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The strength of Nephi

Susan M - November 19, 2006

You know the account of Nephi and his family in the wilderness, when they all start “murmuring” and complaining about being in the wilderness, because they’ve all broken their bows and are running out of food? Only Nephi remains faithful. He builds himself a new bow, and he goes to his father Lehi to ask where he should hunt, and Lehi is chastened and repents of murmuring against the Lord. Here Nephi is, everyone around him complaining about the lack of food and conditions they are living in, and even his father, the prophet, has given up and joined in on it. What does Nephi do? He yells at them for their faithlessness and gets his father to shape up.

Everytime I’ve heard this story discussed, people always marvel at the strength of Nephi. I don’t disagree—it takes a very strong person not to simply give up in those kind of conditions. But I see this a little differently than a lot of people.

I think it’s often easier to be strong when all those around you have given up.

I have a friend who served a mission in Ecuador. She’d write me letters about the lives of the women there, and how difficult things were for them. Their husbands were fishermen who would leave them for long periods, and often cheat on them, drink and be abusive. She told me she could never be strong enough to deal with what some of the women she saw there had to.

I told her she’d be surprised at how strong she could be, if the need ever arose. When there’s no one to rely on but yourself, when everyone else is incapable of helping or has given up, it’s not that difficult to be strong. You’ve gotta do it, because no one else will.

When my husband was inactive, I realized that it was up to me to get my kids to church, and teach them what they needed to know. So I did. I didn’t do as good of a job as I should have, but as a convert I think I did ok. I do know that if my husband hadn’t been inactive all those years, I would not have the testimony I do today. Being forced to do it on my own made me grow in ways I couldn’t have otherwise.

It was easier to pray and read the scriptures and take the children to church when the responsibility was all mine. Because if I didn’t do it, no one would.

It’s a lot harder now for me to do the things I need to in order to have the Spirit with me the way I used to. I can slack off. My husband will have things covered.

Maybe it’s just my personality type. I’m not good at providing a structure for myself, I have to have one forced on me. So while it was extremely difficult at the time, I’m glad I had those years of going it alone. It gave me such a strong testimony. And it was my testimony that brought my husband back to church.


  1. Very interesting toughts here.

    I wonder then, why are the saints always instructed to gather. Is there not strength in numbers?

    Comment by Eric Nielson — November 20, 2006 @ 9:42 am

  2. My father was inactive my entire growing up. He wasn’t a bad father, just inactive. When I decided to go on my mission he offered to help me fix my 55 plymouth with a hemi and I could stay and go to college plus he offered no financial support – 7 kids made the $$$ part difficult. He finally agreed to pay part of my mission, my brother who left 60 months later was supported completely by the ward.

    Was it easy – no! Did it make me stronger as you point out Susan – yes! As I reflect on your comments and my experience I think maybe part of it for me was it gave me something I could stand up against my father. I could be strong and he couldn’t change that.

    Sometimes I think it is easier to be strong when those around you falter.

    Comment by Don Clifton — November 20, 2006 @ 11:39 am

  3. Sometimes I think it is easier to be strong when those around you falter.

    That’s what I was trying to get at.

    Comment by Susan M — November 20, 2006 @ 12:42 pm

  4. I think the sad thing here is that Nephi’s display of unwavering faithfulness came at the expense of Lehi’s authority. Lehi was pretty much firmly in charge of things as patriarch up until this point.

    After the bow incident however, he lost a lot of that authority and never got it back. His murmuring de-legitimized him in the eyes of all his children, including Laman and Lemuel.

    From this point in the story, it becomes Nephi’s show. He is now the one making the decisions. Lehi fades into obscurity. It’s partly his own fault, of course. But it’s still unfortunate.

    Comment by Seth R. — November 20, 2006 @ 1:24 pm

  5. Why do you think I hang around the Bloggernacle?

    Comment by Bret — November 21, 2006 @ 12:44 am

  6. Wait a sec Bret… Do you mean

    a) you hang around here so that your own faltering can make it easier for me to be strong,

    b) you hang around here so that my faltering will make it easier for you to be strong, or

    c) I’m showing the beginning effects of sleep deprivation

    Comment by Seth R. — November 21, 2006 @ 2:59 pm

  7. Seth R,


    Comment by Bret — November 21, 2006 @ 11:33 pm

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