Nephi is a scripture boss. He gives us permission and invites us to “liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be profit and learning” (1 Nephi 19:23). And that sounds nice, but what does that really mean or look like in real life? I was 17 the first time I really tried out, “likening” for myself, and it has been a scripture reading game changer.
I was a junior in high school dealing with the normal stresses of high school, but the BIG thing on my mind was the ACT that was currently taking up a lot of time, mental space, and stress studying for it. Because, HELLO, how I did on this test could single handedly determine my future- where I went to college, my future friends, future boyfriends… who I married, what I studied, moving away from home or not… With all this churning in my head I was reading in 1 Nephi chapter four, “let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban.” As I read that I thought, “Yeah, well I don’t need to go around killing anybody, I just need help on this dumb test.” I reread the verse except this time I heard it differently, “for behold He is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than the ACT?” And I stopped. I had a quite moment of peace wash over me like a big hug and my worry was brushed aside. I could do this, and He will help me do it. That night, in my scriptures, I crossed out the word Laban and wrote in “ACT” right in the margins. I am a big fan of writing in the margins to make notes of my likening experiences to remember how personal the scripture can be and are to me.
Since my ACT scripture moment, I have come to know that the Book of Mormon can help answer all of my questions and address even the secret concerns of my heart. It is the ultimate survival guide for high school, dating, dealing with a broken heart, preparing for a mission, – anything. So I thought I would share a few other examples.
Finding new friends
Maybe you and your close friends no longer see eye to eye on standards, music, entertainment, or boys, and you keep feeling small spiritual nudges that you need to leave your group of friends. Ouch. If this sounds familiar to you then Alma, the older, can relate to you. He was one of the priest of King Noah, but when Abinadi came he realized he and his friends choices were not virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy. So Alma made changes in his life and his friends were not nice about it. So much so that in Mosiah chapter 23 it reads “Alma having been wared of the Lord that the armies of king Noah would come upon them.” Now leaving your friends is not life or death, but it can feel a lot like social suicide. And Alma and his new friends did leave as directed. He followed what the Lord said, so now it should be easy for Alma right? In chapter 24 it doesn’t get easier, Alma and his people are persecuted and “so great were their afflictions”. (at this point, you may be thinking how is this story helpful Ashley? Wait, it gets better). Alma and his people stay faithful to their standards and their faith, they are delivered and the Lord gives Alma -Mosiah, who is the best friend ever. And they stay best friends the rest of their lives and their kids are even best friends. But why didn’t the Lord just give Mossiah right away after Alma made the right choice? Mosiah chapter 24 answers that question too, “he will ease their burden (not take it away, at least not immediately) this will I do that ye may stand as a witness for me hereafter, and they may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.” He wants us to have a testimony, a strong one, that He does hear our prayers. And Alma’s friend problem does not last forever but he does have other trials that come later, and he can remember how the Lord heard his prayers before and provided a better way.
Going to college, moving away, or trying a new job
Maybe you feel you are at a major crossroad in your life: going away to college, trying a new job in a new city, or the unknown of married life. The Brother of Jared he can relate. In Ether chapter 2 he is commanded to “go forth into the wilderness…into that quarter where there never had been man.” Newlywed life, felt a lot like a uncharted territory for me, where I certainly had never been before. I had a lot of rules or expectations in my mind of what I wanted for my new little family. For me and the Brother of Jared, the Lord “gave direction whither they should travel.” And if I kept up my part of the small daily stuff I knew I would also be “directed continually by the hand of the Lord.” And He will do that for you.
Struggling with self worth
I admit, some days I really struggle with liking myself. Negative thinking can easily escalate to “I don’t like myself, how can anyone else?” If you have days like this, then you need to grab a pen and open 3 Nephi chapter 9 and write your name in a few places. And with a prayer in your heart your scriptures will read like mine. “Ashley, mine arm of mercy is extended toward you.” “Ashley, behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God.” “Ashley, I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” I know, that no matter where I feel on the spectrum of life from Alpha to Omega, top of the fill or bottom of the social pile- Jesus Christ knows me, loves, and always is there for me.