As I was getting ready yesterday and pondering the next verses I read in 2 Nephi 5, this picture came of mind of some signs I saw yesterday which pointed in every direction.
Which way do we go?
This image reminded me of the multiplicity of choices I have as a mother for both myself and my children at the crossroads of a new school year: how will we can spend our time to learn and grow and acquire new skills and relationships?
This year I have prayed and waited until we have all had our back-to-school father’s blessings to really make decisions with the children about their time. I’m still not sure of a number of things as I wait for the children to make their choices. They are at an age where they need to pray and decide as well–it isn’t all up to me.
Learning to be industrious
In 2 Nephi 5:15-17, Nephi says he taught his people to “build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance.
“And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine.
“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands.”
These verses brought me back to my crossroads stance. I, like Nephi, want our family to be industrious! I want us to learn to get up early, to go to bed early, to learn to use our time and available resources wisely, to serve others and grow in compassion, to work hard, to be learn to do well in what we undertake. And so we need some inspiration to know which choices and activities will help us on our journey.
I was thinking that Nephi had already accomplished so much in his young life to that point, including retrieving the plates, marrying, becoming a father, providing food for his entire extended family, taking his family across a desert, and building a ship in a new way different but better from what was typically done in his day. He knew how to WORK, and to work without complaining.
It takes a team
Now, I’m thinking that Nephi didn’t do all these things by himself. Obviously his parents had taught him and supported him in his endeavors, lending their wisdom and energy and faith. He also worked in cooperation with his siblings, even though his older brothers very uncooperative. Somehow, through the grace of God, he was still able to accomplish what God asked. And once he was married, his wife would have been a huge influence on his work, allowing him to get up and face another day when he felt overwhelmed, and probably counseling him on hard choices or nurturing his faith when he felt discouraged. She might have prepared meals for him, allowing him and others to have energy to acomplish their work for that day. She would have taken care of their children, and perhaps some of the children were old enough to work on the ship. Certainly by the time they were building the temple and their new homes, the children would have been old enough to participate.
And so Nephi would have had a leadership role as well as a hands on role, as I imagine. He didn’t build the ship or a city or a temple by himself: he would have directed the effort as well as participated in the building of it himself, I bet.
So I picture our family symoblically building a ship or a temple, so to speak. We are developing skills and acquiring knowledge that is going to help us do God’s work and progress on our journey to help others and strengthen our relationships and bless the lives of people around us as we focus on doing God’s will in our lives.
Using our resources
We have to use the tools available to us: what does God want us to learn this year? Who can teach us about that? Is there a class we could take or someone who could mentor us? We have books and digital tools to assist us: which print literature or videos or apps or online classes can help us?
That’s what I’m thinking about this weekend and praying for help and inviting our children to pray to know that what they are choosing to do is right for them at this point in their lives.