This post feels a day or two late, but nonetheless I still make an effort to tell you these thoughts I had while reading 1 Nephi Chapter 5. I refer to my journal to help remind me of my thoughts from the other day, especially now that I find myself moving into the second book of Nephi this evening.
I was sweetly touched when I read the empathetic response of Lehi to his wife Sariah after she had "complained". I thought deeply about Lehi's response. I opened up Dr. Sue Johnson's book "Hold Me Tight" and searched for a few key highlights and notes in the whitespace I had written. Comparing notes within Johnson's book and that within my scriptures, my journal began to be filled with pages of thoughts and feelings. The rest of my post is a cliff note capturing of what had impressed me.
Sariah "Truly Mourns"
Sariah's four boys have finally returned from Jerusalem, for months they have been gone and as the days turn to nights and the nights brought little to no sleep for Sariah, her anxiety and fears slowly begin to compound. The days become weeks and then months, and from Nephi's personal perspective we read
"after we had come down from the wilderness... our father was filled with joy, and also my mother, Sariah, was exceedingly glad, for she truly had mourned..."
Lehi had seen a vision, and as a result he sent his only sons back to Jerusalem to get their genealogical records, understanding that the records would one day be of great value to future grandchildren and their children for hundreds of years to come. It is fair to suggest that the family has been dwelling in tents, or at least Lehi did for a couple years while the boys slept out under the stars, or something like that. The family has clearly been exposed to some serious challenges and dangers because Sariah expresses the logic behind her fears when Nephi provides further insight stating
"for she had supposed that we had perished in the wilderness"
What mother would not be fearful of such possibilities?
Isn't it so easy to complain when everything is not going the way we planned, yet we find ourselves sitting in the wilderness of hardships unable to reroute the path, no matter how desperately we wish we could? Even Nephi complains later in chapter 16 when he breaks his awesome "bow, which was made of fine steel" and now they have little hope of a steak dinner, or even a dinner.
I think of the movie Saving Private Ryan, and the sacrifice that the military and servicemen went through so that Ryan's mother would not have lost all of her sons to the war. Sariah, stands the chance of being a mother who may lose all her sons.
Sariah may have even been limited in her knowledge, but clearly she was strong in her faith. She may not have had the same dreams or visions that Lehi was given, this was a time that was designed for her; molding and sharpening and developing. Our most defining moments, those refining fire moments when the dross of our lives is forged out of us that feels at times so similar to the Blacksmith's powerful pounding on red-hot steel to remove the impurities that will come to be a benefit to the Steel.
Sariah, ultimately complains about three things
- Her sons "have perished in the wilderness"
- Lehi is "a visionary man...that has led us forth from" the comforts of our home
- We will now "perish in the wilderness" because their sons are "no more"
All of it makes sense to me. I can literally put myself in her shoes and I can empathize with her struggles, but what about Lehi? How has this made him feel? Can you imagine have seen angels, spoken with the Lord, and during your most difficult moments you have had dreams and visions that what you are doing is what the Lord wants. Imagine being obedient to very hard things to follow and then hearing your spouse complain about you? We are all guilty (I suppose). We can easily put ourselves in both of their shoes. Lehi's response is absolutely marvelous and incredibly indicative of the kind and loving husband he was.
Lehi's Emotionally Bonded Response
It is very simple, but vitally important to not miss the magic in this moment. This is where I believe we see everything come together. We see quite possibly why Sariah married Lehi. Why Sariah followed her husband into the wilderness for years with little recompense (at this time).
"And it came to pass that my father spake unto her saying: I know that I am a visionary man..."
Validation. Emotional validation. Two simple words, and Lehi is already showing his confidence and providing emotional security to his sweetheart.
"Let thy bowels also be full of Charity... and, let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly and then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of the Lord..." - (Doctrine & Covenants 121 :45)
There is no defense in Lehi's response. I hear him saying "I get it, sweetie. I know". The magic in Lehi's response is that he is emotionally bonded with the Lord, which allows him to remain emotionally bonded with his sweetheart.
What an example. What a perfect example of how we can all improve our relationships. It is not in the tactics of communication. The perceptions which have been formulated and drawn from deep and unmet emotional needs that persuade our thinking to "find the bad guy/girl" are simply the best way we know how (some of us) to "protest our disconnection". The emotions we feel are real and true, but there are no bad guys/girls, there are only desperate calls to for emotional security and emotional dependability. The things we tell ourselves to cope with the fear of loss of the relationship we truly love so dearly are as Dr. Johnson says "the Demon Dialogues" that we have in our mind to cope with the "fear of loss and isolation". Imagine, if Lehi would have heard an attack, in many ways it was, but his confidence with God gave him the confidence to hear the fears of Sariah. The most common reason for emotional insecurity says Johnson is "because much of the time we are not tuned in to our partners. We are distracted. We do not give clear messages about what we need or how much we care. Often we speak tentatively because we feel ambivalent about our own needs. Or we send out calls for connection tinged with anger and frustration because we do not feel confident and safe in our relationship."
What must we do to be "confident in the presence of God" and our partners/spouses? Charity & Virtue.
"Love one another even as I have loved you" - Christ
I am so grateful to find myself back into the depth of the scriptures and prioritizing my emotional bonds with our Savior, who truly does save us, even from ourselves. I am grateful for Prophets who set beautiful examples of love, and for Lehi who so wonderfully heard the fears of his sweet wife.
I have written this without any in depth study to the definitive statements that are clearly my own metaphysical expressions, if you have any clarity on the matter, or further thoughts then please comment. I always love your feedback.