Spring Break is almost upon us!! I am so excited to have my kiddos all to myself for a whole week. A little over, actually, since they get tomorrow off too. The kids and I are headed back to KS to visit cousins and friends. John will live the bachelor life for the weekend until he heads to Chicago for work on Monday. I do wish we could afford a big fancy trip somewhere tropical, but I am so happy to see the people that we love.
Our middle child just turned 8 in February and we are gearing up for his baptism Easter weekend. I am so proud of his decision to get baptized but, as his mother, it also worries me a little bit. He is now at the age of accountability and is responsible for the choices he makes, keeping with him and listening to the Spirit, and repenting for his mistakes. I love this little boy with all my heart and I hope to spend eternity with him. This is where the scary part comes in…
What if his dad and I haven’t taught him the gospel well enough? What if he wasn’t listening? What if he decides it’s too hard? What if he forgets? Forgets how he felt when we went to the KC Temple open house, and the few other times I know he’s felt the Spirit? What if he forgets what he has been taught when he faces the peer pressure that is bound to come? What if he forgets why making the right choice is the best choice?
As I’ve been studying the Book of Mormon for my religion class, I have really been struck by the common chord of the wickedness that occurs. Laman and Lemuel were “slow to remember the Lord their God” and that they had seen angels and witnessed miracles. They were brought unto repentance countless times and still could not hold on to that feeling of peace and love and light. They, over and over again, gave into the anger and jealousy that they felt. Why could they not remember? Because of their inability to remember all the Lord had done for them, their posterity became loathsome and wicked, with but a few exceptions, for generations.
Later, in the book of Jacob, we learn that the Nephites start to forget. In chapter 3, verse 5, Jacob says Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.
(I find this scripture really interesting along with the one that follows that tells them that the Lamanites are not destroyed because they are faithful to this commandment. Faithful to their wives. That’s a different discussion though.)
Again, that word: forgotten. He goes on to command them to do the opposite: remember.
9 Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers. 10 Wherefore, ye shall remember your children, how that ye have grieved their hearts because of the example that ye have set before them; and also, remember that ye may, because of your filthiness, bring your children unto destruction, and their sins be heaped upon your heads at the last day.
We too must remember what we’ve been commanded to do and remember the confirmations we’ve had from the Spirit when we do them.
Laman and Lemuel had a prophet for a father that obviously taught them well. How could they be so “slow to remember the Lord (their God)”? How on earth do I have hope for my children if the prophet’s children went so far off the straight and narrow? That’s a scary thought.
We know that Laman and Lemuell were taught the gospel their entire lives. I have hard time applying the word “forgot” like when I forget to get bananas when I go grocery shopping. I really think “stiffnecked” is really synonymous with the type of “forgetting” we’re talking about here. They were taught from when they were young. They didn’t just forget that they had seen an angel or were shaken when Nephi touched them. They were quick to give in to their feelings of anger and jealousy, and were slow to remember the feelings of peace and light that they surely felt witnessing the miracles they did. They slowly gave in to the temptations of Satan and, therefore, drowned out the feelings of love and light that come from God.
Laman and Lamuel, as we know, led their families astray by, eventually, not even acknowledging their need to repent and heed the prophet’s words. The Lamanites became a wild, violent and wicked people because they were not taught the gospel. This is in great contrast to the Nephites who had the records and prophets and still went astray. We already read how Jacob described the Nephites as more wicked than the Lamanites, and the Nephites knew better!! Just like Laman and Lemuel did.
Jacob spends a great deal of his writings telling us how he chastised the Nephites and pointing out their pride and lack of integrity…and how his heart hurt because of it. I love how he is so straight forward and lays it all out for them ...”remember that ye may bring your children unto destruction.” What a sobering warning.
In the book of Enos we read 22 And there were exceedingly many prophets among us. And the people were a stiffnecked people, hard to understand. 23 And there was nothing save it was exceeding harshness, preaching and prophesying of wars, and contentions, and destructions, and continually reminding them of death, and the duration of eternity, and the judgments and the power of God, and all these things—stirring them up continually to keep them in the fear of the Lord. I say there was nothing short of these things, and exceedingly great plainness of speech, would keep them from going down speedily to destruction. And after this manner do I write concerning them.
The Nephites are acting like Laman and Lemuel acted! This verse pulls at my heart strings. The Nephites had been taught the truth like I try to teach my children. They had the records like I have the scriptures. They have prophets among them just as we do. The Nephites are prospering at this point and they are “slow to remember”. The prophets have to ‘continually remind’ them of the things that they are quickly forgetting: God’s hand in their lives.
I have often wondered if it’s unfair that the people of Nephi are destroyed. I mean it’s Nephi. Faithful , strong, obedient Nephi. But as I have been studying this time, it has hit me that the Nephites, as a people, were not the faithful, strong, obedient Nephites. Oh yes, there are groups of them, and the Lamanites for that matter, that were more righteous than I could ever hope for in this life. But as a whole, a lot of the time they were more like Laman than they were like Nephi. Having to constantly be reminded of utter destruction, and death in order for them to stay righteous. Am I that way? Do I have to be threatened in order to stay on the straight and narrow? Or do I hold to the rod with strength and faith to reach the ultimate goal? Am I capable of teaching my children properly and setting the right example so I don’t have posterity that “dwindles in unbelief”?
My son is only 8 and he is, sure as heck, going to make many mistakes in his life. I just want to make sure I teach him to REMEMBER. Remember that his dad and I love him, remember that he has a Savior that loves him and suffered his sins for him, that he is a child of God and, as such, has the potential for greatness and perfection. I want him to REMEMBER what it feels like to feel the Spirit touch his heart, and remember that that feeling is better than any temporary satisfaction. I want him to REMEMBER that he can repent and be made clean, and that, if he does so, we can be a family forever. I somehow have to teach him to REMEMBER God and the impact He has had in his life.
I have been told how by Nephi when he said 26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. 27 Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given. And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away.
I’m still working on how to exactly execute this excellent advice... I’ll keep you posted.