Monday, July 13, 2009

Spiritual Ambiguities

I just returned home from a tender and terribly sad funeral. I didn't feel ready to jump back into home life when I walked in the door, and the kids happened to be engrossed in Nacho Libre. I know. I'm so glad that they were watching Nacho Libre instead of practicing or finishing their chores. Wouldn't you be?

But Nacho Libre gave me the chance to study a little, so thank you, Jared Hess and Jack Black.

I found myself eventually reading this amazing talk, Love is Not Blind, given by Bruce C. Hafen in 1979. Remarkable, and really moving to me. I will admit to having found myself at each of the levels of dealing with ambiguity that he lays out, and too often I have stuck at levels one or two. Level three is harder to achieve, and takes effort and faith to retain.

One passage that I loved:
If we are not willing to grapple with the frustration that comes from honestly and bravely facing the uncertainties we encounter, we may never develop the kind of spiritual maturity that is necessary for our ultimate preparations. It was Heber C. Kimball who once said that the Church has many close places through which it must yet pass and that those living on borrowed light will not be able to stand when those days come. Thus, we need to develop the capacity to form judgments of our own about the value of ideas, opportunities, or people who may come into our lives. We will not always have the security of knowing whether a certain idea is "Church approved," because new ideas do not always come along with little tags attached to them saying whether the Church has given them the stamp of approval. Whether in the form of music, books, friends, or opportunities to serve, there is much that is "lovely, . . . of good report, [and] praiseworthy" (Article of Faith 13) that is not the subject of detailed discussion in Church manuals or courses of instruction. Those who will not risk exposure to experiences of life that are not obviously related to some well-known Church work or program will, I believe, live less abundant and meaningful lives than the Lord intends. We must develop sufficient independence of judgment and maturity of perspective that we are prepared to handle the shafts and whirlwinds of adversity and contradiction that are so likely to come along in our lives. When those times come, we cannot be living on borrowed light. We should not be deceived by the clear-cut labels some may use to describe circumstances that are, in fact, not so clear. Our encounters with reality and disappointment are in fact vital stages in the development of our maturity and understanding.

Having a spiritual life in a world with so much pain, so much that is unfair, so much that is incomprehensible can be a daunting task, but I'm finding much more peace and joy through choosing faith than I ever do when I choose doubt. Actually, what I'm finding so interesting is how often faith and doubt reside in me at the same time, and how much I feel God understands this. In fact, I think He knows I need both to become the person He wants me to be.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tender Mercies

I love Elder Bednar's talk on the Lord's care for us, shown through his tender mercies. It spoke to me the first time I heard it, and I still love it. I've often had experiences just as Elder Bednar described in his talk, where the spirit has testified to me through small happenings that I am known to God, that He cares for me and that He has a stake in my daily life.

Elder Bednar puts it this way:

Since last October I have reflected repeatedly upon the phrase "the tender mercies of the Lord." Through personal study, observation, pondering, and prayer, I believe I have come to better understand that the Lord's tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Truly, the Lord suits "his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men" (D&C 46:15).

As I indicated earlier, the Lord's tender mercies do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Faithfulness, obedience, and humility invite tender mercies into our lives, and it is often the Lord's timing that enables us to recognize and treasure these important blessings.

This month, I had a rather remarkable experience that represented to me again the Lord's care for each of us. I began preparing for a solo piano recital in January. The recital theme was "Dedication" and I dedicated pieces to each of my children, my parents, and my husband. I practiced these eight pieces until the memory was solid a month before the recital date. I wanted no danger of memory slips during the performance, especially since this was my first long memorized performance in more than 10 years, and it all felt rather scary.

When I first put together the program, I considered learning a piece for my mother-in-law, but it kept kind of slipping my mind, and although I kept coming back to it, even asking her which piece she'd like me to learn, I never went anywhere with it. She never told me a piece, and it just never happened.

