Having a 3 year old in the house is hilarious. If any of you have one, you know exactly what I’m talking about. There is never a dull moment. Our youngest son Jake is right in that fun age where he thinks he is way older than he is, but his language hasn’t quite caught up with his ego.
He is just getting old enough to have really good conversations, but still young enough to where they are a mix of real words, and garbled up toddler jargon. The results are fantastic. It’s non-stop verbal entertainment. If you take into account that all these words are spoken with his toddler lisp as well, its priceless.
Here are just a few examples of his “Jake-ese” that cracks us up…
Swimming suit and goggles -“thwimmin’ thoup” and “gobbles”.
Movie theatre – “moobie peadure”
Gatorade – “Gardogade”
Computer – “pewder”
Favorite – “fravrit”
Horses – “horthes”
Grandpa – “Drampa”
Grandma – “Dramma”
Yellow – “Weddo”
Mountain Dew – “Mac ’n’ Doo”
Jake loves to play on his own, and in his own little world. He has the world’s biggest imagination. He has worn out countless wooden surfaces all around our house with the constant stampede of plastic horse, and dinosaur feet. He gets this high pitched play voice that he goes into and does full on conversations between all his imagined characters. He rides his bike around the inside of the house and loves to show off his sprinting skills whenever someone comes in to visit. He makes our life full, and fun, exciting, and exhausting all at the same time.
Unfortunately for us, the entertaining days of our Jake words will eventually come to and end, and he will learn the right way to say all these words, and the dinosaurs will be replaced with homework, or something else way more boring as he keeps growing and developing. All our other kids have done it, and so will he. Kids grow up. Its part of life, and we will have to rely on all the fun memories that he gives us now, and then wait for all the grandkids to do the same thing.
In a way, we all are still growing. It never stops. We are all still learning and developing. Im sure our Heavenly Parents look down lovingly to watch us learn new principles, or finally pull through our challenges. Im sure they relish the fun memories, and look forward to each and every one of our spiritual milestones. Sometimes, however, it takes us quite a while to learn.
Over the last year or so, that kind of describes me. I have had a bit of a struggle trying to reconcile my own personal practical views on the refugee situation that is going on in Syria. The church has asked for our support of the refugees and that we should treat them with open and welcoming arms. In my heart, I knew this was true, and, of course we should treat everyone that way. But, my head seemed to just see the potential for problems. I was kind of stuck. I guess I was stuck saying “thwimming soup”, and “Mac ’n’ doo” in a spiritual sense on this one particular issue.
In my head, along with many others, I just kept thinking about all the potential bad guys that would likely use this situation to take advantage of our country’s generosity. This was right at the time of all the attacks in France, and the bombing at the airport that effected the missionaries. It seemed like it would be so easy for terrorists to slip in claiming to be a refugee and then do a lot of damage to the honest innocent people just trying to help. My head was saying we had to be wary of the refugees to make sure we weren’t opening ourselves up for an easy attack. I seemed to be at a stalemate. My head saying one thing, while the church encouraging me to do what seemed like the exact opposite.
I hadn’t quite learned what I needed to learn. I had a spiritual lisp. Until a few days ago.
It was another testimony to me of the power and relevance of the Book of Mormon. I was reading in Alma about the Anti-Nephi-Lehis. Also known as the people of Ammon. Those guys were as tough as nails. This group of Lamanites, thanks to some great missionaries, had converted to the Lord and repented of all their previous sins and murders of the Nephites. They had been a very nasty group of people, but had completely changed into an unbelievably good, devout, and committed people. They had converted to the Lord so completely that nothing else mattered to them. Not even their physical lives.
As a first token of their commitment, they first put away all their “weapons of rebellion¹”. I think that these these “weapons of rebellion” can mean ideas, thought processes, habits, traditions, or anything else that puts us in opposition to the Lord. However, this wasn’t necessarily the act that made them famous in the Book of Mormon.
A little while after these Anti-Nephi-Lehis had converted to the Lord, their fellow countrymen, the Lamanites who were NOT converted to the Lord, started making preparations for war. But, this time, they were not preparing for war against the Nephites. They were getting ready for war against their own people. The people of Ammon. They had become angry with the Anti-Nephi-Lehis because of their conversion to the Lord².
