You’ve probably heard of ?¢‚Ç¨‚Äù if not played ?¢‚Ç¨‚Äù a game called “word association”. The premise is someone says a word and the other person says the first word to come to mind. A lesser known variation involves restrict the word association to opposites only. For example, if someone said “cold”, I would probably say “hot”.
If you were to play that variation with the average Mormon and said the word “Nephi”, the other person would likely say “Laman” or “Lemuel”. For good reason. Nephi seems to do the opposite of what his brothers do.
In fact, I came across an example of this tonight.
In 1 Nephi 17, the Lord told Nephi to build a ship. Naturally, his brothers didn’t beleive him when they found out what he was up to. Let’s read verse 17:
I, Nephi, was exceedingly sorrowful because of the hardness of their hearts; and now when they saw that I began to be sorrowful they were glad in their hearts, insomuch that they did rejoice over me, saying: We knew that ye could not construct a ship, for we knew that ye were lacking in judgment; wherefore, thou canst not accomplish so great a work.
This verse in particular stood out to me for two reasons. Both reasons have to do with opposition.
First, let’s compare this verse to 1 Ne 16:5, which is shortly after Nephi explains to his brothers his father’s dream:
they did humble themselves before the Lord; insomuch that I had joy and great hopes of them, that they would walk in the paths of righteousness.
In the first scripture, Nephi is sorrowful; in the second, he is joyful. In the first, the brothers were hardhearted; in the second, they were humble. It really shows Nephi’s love: he’s joyful if his brothers are doing right and sorrowful if they’re being pigheaded.
The second reason becomes apparent when we read in 1 Ne 17:9 when Nephi responds to the Lord’s request:
I said: Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me?
When Nephi’s brothers found out he was to build a ship, they ridiculed him and and said he lacked judgement. When Nephi received the direction to build the ship, he didn’t stop to think whether doing so would be good judgement or whether he could “construct a ship”. Rather, he accepted the command and showed initiative.
I wonder what it could take for me to stop being part Laman and part Nephi.