Then, the day before the recital I started practicing for the day and had a very strong impression that I needed to perform a specific piece for my mother-in-law. It's a piece I learned for my senior recital (which was, I am sad to say, more than 15 years ago). She had loved it then, but I hadn't performed it since. I ignored the feeling for a while until I realized that it was more than a passing idea, it was actually a prompting. The idea of relearning, memorizing, and performing a piece in 24 hours was daunting, and more than a little terrifying, but I decided to go with it and see where it took me.

The relearning was EASY, the re-memorizing was EASY. As it all came together, I understood that the spirit was flooding my mind with knowledge, and that my own abilities were being magnified for God's purposes. I had the piece in my head in about an hour. It felt crazy, but right.

The next evening, I performed her piece. I wondered before the recital began if I were just a little bit nuts (ummm...Yes.), but it went beautifully. I felt the spirit confirm to me that it was divinely determined that I should play that piece, and again, I felt the magnification of my own memory, my own mind.

I had prayed as I prepared this recital that it would be something that Heavenly Father could use for His own purposes, that I could just be an instrument in His hands. Playing Chopin for my mother-in-law was one of the ways He answered that prayer.

(And she loved it. It meant something important to her, and to me. I think the tender mercy of the Lord that night was both for me AND for her. She doesn't know how to use the internet, so I think the secret is safe that I didn't really learn her piece until the day before. Shhh. Don't tell.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Taking Offense

I found this quote in the comments section in the Segullah blog (I love Segullah.) Taking and giving offense has been on my mind for the last few weeks, and I loved loved loved this quote. (I know Clayne Robison from my time in the school of music at BYU, and his father, an incredibly sweet man, happened to be in my parents' ward.)

Clayne Robinson, a BYU music professor, wrote: “I tell my children that if I had to choose between a world in which no one ever gave offence and a world in which no one ever took offence, I would certainly choose the latter. A heaven filled with people tiptoeing around so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings sounds like hell to me. I’m not sure anything valuable would get done. But to be surrounded by people who chose never to be offended by mistakes, or miscalculations, or vigorous growing pains, or rough hewn ways, sounds like heaven indeed.”!

I have sometimes given offense to people that I love deeply, never intentionally. It is a hard place to be, knowing that you've caused pain, and wishing desperately not to have done so. The blessing of the Atonement is that it covers these unintentional offenses as well as sin caused with open eyes, and I can only hope that those I've hurt can turn to Christ's gift to us to be healed from this pain, along with all other suffering. And when I'm the one that is suffering from someone's unintentional hurt, I hope I can remember the same thing. We're all here treading the same earth, and I truly believe most of us are trying to do our best. I hope we can all choose to give each other the benefit of the doubt and love each other despite our weaknesses. It's what Heavenly Father asks of us, to love each other as He loves us. Not an easy endeavor...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Living with Others in Peace and Harmony"

That's the title of this week's Relief Society lesson. I hit pay dirt! This lesson teaches itself.

I love that it emphasizes that Joseph Smith taught tolerance, love, and peace. He taught us to show the utmost respect to those of different faiths, to be Christlike in our love for others, and to build each other up rather than tear each other down.

One great quote:

"We will...cultivate peace and friendship with all, mind our own business, and come off with flying colors, respected, because, in respecting others, we respect ourselves."

Fantastic. Don't you wish that quote was memorized and lived by every member of the church?

Here's the lesson, if you're interested.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Pathway of Discipleship

Some of the time while I run, I listen to talks I download from the podcast LDS Voices. While I was in California, I listened to a beautiful and rich talk by Elder Maxwell that he gave at BYU about 10 years ago, The Pathway of Discipleship. Here are the opening paragraphs:

"When striving disciples reflect deeply upon this mortal experience, it becomes clear that we are all immortal individuals whose ever-present challenge is to apply immortal principles to life’s constantly changing situations. With this perspective, we can improve our daily performances because we fix our gaze on eternity and its great realities.

