WHAT IF LAMAN AND LEMUEL WEREN'T PART OF NEPHI'S FAMILY? WHAT IF NEPHI DIDN'T HAVE THOSE TWO HATEFUL BROTHERS? WHAT WOULD HIS FAITH LOOK LIKE?
That was the beginning of an epiphany for me. Most of Nephi's trials were brought on by his brothers. He didn't have a problem going back to get the plates. He had a problem with his brothers not wanting to face Laban. He had a problem with his brothers beating him. He didn't have a problem getting Ishmael's family or bringing them back to his family in the wilderness. He had a problem with his brothers tying him up on the way back (except have faith, right?). Then, he didn't have a problem with breaking his bow. He didn't have a problem building a ship. He had a problem getting help from his brothers. He didn't have a problem crossing the ocean. He had a problem with his brothers tying him up again.
Nephi was still a fantastic leader and faithful servant of the Lord. I don't think he would have lacked faith if he didn't have Laman and Lemuel as brothers. But, I do believe that the Lord placed Laman and Lemuel in Nephi's family for two reasons:
1. Heavenly Father knows his children and is incredibly merciful. He knew before Laman and Lemuel were born that they would be troublemakers. He placed them in Nephi's family with Nephi as an example so they would have the best possibly chance to make it back to him. Nephi's faith caused them to have experiences like seeing an angel and doing something that "couldn't" be done (building a boat they'd never seen in their lives). They had every opportunity Heavenly Father could give them to walk the path back to Him.
2. Nephi was an incredibly faithful servant. Heavenly Father knew that the best way to increase Nephi's testimony and faith were by giving him his biggest trials - his brothers. Nephi had continuous trials throughout his life because they lived with him and interacted with him daily. Yet, he grew immensely through the things his brothers subjected him to: he saw an angel, broke bands around his wrists, built a ship, and calmed a sea (to name some of the most obvious).
Here is my epiphany:
Our son came home from his 4th grade class one day a couple weeks ago and reported that he had gotten his friend in trouble. He was glowing! I knew it must have been something good. He had more confidence and was excited!
Me: What happened?
K: Well, Bret (named changed) wrote S-E-X on the cover of my notebook (he's already getting uncomfortable saying the word!). I came back from doing something and it was on my notebook. He said, "Look what I did." He thought it was funny. That's a bad word at school, like a cuss word. Another kid heard him say it. I took my notebook to my teacher and showed her because even if I erased it you could still see the word. She had to scrub it off. Bret got in huge trouble.
Me: How do you feel?
K: Really happy. Bret said he wasn't going to be my friend anymore.
Me: How does that make you feel?
K: I'm just happy. I need a new friend.
Me: Do you know why you are happy?
K: I did the right thing.
Me: Yes. That's the spirit telling you that you chose the right, even if it meant getting your friend in trouble and losing that friend. Was he a good friend?
K: Nope. I don't know who to play with, though. All the kids at school have a friend at recess.
Me: Have you tried asking Arty (name changed) to play. When I volunteer in your class he seems like a nice boy and doesn't get in trouble much.
K: Yeah. I can try.
Me: We can also pray that Heavenly Father will help you find the right friend.
K: Yeah, I can add that to my prayers. I'll do it tonight.
Me: My heart feels happy right now, too. You made a good choice and that makes me happy too.
K: Yeah. I'm glad I told the teacher.
My epiphany happened in Sunday School. We pray every school year whether to continue putting our children in the school system. There are so many rough things they are exposed to. Every year we feel that they need to go to school. I realized that my son had a Nephi moment. Someone he cared about was causing him problems. When he had the chance to stand up to that person, his faith increased. I could visibly see it in his countenance. I don't like that this stuff happens, but I'm grateful that he had a Lemuel in his life that allowed his faith to increase, his confidence in God grow, and his knowledge of what the spirit feels like mature.