It is interesting to me, and very telling, that the Anti-Nephi-Lehis, who are famous for burying their weapons of war deep in the earth as a covenant not to shed the blood of man ever again, did not do so immediately. Remember, the first step was only putting away their “weapons of rebellion” as well as their weapons of war. It was not until their fellow Lamanites were actively preparing to come to war against them, that they physically buried their weapons, to absolutely make sure that they did not break their covenant. Even in self defense.
In peacetime it would be difficult to make such a commitment. But can we imagine how much more difficult it would have been to voluntarily disarm, in the very moments that their hardened enemy was preparing to come to battle against them? This was an act of pure faith.
Here are the words that their king used describing their mindset, “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 saved³”
In that short amount of time, the people of Ammon had gone from recent converts to one of the most committed, righteous people to ever have lived. Their spiritual development was rapid, and complete. They had changed their character to be more Christlike, and had NO reservations, and had complete faith in their God, and left their fate in his hands. They knew that if they were faithful to him, their fate would be sealed, and they would be with the Lord.
“And they did look upon shedding the blood of their brethren with the greatest abhorrence; and they never could be prevailed upon to take up arms against their brethren; and they never did look upon death with any degree of terror, for their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection; therefore, death was swallowed up to them by the victory of Christ over it. Therefore, they would suffer death in the most aggravating and distressing manner which could be inflicted by their brethren, before they would take the sword or cimeter to smite them. And thus they were a zealous and beloved people, a highly favored people of the Lord4”
The people of Ammon were completely converted to the Lord. That conversion influenced their actions. They had changed their character completely. They weren’t only committed and righteous on Sunday, but everyday, and every hour and every minute. They looked at the world around them through the lens of the gospel, not the lens of self preservation, political affiliation, or secular ideology. I have a lot to learn from them.
I am not suggesting that we as a country or as a people should do just as the Anti-Nephi-Lehis and bury our weapons of defense, and come what may. But, I am hoping that we can all look to them as an example of true and complete commitment to the Lord. Their faith took away their fear. Their love of God, replaced their apprehension for death.
The people of Ammon, because of their degree of commitment and testimony, had reached the point of being unafraid of death. Because of their faith, they didn’t look upon it with “any degree of terror4.” Not even when they were faced with death “in the most aggravating and distressing ways.4” They knew exactly what was coming, and still held true to their covenants.
I need to graduate from my current elementary school spot, to their graduate level of faith. In a spiritual sense, I was still playing with plastic “dinothaurs” and “horthes”. I was looking at the world through nothing but my worldly eyes. I had been stuck in 3rd grade and couldn’t quite wrap my head around 4th grade, let alone the concepts mastered and taught in the Graduate School of the People of Ammon.
I learned right then, that I had been wrong. My thought process had been too narrow and not spiritually based. I had to get my head right. Even if it meant going in the opposite direction of where my head was telling me to go. I had to graduate from “Mac “n” Doo, to the actual real life Mountain Dew. I needed to open my heart to see what was really happening in Syria, and other devastated areas of the world. People are hurting, and desperately need help. It is my duty as a follower of Jesus Christ to act as he would act, think as he would think, and love as he would love. My own personal opinions notwithstanding. My character needed an upgrade.
So, I decided to change. I decided to try and be more faithful, and less skeptical. I decided to look at all the chaos in the world right now, and compare it to the chaos that surely existed in the days of the people of Ammon. If they could do it, maybe I can too. If I work to be more committed, all the time, even when looking at practical problems in seemingly secular situations.
In Emma Lazerus’ poem “The New Colossus” the ideas of inclusion and welcome that shaped this modern day promised land are perfectly put into words. They are inscribed on the pedestal under the Statue of Liberty. Sometimes I need a little (or big) reminder to put my thoughts and actions back into the proper perspective. The people of Ammon did that for me this last week, as well as these words that are written under the feet of Lady Liberty….
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
- Alma 23:7
- Alma 24:1
- Alma 24:16
- Alma 27:28-30