Though we share immortality, our individual traits, talents, trials, opportunities, and circumstances vary widely. Even so, whatever the particular, passing mortal situation, all of the individuals involved are immortals with immense possibilities. C. S. Lewis put this so well when he said: “It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit” (The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses [1980], 19).

It is a profound thought."

I have loved that CS Lewis quote ever since I first ran across it a few years ago. It resonates with me and reminds me of the worth of each of the people I know, and those I don't.

Another beautiful quote:

"Mercifully, when we make mistakes we can recover and learn from them by “faith unto repentance.” We cannot, of course, relive a particular moment in our lives, but we can use it as a spiritual spur to remake ourselves. We need not let yesterday hold tomorrow hostage.

It is for each of us as immortals to make of these moments in daily life that which eternal principles would have us do. We as Church members have a tremendous challenge in being equal to our theology and our opportunity. We fall short. If we stumble, let us arise and continue the climb. The Lord will bless us because we are possessed of truths about “things as they really are, and … things as they really will be” (Jacob 4:13). These truths beckon us, even in our imperfections, to be better. "

I miss Elder Maxwell. His words have inspired me many times.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Celestial Music

I just found a poem: Celestial Music, by Louise Gluck. I like the entire poem, but the first stanza especially struck me.

I have a friend who still believes in heaven.
Not a stupid person, yet with all she knows, she literally talks to God.
She thinks someone listens in heaven.
On earth she's unusually competent.
Brave too, able to face unpleasantness.

Despite all my questionings, my sometimes wayward heart, I will admit to still believing in heaven, to literally talking to God. He has graced me with the faith I need to face unpleasantness, to find peace in a life that can be chaotic. What a blessing, what a gift.

She's telling me that when you love the world you hear celestial music:
Look up, she says.

Yes yes yes.

Here's the full poem. It's lovely.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Joy in the Journey

"I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and non-existent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now."
-President Thomas S. Monson

I'm working on this. Some days I have it down, and life is full of bliss on those days. Some days I can't wait for things to be better, for a trial to pass, for a goal to be met. Life's not so happy then. I get sidetracked so easily from what I am to do in this life. I know the Lord has beauty in store for me. He's shown me that again and again. I don't know why sometimes it's hard to trust His plan, when I can see His hand, His guidance, His direction in ALL of my life.

One thing has been made abundantly clear to me. Suffering is part of the journey in full measure with joy. When the suffering is so intense that I think I cannot bear it, not one more minute, not one more second, I am sometimes reminded that because of opposition in all things, the joy I will feel one day will be just as powerful, just as strong. And I have had that joy, poured out in great measure. The Lord stretches us, makes us better, and it doesn't feel good. But I have learned over the last few years that I can find joy, even in the midst of terrible pain. And when I can look at life peacefully, even in turmoil, it makes the joyful times that much more resonant.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Remember Lot's Wife

My sister-in-law passed on this remarkable talk by Elder Holland. (I think I'm a member of the Elder Holland fan club.)

So here's to looking forward, having a perfect brightness of hope.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Sacrament Meeting Talk

I was asked to speak in church today. It's been a long time. One of the last times I was asked to speak was on Mother's Day, three weeks after Kate was born, the Sunday after we'd spent three days in the hospital together. The bishopric thought it would be charming to have the newest mother in the ward speak. I was a weepy, hormonal mess, and did not think it was so charming. I'll just say, this talk was a lot less stressful to prepare, but the topic was ironic to me, considering all the searching I've done in the last few months. I think it shows Heavenly Father's sense of humor. Funny.

Anyway, here it is:

I’m grateful to be able to talk about commitment today. I was asked to talk about my commitment to the gospel and to the home as a mother and wife.

As I thought about commitment, especially as it pertains to both the gospel and my family, I came to the conclusion that for me, the two go hand in hand. Remaining committed to each takes time, work, and perseverance, but when I choose to show my commitment in these ways, I am blessed with peace and joy beyond the price I’ve paid.

