I have been going through some really tough times lately, on and off, with a few things that have been weighing heavily on my mind lately, and tonight I reached a breaking point and finally decided that reintroducing that daily behavior surely couldn't hurt in life, but only stood to help me rise, if even only slightly, from the position I've been hovering at. Chance happenings led me to 1 Nephi 18, and being a faithful believer that the Lord guides me to passages at the exact time when I need them, I committed to reading the entire chapter before turning out the light for bed tonight.
If you're like me and couldn't name off the top of your head what 1 Nephi 18 is about, I'll briefly recap it for you: Nephi builds a ship with the guidance of the Lord and everyone boards it to set sail for the Promised Land. After being on the ship for a while his brothers, good ol' L&L, begin to get rowdy and tie him up. Nephi, being the valiant man that he was, however, doesn't complain a bit and waits for the softening of his brothers' hearts. Soon enough a storm sets in, though, and after four days of relentless tossing and flailing about on the ocean his brothers begin to fear and, here's my favorite part (v. 20) "... there was nothing save it were the power of God, which threatened them with destruction, could soften their hearts; wherefore, when they saw that they were about to be swallowed up in the depths of the sea they repented of the thing which they had done, insomuch that they loosed me."
Oftentimes the Saints of the Church, and justly so, equate themselves to Nephi or Sam. In my case, however, I haven't been acting like much of a Nephi or Sam, at least by my own standards, and it's a humbling experience to read a verse like verse 20 and realize just who you might be emulating the most. I've been wondering a lot lately why I might be going through such a negatively consuming state lately, even though I've been making a concerted effort to abandon and forsake my greatest vices, and finally realized one possible solution tonight: sometimes the Lord has to let you fall on the rocks in order to break you so He can build you back up in the way He knows is best. Threaten me with ailments, my heart won't soften. Threaten me with guilt, my heart won't soften. Threaten me with solitude and destruction, however, and perhaps it begins to melt.
Oh I know not everyone reading this will be LDS, but I do want anyone reading this to know that I am. Despite all my faults, intentional or not, I know God lives. And I know He wants us to simply know of His love for each of us individually and to experience that same love for our neighbors, even as if they were ourselves. I'm thankful that He loves me enough to let me fall to the bottom so I can realign myself with Him and even one day return there. I know it's true and I'm grateful for His gospel, and I say this all in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.