where my misunderstanding stems. I think that it is from the 13th article of faith – when I think of the phrase “the admonition of Paul.”

In a way, I have kind of mistakenly signified the word “admonition” to mean something like “doctrine.” I tend to define the “admonition of Paul” as the directives or doctrine of Paul – to believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.

I tend to mentally define the scripture in 2 Nephi as “…Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the doctrines of the Lord.”

In both cases, I realize, I’m wrong.

(This is why the dictionary is such an important tool in scripture study. If we misunderstand a word, then we can misunderstand an entire concept).

Instead, admonition means the act of admonishing. Okay…that already starts to feel different. Laman and Lemuel, the sons of Ishmael: they didn’t dislike God’s doctrine. They disliked God’s admonishing.

What is admonishing? To warn or reprimand someone firmly.

Paul’s admonition isn’t just some fun little doctrine. It’s a warning: Believe all things, hope all things, endure all things…It’s strong advice that will keep us safe!

Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael…they weren’t angry about God’s doctrine. They were angry because of the warnings of the Lord. They were angry with the warning words that Lehi left them with (keep the commandments and prosper; don’t keep the commandments, be cut off!). They are like toddlers, but the anger that they have against these sound warnings will have deleterious effects.

Wrapping Up

This is along blog post. I will wrap it up now. But I feel that these things are important for us to recognize. Understanding these things helps me to consider my own discipleship. Do I get angry at the warnings and gentle correction of God? Do I get angry at the messengers of God’s word?

Do I have charity, and rejoice in truth – even if the truth is I have made a mistake and need correction?