When we begin the journey of membership in the Lord’s church, we covenant to remain faithful, to be committed. We start on the path to eternal life, trusting that the Lord will keep His promises to us if we keep our promises to Him.

After King Benjamin’s people made a covenant to be children of Christ, he asked them to consider their commitment to Christ’s name which they had taken upon them, just as all of us who have been baptized have done. Mosiah 5:5 says “Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen.”

Being committed to the gospel, or as King Benjamin said, “steadfast and immovable”, may appear to mean different things to each of us, depending on where we are on our life path. Maybe as a child, being committed to the gospel means attending church meetings, speaking in Primary when we’re asked, and being nice to other children at school. Maybe as we get older, our commitment to Christ will change the way we act in social situations. Maybe we will have the strength to stay away from alcohol, drugs, or pressure to be more relaxed in our standards, or to turn from those things if we slip. Maybe we will reach out to help others rather than isolate people who are different than we are. As we become adults, our commitment to living as Christ would have us do could mean choosing carefully what we do with our time, how we take care of our bodies and the resources God has given us, how we love others, and how we treat our families.

There is no doubt that being committed to the gospel takes effort and practice. The Lord knows that we need help to live at peace, and he offers us some backup. When we do these things, we are blessed with increased power and understanding. They help us to remain fixed and immovable in a time that is increasingly confusing.

The first help we’ve been given is our prophet. Elder Marion G. Romney recalled an experience he had with President Heber J. Grant:
“I remember years ago when I was a bishop I had President Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting, I drove him home. … When we got to his home I got out of the car and went up on the porch with him. Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: ‘My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.’ Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, ‘But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray’ ” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1960, p. 78).
If we have faith that the Lord is at the head of this church and that he has placed a prophet in front of us to lead us, when we follow his counsel, we will be blessed. It is not always easy to follow the prophet. I believe many of us will be tested in our willingness to do it. But following him will protect us and will be evidence of our commitment. Dallin H Oaks said that when we have a prior witness to the calling of a prophet, following his counsel, even when difficult, is not blind obedience. It is moving forward in faith.

The next help we’ve been given that will help us remain committed to Jesus Christ’s gospel we sometimes call the seminary answers...You know what they are: study our scriptures, say personal prayers, attend the temple, and listen to the Holy Ghost.

We tend to take these things for granted, or worse, deal with guilt for not doing what we think we should be doing. What we need to remember is that each of these things are gifts. When we move forward on the gospel path by bringing one of these things into our lives, we are blessed in huge quantities. The Lord wants us to study the scriptures so we can have the knowledge we need to face the challenges in our lives.

Nephi taught us that using the word of God will protect us. 1 Nephi 15:23-24 And they said unto me: What meaneth the rod of iron which our father saw, that led to the tree? And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.”

I promise that the Lord wants to bless us, not punish us. He wants us to use the gifts he’s given us to protect us, to let us have a life more full of joy, less full of pain. When we study the scriptures, pray meaningfully, attend the temple, and listen to the Holy Ghost, we are given armor to face the trials of life. We will also know which things need to be thrown out of our lives in order to stay safe.

When the Lamanites were converted by Ammon and his brothers, they believed wholeheartedly in the gospel principles that they were taught. They knew, however, that there was something in their life that could cause them to backslide, to lose the blessings of peace that they had just been given. Helaman 15:7-9 says “And behold, ye do know of yourselves, for ye have witnessed it, that as many of them as are brought to the knowledge of the truth, and to know of the wicked and abominable traditions of their fathers, and are led to believe the holy scriptures, yea, the prophecies of the holy prophets, which are written, which leadeth them to faith on the Lord, and unto repentance, which faith and repentance bringeth a achange of heart unto them—Therefore, as many as have come to this, ye know of yourselves are afirm and steadfast in the faith, and in the thing wherewith they have been made free. And ye know also that they have aburied their weapons of war, and they fear to take them up lest by any means they should sin; yea, ye can see that they fear to sin—for behold they will suffer themselves that they be trodden down and slain by their enemies, and will not lift their swords against them, and this because of their bfaith in Christ.”

