Another female scripture warrior is the wife of Nephi. We don’t know her name, but we know she was one of the five daughters of Ishmael. She must have not been too worried about the latest or greatest on Instagram, or she had developed the quality of obedience to her father to be able to leave her life in Jerusalem for a life in the wilderness.
She must have been a woman of great faith and strength, for she bore children in the wilderness and suffered great hardship. After 11+ years of wandering, countless conflicts with her brothers-in-law and her own sisters, and witnessing her husband being abused by his brothers, she got on a boat.
She watched as Laman and Lemuel tied her husband, Nephi, to a boat and suffered greatly. She saw the Liahona stop working and I’m sure experienced great fear as the storms tossed their ship. During this time, as her in-laws were almost dead from grief over the wicked actions of their eldest sons, Nephi’s wife began to pray. Eventually, after what must have been torturous days for Nephi’s wife, her husband was released from his bonds and the Liahona again began to work.
I imagine she must have fallen to her knees in gratitude as she saw the abundance of the promised land. As Nephi’s wife, she must have played a significant part in sustaining him, and now she must have hoped that since they had arrived in the promised land that her brothers-in-law and sisters had learned their lessons so all could start anew.
We do not know the specific role Nephi’s wife played in each of these emotionally charged Book of Mormon scenarios, but I sometimes wonder, how did she stay calm?
How did she survive raising kids in the wilderness? (She did it in a tent for 11 years and I am sure she has great ideas for keeping kids entertained on road trips!)
How did she keep forgiving her abusive brothers-in-law and trust her own sisters?
What can Nephi’s wife teach us?
* Don’t quit. There must’ve been countless times when she wanted to quit and go back. But it was the journey that helped them become and then receive the promises of the promised land. The advice I believe Nephi’s wife would give me is to keep moving forward, trusting God. Even when family members choose different paths and forgiveness is needed over and over again. God’s promises are sure, and we must forgive if we want to be forgiven.
* Don’t stop praying and being obedient even when, and especially when, you are hurting. Nephi’s wife literally saw the Liahona guiding Lehi’s tribe forward. She saw the word of the Lord upon the ball when they were obedient. She also witnessed the consequences of disobedience. She understood, as we need to, that it is important to keep praying for loved ones who use you, hurt you, and talk negatively about you. Because, in the end, hurt can only be healed with love, forgiveness, and the help of God.
* Keep a soft heart. Hard hearts keep you stuck. When we are abused and hurt, it is easy to try and prevent our hearts from aching by simply hardening our hearts. I believe we can learn from Nephi’s wife that a hard heart is not worth it because, without a heart open to forgiveness and love, you can’t recognize the miracles. She draws our attention back to the faith of her husband and reminds us that a soft heart is the secret to keeping the Spirit with you and forgiving others, no matter what is happening. Without a soft heart, Nephi’s wife may not have been able to cry out to God on the ship and pray. With a soft heart, she was able to praise God when they arrived in the promised land. Letting go of the bad allowed her to move forward and receive the promises of the promised land.
* Forgiveness sometimes means leaving. Nephi and his wife and other followers stayed with their rebellious family members as long as they could. Nephi always sorrowed at the choices of his brothers and their families. The scriptures show that he never stopped praying for them, and I think we can assume that his wife was often praying with him. I think one of the important lessons we learn from Nephi’s wife is that we need to stay close to the Lord always so if the time comes, after all our trying and forgiving, that God says it is time to leave an abusive or damaging relationship, we will have the Spirit with us to forgive once more and move forward.
The details of these women’s lives are not all in the scriptures, but the answers to the questions of my heart have truly come during my reading of their experiences. Spiritual impressions come in moments of pondering. And they are filled with unseen advice on subjects of loving and leaving, faith and forgiveness. Scriptures are for our day when the news seems to only tell of hurt and heartbreak, sin and selfishness.
The answers will come, often from the examples of our scripture sisters of the past. And what they teach us is the healing power of love and forgiveness, for this is who God is: “And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him” (Luke 17:4).
Image from Getty Images
For more insights and stories of forgiveness, check out Ganel-Lyn Condie’s new book, I Can Forgive with God: Stories of Healing from Mormon Women, available at Deseret Book stores and deseretbook.com.