Vertically Connected Blog
You may find this surprising, but mothers actually have a lot in common with Nephi.
Sure, he’s a man and he lived over 2000 years ago and he killed someone and he had visions and he built a boat and he successfully crossed an ocean in that same boat and he became the leader of a nation. Have I missed anything? Oh, and his brothers wanted to kill him.
Does any of that resemble something in your life? I would assume (and hope!) not.
Nevertheless, we mothers still have a lot in common with Nephi.
How? Well, Nephi had never snuck into a city, slain a man, had a vision, built a boat, crossed the ocean, or led a people before. And though he had many threats on his life, each time his brothers tried to kill him, they tried a new approach, thus catching him off guard yet again!
So much of Nephi's life was about doing things he had never done before.
Does that sound familiar to anyone?
From the very first moment we enter motherhood, there is a lot of unfamiliar and uncharted territory. So many things that we either have never done before, never planned on, or never imagined would ever be part of our journey! In fact, at one point years ago, I realized that maybe instead I would like to try building a boat – it probably would have been easier that this whole mothering thing!
But daunting or not, I have noticed something interesting.
There must be a purpose in our lacking an impressive or ideal resume to qualify us for the things that God asks us to do because we are not alone.
Think about it. Moses, Esther, Peter, Daniel, David, Joseph, Moroni, Alma, Sariah, Rachel, Rebekah, and so many other ordinary mortals were asked to do things they were either not prepared for or very inexperienced at and yet God still asked them.
And we can learn a lot from the company with which we are associated.
Let's just look at one example from Nephi's life.
When Nephi crept into Jerusalem to get some records from a man he knew wouldn’t be very happy about giving them up, he didn’t really know how he was going to do it.
Nephi and his brothers had already tried twice and failed, losing their bargaining chips and almost their lives in the process. Laman and Lemuel were so frustrated they wanted to finish the job Laban’s servants had started.
But Nephi’s response to Laman and Lemuel, and to his situation, indicates that he understood something about being placed in these kinds of situations: “Let us go up again into Jerusalem," he said, "and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands? Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses. . . . The Lord is able to deliver us . . .” (4:1-3; emphasis added).
How did Nephi know that?
Because Nephi knew something else. And it’s actually something that we know, too. Nephi knew that “the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7). And remember, this proclamation of faith was made before the many times that Nephi had actually been delivered in his life!
Somewhere, somehow, Nephi had learned and experienced for himself that our Heavenly Father is a God of preparation. He must have been taught some of the character and attributes and perfections of God from “all the learning of [his] father” (1 Nephi 1:1). With this in mind, maybe we can understand better why he would sneak into a city that was probably swarming with people ready to kill him “not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do” (4:6). Some may say that was pretty risky, but Nephi trusted His God for he knew that he had His preparation and His experience on his side.
Elder David A. Bednar once shared a profound insight about this principle. He said: “Just think about any responsibility you’ve ever had as a leader in the Church. Were you well prepared before you were called? No. Did you know what you were doing when you were called? No. So, the Lord, by inspiration through those who are in authority, calls us to do things that we’ve never done, that we’re not prepared to do, and that we struggle with on the front end especially, learning what we’re to do. . . . And there’s reason for that. As long as we’re clueless we’re dependent upon heaven. As soon as we think we know what we’re doing then we tend to rely more on the arm of the flesh. In the Church every single one of us has been in the position where heaven took a chance on us. We didn’t know what to do, we certainly were not experienced, we were worthy and willing, but heaven took a chance.” (“A Conversation on Leadership,” February 24, 2010, 6).
Heaven knows that any of us who choose to be a part of helping to build God's Kingdom and bringing “to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39) brings to that great responsibility inadequacies or imperfections or inexperience.
Heaven takes a chance on those deficiencies. And heaven takes a chance that when we find ourselves inadequate or imperfect or inexperienced that we will turn to heaven for help.
You are more prepared for the divine calling of motherhood than you may think (and for the things you may face as you go through it, for that matter) because of the doctrine that your Father in Heaven is prepared and He has prepared so much in your behalf, even in the minute details of your life.
Because He is God, He is prepared. And that’s all that really matters.
Indeed, motherhood is much more about Him than it is about us.
The word “prepare” appears nearly 500 times in the four standard works. A majority of the time, it is used to refer to either the preparations the Father has made for His children or preparations He inspired or instructed His children to make.
Either way, these preparations involve His omniscience for they were made long before we needed them or long before we understood why we needed them. And I have come to trust in that omniscience.
This is not His first time doing this.
He is not surprised that we sometimes get surprised.
He is not unprepared for any of our lack of preparation.
He is not frightened by our being a little bit frightened.
We are neither the only ones nor the first ones in the history of mankind that have felt anxious about facing Red Seas and angry kings and lion’s dens and Goliaths and lost sons and foreign lands and ocean voyages.
And He’s going to keep on asking.
So, maybe it is perfectly normal and perfectly acceptable to feel a little overwhelmed by circumstances that we have never faced before. There are divine purposes in finding ourselves standing on the outer wall of our own proverbial city without a clue how we are going to accomplish what God has commanded us to do.
Nephi still “went forth” . . . knowing and trusting. We have dozens of examples of people in scripture, history, and all around us who have done the same.
And so must we – even if we cannot see farther than about one step in front of us.
These experiences require us to exercise faith; faith to find the ways He has prepared for us and the ways He has prepared us that we might not know about yet.
This kind of seeking is often part of His plan - a plan that not only involves bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of our children . . . but of us . . . by molding and shaping and refining us in ways that turn our hearts and minds and eyes . . . heavenward.
Stephen & Michelle Hunsaker
Stephen teaches at the Logan Institute of Religion for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has been teaching for over 26 years.
Michelle is a full-time mom who enjoys reading, writing, teaching, and anything and everything to do with musicals.
They are the parents of ten children and authors of the book : Boxing the Lord In and Other Ways We Hinder Revelation.
Their hope is that each week through the thoughts and ideas they share in this blog, you can become more "vertically connected" in your lives. They seek to see and share "things as they really are" and "as they really will be" (Jacob 4:13) by learning how to build more and more on the sure foundation of the Savior, Jesus Christ and the doctrines and principles of His gospel.