What do we need to bury? We WILL be inspired to know what we need to bury if we ask Heavenly Father. He will also give us the strength to be able to make these hard choices. Again, He doesn’t ask us to sacrifice these things to punish or to discipline us, but to prepare us for bigger and better things, for a life more full of joy.

The last thing we can do (among many others) is to endure to the end.

Endurance sometimes sounds painful. And certainly there are trials that will test our endurance. But endurance also just means staying the course, remaining faithful. Sometimes this is tremendously difficult, but other times it can be positively joyful.

Stephen Robinson said in an article in the Ensign, “We often refer to those who continue in their commitments to Christ as being “faithful.” In the Old Testament, the words for faith, faithful, and faithfulness all come from the Hebrew ‘aman, which means “to be firm or reliable” and implies primarily qualities of loyalty and determination. Thus, being faithful means that we can be trusted to keep our commitments. The covenants of baptism and of the temple are solemn promises we make to God about how we will conduct our lives. Enduring to the end is keeping those promises throughout our lives—no matter what. It means we don’t quit because of life’s difficulties or temptations. Conversely, failing to endure means backing away from what we’ve started—first promising loyalty to God and then withholding what we promised. Endurance is not so much a matter of stamina as it is a matter of loyalty and integrity. Can you be trusted to faithfully hold your course? Just as a spouse who can be trusted to keep the marriage covenant is called faithful, so those who can be trusted to keep their gospel covenants are called faithful.”

I can guarantee that our faith will be challenged in this life. It’s a given. Some of us have gifts of the spirit that make this challenge easy to face. There are others of us who may struggle at some time or another. Having doubts does not mean that the gospel is not true or not beautiful. When we do face doubts, there are at least a couple of options in how we face them. We can turn away from what we’ve learned, or we can remember the powerful moments that we have experienced God’s grace or inspiration or testimony, and face our doubts through the glass of faith. If we do this, by fasting and prayer and temple attendance, I testify that Heavenly Father will make our way more clear and will help us have the faith to face our challenges.

Brother Robinson added later in his article, “Happily, failing to endure is not a sin one commits once and for all time. While we remain in mortality, we always have the option of repentance. Not long ago, I met a former student who had lost his membership as a result of repeated, willful iniquity. He said that he wanted to straighten his life out. I asked him if he had a testimony, and he said no, he didn’t. Surprised, I asked him why he wanted to repent and regain his membership if he didn’t have a testimony. I will never forget his answer: “I don’t know right now that the Church is true, but I know that I once knew, and I know God knows I once knew. The Church didn’t change between then and now—I did. And now I want to know again what I knew before, and I am willing to repent to do it.” Even when one’s endurance has failed before the end, repentance can bring about a new beginning.”

Elder Ballard said in an article in the Ensign in 2000, that “each one of us needs to follow Nephi’s counsel to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. [For] if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Ne. 31:20). The power of the Holy Ghost will fill our hearts and minds as we look to the Savior for answers to the many challenges of life.”

Being committed to my family as a mother and wife is so similar to being committed to the gospel. The gospel gives us ideals, a quest to become perfect as the Savior is (which is of course, not attainable in this life.) We are also given ideals for our families. We all fall short of the ideal (or at least, I’ve not yet met a family that DOESN’T fall short of the ideal, even though lots of you come close), but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing our best in this life. The Lord doesn’t want us to beat ourselves up about the mistakes we make in our families or in our relationships. Instead, he wants us to become who he sees that we CAN become, through repentance and through His atonement.

So, if there’s more yelling in my home than the ideal (and I can guarantee there is), I could either beat myself up that I have a bad temper and I’ll never change, or I can turn to the Lord and ask him for inspiration for how to help our family deal with stressful situations better.

