I am known to have a dreadful temper at moments. Yes, there are times that I act quite like a disgruntled toddler. I keep that embarrassing tendency well-hidden in my writing – for the most part – but at home, amongst my parents and siblings, I often choose not to exercise the patience that I have frequently asked for the Lord to give to me – especially when it comes to my thirteen-year-old spitting-image-of-me brother. I have been this way for years, never having the true desire to actually make an effort to change, despite constant reminders from my parents and other siblings.
I was asked to help out with a family project yesterday, before going on with my personal desires for the morning. I was cheerful about that plan for roughly thirty seconds. For quite some time, I glared, moped, yelled, stomped, nagged mercilessly, and threatened to lock myself in my room. After a particularly trying moment, I realized that I had not yet had my morning devotional, and I felt that if I took just a few moments to read my scriptures, and to pray, I could go back to the project in better spirits. Well, since I had already contributed to putting other members of my family into a sour mood, and due to an act of formidable pride, I stayed at the site of the project, and stubbornly refused to ask my mother for a moment to go calm down. I was rational again, eventually, and I went to my room, supposedly to study my scriptures. But as I opened up my Book of Mormon, I couldn’t focus on what I was reading. After praying, and practicing the Russian words and phrases that I had learned this week, I was in the right mindset to read. I opened up to Alma chapter 24, and the verses that I read hit me like a punch to my middle.
When the People of Ammon were burying their weapons, I thought to myself, they were covenanting to never take up arms against their enemies, to kill. But then . . . were they not also promising to keep peace, always, in every situation?
Behold, I say unto you, Nay, let us retain our swords that they be not stained with the blood of our brethren; for perhaps, if we should stain our swords again they can no more be washed bright through the blood of the Son of our great God, which shall be shed for the atonement of our sins.
I gasped audibly.
And the great God has had mercy on us, and made these things known unto us that we might not perish; yea, and he has made these things known unto us beforehand, because he loveth our souls as well as he loveth our children; therefore, in his mercy he doth visit us by his angels, that the plan of salvation might be made known unto us as well as unto future generations.
Tears began to form in my eyes. What a hypocrite I have been! I have claimed to understand the warnings of God, and to live up to His Standards as best as I can . . . but I don’t, and I haven’t. And yet, as I have turned my back on some of His most important teachings – not realizing my actions – the Lord, in His mercy, has continued to bless me.
I continued to read, carefully contemplating every word.
And now behold, since it has been as much as we could do to get our stains taken away from us, and our swords are made bright, let us hide them away that they may be kept bright, as a testimony to our God at the last day, or at the day that we shall be brought to stand before him to be judged, that we have not stained our swords in the blood of our brethren since he imparted his word unto us and has made us clean thereby.
Thoughts began to flow in torrents. I know full well that I cannot gloss over this scripture-chastisement. I cannot treat it lightly. If I do, I will be guilty of not heeding the Spirit’s promptings, and it will not be as easy for me to become clean again.
You can never make the same mistake twice, because the second time you make it, it is not a mistake, it is a choice.
I closed my eyes as I realized what implications this would have on me, the good, and the difficult. Fighting with my brother has always been one of my favorite pastimes, in perverse way. It has become a part of me. How can I rid myself of such a natural part of my personality?
It is not a natural part of me. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies had been taught to hurt and to kill all of their lives, it was something that was ingrained into their subconscious; but it was not a natural part of who they were, as Children of God.
I quickly penned my resolute thoughts:
I am more powerful than the patterns that I have been taught. I will break the chains that I have been bound with, and I will remove those practices of belittlement and revenge from my mind. I will make a conscious and subconscious effort to alter my past common actions. With the help and mercy of God, I will change.
I can promise to keep my proverbial sword “bright”, staining it no longer with the “blood” of my brother. I can ask forgiveness of my family, and of my God. I can repent of my weaknesses. I cannot promise to be perfect, but if the People of Ammon kept their covenant, there is no reason that I cannot as well.
And now, my brethren, if our brethren seek to destroy us, behold, we will hide away our swords, yea, even we will bury them deep in the earth, that they may be kept bright, as a testimony that we have never used them, at the last day; and if our brethren destroy us, behold, we shall go to our God and shall be saved.
I am determined to keep this promise which I have now made, and to remember the faithfulness and diligence of the People of Ammon. I desire for my children to learn only righteous patterns, to learn them from me. I am grateful that even in my choice to act prideful, the Lord blessed with such a significant opportunity to learn.
I humbly and gently challenge each of you who read this to consider your own “weapons” that may be destroying you or others in some form or another. Remember the conviction of these People of Ammon, and know that the Lord can help you change whatever it is that may be holding you back from greater blessings. Let us hold each other accountable, as we love, and serve, and seek to be examples. Let us keep our figurative swords bright and clean, free from the tears, pain, and hate of those we may have once been an enemy to.
I testify that The Book of Mormon is for our day. The words written by prophets in ancient times have been saved for us, in this time. I know that each of us can be saved from our sins, through the Atoning Sacrifice of our Beloved Savior.
I say this, in the name of my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.