Another way we can be committed to our families is by asking for revelation to help our families succeed. Heavenly Father wants to give us inspiration. The answers we receive may be different than what we expect, but He will guide us if we are willing. Last year, we struggled to know how to lower the stress in our home. We said many prayers, we fasted more than once, and we asked for guidance to make hard decisions. At the end of this time, it was clear to us that we were being led to a decision for me to stop teaching piano. I had been teaching for nearly 17 years and had many students that I loved and had taught for years. It was an agonizing decision, but it was undoubtedly the right one. Once I stopped teaching, the stress level in our home dropped enormously, and things, while certainly not perfect, have improved dramatically. I am grateful for the Lord’s inspiration to help us have a happier family. Certainly this answer was not the same years ago. For many years, quitting was not an option. The Lord gave us other answers during these years, like wonderful babysitters to help our family, or good friends to help during difficult times. But at this time in our lives, the answer was clear and right.

To me, being committed is being willing to keep moving forward, one step at a time, always looking ahead. If challenges push us back on the path, the important thing is which direction we’re facing, not how far we’ve come. Christ’s Atonement is not just a nice idea to help us along our journey. His Atonement is the way we are able to make the journey.

Joshua 24:15 says “Choose you this day whom ye will serve,...but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” I promise you that as I have chosen to remain committed to the gospel and to my family, even when challenged by enormous difficulties, I have been blessed with a knowledge that this is what Heavenly Father wants me to do. He has given me strength to withstand the fiery darts of the adversary, to bring me back again and again to the path to peace and eternal life. I pray that He will continue to do so until I have endured to the end.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lessons from Liberty Jail

Late last year, I happened to catch part of Elder Holland's CES fireside on lessons learned from the Liberty Jail. I was profoundly moved, as the passages of scripture we have from this difficult time have been consistently important to me, and I have turned to them time after time when I've needed more understanding about what I've experienced.

When I saw the talk reprinted in the BYU alumni magazine that came today, I was struck again. It's just so beautiful, and so true. The idea of our most horrific times as temple-prisons...I can't do it justice. Read the talk. Here it is.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Be Kind

"Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

Marjorie Hinckley
(I love her.)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Book of Mormon Study: 2 Nephi 2-4, continued

OK, nothing much to say, other than I love Nephi's psalm. I love Nephi's humanity shining through the mantel of prophet, that he recognizes his flaws and beats himself up for them. How real is that?

As I've started Rough Stone Rolling and learned even more about Joseph Smith, I see his humanity shining through the mantel of prophet, too. It's made me appreciate that God can use each of us, despite our imperfections, for His work. Heavenly Father wants me to touch the lives of others. He wants me to overcome my weaknesses, but even if that takes a lifetime and beyond, he can use me for good in the world. Prophets are not perfect men, and when we expect them to be, it puts them on a pedestal away from the rest of us, which is a dangerous place for them to be, not for them, but for us. If we accept their humanity with their power, it ennobles us with them.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Book of Mormon Study: 2 Nephi 1-4, especially Nephi's Psalm

2 Nephi 1: Lehi teaches his sons, and once again, begs his rebellious sons to reconsider their position on spiritual things. In v. 13-14, he says, "O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to teh eternal gulf of misery and woe. Awake! and arise from the dust, and hear the words of a trembling parent, whose limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveler can return; a few more days and I go the way of all the earth."

Lehi is a king of the guilt trip. Man. I know how I would have responded in my more rebellious years. But Lehi just is BEGGING his family to turn to righteousness, to find joy. He is doing all that he can to teach them the things he has spent his whole life learning. A sad chapter. But I do like v. 30-32 where Zoram is called a true friend to Nephi. I'm glad Nephi had true friends.

Chapter 2 is one of my favorites in the Book of Mormon (as is chapter 4). I come back to this chapter again and again, to v. 11-16. The discussion of opposition in all things touches on deep eternal laws.

And I also love v. 23: "And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin." Having children equals joy AND misery. True, yes?

Of course, one of the cornerstone scriptures for me is v. 25: "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy."

It's getting late. I'll come back to Nephi's Psalm tomorrow.